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O'Reilly Guest: The Guards Are the Victims at Gitmo

Reported by Marie Therese - June 21, 2005

Bill O'Reilly interviewed Rev. Major Kent Svendsen, who served ten months as military chaplain at Gitmo and was written about* in an article. for Esquire magazine about his experiences there. According to a teaser for this Esquire piece, "Chaplain Svendsen does not believe that any of the men were tortured, either, because he talked to the guards every day, and they told him that nothing but the proper procedures were being followed. He trusted the guards, and the guards trusted him."

However, as you will see in the interview excerpts below, while Chaplain Svendsen claims, on the one hand, to have no knowledge of the abuse of detainees by guards, on the other hand. he seems to have a lot of knowledge about how the detainees abuse the guards!

A little internet research gleaned this 1999 autobiographical sketch by the Major describing his conversion from a life of drugs to a life as a born-again Christian. According to another article, Rev. Svendsen is "a Methodist pastor from rural Ashton and a leader in the church's 'confessing movement,' which believes homosexuals can be converted to heterosexuality."

According to Major Svendsen the detainees are an organized bunch of low-lifes, some of whom play head games with the guards. However, the prisoner behavior he describes seems to me the same type of behavior exhibited by any group of human beings incarcerated for long periods of time. Recall the many gritty prison break pictures, POW movies (my favorite being The Great Escape), documentaries about the Hanoi Hilton, etc. As a minister, one might have hoped that the Reverend could walk a few feet in the shoes of the other.

A few excerpts from the interview:

O'REILLY: But, nobody came to you, troubled, and said: Listen, Chaplain, I need to be forgiven for doin' something blah, blah, blah.

SVENDSEN: No. Nobody ever did.

O'REILLY: OK. Now, when you were down there, there was pressure on the guards that came from the detainees, I understand, from reading the article. Correct?


O'REILLY: Tell us about that.

SVENDSEN: Well, the guards were constantly challenged. The detainees we have down there are very well-organized and they have worked together to try to come up with schemes to try to get the best of the guards. Every time we had new people come in, there was a thing called an anointing where - uh - granted it was a smaller percentage of the detainees but they would do things - they would throw bodily fluids of all types on 'em. There was always a danger of being head-butted. Things such as water faucets having to be removed and having spigots put on that couldn't be broken off and used 'em as weapons. There was always that danger of taking things for granted and find [sic] yourself injured - or anointed.

O'REILLY: So, there were some hard-core guys down there and they were tryin' to cause as much trouble as they could.

SVENDSEN: Absolutely.


As I learned on the Ed Schultz Show today, Halliburton has obtained the contract to build a spanking new, $1.9 million detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Halliburton? Gee, why am I not surprised? Could this be why the administration is fighting so desperately to keep this facility operational?

Or is it their fear that most of the detainees will be proven to be what many are saying they are - men sold to the military by the Northern Alliance and/or various war lords and profiteers seeking to earn the thousands of dollars in bounty being offered by the United States?

According to Erik Saar in his book Inside the Wire, there are only a few dozen really bad guys at Gitmo. The rest are foot soldiers or bystanders who were sold for bounty or picked up because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For more information on Rev Svendsen, go to

The Unofficial Confessing Movement Page

Free Republic

The Coming Persecution?

* September 12, 2007, 5:40 AM EDT - Rev. Svendsen contacted us to request a correction to this post. He did not write the article in Esquire magazine, as originall stated. The article was penned by Tom Junod.

Additionally, he objects to the characterization made in the CNN.com article cited above, as well.

Here is what Rev, Svendsen had to say in rebuttal, September 10, 2007:

"Another clarification would also be nice because I've had to defend myself because of this statement about me on your website: '....believes homosexuals can be converted to heterosexuality'. I have researched the issue of same gender attractions for well over a decade and have come to the conclusion that such changes occur only rarely. And usually because there were issues of abuse, neglect, and abandonment that were resolved. The usual and positive use of reparative therapy is to help individuals reduce or eliminate incidents in which they compulsively 'acted out sexually' in unwanted ways that were also sometimes dangerous to their health."

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