“We do not torture” is a lie – Exams reveal abuse, torture of detainees

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former terrorist suspects detained by the United States were tortured, according to medical examinations detailed in a report released Wednesday by a human rights group.

The Massachusetts-based Physicians for Human Rights reached that conclusion after two-day clinical evaluations of 11 former detainees, who had been held at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan.

The detainees were never charged with crimes.

“We found clear physical and psychological evidence of torture and abuse, often causing lasting suffering,” said Dr. Allen Keller, a medical evaluator for the study.

In a 121-page report, the doctors’ group said that it uncovered medical evidence of torture, including beatings, electric shock, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, sodomy and scores of other abuses.

The report is prefaced by retired U.S. Major Gen. Antonio Taguba, who led the Army’s investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in 2003.

“There is no longer any doubt that the current administration committed war crimes,” Taguba says. “The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account.”

Over the years, reports of abuses at Abu Ghraib and allegations of torture at Guantanamo prompted the Bush administration to deny that the U.S. military tortures detainees.

Since only 11 detainees were examined “the findings of this assessment cannot be generalized to the treatment of all detainees in U.S. custody,” the report says.

However, the incidents documented are consistent with findings of other investigations into government treatment, “making it reasonable to conclude that these detainees were not the only ones abused, but are representative of a much larger number of detainees subjected to torture and ill treatment while in U.S. custody.”

Four of the men evaluated were arrested in or taken to Afghanistan between late 2001 and early 2003 and later were sent to Guantanamo Bay, where they were held for an average of three years before being released without charge, the report says. The other seven were detained in Iraq in 2003 and released within a year, the report says.

All the subjects told examiners that they were subjected to multiple forms of torture or ill treatment that “often occurred in combination over a long period of time,” the report says.

While the report presents synopses of the detainees’ backgrounds based on interviews with them, the authors did not have access to the detainees’ medical histories. Therefore, there’s no way to know whether any of the inmates may have had medical or mental problems before being detained.

Among the ex-detainees was an Iraqi in his mid-40s, identified only as Laith, whom U.S. soldiers took into custody in October 2003 and who was released from Abu Ghraib in June 2004. According to the report, Laith was subjected to sleep deprivation, electric shocks and threats of sexual abuse to himself and his family.

“They took off even my underwear. They asked me to do some movements that make me look in a very bad way so they can take photographs. … They were trying to make me look like an animal,” Laith told examiners, according to the report.

According to the report, Laith said the most “painful” experiences involved threats to his family: “And they asked me, ‘Have you ever heard voices of women in this prison?’ I answered, ‘Yes.’ They were saying, ‘Then you will hear your mothers and sisters when we are raping them.’ ”

The examiners concluded in the report that “Laith appears to have suffered severe and lasting physical and psychological injuries as a result of his arrest and incarceration at Abu Ghraib prison.”

Another detainee, Youssef, was detained by U.S. soldiers nearly seven years ago when he tried to enter Afghanistan from neighboring Pakistan without a passport, the report says. He initially was held in an Afghan prison, where he describes “being stripped naked, being intimidated by dogs, being hooded and being thrown against the wall on repeated occasions,” the report says.

A few months later, he was taken to the Guantanamo Bay facility, where he was subjected to interrogators who would enter his cell and force him to lie on the floor with his hands tied behind his back to his feet, the report says.

Youssef said the interrogators wanted him to confess of involvement with the Taliban, the report says.

Based on its investigation, the report calls on the U.S. government to issue a formal apology to detainees subject to torture and ill treatment by the military since fall 2001 in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.

The rights group also demands that the Bush administration:

• “Repudiate all forms of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”;

• Establish an independent commission to investigate and report publicly the circumstances of detention and interrogation at U.S.-run prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay;

• Hold individuals involved in torturing detainees accountable through criminal and civil processes; and

• Monitor thoroughly the conditions at U.S.-run prisons all over the world.

  1. Mandelay

    It’s time to say “when,” when Bin Laden is captured. Meanwhile, the news of these examinations makes me wonder — why did we settle for torture? Why didn’t we settle for random kidnapping and public beheadings on the six o’clock news? The networks would have fallen over themselves to get an “exclusive” for the continuous execution show. The public would have accepted it just like any other “reality” show. Then we’d have an even comparison of ourselves and our enemies. Instead, we give you clean clothes, your special diet, your holy book (that you claim tells you it’s o.k. to behead us), your exercise, your lawyer, and now our supreme court says you can sue. What’s next? First class airfare “home?” Not likely. After enjoying the benefits of a free society, it would not surprise if you decided to stay on and plot your next plot, under the protection of the law. And Mr. Obamabot, if you’re out there listening to anything besides the sound of your own voice and the applause of your minions, the trial of the now convicted criminals who executed the first bombing of World Trade did not seem to deter the attackers who flew in for an encore on 9-11. Have we been attacked since? Obama, I’m pretty disgusted with your catering to terrorists as if they were naughty children. Grow up, Obama. This terror war is for real.

  2. Mandelay –

    Your comment saddens us in the deepest and most profound way.

    WE ARE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. We set the standard for the humane treatment of prisoners. And yet now, we are refusing to follow the “guidelines” set forth at The Geneva Convention. We are above the idea of “they do it, then so can we.”

