Freed Gitmo prisoners speaking out


Geraldine Sealey
August 4, 2004 10:01PM (UTC)

The Center for Constitutional Rights sent a report to senators today containing graphic, disturbing details of Abu Ghraib-like treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay -- including sexual humiliation of prisoners that began, the report says, when General Geoffrey Miller first came to Gitmo. Miller, you'll recall from the Abu Ghraib scandal, was sent to Iraq from Cuba to implement his special brand of interrogation techniques in U.S. prisons there. But we're still being asked to believe that this kind of treatment -- such as forcing prisoners to sodomize one another while being videotaped -- was meted out by a few "bad apples." And as for the quality of "intelligence" gleaned from the Gitmo prisoners? The report sheds light on the tactics used to coerce false information from prisoners desperate to please their captors by saying whatever they want to hear -- including one man who admits to being in a videotape with Osama bin Laden when he was in fact, in Birmingham, England, at the time.

The report tells the story of Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal and Rhuhel Ahmed, three Britons released from Gitmo in March, who were never charged with any crime, but were, according to their account, subject to sexual and religious humiliation and physical abuse. CCR is asking for an independent commission to investigate allegations of abuse at Gitmo. Here's CCR's description of the report (CCR has a .pdf file of the entire report on its site):

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"The men completed this report solely to let the world know the truth about what is happening to the prisoners at Guantanamo and in the hope that their testimony might help improve conditions for those still there. The document was compiled by the Tipton men and their attorney, noted British civil rights lawyer Gareth Peirce.

The report details the several weeks that Rasul and Iqbal were held in open cages at Camp X-Ray, allowed out for only a few minutes each week for one shower, and otherwise left to swelter in the Cuban heat. Scorpions and snakes were allowed to roam the cells, and many prisoners were bitten. According the report, the US marines who ran the camp were very brutal, and the abusive treatment was focused in a carefully planned and sophisticated manner to have maximum impact on the individual prisoner:

-- The report discusses the sexual humiliation of the prisoners that first began when General Geoffrey Miller, later of Abu Ghraib notoriety, came to Guantanamo. For example, the prisoners would be stripped naked and forced to watch videotapes of other prisoners who, in turn, had been ordered to sodomize each other. The sexual humiliation was reserved for those who would be most impacted by it, those who had been brought up strictly in their Muslim faith.

-- The religious humiliation was similarly focused. The guards would throw the prisoners Korans into the toilet. They would forcibly shave the prisoners. There was a clear policy to try to force people to abandon their religious faith.

-- The prisoners would be forcibly injected with unidentified drugs as part of the interrogation process. They were told they could only get medical care if they cooperated.

-- Some among the British detainees Moazzam Begg and Feroz Abbasi have been held in total isolation for well over a year.

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It is hardly surprising that as a result of these abusive and torturous tactics, prisoners routinely confessed to things they had not (and could not have) done. After endless pressure, Asif Iqbal agreed that he was the person interrogators pointed to on a videotape with Osama Bin Laden. The interrogator said, Ive put detainees here in isolation for 12 months and eventually theyve broken. You might as well admit it now so that you dont have to stay in isolation. After being in the isolation cells for about six weeks, Asif finally said, Okay, its me. It was his pure good fortune that this was disproved by British Intelligence in truth, along with the other Tipton men, he was living and working around Birmingham at the time the videotape was made."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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