But Gordon has a corroborating witness for at least one of the episodes he described. Captain Kim Kleiman, a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard who served as a public-affairs officer at Guantánamo during part of 2008, says that she heard Rosenberg ask Gordon the “red-hot poker” question. The comment came, Kleiman says, during a conversation about why a detainee had been sitting on a pillow in court, which led to Rosenberg’s speculating about abuse by guards. “She asked Commander Gordon how it felt, or if he would like it—one of those two, I’m not sure exactly,” Kleiman says. “It seemed to me that if it was a man saying that to a woman, there would have been much more of an outcry. I think Commander Gordon just got tired of comments like that.”
Kleiman adds that she respects Rosenberg, whom she recalls as one of the hardest-working reporters at the base. “We had a lot of wonderful interactions,” Kleiman says. “But then, depending on her mood, she could get a little stressed.”
Gordon retired from the Pentagon in late 2009, and is now a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy. In an e-mail message, he said that several people gave similar testimony to the Herald during its investigation.
Gyllenhaal says that he cannot recall such comments, though he did not personally participate in every part of the investigation. But on the contrary, he says, “We started hearing from all sorts of people unsolicited”—including both reporters and military personnel—“about how wrong this was.”
Bob Franken, who is now a regular contributor to MSNBC, says that he saw Rosenberg get into plenty of arguments with public-affairs officers during the early years of Guantánamo, but he never saw her cross the line into unprofessionalism. “We’re not exactly choirboys,” Franken says. “She’s a hard-ass. She’s tough as nails, as you’re supposed to be. But she doesn’t cut corners. The military sometimes seemed like they only wanted us to offer light color commentary and root for the home team, and Carol never played that game.”
Ten months after Gordon’s letter came a more serious headache. At the beginning of May, Rosenberg was at Guantánamo to cover a pretrial hearing in the case of Omar Khadr, the Canadian accused of killing a U.S. soldier. Khadr was only fifteen years old at the time of the attack; he had been brought to the region by his family, which had extensive ties with several terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda.
At the May hearing, Khadr’s attorneys and the government were arguing about whether Khadr’s statements to interrogators would be admissible at trial. His lawyers claim that Khadr was mistreated so badly at Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Field, and later at Guantánamo, that his confessions, even those he gave to well-behaved interrogators, should be thrown out under the doctrine of “the fruit of the poisonous tree,” a legal metaphor used to describe evidence that has been obtained illegally.
In an article on May 5, 2010, Rosenberg mentioned Joshua Claus, a former U.S. military interrogator who is likely to appear at Khadr’s trial—assuming there is not a plea deal. Claus had questioned Khadr at the Bagram detention facility shortly after his capture, and Khadr’s lawyers say that Claus terrified their client by giving him some lurid cop-show patter to the effect that he would wind up gang-raped in prison if he didn’t cooperate. (In an unrelated case, Claus pleaded guilty in 2005 to mistreating two Bagram detainees who died in custody. He spent five months in prison for that crime.)
The identities of several of the interrogators in the Khadr case, including Claus, had been placed under a protective order by the military-commission judge. During the May hearing, Claus was referred to only as “Interrogator #1.” But after Khadr’s lawyer mentioned in court that Interrogator #1 had been convicted of abusing prisoners at Bagram, the reporters at the base started Googling and realized that it was likely Claus. That made sense, because in early 2008, Claus had contacted the Toronto Star’s Michelle Shepherd to give an on-the-record interview about his role in interrogating Khadr.