Tuesday, March 17, 2009

International Red Cross officially accuses US of Torture

From The Raw Story:

US interrogators attached detainees to collars like dogs and used their leashes to slam them against walls, forced them to stand for days wearing only diapers, and tied detainees necks with towels and threw them against plywood walls, according to accounts in a secret 2007 report issued by the Red Cross to be printed in a New York magazine and leaked on Monday.

The report -- issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross and kept secret for the last two years -- is the first first-hand document to legally say the Bush Administration's harsh interrogation techniques "constituted torture." They strongly imply that CIA interrogators violated international law.

The Red Cross was the only organization to get access to high-value detainees that were transferred to Guantanamo Bay from secret prisons US in 2006. It contains accounts from the prisoners, who were held in different locations but offered remarkably uniform tales of abuse at the hands of US agents.

Techniques amounted to "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," the report states. Such treatment is explicitly barred by the Geneva Conventions.

The Red Cross report is perhaps the most harrowing to date in describing what appear to be routine US practices authorized by the Bush Administration. They include beatings, sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures, collaring and simulated drowning.

But the report goes further: Prisoners were routinely beaten, stripped, doused with freezing water and loud music, and kept awake for days with their arms shackled above them, wearing only diapers.

"On a daily basis . . . a collar was looped around my neck and then used to slam me against the walls of the interrogation room," the report quotes detainee Walid Muhammad bin Attash, as saying, according to a story today. He was wrapped in a plastic sheet, he said, as cold water was "poured onto my body with buckets."

"I would be wrapped inside the sheet with cold water for several minutes," he said. "Then I would be taken for interrogation."

One captive said his neck was tied with a towel and then he was repeatedly swung into a plywood wall mounted in his cell. He was often slapped in the face and then placed in a coffin-like wooden box and forced to crouch with his air supply restricted.

"The stress on my legs held in this position meant my wounds both in my leg and stomach became very painful," he told the Red Cross.

Afterward -- as if this wasn't enough -- he was waterboarded by being strapped to what looked like a hospital bed.

"A black cloth was then placed over my face and the interrogators used a mineral bottle to pour water on the cloth so that I could not breathe," he said.

"I struggled against the straps, trying to breathe, but it was hopeless," he added. "I though I was going to die."

And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free ... to torture my prisoners.


Shirley Vandever said...


The Obama Administration, taking its first position in a federal court on claims of torture of Guantanamo Bay detainees, urged the D.C. Circuit Court on Thursday to reject a lawsuit by four Britons formerly held there. In addition, the new filing argued that a recent appeals court ruling makes clear that “aliens held at Guantanamo do not have due process rights.”

Moreover, the document called for a sweeping ban on lawsuits against U.S. military officials, claiming constitutional violations by such officials. Allowing such lawsuits “for actions taken with respect to aliens during wartime,” it said, “would enmesh the courts in military, national security, and foreign affairs matters that are the exclusive province of the political branches.”

The brief was another indication that, at least so far, the new Administration is not moving to make a wide-ranging break with detention policies of the former Bush Administration. While President Obama has ordered the closing of Guantanamo by next January, lawyers for the government have taken positions in a variety of detainee court cases that do not propose fundamental change.


kavips said...

It sounds like he doesn't want to take on a myriad of problems at once..

That happens sometimes. He has to pick ones battles and the economy is the one needing his attention...

(Do you pool your resources to fight the British or that pesky Indian tribe out west....)

He needs to get a team placed on this issue, give them general guidelines, and turn them loose...