16 July 2005

U.S. Military Investigates FBI's Gitmo Allegations

The reports of abuse at the Prison at Guantanamo Bay continue. First of all, lets be straight on one issue -- the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay is a prison. Not that the rest of Cuba isn't, but that is another story. What happens at prisons? People are detained. People are interrogated and, mostly, people are separated from the rest of society because it has been determined that they either pose a risk to society or possess information about other people that pose a risk to others.

So, what of these "abuses?" I've waited and waited to hear of the atrocities committed by the U.S. guards. Recently, the FBI released a list of alleged "abuses." Some of the "abuses" were substantiated by U.S. Military investigators -- others were not. Here is what the FBI alleged:
Twice prisoners were "short-shackled" to the floor in an interrogation room, meaning they were chained in a way that forced them into a fetal position. Military investigators substantiated the "short-shackle" action. There were also allegations that detainees were left in this way for long periods and fouled themselves, but investigators said they could not verify this happened.
Short-shackling is abusive? The holding cell at your local police department or county jail has devices very similar to this. Short-shackling places a detainee in a position of compliance; that is, the detainee is not in any distress or discomfort unless the detainee attempts to move suddenly.
An interrogator had a military policeman place duct tape over a noisy prisoner's mouth to quiet him. This was substantiated.
Duct tape over a detainee’s mouth? What was the abuse? Did a few hairs get pulled out when the tape was removed? Ridiculous.
Military interrogators impersonated FBI and State Department agents. Military: Substantiated, but this was an authorized tactic. Interrogators stopped using it at the FBI's request.
Again, how is this abusive to the detainee? I can see the Departments of State and Justice getting upset, but abusive? Again, ridiculous.
Interrogators used excessive heat, cold and noise to make prisoners uncomfortable. They also disrupted their sleep patterns. Military: Substantiated, but authorized tactic.
It is a good thing the FBI didn't look into the abuses of Coast Guard basic training when I went through in 1982. I was extremely uncomfortable. I also looked ridiculous with my head shaved.
Female interrogators used "gender coercion" techniques to make male Muslims uncomfortable. In one case, an interrogator rubbed perfume on a detainee; in another, an interrogator rubbed against a prisoner's back. In another, an interrogator rubbed fake menstrual blood on a detainee. Military: Substantiated, and these were, in general, authorized tactics. In the back-rubbing case, the interrogator's supervisor was admonished. In the blood case, the interrogator herself was disciplined. She said she was getting back at the detainee, who had just spit on her. In another instance, the detainee received a lap dance.
I live a few miles from San Quentin and Folsom State Prisons. I'll guarantee that the "gender coercion" that is taking place right this minute is quite a bit more disturbing than being rubbed with perfume. Also, the detainee spitting on the interrogator is much more abusive than anything I've read so far.

So, all this being said, we have detainees being "short-shackled". Mouths are being silenced with duct tape. The ambient temperature within a prison cell may be too warm or too cold, and women are rubbing on the backs of detainees. The horror...the horror.

I ask again, where are the so-called atrocities. As I stated above, these so-called abuses remind me of Coast Guard boot camp -- except for the back rub part.

Open Post Thanks to the Mudville Gazette.

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