Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant's Pursuit of the Truth About Guantanamo Bay

Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant's Pursuit of the Truth About Guantanamo Bay

by Joseph Hickman


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The revelatory eyewitness account about Guantánamo Bay—detainees murdered, a secret CIA facility for torture, and the US government cover up—by the Staff Sergeant who felt honor-bound to uncover it.

Staff Sergeant Joe Hickman was a loyal member of the armed forces and a proud American patriot. For twenty years, he worked as a prison guard, a private investigator, and in the military, earning more than twenty commendations and awards. When he re-enlisted after 9/11, he served as a team leader and Sergeant of the Guard in Guantánamo Naval Base. From the moment he arrived at Camp Delta, something was amiss. The prisons were chaotic, detainees were abused, and Hickman uncovered by accident a secret facility he labeled “Camp No.” On June 9, 2006, the night Hickman was on duty, three prisoners died, supposed suicides, and Hickman knew something was seriously wrong. So began his epic search for the truth, an odyssey that would lead him to conclude that the US government was using Guantánamo not just as a prison, but as a training ground for interrogators to test advanced torture techniques.

For the first time, Hickman details the inner workings of Camp Delta: the events surrounding the death of three prisoners, the orchestrated the cover-up, and the secret facility at the heart of it all. From his own eyewitness account, and a careful review of thousands of documents, he deconstructs the government’s account of what happened and proves that the military not only tortured prisoners, but lied about their deaths. By revealing Guantánamo’s true nature, Sergeant Hickman shows us why the prison has been so difficult to close. This book opens an important window onto government overreach, secrecy, and one man’s principled search for the truth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451650792
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 01/20/2015
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Joseph Hickman spent most of his life in the military, first as a marine, then as a soldier in both the army and the National Guard. He has deployed on several military operations throughout the world, sometimes attached to foreign militaries. The recipient of more than twenty commendations and awards, Hickman 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.

Read an Excerpt

Murder at Camp Delta

  • THE flight to Gitmo from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, should have taken an hour. It was about four hundred miles away as the crow flies. But because of the long-standing hatred between America and Fidel Castro’s communist regime, American planes were required to fly the long way around Cuban airspace to prevent an international incident, adding another two hours to the flight. My unit, the roughly 120 men of Company E from the 629th Military Intelligence Battalion, had flown overnight to Fort Lauderdale from Fort Lewis, Washington. None of us slept on the way into Fort Lauderdale. We’d been occupied the day before dealing with our gear, and spent the dark hours at the airport waiting for the four-in-the-morning flight to Gitmo. I’d been up for more than twenty-four hours when I climbed aboard the Boeing 727. It should have been a miserable flight, but I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep. Very few of the guys on the plane to Gitmo were able to sleep, either. The sun came up about an hour into our flight, and I could hear the younger men in the unit laughing in the adjacent seats.

    “So what do you think the place will really be like?” I heard a voice behind me ask.

    “Absolutely nothing like what we’ve been told,” came the reply.

    “There’s a small seed of wisdom in that,” I thought. As a team leader in my platoon, I was worried about what we’d face when we landed. Mine wasn’t a top command position, but one thing I learned in the military was a sense of responsibility for the men under me. It’s a responsibility I took to heart. As our plane drew closer to the landing field at Gitmo, my heart was not completely at ease. We had all become close during our eight-week training, and I had no worries about any man on my squad not doing his job. We had been briefed repeatedly that we were being given a potentially tough mission, and we were ready for the challenges ahead. We were told constantly in our training that the detainees would take any chance they could to kill us, and that they were highly motivated fanatics. My worry wasn’t that any guy on the team would flinch but that someone might get hurt.

    Company E was divided into three platoons, with each platoon divided into four ten-man squads, and each squad broken into two five-man teams. I was in First Platoon, second squad, and team leader of its five-man Bravo Team. Everyone from my squad sat together on the plane. Most of them were good soldiers, as far as I was concerned.

    The guys in my squad covered an extreme range of ages and experiences.I Phillip Bradley, who was fifty-one years old, was a former Army Ranger, but that was decades ago. He’d spent most of his working life with the coroner’s office in Baltimore, picking up and delivering bodies from autopsies and crime scenes. “We tag ’em and bag ’em,” he’d say of his civilian duties. The youngest in our squad was eighteen-year-old Specialist Jamal Stewart, whom we all called “Young’n.”

    One of the guys I was closest to was Private First Class José Vasquez, thirty-eight years old. Vasquez was from DC, where he worked as a private investigator. I’d met him a year earlier in Japan, when he’d deployed there with my unit on a training mission. Everything that came out of his mouth was a joke. Sometimes I had to watch it with Vasquez, because he tended to speak his mind to officers. Even if my guy might be in the right, a blunt-speaking enlisted man could get the whole squad in trouble.

