Sorsaia: Gitmo Detainees Can 'Rot in Hell' ; Putnam Prosecutor Makes Comment on Social Media after Visit to Prison

By Quinn, Ryan | The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV), February 9, 2015 | Go to article overview

Sorsaia: Gitmo Detainees Can 'Rot in Hell' ; Putnam Prosecutor Makes Comment on Social Media after Visit to Prison


Quinn, Ryan, The Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV)


A West Virginia prosecutor whom the U.S. government has invited several times to observe legal proceedings at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, wrote Friday that the detainees there "can rot in hell as far as I am concerned." Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Sorsaia made the comment in a post on his Facebook page.

"I just came back from a week at GITMO, Sorsaia wrote. "In many ways it was a frustrating week. The political correctness of that place has gone over the edge. Way too much time on trying not to offend the Detainees (sic) religious beliefs in the detention camps, and not enough time on getting them convicted.

"The Obama administration has not only wanted to close GITMO, but they also in many ways intentionally screwed it up to [the] point that nothing is being accomplished...I agree with the Senator from Arkansas, the detainees can rot in hell as far as I am concerned.

Obama vowed to shutter the controversial prison in his first year in office, but so far has failed to do so. At Guantanamo, detainees are not given some of the fundamental legal protections, like the right for a prisoner to know the charges against him, that U.S. citizens receive in civilian trials.

According to the international organization Human Rights Watch, the vast majority of the 122 men detained at Guantanamo are being held without charges or trial.

Sorsaia visited Guantanamo twice last year, for about a week each time, to watch legal proceedings as part of a group of third-party observers. He told the Gazette he returned from his most recent trip on Saturday.

"I'll be honest with you that I was a little bit angry when I got back, and I spouted off in an angry fashion, he said. Sorsaia's Facebook page is private, meaning he has to approve people as friends to see it. He's approved several reporters as friends.

Sorsaia, who complained about Guantanamo's courts shutting down for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and noted hearings often pause to allow defendants to pray, said he was particularly frustrated this trip.

He said practically the whole week was spent on hearings over an Islamic prisoner's request for the judge to ban female guards from touching him.

"We're discriminating against female soldiers of the United States Army for their religion," he said.

Sorsaia posted the Facebook comment with a link to an ABC News story about a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. In the hearing, responding to testimony that the prison has become a recruiting tool for terrorists, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said, "the only problem for Guantanamo Bay is there are too many empty beds and cells.

"As far as I'm concerned, every last one of them can rot in hell, but as long as they don't do that, then they can rot in Guantanamo Bay, Cotton said.

Numerous senior military officials, including the current and former chairmen of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, believe Guantanamo should be closed.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., spoke after Cotton at the hearing.

"On that happy note, I had really the same feeling that Sen. Cotton had for a lotta, lotta years, Manchin said. "Then I went to Guantanamo. …

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