Feb. 7, 2005

Ratner and Ray: Abuse And Torture at Gitmo

February 7, 2005
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Dear Colleague,

In Chapter 2 their book "Guantánamo: What the World Should Know," Michael Ratner and Ellen Ray look more closely at the specific methods and strategies of torture and interrogation used at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and other U.S. prison camps. Ratner explains the brutality and psychological effects of these methods, and how U.S. officials employ them to get prisoners to say essentially anything. Some excerpts:

"Ray: But the Pentagon claims it is treating the prisoners at Guantánamo well, that it is a model institution, that it is respecting the prisoners' religion, providing Muslims with prayer rugs, the Koran, and 'culturally appropriate meals.'

"Ratner: This is not at all true. There are many different levels to consider in the abuses suffered there. First, there is a psychological level. People, as far we know, have been (and are still being) rounded up and taken to Guantánamo from all over the Islamic world, where they are put into wire-mesh cages for observation. They are isolated from each other and repeatedly taken into separate interrogation booths - trailers, really.

"A critical psychological issue is that these people have no idea if or when they are ever getting out. For all they know, each time they are taken out of their cells they may well be put up against a wall and shot.

"Ray: I read reports a year or so ago that the camp commander at the time, Major General Geoffrey Miller, floated a rumor in the media and also let it become known around the camp that the new, hard-walled prison Halliburton was building - Camp Echo - was to be a death row prison, with its own execution chamber.

"Ratner: Yes, and this just reinforced the belief in the prisoners' minds that Guantánamo was the end of the line, a death camp."


"Guantánamo is like Dante's ninth circle of hell. The temperature is often 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and of course the prisoners have no such thing as air conditioning. The place is infested by scorpions and banana rats. The detainees sleep on concrete floors, with no mattresses; the toilet is a hole in the ground. It is a horrific situation from a physical, psychological, and legal point of view."


"We do know from a number of the people who have been released from Guantánamo that mental torture, the breaking down of the human spirit, is the norm there. This is an interrogation camp, and they are consciously trying to take away people's identities. Prisoners get toothbrushes, decent food, and other amenities only as a reward for cooperating."


"There is definitely physical brutality. There are squads of U.S. military personnel - the IRFs I mentioned earlier - who occasionally beat people up, sometimes quite severely. They have held back food from recalcitrant prisoners. There are reports that during interrogation, prisoners are forced to kneel, sometimes for hours while they are chained to a ring on the floor.

The sleep deprivation I mentioned earlier has been openly admitted and authorized in Guantánamo by the Pentagon. As a result of the Abu Ghraib scandal, the Pentagon has said it is banning the use of sleep deprivation in Iraq; it remains to be seen whether its use continues in Guantánamo.

The goal of breaking down people's will is to make them faceless, take away their culture, their religion, and their identities. The only chance they have to stop the endless interrogations is to cooperate. And the fact is that eventually many of the victims do cooperate, although cooperation may often lead to the signing of false confessions."

Read the full chapter, with many more insights and concrete examples of these abuses, at: http://www.narconews.com

Also, thanks to the generosity of the book's publisher, Chelsea Green, our readers can purchase copies of the book for just $10, including shipping. The books have been donated by the publisher and all proceeds will go to The Fund for Authentic Journalism. Support a great cause and pay less than you would on Amazon.com: http://www.salonchingon.com/giftshop/

From somewhere in a country called América,

Dan Feder
Managing Editor, Narco News

Narco News is supported by:
The Fund for Authentic Journalism
P.O. Box 71051
Madison Heights, MI 48071 USA

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