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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 4/13/09

ICRC's Damning ExposÚ of US Torture

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-- provide all names of those held under CIA detention; if appropriate, the countries where they were sent, and "other relevant details to allow the ICRC to seek access to these persons."

The report's Annex I provided verbatim detainee statements as evidence of their gross mistreatment. Abu Zubaydah's was one of them. He's an alleged high-ranking Al-Queda member supposedly close to Osama bin Laden. Excerpts are as follows:

"I woke up, naked, strapped to a bed, in a very white room (about 4m x 4m). The room had three solid walls, with the fourth wall consisting of metal bars separating it from a larger room." After several days, "I was transferred to a chair where I was kept, shackled by hands and feet for what I think was the next 2 to 3 weeks....I developed blisters (under) my legs due to constant sitting."

A bucket was his toilet. Water for cleaning was from a plastic bottle. "I was given no solid food during the first two or three weeks." His liquid food at first made him vomit until he accustomed to it.

"The cell and room were air-conditioned and were very cold. Very loud, shouting type music was constantly playing....twenty-four hours a day," sometimes "replaced by a loud hissing or crackling noise." Guards, not interrogators, wore masks. "I could not sleep at all for the first two to three weeks (as) guards would come and spray water in my face" if I tried.

"After about two or three weeks, I began to receive food, rice (once daily). I could eat with my hand, but I was not allowed to wash....I remained naked and in shackles, but I could sleep a little. It went on like this for about another one and a half months."

He went on to describe torture and mistreatment of the kinds described above. Only later did conditions improve somewhat.

ICRC revelations heighten the need to hold Bush administration torturers (and war criminals) accountable and for Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint an independent special prosecutor to do it. Jameel Jaffer, ACLU National Security Project director called it an "imperative" and said: "Government officials who violated the law should not be shielded from investigation." It starts at the top, including George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, complicit White House officials, ones in the Justice Department, and all others criminally involved.

A Spanish court took the first step by initiating (torture charge) proceedings against Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, Douglas Feith, David Addington, Jay Bybee, and William Haynes. It's time for Obama to stop stonewalling and do it as well - against all parties guilty of torture and war crimes.

On April 7, The New York Times reported that "A three-judge panel of Peru's Supreme Court convicted former president Alberto Fujimori of human rights abuses and sentenced him to 25 years in prison" - on charges of murder, aggravated kidnapping, battery, and crimes against humanity. Should we in America expect less!

A Final Comment

On April 9, The New York Times Scott Shane headlined: "CIA to Close Secret Prisons, Scenes of Harsh Interrogations." He cites CIA claiming it'll "decommission the secret overseas prisons (infamous for their) brutal interrogation methods, bringing to a symbolic close the most controversial counterterrorism program of the Bush administration."

This announcement flies in the face of clear evidence that refutes it. In his confirmation hearings, new CIA director Leon Panetta told senators "extraordinary renditions" will continue, and no-holds barred interrogations remain policy for anyone and in any situations warranting them.

Despite Obama's pledge to end torture and close Guantanamo, conditions at the prison are unchanged. Further, Afghanistan's Bagram Air Base is undergoing a $60 million expansion to hold 1100 more prisoners, above the 600 now there. Also, other detainees are likely held at any number of the hundreds of US bases globally plus a fleet of at least 17 prison ships - out of sight, anywhere at sea, holding unnamed detainees, and subjecting them to the same harsh and brutal treatment.

Closing Guantanamo, Thai, Polish, and other offshore prisons means moving their detainees elsewhere, not ending the "war on terror" or ways chosen to pursue it. Nothing short of that is acceptable.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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