We ask this question: If it is the case that American military personnel tortured those in GTMO, and this piece from The Washington Post shows that torture occurred, what can we do? To whom do we write? The Obama Administration will be challenged both to acknowledge such cases and respond to the justice issues.
The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military
tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the
Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that
included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged
exposure to cold, leaving him in a “life-threatening condition.”
“We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her
first interview since being named convening authority of military
commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. …
Crawford, a retired judge who served as general counsel for the Army during the Reagan administration and as Pentagon inspector general when Dick Cheney
was secretary of defense, is the first senior Bush administration
official responsible for reviewing practices at Guantanamo to publicly
state that a detainee was tortured.
Crawford, 61, said the combination of the interrogation techniques,
their duration and the impact on Qahtani’s health led to her
conclusion. “The techniques they used were all authorized, but the
manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too
persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous
physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular
act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on
him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And
coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me
over the edge” to call it torture, she said.
… Qahtani was denied entry into the United States a month before the
Sept. 11 attacks and was allegedly planning to be the plot’s 20th
hijacker. He was later captured in Afghanistan and transported to
Guantanamo in January 2002. His interrogation took place over 50 days
from November 2002 to January 2003, though he was held in isolation
until April 2003.
“For 160 days his only contact was with the interrogators,” said
Crawford, who personally reviewed Qahtani’s interrogation records and
other military documents. “Forty-eight of 54 consecutive days of
18-to-20-hour interrogations. Standing naked in front of a female
agent. Subject to strip searches. And insults to his mother and
At one point he was threatened with a military working dog named Zeus,
according to a military report. Qahtani “was forced to wear a woman’s
bra and had a thong placed on his head during the course of his
interrogation” and “was told that his mother and sister were whores.”
With a leash tied to his chains, he was led around the room “and forced
to perform a series of dog tricks,” the report shows.
The interrogation, portions of which have been previously described by other news organizations, including The Washington Post,
was so intense that Qahtani had to be hospitalized twice at Guantanamo
with bradycardia, a condition in which the heart rate falls below 60
beats a minute and which in extreme cases can lead to heart failure and
death. At one point Qahtani’s heart rate dropped to 35 beats per
minute, the record shows.