A New Yorker article this week tells the harrowing story of Mohamedou Salahi, a Mauritanian man who was wrongfully held in Guantánamo Bay for over 14 years and repeatedly tortured, and his friendship with his former guard Steve Wood—a conscience-stricken soldier from Oregon.
U.S. military officials told guards that Salahi was one of the prison's highest-value detainees because he was, they believed, a key al-Qaida member with intel on terrorism plots. Wood, however, a member of the Oregon National Guard who grew up in Molalla and later moved to Portland, grew distrustful of the military prison after getting to know Salahi and reading reports of government cover-ups abroad.
Wood eventually quit the National Guard. The New Yorker story describes him wrestling with guilt and doubt. He grew up an evangelical Christian, and his questions about Salahi led him to an unexpected religious awakening—and an unlikely reunion.
"One night in October, 2016, Wood's phone rang while he was in a Safeway in Portland," the story says. "On the other end of the line was a man whose voice he hadn't heard in more than eleven years."
When Salahi finally got a trial, Wood vouched on his behalf and later traveled to Mauritania and appeared in local interviews to recognize Salahi's innocence.
The full story, which chronicles Salahi's torture at the hands of the U.S. government and Wood's disillusionment, is well worth reading in its entirety here.