The Supreme Court could rule today on the future of the detainees being held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. While most Americans continue to favor holding suspected terrorists at the detention, the public overwhelmingly opposes the current terms of their imprisonment.
"Nightline" anchor Terry Moran is at Guantanamo Bay this week, and had the rare opportunity to interview the prison's director of interrogations.
Here is the transcript from "Nightline" on June 26, 2006:
PAUL RESTER, JOINT INTERROGATION GROUP The entire effort is to be as - I know the - it's hard to fathom this. But as cordial as possible under these circumstances.
TERRY MORAN That slightly grandfatherly civilian there with us is Paul Rester, he's the director of the joint interrogations group in Guantanamo Bay. He's the man who runs all the interrogations of detainees here, though he doesn't like to use the word "interrogation." Interrogation is a negative word. What would you call what you do?
PAUL RESTER Here, we are -- we are involved into custodial interviews.
TERRY MORAN Paul Rester has been interrogating or interviewing or questioning America's enemies or suspected enemies for 35 years, going back to Vietnam. He is fiercely proud of his work at Guantanamo Bay.
TERRY MORAN When people think about interrogations at Guantanamo Bay, they think about torture.
PAUL RESTER I think that what people forget is that when these individuals were first brought here, there were four smoking holes in the ground. We had individuals who in fact were party to or witting of, at the time, present and future, immediate future plans and intentions to continue to do harm against the mainland of the United States and the American people or its interests abroad. I really think we should give some pause to simply throwing semantics around and cheapening terms such as torture and human rights abuses. And really look at the root of what the issues are. TERRY MORAN So, you define torture for me.
PAUL RESTER For me?
TERRY MORAN No, for the people who are going to be interrogated. What counts as torture?
PAUL RESTER Well, we don't employ torture.
TERRY MORAN What is torture?
PAUL RESTER For myself, torture is the deliberate and sadistic of mental or physical pain on another human being. It's as simple as that. For the pure and simple satisfaction of doing it. It serves no redeeming social value in eliciting concrete information. It serves no redeeming social value in -- in obtaining the knowledge we need to combat this particular enemy.
TERRY MORAN But Rester frankly acknowledges that some of the techniques used here pushed the limits, his words, of what is permissible.
TERRY MORAN But there was policy here at Guantanamo Bay that you could put a detainee in stress positions for hours.
PAUL RESTER Again, when you say a detainee, I want to be perfectly clear, there were special plans for specific detainees that allowed certain processes which are available in the public record.
TERRY MORAN Forcible enemas?
PAUL RESTER Excuse me?
TERRY MORAN A forcible enema?
PAUL RESTER No, I'm not aware of forcible enemas.
TERRY MORAN That's the allegations...
PAUL RESTER People can allege what they want to allege. I've seen any number of allegations that are -- that are patently outrageous.