eye of the cyclone

is there life on earth, or are we just dreaming…


    SEARCH BOX: If a search engine brought you here, but you can't see what you are looking for, or if you want to find other entries with the same (or differerent) 'key words' try the SEARCH BOX! or check out the ALL POSTS! button in the MENU BAR at the top of the page

torture and mistreatment of inmates at Guantanamo

Posted by lahar9jhadav on March 27, 2007

Dr Steven Miles Tony Jones talks to bioethicist and author Dr Steven Miles, (pictured) whose book details the torture and mistreatment of inmates at Guantanamo Bay.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Broadcast: 26/03/2007
Reporter: Tony JonesT

TONY JONES: Bioethicist and author Dr Steven Miles’ book, Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity and the War on Terror is based on 70,000 pages of declassified Government documents which detail the torture and mistreatment of inmates at Guantanamo Bay and other prisons used during America’s war on terror. Dr Miles joins us now from the American city of Minneapolis. Thanks for being there, Steven Miles.

DR STEVEN MILES, BIOETHICIST & AUTHOR: It’s a pleasure, thank you.

TONY JONES: Now, based on your research into the conditions under which prisoners have been kept and interrogated at Guantanamo Bay, what would be your general assessment of any evidence based on those interrogations?

STEVEN MILES: Well, the Military Commissions Act, which sets the rules for Mr Hicks’ trial, explicitly permits evidence obtained by coercion, which is not permitted in US courts, and, furthermore, we know that extensive amounts of coercion was used there. That same set of rules also denies prisoners the right to appeal to Geneva Convention violations in the hearing process.

TONY JONES: What do we know about the sorts of coercion that you’re talking about used at Guantanamo Bay? What did you cull, from reading through those 70,000 pages, and was there any evidence of torture at Guantanamo Bay?

STEVEN MILES: There’s extensive evidence of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment which, in cases, rises to the level of torture. They’ve used sleep deprivation, 20 hours per day, up to at least six or seven weeks. They’ve used prolonged stress positions in which prisoners are tied in positions where they can’t bend their bodies. They’ve used forced IVs and force feeding treatments. They’ve used procedures that are called cell extractions, where a team of MPs will go and pull somebody out of a cell. These were not just done for administrative reasons but were also punitively applied in terms of their high severity. They’ve also used extreme heat and prolonged air conditioning to heat and cool prisoners, including to the point of one prisoner I know of was cooled to the point where his heart rate dropped so that he needed to be hospitalised. They’ve used forced grooming, they’ve used sexual harassment and they’ve used interrogation systems that include barking dogs, all of which are overseen by psychologists or physicians.

TONY JONES: Are you talking in a general sense there about all of the prisons used, including the secret CIA prisons, or you talking specifically about Guantanamo Bay?

STEVEN MILES: All this is just at Guantanamo Bay.

TONY JONES: You’ve also written, and your strong interest here, obviously, is in the medical fraternity, your colleagues in a way, you’ve also written that breaking prisoners became a medical specialty, mental illness was ignored, medical interviews and records were culled for clues on prisoners’ vulnerability. How was that done and who did it?

STEVEN MILES: Well, what happened was that secretary of Defense, former secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld wrote a policy for exploiting the emotional and physical vulnerabilities of prisoners. Then the head of the interrogation unit at Guantanamo Bay, a General Miller, built these things called behavioural science consultation teams which worked under a committee called the Interrogation Control Element. The behavioural science consultation team, which was also called “a biscuit”, actually devised a plan to break prisoners down, and it had full access to the medical records to identify physical and emotional vulnerabilities. In fact, those policies are readily available describing both the operation of those committees and their access to medical information.

From there, these committees actually built a set of scripts for breaking prisoners down. Some of these, for example, consisted of putting nude pin ups on the chests of prisoners, having them take them off and then match them with nude pin ups on the floor or on the table. Some of them consisted of films like Die Terrorist Die, some of them consisted of dogs, stress positions, sleep deprivation and so forth.

In addition, in the interrogation room itself , medical personnel would come in and out of the interrogation room to check on patients in prolonged restraint for the entire period of the interrogation. So Mr Hicks’ description of the interrogation matches the policy and it also matches what other prisoners have said and, indeed, what military investigators have said and what FBI interrogators complained of. There was a profound break between the FBI and the military over these techniques.

TONY JONES: Steven Miles, I’m going to ask you to stay with us and we’re going to come back to you. We’re able to cross now to Guantanamo Bay. We’re not attempting to put you in a debate situation, but after we’ve completed our interview with Colonel Davis we would like to come back to you again. So if you’ll hold with us there, we’re going to try now to cross to Colonel Moe Davis.

TONY JONES: And we’ll return now to Minneapolis and Dr Steven Miles.

You heard, I imagine, some of what Colonel Davis was saying there. He’s basically saying in the 18 months he was there he’s never seen any of the things you’ve been describing, and yet you say they were in government documents.

