Forwarded from Anthony (interrogation methods?)

Jacob Levich jlevich at
Fri Sep 20 21:49:06 MDT 2002

[ extraneous snipped ]

The articles referenced below give some clues. There's considerable
evidence that in Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo, and (covertly) in federal
Supermax prisons, the US routinely uses psychological torture; e.g.,
isolation, sleep deprivation, threats to family, ear-splittingly loud
music, etc. The fact that some 30 Gitmo "detainees" have attempted suicide,
some by beating their heads against the walls or floors, shows how brutal
this form of torture really is.

These methods are considered torture and are illegal under international
law including what I believe is called the International Convention against
Torture, which the US has signed, and the Geneva Conventions. (The US
maintains, absurdly, that the Gitmo prisoners are not military prisoners
but "battlefield detainees" to whom the Geneva Conventions do not apply.)

Typically when the US has wanted to use beatings, electrodes, etc., they've
transferred the prisoners to a friendly foreign jurisdiction where the
torture can be carried out under color of the legal fiction that the US is
not holding them and is therefore not responsible for what takes place. (In
Vietnam the South Vietnamese would torture NLF prisoners while US personnel

If they'd wanted to do this to Binalshibh, they'd have left him in
Pakistani custody for as long as necessary. I suspect what's really going
on with Binalshibh is that he's now being positioned as the 9/11 scapegoat,
since the case against the original designated scapegoat, Zacarias
Moussaoui, is running into serious trouble in US Federal Court. That means
they're reluctant to have Binalshibh physically tortured because word could
leak out and ruin the show trial.

To say, as the article does, that "holding Mr. bin al-Shibh as a military
prisoner gives intelligence and law enforcement authorities greater
latitude in questioning him" is simply wrong. Under the Geneva Conventions
no coercion is permitted under interrogation -- POWS need only give their
name, rank, and serial numbers.

I think what the reporter's source really meant was that there will be more
latitude granted under the rules of evidence by the military tribunal that
will presumably try his case. Whereas a confession coerced under
psychological torture might cause problems in Federal Court -- the
prosecution made a deal with Lindh because they feared his confession would
be ruled inadmissible on grounds of coercion -- the special rules of the
tribunal allow almost any kind of evidence, including hearsay and coerced
confessions, to be considered by the court.


Thursday, 15 August, 2002, 01:10 GMT 02:10 UK
Terror suspects 'attempted suicide'
Almost 600 prisoners are held at Guantanamo Bay

By Mike Wooldridge
BBC correspondent in Guantanamo Bay At least 30 al-Qaeda and Taleban
suspects held at the Guantanamo Bay US naval base in Cuba have tried to
commit suicide, doctors at the detention centre say.
The centre, in operation for the past seven months, is now almost at full
Last week 34 new arrivals took the number of detainees to 598.
A US military medical team examines the detainees once they arrive here at
Guantanamo Bay.
Most are healthy with only run-of-the-mill medical problems, commander
James Radkee, a doctor with the US navy, told visiting journalists.
But he says a couple of dozen detainees have chronic psychiatric problems.
Over the months doctors have dealt with at least 30 incidents they see as
suicide attempts.
These have ranged from detainees trying to cut themselves with plastic
utensils to banging their heads against walls and punching the walls.
None of the detainees was able to do much damage to himself.
Commander Radkee says some of this behaviour is seen as a sign that the
detainees are showing remorse for their actions.
It is a glimpse - albeit from the US military's perspective - into the
lives of men who are completely hidden from the world in Camp Delta.

More at

from the July 26, 2002 edition
Christian Science Monitor

US ships Al Qaeda suspects to Arab states
Egypt, Syria, and Jordan may extract information faster, but are their
methods legal and reliable?
By Faye Bowers and Philip Smucker
WASHINGTON AND CAIRO ? In the war on terror, the US is careful to show how
fairly it's treating the hundreds of orange-suited Taliban and Al Qaeda
fighters locked behind the razor-wire of the US base at Guantanamo, Cuba.
But what the US isn't trumpeting is a quiet practice of shipping key Al
Qaeda suspects to the Middle East for interrogation.
One reason for this new approach, US officials privately say, is that in
some cases these militants' home countries have a better understanding of
Islamist groups, their contacts, customs, and language. But there's another
reason, say US sources. These countries ? Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, among
them ? use torture, which, some officials suggest, extracts information
much more quickly than more benign interrogation methods.

In a post-Sept. 11 world, where terror threats are received nearly daily,
the US faces difficult choices. Can US officials afford to wait for Al
Qaeda fighters to spill the goods on their colleagues, or do they need to
make them talk as quickly as possible in order to deter additional
terrorist attacks? What's the quality of information disclosed through
torture? And, what are the costs to US credibility of trading off moral and
legal concerns in pursuit of safety?
"This is what you call liaison," says Robert Baer, a former CIA case
officer with years of Middle East experience. "And it's not reliable.
Before 9/11, the Germans failed us, the British failed us, and I don't
think the Syrians will let us sit in on the interrogations." He adds that
the US and its allies are so far behind in the intelligence war that "it's
catch up ball for everyone."
Since 9/11, according to diplomats, US officials, and press reports,
several suspects have quietly been detained and sent to the Middle East:
? Abu Zubaydah, a top Al Qaeda commander, was arrested in Pakistan in
March, and moved to an "undisclosed location" by the US, possibly the
Middle East.
Egypt, like the US, won't officially comment on the detainees. Perhaps
because these deportations are not done through official channels or
according to extradition treaties. But privately US officials confirm the
practice. And Ahmed Moussa, an internal security correspondent for the
state-supported Al-Ahram newspaper group in Cairo, also confirms the
"There have been more transfers of Al Qaeda suspects back [from South
Asia], but there has been no official announcement of these transfers,"
says Mr. Moussa. "Just as the US does not divulge information on all its
own captives in Cuba, we don't either and there is a benefit to this

More at

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