The Guantanamo Bay guards who beat detainee Erik Hooks to death have accepted a deal instead of a court martial that could have seen them hang and tainted JAG’s stellar reputation, a JAG source told Real Raw News.
As reported last week, two Camp Delta security guards, now identified as soldiers from the Army’s 525th Military Police Battalion, battered Hooks with steel batons, fists, and feet in a beatdown lasting eight minutes. A medical examiner concluded Hooks, his teeth kicked out and his skull smashed in, expired before the guards stopped whacking him like a piñata.
According to bodycam footage, the guards, who are Black, called Hooks a “Deep State disgrace to your race” as they shattered his jaw, and said, “This is for everyone in Maui” while clubbing him.
Although JAG tried enshrouding the September slaughter in secrecy—even threatening to punish leakers—stories of Hooks’ demise, and why the guards ruthlessly executed him, spread like a fire across Camp Delta and onto other areas of the base. And like the children’s game Telephone, each utterance of Hooks’s death added fresh and often fantastic embellishments to an already macabre demise. “They pulled Hooks’ teeth out with pliers and then worked on his fingers and toes. Then they jammed a broom handle up his chute,” an iteration of the story went. Instead of loathing the guards’ unregimented behavior, the other MPs called them “justice warriors,” and the culprits became local celebrities.
The attack motivated JAG to segregate the accused in a vacant cell block considered too humane for Deep State prisoners. There, charged with premeditated murder, the guards languished until JAG figured out what to do with them.
“There were a lot of late-night meetings about these two,” our source said. “JAG didn’t want a circus, at GITMO or elsewhere. And the guys who made Hooks’ face look like cottage cheese, well, they were unremorseful. In fact, they said if they could go back in time, they’d do the same thing over again, calling it justifiable homicide. And what if, just what if, they went to court martial and found sympathetic ears on the jury—improbable, I know. But it would encourage more vigilantism,” our source said.
JAG found itself in a quandary: avoiding the circus while not appearing to condone a clearcut murder.
Article 118 (4) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice requires (a) a death, (b) that the accused caused the death by an act of commission, (c) the killing was unlawful, and (d) at the time of the killing, the accused had a premeditated design to kill.
Hooks’ death objectively satisfied those criteria, as the guards, having waived their right to counsel, confessed they had waited days for an opening to slay him.
A conviction carries either the death penalty or lifelong imprisonment.
Our source said that JAG leadership last week, in an unprecedented move, invoked special dispensation, offering the guards a 25-year sentence without the possibility of parole in place of a trial by jury. The guards agreed–conditionally.
“Leadership made it clear to them that they’d probably hang and that they wouldn’t want to hang like Deep State scum. They said they’d take 25 years only if they didn’t have to write a statement of contrition,” our source said.
The guards, ages 24 and 27, will see freedom in 2048.
In closing, we asked our source whether Vice Adm. Crandall signed off on the deal.
“He is the officer who could make that arrangement,” he answered evasively.