Transcribed from the 8 February 2015 episode of This is Hell! Radio and printed with permission. Edited for space and readability. Listen to the whole interview:
“I thought it was just another detainee holding facility. But we knew that it was not on the map; this was not on the books. The soldier with me said, ‘We just found our Auschwitz.’ It shook all through my body, and I said, ‘Let’s get out of here.’”
Chuck Mertz: Guantánamo is a horrible place that should be closed, never should have been opened in the first place, and may very well have been the scene of a triple murder. Here with an insider’s account, Joseph Hickman is author of Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant’s Pursuit of the Truth About Guantánamo Bay.
Joe has spent most of his life in the military—first as a marine, then as a soldier in both the army and the national guard. Deployed on several military operations throughout the world, sometimes attached to foreign militaries, the recipient of more than twenty commendations and medals, Joe was awarded the Army Achievement Medal and the Army Commendation Medal while he was stationed with the 629th military intelligence battalion in Guantánamo Bay. He is currently working as an independent researcher and senior research fellow at Seton Hall Law School’s Center for Policy and Research.
You start your book by writing, “I am a patriotic American.” Is this a book written out of a sense of patriotism? Is this a patriotic book?
Joseph Hickman: Yes. I do believe it is. Like you said, I was in the military for fourteen years when I arrived at Guantánamo. It was my life. And I believe that, as an American soldier, it was my job to come forward and report a war crime. I think it’s every soldier’s duty to report a war crime if they see one occur. I believe I witnessed a war crime, and I tried to report it.