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Argument: Guantanamo detainees have been tortured

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Supporting evidence

"Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Civil and Political Rights. Situation of detainees at Guantánamo Bay". United Nations Economic and Social Council. February 15, 2006 - "Interrogation techniques 49. Following the ambiguous interpretations of what constitutes torture and illtreatment detailed in Section A, the following interrogation techniques, which clearly went beyond earlier practice (as contained in Army Field Manual FM 34-52), were approved by the Secretary of Defense on 2 December 2002.

    • “The use of stress positions (like standing) for a maximum of four hours;
    • Detention in isolation up to 30 days;
    • The detainee may have a hood placed over his head during transportation and questioning;
    • Deprivation of light and auditory stimuli;
    • Removal of all comfort items;
    • Forced grooming (shaving of facial hair, etc);
    • Removal of clothing;
    • Interrogation for up to 20 hours and
    • Using detainees’ individual phobias (such as fear of dogs) to induce stress.”55
  • 50. After having rescinded the above memorandum on 15 January 200556, the Secretary of Defense on 16 April 2003 authorised the following techniques which remain in force57:
    • “B. Incentive/Removal of Incentive i.e. comfort items;
    • S. Change of Scenery Down might include exposure to extreme temperatures and deprivation of light and auditory stimuli;
    • U. Environmental Manipulation: Altering the environment to create moderate discomfort (e.g. adjusting temperature or introducing an unpleasant smell).
    • V. Sleep Adjustment; Adjusting the sleeping times of the detainee (e.g. reversing sleep cycles from night to day) This technique is not sleep deprivation.
    • X. Isolation: Isolating the detainee from other detainees while still complying with basic standards of treatment.”
These techniques meet four of the five elements in the Convention definition of torture (the acts in question were perpetrated by government officials; they had a clear purpose, i.e. gathering intelligence, extracting information; the acts were committed intentionally; and the victims were in a position of powerlessness). However, to meet the Convention definition of torture, severe pain or suffering, physical or mental, must be inflicted. Treatment aimed at humiliating victims may amount to degrading treatment or punishment, even without intensive pain or suffering. It is difficult to assess in abstracto
whether this is the case with regard to acts such as the removal of clothes. However, stripping detainees naked, particularly in the presence of women and taking into account cultural sensitivities, can in individual cases cause extreme psychological pressure and can amount to degrading treatment, or even torture. The same holds true for the use of dogs, especially if it is clear that an individual phobia exists.58 Exposure to extreme temperatures, if prolonged, can conceivably cause severe suffering."


"Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Civil and Political Rights. Situation of detainees at Guantánamo Bay". United Nations Economic and Social Council. February 15, 2006 - "There are recurrent reports of three contexts in which excessive force was routinely used: during transportation,72 with regard to operations by the “Initial Reaction Forces” (IRF), and by force-feeding during hunger strikes. The last is briefly dealt with in section V on the right to health. According to reports by the defence counsels, some of the methods used to force-feed definitely amounted to torture. 73 In the absence of any possibility of assessing these allegations in situ by means of private interviews with detainees subjected to forced feeding, as well as with doctors, nurses and prison guards, the allegations, which are well substantiated, must be held to be accurate. Treatment during transport and IRF operations is documented by photo74 and video material.75 These pictures indicate that during transport and IRF operations, detainees shackled, chained, hooded, forced to wear earphones and goggles. They also show beating, kicking, punching, but also stripping and force shaving by IRF where detainees resisted, which have been corroborated by testimonies of former detainees.76 The Special Rapporteur considers that such treatment amounts to torture, as it inflicts severe pain or suffering on the victims for the purpose of intimidation and/or punishment."


"The President's Prison". New York Times. March 25, 2007 - If Mr. Bush would not listen to reason from inside his cabinet, he might at least listen to what Americans are telling him about the damage to this country's credibility, and its cost. When Khalid Shaikh Mohammed -- for all appearances a truly evil and dangerous man -- confessed to a long list of heinous crimes, including planning the 9/11 attacks, many Americans reacted with skepticism and even derision. The confession became the butt of editorial cartoons, like one that showed the prisoner confessing to betting on the Cincinnati Reds, and fodder for the late-night comedians.

What stood out the most from the transcript of Mr. Mohammed's hearing at Guantánamo Bay was how the military detention and court system has been debased for terrorist suspects. The hearing was a combatant status review tribunal -- a process that is supposed to determine whether a prisoner is an illegal enemy combatant and thus not entitled in Mr. Bush's world to rudimentary legal rights. But the tribunals are kangaroo courts, admitting evidence that was coerced or obtained through abuse or outright torture. They are intended to confirm a decision that was already made, and to feed detainees into the military commissions created by Congress last year.

The omissions from the record of Mr. Mohammed's hearing were chilling. The United States government deleted his claims to have been tortured during years of illegal detention at camps run by the Central Intelligence Agency. Government officials who are opposed to the administration's lawless policy on prisoners have said in numerous news reports that Mr. Mohammed was indeed tortured, including through waterboarding, which simulates drowning and violates every civilized standard of behavior toward a prisoner, even one as awful as this one. And he is hardly the only prisoner who has made claims of abuse and torture. Some were released after it was proved that they never had any connection at all to terrorism.

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