Friday, April 14, 2006

New docs show Rummy PERSONALLY involved in Gitmo torture

Recommended at Daily Kos and Booman Tribune. Also front paged at My Left Wing

As if the news regarding Rummy couldn't get worse for him, we have a new article by indicating that he personally approved the use of forced nudity, stress positions and the removal of religious items against prisoners in Guantanamo.

Additionally, the document, obtained by Salon through the FOIA, discusses his weekly calls to Gitmo in order to discuss the interrogation of a "high value Al-Qaeda detainee", Mohammed al-Kahtani, who according to Army investigators have called "degrading and abusive" treatment by soldiers who were following the interrogation plan Rumsfeld had approved.

In response to the investigation of torture and other mistreatment of prisoners in Guantanamo, Rummy had the typical response:

Rumsfeld expressed puzzlement at the notion that his policies had caused the abuse. "He was going, 'My God, you know, did I authorize putting a bra and underwear on this guy's head?'" recalled Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt, an investigator who interviewed Rumsfeld twice in early 2005.

Well, what do you think would happen if you approve and mandate the strongest of "interrogation methods"?

Now, Kahtani isn't the cleanest of individuals when it comes to his past, but that certainly doesn't necessitate what was done to him. But, according to the recent report by Amnesty International regarding rendition, which I diaried about a couple of weeks ago,

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, echoing President Bush, has described Guantánamo detainee Mohammed al-Kahtani as "a very bad person". A harsh interrogation plan was approved for this Saudi national. According to recent revelations, Mohammed al-Kahtani was put on a plane, blindfolded in conditions of sensory deprivation, and made to believe that he was being flown to the Middle East. After several hours in the air, the plane returned to Guantánamo and Mohammed al-Kahtani was allegedly put in an isolation cell and subjected to harsh interrogations conducted by people he was encouraged to believe were Egyptian security agents. This is an interrogation technique known in the USA as "false flag" and was one of several methods authorized by Secretary Rumsfeld in April 2003. Another technique promoted by the Pentagon's April 2003 Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War on Terrorism is "threatening to transfer to a 3rd country where subject is likely to fear he would be tortured or killed".

In February 2002, following President Bush's decision to reject the application of the Geneva Conventions to those held in Guantánamo, the White House gave assurances that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) would be able to visit all detainees in private. The ICRC was denied access to Mohammed al-Kahtani during the period of interrogations described above. The ICRC protested such denial of access to a number of detainees in meetings with the Guantánamo authorities in late 2003. Four months later, in a meeting on 2 February 2004, the ICRC was informed that it could still not see one of the detainees "because of military necessity"

Now, I can't find much about what information was obtained from Kahtani, but he was said to be "the 20th hijacker" (funny, I thought that the 20th hijacker was already on trial....guess it is like the #3 Al-Qaeda person that had been captured at least 100 times). From the DoD, there is this release that says all of the "he is a bad man and in a post-9/11 world you can't be too sure about someone that may have lots of important information and blah blah blah...".

The Salon article goes on to note the following things about Rumsfeld's direct involvement:

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was personally involved in the late 2002 interrogation of a high-value al-Qaida detainee known in intelligence circles as "the 20th hijacker." He also communicated weekly with the man in charge of the interrogation, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the controversial commander of the Guantánamo Bay detention center.

During the same period, detainee Mohammed al-Kahtani suffered from what Army investigators have called "degrading and abusive" treatment by soldiers who were following the interrogation plan Rumsfeld had approved. Kahtani was forced to stand naked in front of a female interrogator, was accused of being a homosexual, and was forced to wear women's underwear and to perform "dog tricks" on a leash. He received 18-to-20-hour interrogations during 48 of 54 days.

Now, I only know my interrogation information from Jack Bauer and what I am reading over the past few years, but how does the above make it any more likely to obtain information from someone? Is degrading them going to shame them into giving up information or just get them angrier? Or is this just like "shock and awe" or the new idea of bombing Iran until the leadership is so ashamed that the people will rise up and revolt?

Interestingly, the report isn't as harsh on Maj. Gen. Miller, who was in charge of Gitmo.

The 391-page document -- which has long passages blacked out by the government -- concludes that Miller should not be punished for his oversight role in detainee operations, a fact that was reported last month by Time magazine. But the never-before-released full report also includes the transcripts of interviews with high-ranking military officials that shed new light on the role that Rumsfeld and Miller played in the harsh treatment of Kahtani, who had met with Osama bin Laden on several occasions and received terrorist training in al-Qaida camps.

In a sworn statement to the inspector general, Schmidt described Rumsfeld as "personally involved" in the interrogation and said that the defense secretary was "talking weekly" with Miller. Schmidt said he concluded that Rumsfeld did not specifically prescribe the more "creative" interrogation methods used on Kahtani. But he added that the open-ended policies Rumsfeld approved, and that the apparent lack of supervision of day-to-day interrogations permitted the abusive conduct to take place.

And lest we get another "I didn't know this was going on" moment from Rummy, I'll leave you with this damning testimony:

On Dec. 2, 2002, Rumsfeld approved 16 harsher interrogation strategies for use against Kahtani, including the use of forced nudity, stress positions and the removal of religious items. In public statements, however, Rumsfeld has maintained that none of the policies at Guantánamo led to "inhumane" treatment of detainees. Jeffrey Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, told Salon Thursday that Kahtani was an al-Qaida terrorist who provided a "treasure trove" of still-classified information during his interrogation. "Al-Kahtani's interrogation was guided by a very detailed plan, conducted by trained professionals in a controlled environment, and with active supervision and oversight," Gordon said in an e-mail statement. "Nothing was done randomly."


The harsh interrogation of Kahtani came to an abrupt end in mid-January 2003. Gen. James T. Hill, Craddock's predecessor as the head of Southern Command, recalled in his interview with the inspector general that he received a call from Rumsfeld on a January weekend asking about the progress of Kahtani's interrogation. "Someone had come to him and suggested that it needed to be looked at," Hill said of Rumsfeld. "He said, 'What do you think?' And I said, 'Why don't [you] let me call General Miller.'"

According to Hill's account of that call, Miller advised that the harsh interrogation of Kahtani should continue, using the techniques Rumsfeld had previously approved. "We think we're right on the verge of making a breakthrough," Hill remembered Miller saying. Hill said he called Rumsfeld back with the news. "The secretary said, 'Fine,'" Hill remembered.

Nonetheless, several days later Rumsfeld revoked the harsher interrogation methods, apparently responding to military lawyers who had raised concerns that they may constitute cruel and unusual punishment or torture.

A heckuva job you are doing, Rummy. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.....

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