"It fried them"


Mark Follman
October 16, 2004 10:35PM (UTC)

With the homestretch of the presidential race commanding the spotlight in recent weeks, the Bush campaign must have been relieved to see the Abu Ghraib torture scandal all but disappear from view. But in today's New York Times, there's more evidence of widespread abuse of prisoners in the administration's war against terrorism.

"Broad Use Cited of Harsh Tactics at Base in Cuba

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"Many detainees at Guantanamo Bay were regularly subjected to harsh and coercive treatment, several people who worked in the prison said in recent interviews, despite longstanding assertions by military officials that such treatment had not occurred except in some isolated cases.

"The people, military guards, intelligence agents and others, described in interviews with The New York Times a range of procedures that included treatment they said was highly abusive occurring over a long period of time, as well as rewards for prisoners who cooperated with interrogators.

"One regular procedure that was described by people who worked at Camp Delta, the main prison facility at the naval base in Cuba, was making uncooperative prisoners strip to their underwear, having them sit in a chair while shackled hand and foot to a bolt in the floor, and forcing them to endure strobe lights and screamingly loud rock and rap music played through two close loudspeakers, while the air- conditioning was turned up to maximum levels, said one military official who witnessed the procedure. The official said that was designed to make the detainees uncomfortable as they were accustomed to high temperatures both in their native countries and their cells.

"Such sessions could last up to 14 hours with breaks, said the official, who described the treatment after being contacted by The Times.

"'It fried them,' the official said, explaining that anger over the treatment the prisoners endured was the reason for speaking with a reporter."

The Pentagon responded to the allegations, according to the Times, by saying that the interrogations are "providing valuable information in the war on terrorism," and that "Guantanamo guards provide an environment that is stable, secure, safe and humane."

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Yet another example of the sharp disconnection between the way the Bush administration discusses its war policies publicly, and what's actually taking place on the ground.


Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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