Sunday, December 26, 2004

Detainee Abuse Reports Match FBI Memos

The Washington Post reports today that reports of severe abuse filed by detainees at Guantanamo in Cuba are very similar to the incidents described by FBI agents in the memos recently obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union. As a result, the detainees' claims have become much more credible, even though the Bush administration continues to vehemently deny that any violations of human rights are taking place.

Even the prisoners' attorneys had difficulty believing, before the ACLU got the FBI documents through a Freedom of Information Act request, that the Guantanamo detainees could really have been subjected to the kind of torture they described. But the memos confirmed every detail.

Brent Mickum, a Washington attorney for one of the detainees, said that "now there's no question these guys have been tortured. When we first got involved in this case, I wondered whether this could all be true. But every allegation that I've heard has now come to pass and been confirmed by the government's own papers."
I wrote about some of the abuse detainees experienced in my December 23 post about Thomas Friedman's column in the New York Times. In addition, detainees have reported they were, or are:
  • beaten and kicked with their heads covered by hoods and their legs tightly shackled.
  • subjected to extremes of heat and cold for prolonged periods of time.
  • subjected to "repeated, prolonged rectal exams" -- in other words, sodomized.
  • forced to march naked around a room while the interrogators photographed them.
  • raped and sexually molested in isolated parts of the prison.
  • threatened with rape.
  • forced to sit in a room wrapped in an Israeli flag, sometimes with loud music and flashing strobe lights.
  • forcibly injected with unknown drugs.

A British detainee reported that he was beaten on a regular basis, and that he frequently heard the screams of other prisoners being tortured, while he was in his cell. This detainee also said he personally saw two men beaten to death by the interrogators.

Another detainee, also British, alleged that he was tortured so badly he had to be hospitalized; and that on the same day he was taken to hospital, the U.S. authorities announced that he had "confessed" to having trained in suicide bombing with Al Qaeda. A U.S. military tribunal "investigated" this case and concluded that there was no connection between the injuries this detainee suffered and the "confession" he made. Yeah, right.

The torture described in the FBI memos and by some of the prisoners is not the full extent of the human rights violations at Guantanamo.

In [some] cases, the U.S. military has declined to declassify detailed allegations of abuse, so it is not possible to know what the detainees claim happened. In recent months, the government has said Begg, Abbasi and hundreds of other detainees confessed to being Taliban and al Qaeda fighters to interrogators, but their lawyers say the statements were coerced.
Will Pres. Bush make a public statement that torture is going on at Guantanamo and all of the confessions obtained there are unusable, as the attorney for one of the detainees urged him to do? What would Jesus do?

No comments: