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Olbermann Opens Show with Segment on Bush Administration’s Use of Water Torture

Keith Olbermann opened his “Countdown” show on Current TV last night with a segment on new revelations on the use of water torture at American military facilities like Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Olbermann specifically cited a story that ran on by Jeff Kaye, who regularly writes and publishes to this blog (although Olbermann did not name Kaye on air).

Olbermann says this story brought to the light “the first evidence that torture specifically waterboarding was done not in the legally murky so-called black sites but in American military facilities, specifically at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba” while President George W. Bush was president. The revelations showed the American military went well beyond “enhanced interrogation techniques” that were approved, such as slamming prisoners into wall, forced nudity, etc.

Truthout reported on the military’s variations on waterboarding: a hose forced into a detainee’s mouth, detainee’s head put into a toilet, the use of a wet towel on prisoners, spraying prisoners down with cayenne pepper and then hosing off the detainees to make the skin burn, etc.

The segment features former Guantanamo Bay detainee Murat Kurnaz during a House committee hearing testifying that he was subjected to “water treatment;” not waterboarding but “water treatment.” His head was put into a bucket of water and as he was asphyxiating he was punched in his stomach.

Countdown contributor and Nation magazine contributor puts the story into perspective:

SCAHILL: One of the things that remains missing from this is that the Bush administration authorized extrajudicial killings around the world in addition to the details on torture that we are now learning. What we are seeing is the Bush administration really played semantics here. The fact is the Bush administration were using water as a method to torture people, whether it was defined as water boarding or called water boarding is a different story. One of the cases I have been investigating for a couple of years is one prisoner who had a hose shoved up his nose at Guantanamo and then the water turned on at full throttle shooting up his nose, putting prisoners’ heads in toilets and then repeatedly flushing it. What we’re learning are more sick details of torture tactics that most certainly were authorized and advocated for at the highest levels of the Bush administration. 

He also describes a force, the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF), which is known to have been used to dole out punishment to detainees. The force has done what is called “IRF-ing.” They douse prisoners in chemical agents, leave the cell, come back in, each of the men grab a body part of the detainee, the detainee is hogtied and then the detainee can be made to sit outside in the blazing sun.

Here’s the segment from last night:

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."