Guantanamo Punishment Squad Filmed Prisoner Abuse

If you read no other articles today, you must read these: A third recently released British detainee at Guantanamo has accused the prison camp of having a brutal punishment squad, called "The Extreme Reaction Force" and says the abuse was videotaped. The Pengtagon acknowledges that there is such a force and that everything it does is videotaped. Sen. Patrick Leahy has said he will demand Rumsfeld produce the videos for Congress:

Dozens of videotapes of American guards allegedly engaged in brutal attacks on Guantanamo Bay detainees have been stored and catalogued at the camp, an investigation by The Observer has revealed. The disclosures, made in an interview with Tarek Dergoul, the fifth British prisoner freed last March, who has been too traumatised to speak until now, prompted demands last night by senior politicians on both sides of the Atlantic to make the videos available immediately. They say that if the contents are as shocking as Dergoul claims, they will provide final proof that brutality against detainees has become an institutionalised feature of America's war on terror.

Here's Mr. Dergoul's description of his treatment, as told to the Observer:

The 26-year-old, from Mile End in east London, spent 22 months at Guantanamo Bay from May 2002. Today he tells The Observer of repeated assaults by Camp Delta's punishment squad, known as the Extreme Reaction Force or ERF. Their attacks, he says, would be prompted by minor disciplinary infractions, such as refusing to agree to the third cell search in a day - which he describes as an act of deliberate provocation.

Dergoul tells of one assault by a five-man ERF in shocking terms: 'They pepper-sprayed me in the face, and I started vomiting. They pinned me down and attacked me, poking their fingers in my eyes, and forced my head into the toilet pan and flushed. 'They tied me up like a beast and then they were kneeling on me, kicking and punching. Finally they dragged me out of the cell in chains, into the rec[reation] yard, and shaved my beard, my hair, my eyebrows.'

Dergoul also described the camp's interrogation techniques:

He said they included humiliation, prolonged exposure to intense heat and cold, sleep deprivation, being kept chained in painful positions, and the threat of 'rendition' to an Arab country where, his interrogators said, he would be subjected to full-blown torture.

You can read the interview with Mr. Dergoul here.

The other British detainees have similar accounts:

'Much of his story is consistent with other accounts of detention conditions in both Afghanistan and Guantanamo,' said John Sifton, a New York-based official from Human Rights Watch who has interviewed numerous former Guantanamo prisoners in Pakistan and Afghanistan. 'It is now clear that there is a systemic problem of abuse throughout the US military's detention facilities - not merely misbehaviour by a few bad apples.'

Here's Mr. Dergoul's account of his interrogation:

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.

As for how Mr. Dergoul is faring today, read on:

The effects on Dergoul of his ordeal in Afghanistan and Guantanamo are very visible. A slight, slim man, he has difficulty walking: for weeks his American captors failed to treat his frostbitten feet, until a big toe turned gangrenous and had to be amputated. He has also lost most of his left arm, the result of a shrapnel wound. Two months after regaining his freedom he has nightmares and flashbacks, especially of his many beatings, and is about to begin treatment at the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. 'I get migraines, I'm depressed and I suffer from memory loss. There's stuff that happened, embedded in my head, that I can't remember.'

Of course, the irony is that Mr. Dergoul, who was not a terrorist, had been in the wrong place at the wrong time, was captured by the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and sold to the U.S. who transferred him to Guantanamo, is now a devout politicized Muslim who hates the United States.

Please read the entire article and accompanying interview. It's atrocious. We hope it's the final nail in the coffin of Bush and Rumseld's political future.

< Army, Navy, AF Papers All Criticize Pentagon Brass | More Doubts About Berg Decaptiation Video >
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