The Torturers and the Tortured

Revolution #005, June 12, 2005, posted at

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Memo to Combatant Commanders, January 19, 2002: "The United States has determined that al-Qaida and Taliban individuals under the control of the Department of Defense are not entitled to prisoner of war status for the purposes of the Geneva Conventions of 1949."

Rumsfeld, asked about conditions of U.S. prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, January 15, 2002: "I do not feel even the slightest concern about their treatment."

Unnamed U.S. official, Washington Post , Dec...., 2002: "We don't kick the shit out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the shit out of them."

Unnamed CIA official, Washington Post , Dec. ..., 2002: "If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job."

George Bush, UN Torture Victims Recognition Day, June 2003: "The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example."

Alberto Gonzales, then White House Counsel (now Attorney General), June 22, 2004: "The president has given no order or directive that would immunize from prosecution anyone engaged in conduct that constitutes torture. All interrogation techniques actually authorized have been carefully vetted, are lawful and do not constitute torture."

George W. Bush after the Abu Ghraib pictures surfaced, June 2004: "I have never ordered torture."


Based on interview with Haj Ali, the prisoner in Abu Ghraib photographed with wires and hood, Vanity Fair, May 2005: "One night as he was praying, Haj Ali was taken hooded by [U.S. army guard] Graner and led to another room. `I felt there were 8 or 10 people standing around,' he says. He was then made to stand on a food box and lift his hands, as electrical wires were clipped between his fingers. `They would give me electric shocks. I could feel the pulses going even into my eyeballs. I would collapse and faint.' Upon each collapse, the guards would kick and hit Haj Ali with boots and sticks, saying, `Get up! Get up!' He believes he was shocked five times."

Interview with prisoners released from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Telegraph, May 15, 2004: "Abu Mustafa, 24, said he was arrested 10 months ago by U.S. forces who accused him of being a leader of a terrorist group. He said that early in his detention he was hung from a wall by his hands for about five hours. On another occasion two American soldiers had sex in front of him while he was in the prison hospital. Another inmate said he saw wires being attached to the tongue and genitals of his cousin."

Description of a leaked U.S. Army report on Afghanistan's Bagram Collection Point, New York Times, May 20, 2005: "In sworn statements to Army investigators, soldiers describe one female interrogator with a taste for humiliation stepping on the neck of one prostrate detainee and kicking another in the genitals. They tell of a shackled prisoner being forced to roll back and forth on the floor of a cell, kissing the boots of his two interrogators as he went. Yet another prisoner is made to pick plastic bottle caps out of a drum mixed with excrement and water as part of a strategy to soften him up for questioning."

The Guardian (UK), reported how six inmates had been seized by the U.S. military in Sarajevo, hooded and then taken to Guantánamo, April 14, 2005: "One prisoner, Mustafa Aid Idir, a computer technician who was on the Bosnian national karate team, suffered repeated beatings. A garden hose, running full blast, was forced into his mouth until he feared suffocation. His finger and thumb were broken, and his head was driven into the ground with such force that he suffered facial paralysis. `His eyes didn't blink, he couldn't eat, food was leaking from his mouth,' said Melissa Hoffer, his attorney."

Vanity Fair, May 2005: "The Pentagon has declined to identify all the detention centers it is using in the War on Terror, but at least 17 are known to exist in Iraq; there is also the Guantánamo facility, in Cuba, and other centers in Afghanistan and Jordan."

New York Times, March 6, 2005: "The Bush administration's secret program to transfer suspected terrorists to foreign countries for interrogation has been carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency under broad authority that has allowed it to act without case-by-case approval from the White House or the State or Justice Departments, according to current and former government officials. The unusually expansive authority for the CIA to operate independently was provided by the White House under a still-classified directive signed by President Bush within days of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the officials said."

Human Rights Watch, on the U.S. out-sourcing of prisoners to allied governments for torture, April 2005: "There are anywhere from 100 to 150 cases of 'extraordinary renditions.' "

Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen seized by the U.S. while switching planes at JFK airport, is one of the few "rendered" prisoners who has been released and able to describe what happened to him. Here he describes arriving in a Syrian prison November 4, 2003, CBC: "We went into the basement, and they opened a door, and I looked in. I could not believe what I saw. I asked how long I would be kept in this place. He did not answer, but put me in and closed the door. It was like a grave. It had no light. It was three feet wide. It was six feet deep. It was seven feet high. It had a metal door, with a small opening in the door, which did not let in light because there was a piece of metal on the outside for sliding things into the cell. On the third day, the interrogation lasted about 18 hours. They beat me from time to time and made me wait in the waiting room for one to two hours before resuming the interrogation. While in the waiting room I heard a lot of people screaming. They wanted me to say I went to Afghanistan. This was a surprise to me."