I just finished listening to Guantánamo Diary, by Mohamedou Ould Slahi.

The book is about Mohamedou Ould Slahi’s detention in Guantanamo (GTMO); how he got there, his battle to find out why he was there (which goes unanswered), and what happened to him while there.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about the book.  Naturally, the book is one sided with no one from any government agency commenting.  Much of the book is cringe-worthy and I found myself in a constant battle between “this poor man!” and “the government had its reasons.”

Several times I was swayed to feeling such sadness at his pain, both physical and emotional.  And then swayed to feeling distrustful of the story and him.

Without giving a detailed review – as I would never be able to write a review as well as you can find elsewhere on the Internet – here are my thoughts:

  • Slahi is a devout Muslim with seemingly endless faith in his god
  • He has never been given a reason for his detention
  • He claims to have never committed any crimes against America
  • His many descriptions of beatings, sexual abuse, and torture made me wonder about the mental and physical strength of the human mind – both of the abused and the abuser.  On both sides, just how?!
  • At some turning point in his detention he befriended some of the guards and ended up with books, a TV/VCR, movies and PlayStation games
  • Women in the military resort to using sex as a form of torture?  With the sheer amount of above-average strength I imagine being in the military takes, it comes down to using the female body?
  • The redactions and extended redactions make a lot of the book difficult to follow, but I thought the editor did a fantastic job of filling in the blanks with footnotes.
  • Some of the redactions were absurd.  Redacting “her” or “she” but not “him” or “he” made me wonder who and why…  I mean, really?  Who made these decisions and why?
  • The September 11 attacks were devastating.  In long-lasting, known and unknown, physical and mental, internal and external ways, devastating.  The absolute hatred of terrorists and terrorism runs deep and strong.
  • The government suggests, via Slahi’s writing, that Slahi may have played a part in the September 11 attacks
  • Slahi was a member of Al Qaeda
  • To this day, Slahi is still imprisoned at GTMO.

When I finished the book I prayed.  Prayed for Mohamedou Ould Slahi, the military, the people who have to make wartime decision, this country and all the world’s people.  May God watch over all of us and lead each of us according to His plan for our lives.

Have you read or listened to this book?  What are your thoughts?