Monday, December 19, 2005

NYT: "Rights Group Reports Afghanistan Torture" (Carlotta Gall)

Eight men at the American detention camp in Guantánamo Bay have separately given their lawyers "consistent accounts" of being tortured at a secret prison in Afghanistan at various periods from 2002 to 2004, Human Rights Watch, a group based in New York, said Sunday.
A report released by the rights group to detail the accounts said that the detainees called the place the "dark prison" or "prison of darkness," and that they said they were chained to walls, deprived of food and drinking water, and kept in total darkness with loud rap or heavy metal music blaring for weeks at a time.
One detainee, identified as Benyam Mohammad, an Ethiopian who grew up in Britain, told his lawyer of being "hung up" in a lightless cell for days at a time, as his legs swelled and his hands and wrists became numb. He said that loud music and "horrible ghost laughter" was blasted into the cell, and that he could hear other prisoners "knocking their heads against the walls and doors, screaming their heads off."

The above excerpt, highlighted by Joan in her e-mail this morning, is from Carlotta Gall's
"Rights Group Reports Afghanistan Torture" in this morning's New York Times.

We'll repeat the question from yesterday, how long before you'd crack?

And we'll note Mia's highlight on torture, Caroline Arnold's "Christmas Spirit Mocked by World of War, Torture" (Common Dreams):

"What would happen", asked my 9-year-old granddaughter Sara, "if we had a foggy Christmas Eve and there was no Rudolph to guide Santa's sleigh?"
She had just reported that some of her third-grade classmates didn't believe in Santa or Rudolph, and she was trying to use adult reasoning by arguing -- empirically, if not rationally -- that Santa could not fulfil his mission without the services of Rudolph's red nose.
Except for the age of the questioner, Sara's question was basically the same hypothetical one being posed by our terror warriors in Washington: "What if there were a bomb and we had no torture -- er, 'enhanced interrogation techniques' -- to make the 'terrorist' tell us where it was?" Apparently there is a widespread public myth -- driven perhaps by an action-movie/suspense/ thriller mentality: when Hero is snatched off the street, bundled into an airplane and ‘rendered’ to a place to be tortured, we are gratified by the 'action' and the titillating 'suspense' of the peril of Hero, but confident he will outwit the villains. In the same scenario, when the Bad Guy is seized and handed over to torturers, we are 'thrilled' at the triumph of justice.
It seems to be a compelling myth. An AP- Ipsos poll recently showed that 61 percent of Americans believe that torture is justified on some occasions.
This Christmas season Condoleeza Rice has argued that practices like 'extreme rendition' are justified because "captured terrorists of the 21st century do not fit easily into traditional systems of criminal or military justice." She admitted that the purpose of the practice is to put suspects out of reach of U.S. laws against torture. She also stated that we "... should be prepared to do anything that is legal to prevent another terrorist attack."
Accordingly, Congress and the administration are now busy behind closed doors writing the rules and laws for torture. The details are classified, so we cannot know which 'interrogation techniques' will be illegal, and which will be legal because they are 'not torture.'

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