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Heather Cerveny

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Heather Cerveny
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service2001-present[1]
RankChief Warrant Officer 3
UnitUnited States Marine Corps Judge Advocate Division

Heather N. Cerveny is a service member of the United States Marine Corps.[2] In October 2006, she became the focus of national attention after her report about alleged mistreatment of detainees held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba was leaked to the media.[3]

Initially, her claims were rejected by a military investigator Col. Richard C. Bassett, and Cerveny was accused of making a false statement.[4][5]

Later, the Department of Defense's Inspector General announced that another inquiry would be launched into detainee treatment, based on Cerveny's affidavit.[6] Prior inquiries, like the Schmidt Report,[7] concluded that abuse at the camps was degrading, but did not rise to the level of "inhumane".[8]


In October 2006, Cerveny served as Regional Defense Counsel Chief for the Marine Corps' Western Region in the Marine Corps Defense Services Organization and was ordered to take part as the paralegal in the Guantanamo military commission case of the United States v. Omar Khadr assisting Marine Lt. Col. Colby Vokey who acted as defense counsel.[9] While at GTMO, she talked to a group of servicemen in civilian clothes in the Windjammer Club who apparently performed duties at the detention camps. Unbeknownst of Cerveny's affiliation with the United States Marine Corps Judge Advocate Division, they told her stories about certain coercive practices such as "hitting detainees, denying them water, and removal of privileges for no reason,"[10] among other things. She reported to Vokey all of that she heard and signed an affidavit describing alleged boasts of abusive treatment meted out to detainees.[11][12] In his turn, Vokey filed a complaint with the Department of Defense based on Cerveny's affidavit.[13]


Gag order[edit]

Muneer Ahmad, the civilian lawyer for Omar Khadr, shared that Cerveny, and her boss, Colby Vokey, Khadr's military lawyer, had been ordered not to speak to the media pending Marine chief defense counsel Col. Carol Joyce's review of Cerveny's claims.[13]

The report quotes a statement released by the Marines explaining that Col. Joyce:

... had directed him [Vokey] not to communicate with the media "pending her review of the facts. This is necessary to ensure all actions of counsel are in compliance with regulations establishing professional standards for military attorneys."[13]

The Bassett Report[edit]

Colonel Richard Bassett was the officer assigned to investigate the allegations in Cerveny's affidavit.[14] The investigation started on October 13 and lasted till November 15, 2006.[15] The Associated Press quoted one of Bassett's superiors, who said Bassett: "...interviewed guards and some detainees during a visit to the naval base in southeast Cuba. He also traveled around the U.S. to speak with guards who had left Guantanamo,"[14][16]

The Bassett Report[17] was submitted to the United States Southern Command on December 10, 2006[18] and the results were made public in February, 2007.[19] The report recommended no disciplinary action against the five Army and Navy servicemen, whom Cerveny accused in her affidavit, as Bassett asserted there was insufficient evidence to support Cerveny's claims.[20]

Based upon his findings through the investigation, Colonel Bassett then accused Cerveny of filing false reports.[21]

On December 18, 2008, Fox News, MSNBC and other media outlets published an Associated Press story based on previously classified portions of Bassett's inquiry they had acquired through a successful Freedom of Information Act request.[22][23][24] had determined one of the men Cerveny had named had been part of the riot squad that had left a GI with brain damage who had been asked to masquerade as a detainee who represented a threat for a training exercise.

The previously classified portions of the inquiry reported that another of the men had acknowledged abusing captives.[22] According to Fox News Vokey reacted to the new information, saying: "the report shows the military ignored statements that undermined the sailors' denials."[22]

Fox News quotes spokesman Colonel William Costello saying he had nothing to add to "what we announced publicly almost two years ago."[22] Fox News quoted Ben Wizner, of the American Civil Liberties Union, characterizing the original inquiry as "narrow", and pointed out that the inquiry hadn't reported the men hadn't abused captives, merely that there was "insufficient evidence" that they had bragged about doing so to Cerveny.


Some facts of undesirable treatment of detainees were established by independent observers such as Physicians for Human Rights[25] and confirmed in The Report of the Constitution Project's Task Force on Detainee Treatment (2013)[26] being reinforced by eyewitness corroboration.[27][28][29]

See also[edit]

Other articles of the topic Biography : Edward E. Gyatt, George Emerson Conklin, Hanif Pashteen, A. B. George, RazNova, Alfred Wolf (sailor), Sébastien Cipolla
Some use of "" in your query was not closed by a matching "".Some use of "" in your query was not closed by a matching "".

