Monday, May 17, 2004

Worse and worse:

They called it "bitch in a box". On a baking hot day last August, a black Mercedes sedan pulled up at the US army base in Ramadi and two US interrogators dragged an Iraqi man out of the boot. He was gasping for air.

"They kind of had to prop him up to carry him in. He looked like he had been there for a while," said a US soldier who witnessed the Iraqi's arrival in the custody of American interrogators wearing desert camouflage but no identifying insignia....

The soldier who watched the gasping Iraqi emerge from the Mercedes said he saw a similar episode later in August. "That was the normal procedure for them when they wanted to soften up a prisoner: stuff them in the trunk for a while and drive them around," said the soldier, who asked not to be named. "The hoods I can understand, and to have them cuffed with the plastic things, that I could see. But the trunk episode, yes, I thought it was kind of unusual."

He added: "It was like a sweatbox, let's face it. In Iraq, in August, it's hitting 120 degrees, and you can imagine what it was like in a trunk of a black Mercedes." ...



...For one period of about a month last year, he said, guards would take him every day to an interrogation room in chains, seat him, chain him to a ring in the floor and then leave him alone for eight hours at a time.

'The air conditioning would really be blowing - it was freezing, which was incredibly painful on my amputation stumps. Eventually I'd need to urinate and in the end I would try to tilt my chair and go on the floor. They were watching through a one-way mirror. As soon as I wet myself, a woman MP would come in yelling, "Look what you've done! You're disgusting." '

Afterwards he would be taken back to his cell for about three hours. Then the guards would reappear and in Guantanamo slang tell him he was returning to the interrogation room: 'You have a reservation.' The process would begin again.

Dergoul also described the use of what was known as the 'short shackle' - steel bonds pulled tight to keep the subject bunched up, while chained to the floor. 'After a while, it was agony. You could hear the guards behind the mirror, making jokes, eating and drinking, knocking on the walls. It was not about trying to get information. It was just about trying to break you.' ...


The second link is especially harrowing -- it's an interview with Tarek Dergoul, a British citizen who was released without charges after being held at Guantanamo for nearly two years. He says some of the abuse was videotaped. The spokesman for the Guantanamo Joint Task Force says such tapes exist. Senator Pat Leahy has said he wants to see them.

(Links via Cursor.)

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