Saturday, April 11, 2009

Unacceptable US Govt. Torture

US President Barack Obama has thus far excused the illegal activities of the prior administration. He's doubtless busy with assorted challenges (his kids ain't yet got their promised dog). Let's hope pressure continues to indict those who broke key laws. We can start with those who setup, ran & authorized torture.

The torture procedures have now been known for a long time, from Abu Ghraib photos and elsewhere. A 2005 report by U.S. ABC News [Ross, Brian & Richard Esposito (2005) "CIA's Harsh Interrogation Techniques Described" (18 Nov 2005)] describes in detail what happened to some people detained by the US Government (and not formally arrested, charged or convicted of any crime):
"CIA sources described a list of six "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" instituted in mid-March 2002 and used, they said, on a dozen top al Qaeda targets incarcerated in isolation at secret locations on military bases in regions from Asia to Eastern Europe. According to the sources, only a handful of CIA interrogators are trained and authorized to use the techniques:
1. The Attention Grab: The interrogator forcefully grabs the shirt front of the prisoner and shakes him.
2. Attention Slap: An open-handed slap aimed at causing pain and triggering fear.
3. The Belly Slap: A hard open-handed slap to the stomach. The aim is to cause pain, but not internal injury. Doctors consulted advised against using a punch, which could cause lasting internal damage.
4. Long Time Standing: This technique is described as among the most effective. Prisoners are forced to stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours. Exhaustion and sleep deprivation are effective in yielding confessions.
5. The Cold Cell: The prisoner is left to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees. Throughout the time in the cell the prisoner is doused with cold water.
6. Water Boarding: The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner's face and water is poured over him. Unavoidably, the gag reflex kicks in and a terrifying fear of drowning leads to almost instant pleas to bring the treatment to a halt."

The International Committee of the Red Cross (14 Feb. 2007) describes mistreatment of 14 so-called 'high value detainees' in more detail:
"The initial period of interrogation, lasting from a few days up to several months was the harshest, where compliance was secured by the infliction of various forms of physical and psychological ill-treatment. This appeared to be followed by a reward based interrogation approach with gradually improving conditions of detention, albeit reinforced by the threat of returning to former methods. The methods of ill-treatment alleged to have been used include the following:
• Suffocation by water poured over a cloth placed over the nose and mouth.
• Prolonged stress standing position, naked, held with the arms extended and chained above the head, for periods from two or three days continuously, and for up to two or three months intermittently, during which period toilet access was sometimes denied resulting in allegations from some that they had to defecate and urinate over themselves.
• Beatings by use of a collar held around the detainees neck and used to forcefully bang the head and body against the wall.
• Beating and kicking, including slapping, punching, kicking to the body and face.
• Confinement in a box to severely restrict movement.
• Prolonged nudity during detention, interrogation and ill-treatment; this enforced nudity lasted for periods ranging from several weeks to several months.
• Sleep deprivation through days of interrogation, through use of forced stress positions (standing or sitting), cold water and use of repetitive loud noise or music. One detainee was kept sitting on a chair for prolonged periods of time (two to three weeks while constantly deprived of sleep).
• Exposure to cold temperature, especially via cold cells and interrogation rooms, and by the use of cold water poured over the body or held around the body by means of a plastic sheet to create an immersion bath with just the head out of the water.
• Prolonged shackling of hands and/or feet.
• Threats of ill-treatment to the detainee and/or his family.
• Forced shaving of the head and beard.
• Deprivation/restricted provision of solid food from 3 days to 1 month after arrest."

All this was admittedly condoned by US Vice President Cheney. Was it right? Did it work? Arrest Cheney & Co. as torturers, and let the courts decide!