  • Guantanamo Bay detention camp
  • Sean Baker


  1. Judge Advocate Division United States Marine Corps
  2. FY18: USMC Chief Warrant Officer Five (CWO5) through Chief Warrant Officer Three (CWO3) promotions for December 2017, and January and February 2018, and planned promotions for March 2018, Release authorized by Maj. Gen. Robert F. Castellvi, Director, Manpower Management Division, U.S. Marine Corps
  3. Marine says morale miserable at Guantanamo Bay prison, San Jose Mercury, October 13, 2006.
  4. Military: No Gitmo Guard Abuse Evident, Associated Press, October 13, 2006.
  5. Military: No Gitmo Guard Abuse Evident, U.S. Military Investigation Reports No Evidence Guards Beat Guantanamo Detainees – CBS News[permanent dead link]
  6. Pentagon orders probe into Marine's report of Guantanamo detainee abuse Archived 2010-01-07 at the Wayback Machine, The Jurist, October 13, 2006
  7. Schmidt-Furlow Report: AR 15-6 Investigation into FBI Allegations of Detainee Abuse at Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, The American Civil Liberties Union
  8. Alleged Guantanamo Abuse Did Not Rise to Level of 'Inhumane' Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Department of Defense, July 13, 2005
  9. Michelle Shephard (2010). Guantanamo's Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 287–288, 290–293. ISBN 9780470675465. Retrieved 2020-07-04. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  10. Cerveny's affidavit (.pdf)
  11. Michael Haas (2009). George W. Bush, War Criminal?: The Bush Administration's Liability for 269 War Crimes. ABC-CLIO. p. 76. ISBN 9780313364990. Retrieved 2020-07-04. At Guantanamo, the cruelest procedure is EFRing (for Emergency Response Force), sometimes known as IRFing (for Immediate Response Force).The procedure involves a team of eight who don riot gear, pepper spray a prisoner, open the cell door, force him to the ground with fists or shields, then hold him down with their bodies and shields, tie up his ankles and wrists, and drag him out of the cell and down the hall. Rather than a distasteful assignment, on one occasion guards boasted of the brutality to Sergeant Heather Cerveny, an assistant to a military lawyer. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help) Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  12. Archived 2008-11-21 at the Wayback Machine, October 4, 2006
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 2 Ordered Not to Discuss Gitmo Claims, Washington Post, October 14, 2006
  14. 14.0 14.1 Col. Submits Guantanamo Investigation: U.S. Army colonel completes, turns in report on Guantanamo abuse investigation[permanent dead link], CBS News, December 10, 2006.
  15. U.S. Army colonel investigating abuse allegations returns from Guantanamo, North Carolina Times, November 16, 2006
  16. Col. Submits Guantanamo Investigation, The Guardian, December 10, 2006.
  17. Investigation into the Cerveny Allegations (The Bassett Report), Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas at UC Davis
  18. Michael Melia (December 10, 2006). "Col. Submits Guantanamo Investigation". Washington Postss. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
  19. "Investigator into alleged Guantanamo abuse accuses Marine of false complaint". International Herald Tribune. February 2, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
  20. Richard Bassett (2007-02-05). "Army Regulation (AR) 15-6 Investigation into Alleged Abuse of Detainees at Joint Task Force – Guantanamo2009-08-04Department of DefenseGuantanamo;abuse". United States Department of Defense. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-08-04. Retrieved 2009-08-04. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  21. Michael Melia (February 7, 2007). "Military: No Gitmo Guard Abuse Evident: U.S. military investigation reports no evidence guards beat Guantanamo detainees". CBS News. Retrieved 2007-10-31.[dead link]
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 "Guantanamo Guard Admits Prisoner Abuse, ACLU Demands 'Top to Bottom' Review". Fox News. 2008-12-18. Archived from the original on 2009-08-04. Retrieved 2009-08-04. Last year's investigation seemed to end the controversy, but a copy of the investigator's report obtained by The Associated Press reveals that one of the guards had previously told military officials he abused detainees, while the other had attacked a man posing as a detainee in a training exercise before being deployed to Cuba. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  23. "Investigation into the Cerveny Allegations (The Bassett Report)". Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  24. "Gitmo guard admitted to abuse: Critics say military probe that cleared 2 men was a sham". NBC News. 2008-12-18. Retrieved 2010-04-10. Bassett then went to Camp Pendleton, Calif., to interview Cerveny, but spoke with her for only about five minutes and treated her like someone accused of a crime instead of a person who reported a possible outrage, Vokey told AP. "It was definitely confrontational, like a cross-examination," Vokey said. "He read her her rights and accused her of making a false claim. It scared Sgt. Cerveny pretty badly. She was shaking afterward."
  25. Report Details Alleged Abuse of Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib Detainees, PBS Nation, June 18, 2008
  26. Constitution Project (Georgetown Public Policy Institute). The report of the Constitution Project's Task Force on Detainee Treatment. Chapter 1. Detention at Guantánamo. Washington, DC: Constitution Project, 2013.
  27. Confessions of a Guantanamo guard, Independent, 18 February 2009.
  28. Testimony of a Marine, University of California, Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas
  29. The Guantánamo Testimonials Project

External links[edit]

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