Back to News & Commentary

Tuesday Torture Roundup

Share This Page
June 17, 2008

Torture made plenty of news today. The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing today on “aggressive interrogation techniques,” starring William Haynes, former general counsel for the Department of Defense. Watch him get grilled! (The Washington Post‘s Dan Froomkin gave a great backgrounder on the Senate’s investigation.)

McClatchy continues its “Guantánamo: Beyond the Law” series with an article today that describes the routine abuse and torture of prisoners at the Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan.

The guards kicked, kneed and punched many of the men until they collapsed in pain. U.S. troops shackled and dragged other detainees to small isolation rooms, then hung them by their wrists from chains dangling from the wire mesh ceiling.

…Spc. Jeremy Callaway, who admitted to striking about 12 detainees at Bagram, told military investigators in sworn testimony that he was uncomfortable following orders to “mentally and physically break the detainees.” He didn’t go into detail.

“I guess you can call it torture,” said Callaway, who served in the 377th from August 2002 to January 2003.

This article also goes into great detail about the torture and death of Dilawar, the Afghani cab driver who’s the subject of director Alex Gibney’s Oscar-winning documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side. You can listen to a podcast of Gibney talking about the film, and torture, from last week’s Membership Conference.

You have to admit that ThinkProgress’s post yesterday “Bush: Critics of Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, and Rendition Are ‘Slandering America'” is funny — and torture and unlawful detention of detainees isn’t usually funny. If you follow the president’s logic that detractors of his detention and rendition policies are “slandering America,” the blog notes that the FBI and the Supreme Court are both guilty of doing so.

Finally, this morning saw the declassification of memos related to the use of SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) tactics to torture detainees in Guantánamo. As recently as April, the ACLU received confirmation through our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that SERE techniques were employed by the military in Afghanistan. We suspected the same was going on at Guantánamo when we received those FOIA documents: today’s declassification (PDF) confirms our suspicion. Marty Lederman at Balkinization provides a thoughtful analysis of the documents.

Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, is in Guantánamo right now for another pretrial hearing for Canadian detainee Omar Khadr. His first blog post from this trip will be posted here Thursday.