The former warden of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where the Justice Department and a lawsuit say Muslim detainees were abused after Sept. 11, 2001, say there was no organized effort to mistreat detainees or to “soften up” those being questioned by federal investigators, says the New York Times. Dennis W. Hasty, the ex-warden says he recognized the potential for abuse in the charged atmosphere after the World Trade Center attack and took action to prevent it. After a detainee complained of mistreatment, Hasty required use of hand-held cameras to tape all 9/11 detainees whenever they were moved outside their cells.
The tapes captured excessive force, including ramming unresisting detainees into walls, twisting their manacled arms and hands, and mocking them during unnecessary strip searches. Hasty, 54, who retired in 2002, is a defendant in a lawsuit filed this week by two Muslim men who say they were physically abused while in the center’s maximum-security unit for seven months before being cleared of terrorist links.
“There was no game plan, such as we’re hearing about now in Iraq, to break their will,” Hasty said, referring to the unfolding scandal over the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. At the same time, officers were not immune to the emotions that ran high after Sept. 11. “People were feeling very patriotic,” he said. “The city and the country felt victimized and felt threatened by what had happened. Of course many people, my staff included, had neighbors and friends who were killed in the attack.”