If you have the time, I highly suggest reading Mark Danner’s new review of the Red Cross’ chilling Report on the Treatment of Fourteen “High Value Detainees” in CIA Custody, published this week in the NYT Review of Books. Danner’s summary of the IRC’s findings genuinely reads like a survey of Soviet prison history—detailing a horrific “alternative set of procedures,” as it was described within the CIA, that operatives performed on suspects in “black sites” around the world. Listen to the account of Abu Zubaydah’s experience with his interrogators:
I was then dragged from the small box, unable to walk properly and put on what looked like a hospital bed, and strapped down very tightly with belts. A black cloth was then placed over my face and the interrogators used a mineral water bottle to pour water on the cloth so that I could not breathe. After a few minutes the cloth was removed and the bed was rotated into an upright position. The pressure of the straps on my wounds was very painful. I vomited. The bed was then again lowered to horizontal position and the same torture carried out again with the black cloth over my face and water poured on from a bottle. On this occasion my head was in a more backward, downwards position and the water was poured on for a longer time. I struggled against the straps, trying to breathe, but it was hopeless. I thought I was going to die. I lost control of my urine. Since then I still lose control of my urine when under stress.
Khaled Shaik Mohammed:
On one occasion during the interrogation I was offered water to drink, when I refused I was again taken to another room where I was made to lie [on] the floor with three persons holding me down. A tube was inserted into my anus and water poured inside. Afterwards I wanted to go to the toilet as I had a feeling as if I had diarrhea. No toilet access was provided until four hours later when I was given a bucket to use.
This is the best public record on George Bush’s application of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Despite Marc Theissen’s groundless assertion—he doesn’t cite a piece of evidence in this entire piece—that torture has been “responsible for stopping a number of planned attacks,” the IRC’s material on Bush’s interrogation program present a barbaric set of techniques that ultimately produced unreliable intelligence. As prisoners were often held “from 16 months to almost four and a half years,” the “the likelihood that [they] fabricate stories, and waste time” drastically increased. This is a demonstrated pattern that helped provide our misbegotten evidence for the War in Iraqand, according to the IRC, continued with Shaik Mohammed:
I gave a lot of false information in order to satisfy what I believed the interrogators wished to hear in order to make the ill-treatment stop…. I’m sure that the false information I was forced to invent…wasted a lot of their time and led to several false red-alerts being placed in the US.
On a broader level, I refuse to accept the intelligence we received from torturing suspects eclipses the significant damage our country’s image has endured as a result of it. By practicing a set of beliefs that belie our own stated values, we undercut the ability to cultivate international allies against terrorism and inadvertently glorify the terrorists enduring our brutality. Although Bush managed to justify a toxic correlation between fighting terrorism and undermining international law, the record laid out by the IRC demonstrates they are utterly irreconcilable.
GWB, June 10, 2004:
Look, I’m going to say it one more time…. Maybe I can be more clear. The instructions went out to our people to adhere to law. That ought to comfort you. We’re a nation of law. We adhere to laws. We have laws on the books. You might look at these laws, and that might provide comfort for you.