LATimes: Soldier Sues Over Guantanamo Beating
Spc. Sean Baker, who was medically retired after a drill went awry, asks for $15 million.
A U.S. military policeman who was beaten by fellow MPs during a botched training drill at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison for detainees has sued the Pentagon for $15 million, alleging that the incident violated his constitutional rights.
Spc. Sean D. Baker, 38, was assaulted in January 2003 after he volunteered to wear an orange jumpsuit and portray an uncooperative detainee. Baker said the MPs, who were told that he was an unruly detainee who had assaulted an American sergeant, inflicted a beating that resulted in a traumatic brain injury.
Baker, a Gulf War veteran who reenlisted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, was medically retired in April 2004. He said the assault left him with seizures, blackouts, headaches, insomnia and psychological problems.
In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Lexington, Ky., Baker asked the Army to reinstate him in a position that would accommodate his medical condition. He said the Army put him on medical retirement against his wishes.
"Somebody has to step up to serve, and I still want to serve," Baker said Friday in a telephone interview from his home in Georgetown, Ky. "There's some task somewhere I can do in the Army."
A Pentagon spokeswoman declined to comment, saying she had not seen the lawsuit and could not discuss pending litigation.
Baker said he put on the jumpsuit and squeezed under a prison bunk after being told by a lieutenant that he would be portraying an unruly detainee. He said he was assured that MPs conducting the "extraction drill" knew it was a training exercise and that Baker was an American soldier.
As he was being choked and beaten, Baker said, he screamed a code word, "red," and shouted: "I'm a U.S. soldier! I'm a U.S. soldier!" He said the beating continued until the jumpsuit was yanked down during the struggle, revealing his military uniform.
The lawsuit says of the extraction team: "Armed with the highly inflammatory, false, incendiary and misleading information that had been loaded into their psyches by their platoon leader, these perceptions and fears … became their operative reality, and they acted upon these fears, all to the detriment of Sean Baker."
No one has been disciplined or punished for the assault, said Baker's lawyer, T. Bruce Simpson Jr.
So when we wonder exactly what kind of treatment that actual Prisoners are receiving if they happen to become "unruly", we have no further to look that the treatment of Spc. Sean Baker.