    We sincerely hope you are not a Christian – if you are, we remind you that your holy book has a commandment given to its followers – “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

    We are no longer the guys in the white hats – gallant saviors rushing in to save the day. We invaded a sovereign nation – something the United States has NEVER done before. As a result, there is a large portion of the world that sees us – you – as the enemy.

    Perhaps it’s time to stop operating from a knee-jerk reaction to propaganda being put out by people who want you to react in fear. This “war on terror” is manufactured – and will continue until those who buy the government rhetoric hook line and sinker realize they’ve been had – by the very system they thought was going to protect them.

    It is our sincere hope that the things you wish done to your fellow human beings is never done to you or someone you love.

  3. Ms. Kyle Christensen

    This report has nothing to do with the Taliban or Osama bin Laden. I would like people to know that most people in the US (including John McCain, super-lifer), are horrified about this torture. It puts us in a terrible postion–we now look like the terrorists. People that actually feel the way Mandeley does , should probably go join a militia group like Blackwater (its existence is against int’l. law, too, but the sort’ve stuff doesn;t seem to bother you). But, when you break the law, ddon’t expect thousand os US, NATO and Iraqi/Afghan forces to die trying to save you.

  4. Uthelm

    Once again many are so quick to assume that the word of terrorists is more easily believed than that of their fellow citizens. Saywhen, how about you take that holier than thou rhetoric and go to…let’s say…Iraq or Afghanistan. Tell everyone that you are an American and see how long your “love thy neighbor as thyself” preaching will stand up. Will it last so long as to continue while they decide who will kill you and hang your corpse from the nearest bridge?
    So 9/11 was government rhetoric and this is all a “knee-jerk” reaction to propaganda? Well, I was in NYC on 9/11 and I don’t think that the people jumping from those towers would agree with your unbelievably naive and uninformed opinion on the matter. Oh, and before you attempt to pawn me off as a know-nothing…I am a veteran who has served his country in good times and bad. Do I agree with everything that has transpired since 9/11? No I do not. That is why I vote. Good thing you live in a country where you have the opportunity to change what you see wrong, and espouse your personal opinion.
    As to the state of this country, well no one ever said that we needed to be Roy Rogers and right every wrong in this world. I personally believe that we should let the chips fall where they may. Let the rest of the world fix their own problems. Pull our troops back and protect our borders. Oh, wait…then we will be at fault because we did nothing. Just like all the others, you are so quick to fault this country for being, human. Just like you like to quote scripture, isn’t there also a saying “let those without sin cast the first stone”? You equate religion with humane treatment and that you hope that the previous poster is not Christian. I hope that the previous poster is humane. If religion has anything to do with humane treatment, we are in serious trouble, looking at the state of the world today and what has been done in the name of god, allah, christ.
    The Geneva Convention covers the treatment of PRISONERS of WAR, not enemy combatants. Enemy combatants, terrorists, do not submit to these conventions. Therefore, to equate their status with POW’s, is erroneous.
    It is time for people like you to wake up and understand that the world is never going to be a shining example of heaven. Although America has its faults, I will take those and understand that we are not the world’s conscience, nor its savior. We have our own issues and need to stop trying to be all things to all people. We should only be controlling our own action and not trying to control what others are doing.

  5. We rarely comment on comments – and even more rarely comment a second time. But there are so many inconsistencies in Uthelm’s missive that we feel it necessary to address them.

    1. We are not taking terrorists’ word for anything – the article was about a human rights organization finding evidence of torture. We will presume that since these are physicians, they actually performed examinations rather than just having a chat.

    2. We don’t understand some people – when there is something they disagree with in this conversation, they tell us to leave. The United States of America is founded on Free Speech. Not just YOURS – but everyone’s.

    We’ve made no bones about our feelings for this administration on this site. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

    We do agree with our not being welcomed in Iraq or Afghanistan – and it’s not because they are jealous of lifestyles as this administration would have you believe. They see us as the enemy because of our foreign policy.

    3. There is nothing in the article nor our comment that says 9/11 was government rhetoric. We have many family members of victims of the 9/11 attacks who are supporters. We grieve with them on every birthday and holiday.

    We have many First Responders as supporters as well and they have told us their horror stories of that day. We are sorry you experienced that in any way.

    What we believe to be rhetoric and propaganda is the “information” about the war on terror. We are no longer looking for Bin Laden – by Bush’s own admission he is no longer important. This war is about oil and empire building – plain and simple. And because the term “War on Terror” is so vague and ambiguous, there will never be an end. There is a virtually unlimited supply of boogie-men out there to fight.

    4. As far as our being naive and uninformed – we suggest that is true of those of you who have not done any research or asked any questions, but have just taken what you’ve been spoon-fed by the mainstream media.

    5. We appreciate your service to this country – and nothing in any of our posts or comments indicates otherwise.

    6. We never equated religion with humane treatment. Our citation of religion, Christianity in particular, was in response to Mandaley’s comment about the Koran calling for beheadings. When one calls into question another’s beliefs, we feel they’d best be the embodiment of the tenets of their own “holy book.”

    7. As we have said before – we sincerely hope that no one you know is deemed to be “an enemy combatant” and subjected to the treatment you are so willing to inflict on others.

    8. The rest of the rant makes no sense to us in light of this article or our comment. It appears you just needed a place to vent and decided we were the ones to receive the benefit of your vast knowledge.

    Again – if you dislike what you read here – go elsewhere.

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