Wednesday, January 3

FBI Blows Smoke on Gitmo

Just ne Day before the swearing in of the new Democratic Congress, the FBI has released a report on detainee treatment at Guantanemo Bay that alleges numerous instances of abuse - but also that none of these instances were performed by FBI personnel.

The FBI Office of General Counsel in September 2004 ordered the "special inquiry" into any FBI participation or observations of a series of alleged incidents at the prison camp for suspected terrorists and al Qaeda sympathizers, but the results were not made public.

The FBI released the documents in response to a Freedom of Information request by the American Civil Liberties Union, but stressed that most of the findings had already been reported elsewhere.

"Note these documents have been vetted by both DoD [Department of Defense] and FBI, and that FBI believes this or substantially similar information has already been released in this litigation," the FBI said.

Here are some excerpts ("W" indicates a Witness, "d" indicate detainee):
on several occasions, witness ("W") saw detainees ("ds") in interrogation rooms chained hand and foot in fetal position to floor w/no chair/ food/water; most urinated or defecated on selves, and were left there 18, 24 hrs or more. Once, the air conditioning was so low that the barefoot d was shaking with cold. Another time, it was off so the unventilated room was over 100 degrees, d was almost unconscious on floor with a pile of hair next to him (he had apparently been pulling it out throughout the night). Another time, it was sweltering hot and loud rap music played - d's hand and foot was chanined and he was in a fetal position on the floor. Upon inquiry, W was told that interrogators [military contractors] ordered this treatment. Took place in Delta Camp

d was kept in darkened cell in Naval Brig at GTMO, then transferred to Camp Delta where he gave no info. Then taken to Camp X-Ray and put in plywood hut. Interrogators yelled and screamed at him. One interrogator squatted over the Koran. Another day a German Shepherd was commended to growl, bark and show his teeth to the prisoner. Subsequently someone laughingly told the W "you have to see this" and took him to an interrogation room where W saw a d with a full beard whose head was wrapped in duct tape

civilian contractor asked W (an FBI SA) to come see something. There was an unknown bearded longhaired d gagged w/duct tape that covered much of his head. SA asked if he had spit at interrogators, and the contractor laughingly replied that d had been chanting the Koran nonstop. No answer to how they planned to remove the duct tape.

Rumors that interrogator bragged about doing lap dance on d, another about making d listen to satanic black metal music for hours then dressing as a Priest and baptizing d to save him - handwritten note says "yes"

W walked into Camp Delta observation room and saw d rubbing his leg due to possibly being in stress position. D was wearing leg irons and handcuffed w/cuffs chained to waist. W was advised the chains were adjusted to force D to stand in "baseball catcher" position. D was being questioned by 2 military officers. D was previously held in brig and questioned for 2 months w/no results. Permission had been granted to use "special interrogation techniques"

After hearing what sounded like "thunder," W saw 2 individuals dressed in BDUs standing and an inmate kneeling on a bloody floor with his forehead on the ground, holding his nose and crying. They said d become upset and threw himself on floor. W heard previously that a female military personnel would wet her hands and touch the ds face as part of their psych-ops to make them feel unclean and upset them. W heard that in an effort to disrupt ds who were praying during interrogation, female intelligence personnel would do this

A detainee brought into interview shack at Camp x-ray appeared to have broken fingers and facial injuries. W was told that d exhibited noncompliance w/prison guard and rapid reaction team was brought in to bring d into compliance. He was in a plywood shack adjacent to "dog cages". D had black eye, facial cuts around nose, and taped fingers. He motioned to guards and said "they"
handwritten note "yes - Do interview so we will have a formal record. I think I know what all he saw."

D says he was beaten unconscious at Camp x-ray. Guards entered cell unprovoked and spat and cursed at him, called him SOB, bastard and crazy. D rolled on stomach to protect self due to recent stomach surgery. Soldier jumped on his back, beat him in the face, then choked him till he passed out. Said he was beating him because he was a Muslim. Female guard also beat him and grabbed his head and beat it into the cell floor. D taken to hospital after.

W heard of technique (not allowed by FBI agents) where a difficult d who would not cooperate would be left in shackles for extended time (12 hrs or more) and the AC turned way low or off. hw notes "environment down - doesn't seem excessive given DoD policy"
Although many of these allegations seem quite serious, the manner in which this information has been released remains extremely questionable. First of all, if you review the pdf of this data, most of the observations made by various FBI personnel were not first hand, and some were merely rumors they had heard (such as the lapdance incident).

The other issue is the timing of this release, it seems more of an effort to distance the FBI from any wrong-doing rather than an effort to truly identify and build a case against any potential criminal activity. In many cases FBI agents were themselves unfamiliar with DoD protocols, therefore their ability to act as informed witnesses to criminal acts extremely diminished. The truth is that many of these type of interrogation techniques were indeed authorized by Donald Rumsfeld.
In December of 2002 SecDef Rumsfeld allows for ""stress positions," hooding, 20-hour interrogations, removal of clothing, exploiting phobias to induce stress (e.g., fear of dogs), prolonged isolation, sensory deprivation, and forced grooming. These techniques soon spread to Afghanistan and later to Iraq." according to documents obtain by the ACLU.
However, this doesn't make these action legal under the War Crimes Act which prohibits all 'grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions." It could be argued that the WCA did not apply at this point in time since the President, under advice of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, had declared that enemy combatant detainees were not covered under Geneva - but this view was later reversed by the Hamdan decision.