    The one person we all had faith in was our squad leader, Staff Sergeant Michael Hayes. When not on guard duty, Hayes was a cop at Morgan State University, a historically black college in Baltimore. Before that he was a marine, and in my experience, former marines tended to be among the best leaders. He was six years younger than me, and though he stood, at most, five feet ten inches, Hayes carried himself like a giant. In my military career, he taught me more than any other leader I ever served under. With him leading our squad, I had as much confidence as possible.

    Our squad was predominantly African American. In fact, after two white guys were pulled from the platoon—one because he was needed for another mission, and the other because he couldn’t get along with black people—I was the only Caucasian left. Vasquez was light skinned but a proud Mexican. Like most people in the military, race and ethnicity didn’t concern me. Soldiers were soldiers. But everybody else in our platoon was white, and that bothered all of us. They had segregated all the black guys and the Mexican into one squad. I guess they figured I belonged because I was from Baltimore. It was wrong, and all of my guys knew it. The military has spent decades integrating its units. For commanders to segregate a unit was almost unheard of in 2006. Worse, it made us very uneasy about the overall wisdom of our company’s officers. Despite my positive impression of Staff Sergeant Hayes, the leadership of our company was the biggest concern on my mind. Our training experience at Fort Lewis with our commanders had been, in a word, awful.

    I. I have changed the names of the personnel at Guantánamo with the exception of the command officers whose names have been widely reported.

  • Table of Contents

    Part I The Island

    Preface Call to Duty 3

    Chapter 1 No Sleep Till Gitmo 7

    Chapter 2 Training Days 10

    Chapter 3 Welcome to Guantanaino Bay 16

    Chapter 4 Priorities 27

    Chapter 5 Camp No 36

    Chapter 6 By the Dawn's Early Light 50

    Chapter 7 "Disturbance in Camp 4!" 57

    Chapter 8 Unacceptable Behavior 69

    Chapter 9 All Spin Zone 78

    Chapter 10 June 9, 2006 85

    Chapter 11 Lies 93

    Chapter 12 Ten Days in the Real World 98

    Chapter 13 Return to Gitmo 105

    Chapter 14 Stress Dreams 115

    Chapter 15 NCIS 120

    Chapter 16 Seton Hall 130

    Part II Discovery

    Chapter 17 Meet the Denbeauxs 141

    Chapter 18 Discoveries 147

    Chapter 19 Feds 156

    Chapter 20 Going to the Media 162

    Chapter 21 "All Accounted For" 174

    Chapter 22 Admiral's Memo 179

    Chapter 23 Missing Pages 185

    Chapter 24 What's the Motive Joe? 189

    Chapter 25 The Mefloquine Motive 197

    Chapter 26 America's Secret "Battle Lab" 208

    Afterword 223

    Acknowledgments 233

    Index 235

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    Murder at Camp Delta: A Staff Sergeant's Pursuit of the Truth About Guantanamo Bay 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
    Sarah__Reynolds More than 1 year ago
    This book has it all. Patriotic American soldier compelled by his conscience to prove his government’s attempt to cover up a war crime? Check. Neckless corpses of prisoners of war returned to their families with no further explanation? Check. Autopsy reports showing mysteriously high dosages of an unnecessary vaccine whose side-effects at such a high dose are the psychological equivalent of the terror of 30 days of nonstop waterboarding? Check. Tom Clancy style intelligence community tipsters who call late at night from a blocked phone number to drop URL breadcrumbs leading to missing pages of a 3,000 page NCIS report so redacted it takes a team of law students to make heads or tails of it over months of research? Check. But this is no novel. “Murder at Camp Delta” is a true story written by a marine who values his oath to serve his country and protect the Constitution so intensely that it trumps all concern for any potential consequences he might suffer as a result of this book’s publication. There is no doubt in my mind that “Murder at Camp Delta” will be required reading in every U.S. high school’s American History class half a century from from now. If only it were required reading for Congress, today. And there is a commensurate lack of doubt in my mind that the author’s testimony will be instrumental in the conviction and sentencing of alleged war criminal Donald Rumsfeld. Buy this book. Read this book. Ask your Senators and Representative to read it. Ask the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to hold a congressional hearing to fully investigate the factual information available to them through this book and from other sources regarding the Special Access Program that, through the stroke of a secret, classified 2002 executive order issued by President Bush, turned the detention center at Guantanamo Bay into a battle lab, one in which the most heinous of war crimes were allegedly committed.
    efm More than 1 year ago
    It is amazing what lengths our government will go to. Cover-up and lies are defended and impossible to prove untrue.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book may have answered some questions, but for as many as it answered, that many more were raised. A very engrosding depiction of what was witnessed first hand v. what was actually reported through the meda and his search for the reans why. Very interesting and thought provoking.