Friday, May 20, 2005

FROM JEANNE at Body and Soul comes the news that Human Rights First (the former Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) has just published a series of reports from detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. The detainees, in interviews with their U.S. attorneys, describe patterns of extreme physical brutality amounting to torture, as well as incidents of sexual and religious humiliation. The reports, which come from detainee files that have been declassified by the Defense Department, have not been independently corroborated; however, they are considered credible, because the types of abuse described by different detainees are either very similar or identical, and also because the scars and marks on the detainees' bodies are consistent with the type of abuse they say they experienced.

Guards interfered with prayers, cursed Mohammed, placed shoes on top of the Koran, or threw it on the floor. They told detainees that there was a "holy war" against them. One guard told a prisoner that he beat him "because I'm Christian."

The prisoners are Jum'ah Mohammed AbdulLatif Al Dossari (or Jumah al Dousari), Isa Ali Abdulla Al Murbati, Abdullah Al Noaimi and Adel Kamel Abdulla Haji. Lately it seems important to me not just to record the crimes, but to name the victims.

The crimes: While Mr. Al Dossari was being transferred from Pakistan to Afghanistan, he was kicked in the stomach until he vomited blood. In Kandahar, he was forced to lay on the ground, while Marines urinated on him, walked on him, and put out cigarettes on him. He still has scars consistent with cigarette burns. Before being interrogated, he was forced to walk over barbed wire, and had his head pushed to the ground on broken glass. Once again, he has scars consistent with the treatment he describes.

In Guantanamo, he shared a cell with rats, snakes, and scorpions. For several months he had no mattress or blanket. He was beaten and threatened with rape, and short-shackled to an interrogation room floor for 16 hours. According to three freed British detainees, Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed (from the Tipton Report, available as a pdf. from the Center for Constitutional Rights), at least one of Mr. Al Dossari's beatings was videotaped, although the tape has conveniently disappeared.

The British detainees also claim that Mr. Al Dossari was obviously mentally ill.

He drank water from his toilet because it was better than the dark, smelly water he was given to drink. He spent five months in a cell with little light, and ten months in a cell where lights are on all the time.

Other prisoners describe similar treatment.

Jeanne also points to a piece in Salon in which Sidney Blumenthal writes about how the Bush administration and, sad to say, the mainstream media, have generalized the problems Newsweek had with the sourcing on one specific allegation of prisoner abuse to plant the notion that all reported incidents of prisoner abuse are false.

No comments: