Sunday, January 02, 2005

Inside Guantanamo

The New York Times has a story today detailing abusive techniques at Guantanamo, which pretty much confirms what we knew all along: that prisoners there are being systematically tortured by US military and intelligence personnel. And it's not just a few sporadic cases; one interrogator estimated that one in six inmates were subjected to abusive treatment which the Red Cross has called "tantamount to torture".

There is no question that this is official US government policy. New interrogators are told that they have greater "flexibility" in extracting information because the Geneva Conventions do not apply. Internal FBI documents recently released to the ACLU talk of the base's intelligence staff having their "marching orders from SecDef" and of specific abuses being "approved by the Dep Sec Def". And we already know, from a Senate Investigation way back in May, that Donald Rumsfeld drew up the list of "allowed" techniques and specifically authorises some abuses:

After officials at Guantánamo asked for more leeway in dealing with Mr. Kahtani, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in December 2002 approved a list of 16 techniques for use there in addition to the 17 methods in the Army Field Manual. He suspended those approvals the next month after some Navy lawyers complained that they were excessive and possibly illegal. But after a review, Mr. Rumsfeld issued a final policy in April 2003, approving 24 techniques, some of which needed his permission to be used.

(My emphasis).

These techniques include prolonged sleep deprivation, "dietry manipulation" (starvation), "environmental manipulation" (baking or freezing), stress positions (backed by rifle butts and beatings if the victim moves), and use of dogs for intimidation. Both the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz have described these methods as "a violation of the Geneva Convention", yet the US continues to claim that prisoners at Guantanamo are treated according to international law. General Miller, former commandant of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, has gone so far as to say that

"Should our men or women be held in similar circumstances, I would hope they would be treated in this manner."

We can only hope that America's enemies do not take him at his word.


Happy New Year, Idiot Savant.

So let me see if I understand you: If the Red Cross calls some treatment abusive and tantamount to torture, to you, that's the same as torture? Look up "tantamount". I were you, I'd be a little more careful with your definitions or what is and what isn't torture, less you be accused of deliberately distorting the truth.

Posted by Jack : 1/02/2005 02:10:00 PM

> We can only hope that America's enemies do not take him at his word.

When did the Americans last fight an enemy that did not breach the geneva convention?

Posted by Genius : 1/02/2005 02:20:00 PM

Mundens here:

More to the point, when did America sign the Geneva convention?

I thought they refused to, just as they've refused to join any other treaty that might affect their ability to do whatever they want, such as not joining the World Court, not ratifying the Internationa Law of the Sea, not ratifying the Kyoto Protocols, not signing the Berne Convention, etc, etc.

Posted by Anonymous : 1/03/2005 08:42:00 PM

> More to the point, when did America sign the Geneva convention?

The US ratified the Third Geneva Convention (relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War) on August 4th, 1955. It also ratified its predecessor, the Convention Between the United States of America and Other Powers, Relating to Prisoners of War on February 4, 1932.

More importantly, they ratified the UN Convention Against Torture on October 21, 1994. This bars any form of torture, and allows no circumstances under which exceptions may be made.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 1/04/2005 12:36:00 AM