The question remains - why hasn't the FBI fully investigated these allegations and rumors? Was it because of the direction of the President, Attorney General and SecDef - which condoned these activities? Was it because of the Bybee Memo which maintained that activities such as these were not torture - as long as the subject didn't lose a limb, suffer organ failure or die?

Well - what about the detainees who have died in custody?

From Amnesty International:

It is now known that at least 34 detainees who died in US custody have had their deaths listed by the army as confirmed or suspected criminal homicides. The true number of such deaths may be higher as there is evidence that delays, cover-ups and deficiencies in investigations have hampered the collection of evidence.(5) In several cases, however, substantial evidence has emerged that detainees were tortured to death while under interrogation (revealed, for example, in military autopsy reports, investigation records and recent court testimony). What is even more disturbing is that standard practices as well as interrogation techniques believed to have fallen within officially sanctioned parameters, appear to have played a role in the ill-treatment, as the following cases illustrate.

  • Two Afghan detainees, Dilwar and Habibullah died from multiple blunt force injuries inflicted while they were held in an isolation section of Bagram US airbase in December 2002. Army investigative reports later revealed that both men were kept hooded and chained to a ceiling while being kicked and beaten during sustained assaults by military personnel. A soldier who acknowledged inflicting more than 30 consecutive knee strikes to Dilawar (a slight, 22 year old taxi driver) as he stood in shackles, told investigators that the blows were standard operating procedure for uncooperative detainees. An army criminal investigation report said both deaths were caused primarily by severe trauma to the men’s legs, adding that "sleep deprivation at the direction of military intelligence soldiers" was also a "direct contributing factor" in Dilwar’s death.(6) Army medical examiners found the prolonged shackling had also contributed to his death.(7) 7 low-ranking soldiers, charged variously with assault, maltreatment, dereliction of duty and making false statements eventually received sentences ranging from five months’ imprisonment to reprimand, loss of pay and reduction in rank.

  • Abdul Jaleel died in January 2004 in the US Forward Operating Rifles Base in Al Asad, Iraq, after being kicked and beaten during interrogation. He was tied by his hands to the top of a door frame and gagged when he died. The autopsy report recorded death from "blunt force injuries and asphyxia". A senior army official admitted Jameel had been "lifted to his feet by a baton held to his throat" causing a throat injury that "contributed to his death". (8) Military commanders rejected a recommendation by army investigators to prosecute soldiers involved, on the ground that his death had been the "result of a series of lawful applications of force in response to repeated aggression and misconduct by the detainee".(9)
  • Major-General Abed Hamad Mowhoush, formerly of the Iraqi army, died during interrogation in the US detention facility in Al Qaim, Baghdad, in November 2003. An autopsy recorded cause of death as asphyxia and smothering due to chest compression. Mowhoush died after being rolled back and forth in a sleeping bag, which was placed over his head and bound with wire, while one of his interrogators sat on his chest. According to testimony in a subsequent court case, use of the sleeping bag was part of an approved "stress position" designed to play upon a detainee’s claustrophobia. It was also reportedly interpreted by officers as falling within the "fear up harsh" tactics that may still be found in military operational manuals. There is evidence that abusive interrogation techniques at the Al Qaim facility were routine and authorized.(10)

    The US military initially reported that Mowhoush had died from natural causes. However, several months later, in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal, four US soldiers were charged in the death. Only one went to trial and was sentenced to a reprimand, $6,000 forfeiture of pay plus 60 days’ restriction of movement. There is evidence that Mowhoush was subjected to a brutal beating two days before his death by personnel from other agencies, including the CIA, none of whom has been charged.

  • A 27-year-old Iraqi male died while being interrogated by US Navy Seals in April 2004 in Mosul, Iraq. During his confinement he was hooded, flex-cuffed, deprived of sleep and subjected to extreme cold conditions, including the use of cold water on his body and hood. The exact cause of death was "undetermined" although the autopsy stated that hypothermia from wet and cold conditions may have contributed to his death.(11) His treatment included various techniques similar to those authorized by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld in his April 2003 memorandum including "environmental manipuation (e.g. adjusting temperature)", hooding and sleep deprivation.
It is fair to note that most of these deaths occured either in Afghanistan or Iraq, not Gitmo - but does again make one wonder - where was the FBI investigation of these cases?

It's my feeling that this info-dump by the FBI is not a boon to the War Crimes case against the Bush Administration, it is a red-herring designed to cover the FBI's ass while distracting attention away from extradinary rendition, outsourced torture and how detainees have been treated world-wide under U.S. direction - in direct violation of the War Crimes Act.


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