|Sean Baker United States Army|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch|| United States Air Force
United States Army
|Years of service||1990?-?? (USAF)
2001-2004 (U.S. Army)
|Unit||438th Military Police|
Sean Baker, a native of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, is a United States Air Force veteran and former member of the Kentucky National Guard, who served during the first Gulf War, and as a member of the 438th Military Police at Guantanamo Bay.
In January 2003, Baker was ordered by an officer at Guantanamo to play the role of a prisoner in a training drill. As per instruction, Baker wore an orange prison jumpsuit over his uniform and crawled under a bunk in a cell, so an "internal reaction force" consisting of four (possibly five) US soldiers could practice extracting an uncooperative inmate from his cell. The soldiers in the reaction force were operating under the impression that he was a genuine detainee that had assaulted a sergeant.
During an interview with WLEX, a Kentucky television station, Baker stated that he was beaten severely and that a soldier pressed his head down against the steel floor of the facility to the point where he became unable to breathe. Although Baker shouted out the safeword ("red") he had been given to stop the exercise and stated that he was a U.S. soldier, the soldier continued beating Baker's head against the floor and choking him. Only after ripping his prison jumpsuit in the struggle, revealing that he was wearing a battle dress uniform and government-issue boots underneath, did the beating stop.
Baker was transported to a military hospital for treatment of head injuries and then transferred to a Navy hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia, where he was treated for six days and given a two-week injury discharge. During that discharge Baker began suffering major seizures indicative of traumatic brain injury, and was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he stayed for forty eight days. Afterwards, he was transferred to light duty with a burial detail at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and received a medical discharge in April 2004.
After Baker revealed his story to a Kentucky reporter, a spokeswoman for United States Southern Command questioned the validity of Baker's injuries, and denied that his medical discharge was related to the training drill. However, the Physical Evaluation Board stated in a document on September 29, 2003, that "the TBI was due to soldier playing role of detainee who was non-cooperative and was being extracted from detention cell in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during a training exercise."
The Army has since recanted its denial of the relationship between Baker's injury and the training drill, although the spokeswoman continues to claim that the injury was only partly caused by the incident. A military investigation concluded that there was no misconduct that led to Baker's injury. A videotape that should have been made of the incident for training purposes has yet to be found.
Baker filed a lawsuit in May 2005, against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of the Army Francis J. Harvey, and Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England, among others. Baker alleges the events in the incident violated his constitutional rights. In his suit Baker is asking for $15 million in compensation and damages, and for re-instatement in the Army.
Baker still wants to serve his country, in the Army, and thinks the Army can find him a job that accommodates his disability.
Involuntary medical retirement from Army
As of June 2005 Baker receives $2,350 a month in military disability benefits, plus $1,000 a month in Social Security, which he was willing to give up if the Army finds a way to reinstate a position for him.
A June 2005 LA Times story quotes an unnamed official about the Baker incident: "While it is unfortunate that Spc. Baker was injured, the standards of professionalism we expect of our soldiers mandate that our training be as realistic as possible"
- Leung, Rebecca (February 11, 2009). "G.I. Attacked During Training". CBS. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
- Zucchino, David (June 18, 2005). "Soldier Sues Over Guantanamo Beating". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 5, 2013. "Simpson said Baker received $2,350 a month in military disability benefits, plus $1,000 a month in Social Security, but that he would give it up to have a military job."
- "US probes trainee soldier beating". BBC News. 16 June 2004. Retrieved August 5, 2013. "In a letter to the army, Congressman Ben Chandler of Kentucky urged the military to turn over Mr Baker's medical records and said his claims were "deeply troubling"."
- Zucchino, David (June 18, 2005). "Soldier Sues Over Guantanamo Beating". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 5, 2013.
- ^ GI sues after brutal beating by fellow guards at Guantanamo, reprint from the LA Times, June 18, 2005
- Army Now Says G.I. Was Beaten in Role, New York Times, June 9, 2004
- Former Soldier Disputes Army Denials That He Was Beaten During Training Exercises In Cuba, Lex18, October 17, 2004
- G.I. Attacked During Training , CBS News, November 4, 2004
- US asks judge to dismiss lawsuit filed by soldier injured in Cuba, Lexington Herald Leader, August 17, 2005