Monday, June 13, 2005

Savagery at Gitmo

TIME Magazine has blown the lid off the secret horrors that transpire everyday at Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba with the publication of an interrogation log detailing the military's treatment of the "20th hijacker" Mohammed al-Qahtani. Those who accuse the military of systematic atrocities will have new ammunition with the release of this log:

Al-Qahtani's resilience under pressure in the fall of 2002 led top officials at Gitmo to petition Washington for more muscular "counter resistance strategies." On Dec. 2, Rumsfeld approved 16 of 19 stronger coercive methods. Now the interrogators could use stress strategies like standing for prolonged periods, isolation for as long as 30 days, removal of clothing, forced shaving of facial hair, playing on "individual phobias" (such as dogs) and "mild, non-injurious physical contact such as grabbing, poking in the chest with the finger and light pushing." According to the log, al-Qahtani experienced several of those over the next five weeks. The techniques Rumsfeld balked at included "use of a wet towel or dripping water to induce the misperception of suffocation." "Our Armed Forces are trained," a Pentagon memo on the changes read, "to a standard of interrogation that reflects a tradition of restraint." Nevertheless, the log shows that interrogators poured bottles of water on al-Qahtani's head when he refused to drink. Interrogators called this game "Drink Water or Wear It."

Brutal. Absolutely brutal, what they're doing to this poor boy down there in Cuba. What al-Qahtani underwent was as horrible as, well, as what most of us went through at the hands of our Phys-ed teachers back in the insensitive sixties.

After the new measures are approved, the mood in al-Qahtani's interrogation booth changes dramatically. The interrogation sessions lengthen. The quizzing now starts at midnight, and when Detainee 063 dozes off, interrogators rouse him by dripping water on his head or playing Christina Aguilera music.

Okay. I admit the Christina Aguilera music might be a bit hard to defend. It certainly violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the Geneva Conventions.

According to the log, his handlers at one point perform a puppet show "satirizing the detainee's involvement with al-Qaeda." He is taken to a new interrogation booth, which is decorated with pictures of 9/11 victims, American flags and red lights. He has to stand for the playing of the U.S. national anthem. His head and beard are shaved. He is returned to his original interrogation booth. A picture of a 9/11 victim is taped to his trousers. Al-Qahtani repeats that he will "not talk until he is interrogated the proper way." At 7 a.m. on Dec. 4, after a 12-hour, all-night session, he is put to bed for a four-hour nap, TIME reports.

A Puppet Show! Do they have no mercy? It makes one ashamed to be an American. I wonder if they had some of the puppets in black hoods cut off the head of another terrified puppet who confessed to being an infidel.

Then the ultimate humiliation. They make him stand for the national anthem. I feel faint.

Over the next few days, al-Qahtani is subjected to a drill known as Invasion of Space by a Female, and he becomes especially agitated by the close physical presence of a woman. Then, around 2 p.m. on Dec. 6, comes another small breakthrough. He asks his handlers for some paper. "I will tell the truth," he says. "I am doing this to get out of here." He finally explains how he got to Afghanistan in the first place and how he met with bin Laden. In return, the interrogators honor requests from him to have a blanket and to turn off the air conditioner.

Being physically close to a woman he couldn't beat up or shoot was evidently very stressful for the young man. Should we be putting detainees into such unaccustomed positions? What if the woman had bad breath? How would you like it?

And what was that about air conditioning? Air conditioning? For terrorists?

Soon enough, the pressure ratchets up again. Various strategies of intimidation are employed anew. The log reveals that a dog is present, but no details are given beyond a hazy reference to a disagreement between the military police and the dog handler. Agitated, al-Qahtani takes back the story he told the day before about meeting bin Laden, TIME reports.

A dog is present. Uh oh. Was the dog used to make the terrorist uneasy? To frighten him, perhaps? Those interrogators are sure big on irony, aren't they?

Well, after reading this article we agree with Jimmy Carter and others who are calling for Gitmo to be shut down. We have enough country club prisons paid for by American taxpayers.

TIME's scoop can be read in its entirety here.

A Special Three-Pointer

This is a great story. Don't miss it.

Thanks to Michelle Malkin for the tip.