Torture at Guantánamo

Tomorrow's New York Times has an extensive report on torture at Guantánamo:

Broad Use Cited of Harsh Tactics at Base in Cuba: Many detainees at Guantánamo Bay were regularly subjected to harsh and coercive treatment, several people who worked in the prison said in recent interviews, despite longstanding assertions by military officials that such treatment had not occurred except in some isolated cases.

The people, military guards, intelligence agents and others, described in interviews with The New York Times a range of procedures that included treatment they said was highly abusive occurring over a long period of time, as well as rewards for prisoners who cooperated with interrogators.

One regular procedure that was described by people who worked at Camp Delta, the main prison facility at the naval base in Cuba, was making uncooperative prisoners strip to their underwear, having them sit in a chair while shackled hand and foot to a bolt in the floor, and forcing them to endure strobe lights and screamingly loud rock and rap music played through two close loudspeakers, while the air- conditioning was turned up to maximum levels, said one military official who witnessed the procedure. The official said that was designed to make the detainees uncomfortable as they were accustomed to high temperatures both in their native countries and their cells.

Such sessions could last up to 14 hours with breaks, said the official, who described the treatment after being contacted by The Times.

Remember: A vote for Bush legitimates his first term. Thus, a vote for Bush is a vote for torture.

The NYT story makes two other important points: Sunlight really is the best disinfectant—the torture regime continued essentially unabated until it got publicity in April of this year. And, Guantánamo's torture “migrated to Abu Ghraib''; the 'few bad apples' theory is now utterly in tatters.

… the first four detainees now facing war crimes charges before a military tribunal at the base were specifically chosen because they had not been harshly treated and therefore would be less likely to make any embarrassing allegations.

The people who worked at the prison also described as common another procedure in which an inmate was awakened, subjected to an interrogation in a facility known as the Gold Building, then returned to a different cell. As soon as the guards determined the inmate had fallen into a deep sleep, he was awakened again for interrogation after which he would be returned to yet a different cell. This could happen five or six times during a night, they said. This procedure was described by those who participated as part of something called “Operation Sandman.”

Much of the harsh treatment described by the sources was said to have occurred as recently as the early months of this year. After the scandal about mistreatment of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq became public in April, all harsh techniques were abruptly suspended, they said.

The new accounts of mistreatment at Guantánamo provide fresh evidence about how practices there may have contributed to the abuses later uncovered at Abu Ghraib. One independent military panel said in a report that the approach that was being used at Guantánamo “migrated to Abu Ghraib,'' where abuses grew sharply. The vigorous debate within the administration about what techniques were permissible in interrogations was set off when the Justice Department provided a series of memorandums to the White House and Defense Department providing narrow definitions of torture. In February 2002, Mr. Bush ordered that the prisoners at Guantánamo were to be treated “humanely and, to the extent appropriate with military necessity, in a manner consistent with'' the Geneva Conventions.

In March 2002, a team of administration lawyers accepted the Justice Department's view, concluding in a memorandum that President Bush was not bound by either the Convention Against Torture or a federal antitorture statute because he had the authority to protect the nation from terrorism. When some of the memorandums were disclosed, the administration tried to distance itself from the rationale for the harsher treatment.

At the request of military intelligence officials who complained of tenacious resistance by some subjects, Mr. Rumsfeld approved a list of 16 techniques for use at Guantánamo in addition to the 17 methods in the Army Field Manual in December 2002. But he suspended those approvals in January 2003 after some military lawyers complained they were excessive and possibly unlawful.

In April 2003, after a review, Mr. Rumsfeld issued a final policy approving of 24 techniques, some of which needed his permission to be used.

They knew what they wanted to have happen, they knew what they didn't want to know, and they got what they wanted.

How can anyone of conscience vote to endorse this despicable conduct?

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One Response to Torture at Guantánamo

  1. Andreas Brecht says:

    You americans are just evil.
    Look at this poor taliban fellow, who has done no more than cut off a few hands and participate in one or two stonings, and now he has to undergo a treatment nearly as harsh as Saturday night in a New York disco.
    Bring justice to these poor men.
    Fly them back to their home country and drop them somewhere over the pacific.

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