Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tales of torture unleashed in secret report

David Usborne
NEW YORK, March 17: Interrogation techniques used by the USA on Al Qaida suspects in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, including beatings, sleep deprivation and so-called waterboarding, "constituted torture" as well as "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment, according to a secret Red Cross report.
The report, which was not meant for public release, was written after Red Cross observers were allowed to speak to 14 "high value" detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The detainees had been transferred from secret prisons, or black sites, operated by the CIA. The testimony given to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), notably by Abu Zubaydah, who was captured after fighting US soldiers in Pakistan, provides a level of detail about the treatment the men received that has not been seen before.
Zubaydah recalls being slammed repeatedly against a plywood wall in his cell and being confined in dark, coffin-like wooden boxes. He speaks of being left unclothed and struggling to breathe as water was poured on a cloth over his face, a simulated drowning procedure known as waterboarding. "I struggled against the straps, trying to breathe, but it was hopeless. I thought I was going to die. I lost control of my urine. Since then I still lose control of my urine when under stress," he is quoted as saying.
The report's authors say all the men gave strikingly similar descriptions of what had happened, even if they had had little or no contact with the others. Excerpts of the report appear in an article written by Mark Danner, a professor of journalism, to be published in New York Review of Books. It is not clear how he obtained the document.
It is legally and politically significant that the ICRC wrote the report, five copies of which were given to White House and CIA officials in early 2007. "It could not be more important that the ICRC explicitly uses the words 'torture' and 'cruel and degrading'," Mr Danner told The Washington Post. "The ICRC is the guardian of the Geneva conventions, and when it uses those words, they have the force of law."

The Independent

Source: The Statesman, 18 March 2009

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