torturewrong-2.thumbnail.jpgMark Danner penned an Op Ed Sunday’s New York Times, and a longer piece in the New York Review of Books, both drawing upon the recent Red Cross report based on interviews with detainees transferred from CIA black sites to Gitmo:

October 6 to 11 and then from December 4 to 14, 2006, officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross—among whose official and legally recognized duties is to monitor compliance with the Geneva Conventions and to supervise treatment of prisoners of war—traveled to Guantánamo and began interviewing "each of these persons in private" in order to produce a report that would "provide a description of the treatment and material conditions of detention of the fourteen during the period they were held in the CIA detention program," periods ranging "from 16 months to almost four and a half years."

As the ICRC interviewers informed the detainees, their report was not intended to be released to the public but, "to the extent that each detainee agreed for it to be transmitted to the authorities," to be given in strictest secrecy to officials of the government agency that had been in charge of holding them—in this case the Central Intelligence Agency, to whose acting general counsel, John Rizzo, the report was sent on February 14, 2007. Indeed, though almost all of the information in the report has names attached, and though annexes contain extended narratives drawn from interviews with three of the detainees, whose names are used, we do find a number of times in the document variations of this formula: "One of the detainees who did not wish his name to be transmitted to the authorities alleged…"—suggesting that at least one and perhaps more than one of the fourteen, who are, after all, still "held in a high-security facility at Guantánamo," worried about repercussions that might come from what he had said.

In virtually all such cases, the allegations made are echoed by other, named detainees; indeed, since the detainees were kept "in continuous solitary confinement and incommunicado detention" throughout their time in "the black sites," and were kept strictly separated as well when they reached Guantánamo, the striking similarity in their stories, even down to small details, would seem to make fabrication extremely unlikely, if not impossible. "The ICRC wishes to underscore," as the writers tell us in the introduction, "that the consistency of the detailed allegations provided separately by each of the fourteen adds particular weight to the information provided below."

So, let’s get this straight: 14 individuals who have been kept isolated from others–and most importantly EACH OTHER–all tell the same story of what happened to them while in US custody.

Even though it was supposed to be confidential, Mr. Danner managed to get his hands on a copy of the ICRC Report on the Treatment of 14 "High Value Detainees" in CIA Custody by the International Committee of the Red Cross, completed February 2007. It’s only 43 pages long but seems to pack a wallop on every page. Mr. Danner provides the table of contents to the report which itself is a chilling litany of tortures:

Suffocation by water, Prolonged Stress Standing, Beatings by use of a collar, Beating and kicking, Confinement in a box, Prolonged nudity, Sleep deprivation and use of loud music, Exposure to cold temperature/cold water, Prolonged use of handcuffs and shackles, Threats, Forced shaving, Deprivation/restricted provision of solid food.

The conclusion reached by the Red Cross, the body legally charged with determining compliance with the Geneva Conventions?

The allegations of ill-treatment of the detainees indicate that, in many cases, the ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture. In addition, many other elements of the ill-treatment, either singly or in combination, constituted cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

[emphasis added]

At a press conference about the black site program

Mr. Bush said, “the C.I.A. used an alternative set of procedures.” He added: “These procedures were designed to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful.”

It is impossible for any rational being to have made an honest determination that this program was lawful. Don’t give me any crap arguments about how this was a matter of a difference of opinion. The law it elastic but it does have boundaries beyond which it cannot be stretched by even the most creative argument. John Yoo/David Addington’s arguments were never creative, merely cruelly farcical and in you face absurd. To paraphrase Jim Comey "no good lawyer would ever rely on them," I’ll take you one further, no rational person, lawyer or not, could possibly have harbored a good faith belief that this was lawful, moral, just or permissible under any theory.

My respect for the rules of copyright and fair use do not permit to block quote the horror stories contained in Mr. Danner’s two excellent pieces. Click both links above, go read for yourselves. Make sure you have the economy size box of Kleenex, because you will cry.

Bush, Cheney, Addington, Yoo, and others have turned us into a nation of monsters. We have much work to do to atone for these crimes, beginning with bringing those who commanded these crimes to be committed in our name to the bar of justice.

Twenty-ninth in a series on torture and the law.

[Editor’s note: The photo by takomabibelot features a banner created and designed by Firedoglake reader BonnieT of Austin, Texas, where she operates]



In rugby, the looseheadprop is the player in the front row of the scrum, who has the ability to collapse the scrum, pretty much at will and without the referee knowing who did it.
While this can give the LHP's team a great tactical advantage, it also exposes scrum players from both teams to the dangers of catastrophic spinal cord injury.
Consequently, playing this position makes you understand your responsibility to put doing the right thing ahead of winning, and to think beyond your own wants and desires. It also makes you very law and order oriented.