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Ten Questions: #3

Larry Siems,
The Torture Report
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December 2, 2010

When the United States appeared before the U.N. to defend its human rights record, State Department legal advisor Harold Koh assured the world that the U.S. had “thoroughly investigated” alleged abuses of detainees in U.S. custody, and that “appropriate corrective action has been taken.” Koh also asserted that the Justice Department’s initial investigation into torture was actively looking into allegations of abuse by the CIA and other civilian agencies.

Drawing largely from material that has been covered in, we have come up with 10 follow-up questions for the U.S. about its compliance with domestic and international prohibitions against torture.

When Guantánamo detainee Mohammed Jawad came before the Military Commission, military judge Colonel Stephen Henley found that the “frequent flyer” sleep deprivation regime to which Jawad had been subjected from May 7 to May 20, 2004 constituted cruel, abusive and inhuman treatment. During the commission proceedings, the officer in charge of the “frequent flyer program” presented testimony and evidence that the treatment Mohammed Jawad suffered was “standard operating procedure” and was used on many detainees at least until April 2005.

Mohammed Jawad’s military defense counsel, Lieutenant Colonel David Frakt, filed a Law of Armed Conflict Violation report, the formal notice by which military personnel alert their superiors that a possible war crime has occurred, when he first discovered this abuse in May 2008. He repeatedly requested to be informed of the status of the investigation, but it appears that no investigation was ever initiated, even when the matter was reported in the Washington Post and the Washington Independent. Lt. Col. Frakt has never been contacted by anyone in the Defense Department concerning his report.

Was the violation that Lt. Col. Frakt reported ever investigated? If so, by whom? What was the result of the investigation? Has anyone been disciplined in relation to the frequent flyer program that was in place in Guantánamo up to April 2005?