STEVEN MILES: Well, I would ask Major Davis to release the interrogation log, which they have not done, to release the pre and post interrogation physicals and also the medical log of the Hicks’ interrogation. None of those documents have been released. Furthermore, in the trial, the only thing that’s permitted is the evidence, often unsourced. And the trial rules prohibit introducing any material about the conditions of the interrogation itself. So that Major Davis actually was not correct in a number of his statements and, furthermore, the military has refused to provide the very documents which would allow this question to be answered.

TONY JONES: He says they did provide documents which pointed to the medications that David Hicks was on when he and his medical team claimed he was sedated. What do you say to that?

STEVEN MILES: No, they produced one press statement saying that they gave him this medication. But what they did not produce is – for all of these interrogations, there’s a minute by minute interrogation log. There’s also a pre and post medical log and there is intra-interrogation medical logs as well. None of those documents have been supplied by the military. Furthermore, they have not supplied the interrogation plan which was requested of the Defense Department for Mr Hicks, which would be a document which would also say whether or not medications were on the list. Finally, as a physician, Benadryl is not a drug that’s part of any GI cocktails that I use as a doctor. I have no idea what the military meant in making a statement that it belongs in a GI cocktail.

TONY JONES: Let’s go a little bit more general, if we can, because, as we said earlier, your main concern here is with your medical colleagues and what they’ve done. How were they chosen to go places like Guantanamo Bay? Who was screened in, who was screened out?

STEVEN MILES: Well, with regard to force feeding, which is the only screening procedure we know, they were asked before deployment if they had any objection to force feeding inmates, and the ones who said that they did object to force feeding prisoners were then not deployed to Guantanamo. Then, when the psychiatrist said that they thought that the behavioural science consultation team oversight of interrogations is wrong, the Defense Department said that, from that point forward, only psychologists could participate in the organisation of those teams, or management of those teams. The psychologists have taken the position that it’s OK to participate in the course of interrogation.

TONY JONES: Indeed, you do pinpoint one name in the documents that you’ve looked at. You pinpoint one name, a psychologist called Leso. He was part of a team interrogating a man called Qahtani, an Al Qaeda suspect, one imagines. Tell us what you know about that interrogation.

STEVEN MILES: First off, I don’t know that Dr Leso had any involvement in the Hicks’ interrogation but he was, Dr Leso, was present during the use of dogs on Qahtani. He was chairman of the biscuit and then he was present at the start of the interrogation log that did get leaked, and then, during that log, at several points, they refer to a consultation to biscuit about specific techniques he used on the prisoner, and note in the interrogation log that biscuit approval or biscuit decisions were then used in managing that interrogation. So it appeared that there was active oversight by biscuit of the interrogation. That also matches the description of biscuit policy in the Iraqi documents and also in the documents provided by the Army Surgeon General.

TONY JONES: What happened in that interrogation, because I’ve read part of your account of it, it appears the person being interrogated was brought to the point of freezing to where his heart began to slow down and then brought back again? Is that how he was interrogated?

STEVEN MILES: He was interrogated for repeated incidences of prolonged sleep deprivation where he essentially started hallucinating and became incoherent. He was subjected to prolonged restraint and he was given forced IVs. At one point he urinated on himself and the urine went down to the floor, and the interrogation log and investigation shows that he was told that he could use that puddle of urine as a prayer rug. He was given a variety of scripts and movies about Die Terrorist Die, Good Muslim, Bad Muslim. He was instructed in the proper Muslim theology by female guards. He was held nude in front of female guards. He was forced to do various graphic exercises with pin ups. He had female guards encroach on his personal space and seductively act towards him, which are major Muslim violations. He was not told when Ramadan was, he was not told when prayer time was. All things considered, this thing went on the log goes on for seven weeks but the interrogation began long before this log and continued after it, but only a seven week piece of this was released. That document, though, is an important document because it shows what an interrogation log looks like, and that’s the kind of document that they’ve not released in the Hicks affair.

TONY JONES: Now, you also say that the sort of intelligence gained from interrogations like this and even worse interrogations has proven itself to be tantamount to useless, and you name one specific case about a man who was taken to Egypt and whose evidence was actually used as part of the argument to go to war against Iraq. Can you explain that to us?

STEVEN MILES: Right. Yeah, there’s huge amounts of data that shows that interrogation produces bad information. One guy, al-Libi, was basically taken on this CIA rendition program, taken to Egypt and then he was interrogated and tortured on our behalf, and he produced the information that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda were cooperating on bio weapons. That information was entirely false and he’s since recanted and says that it was produced by torture.

You know, torture’s been shown to produce bad information. It radicalises the population against which it’s directed. It makes it impossible to recruit informants. Information obtained by torture has sent coalition soldiers, and I presume that includes Australian soldiers, out on missions, or essentially wild goose chases. This is a technique which the world has abandoned and indeed which senior intelligence officials and senior FBI agents vigorously protested to no avail, because it was set up as a romp operation with Rumsfeld Defense Department.

TONY JONES: You probably heard a moment ago Colonel Davis suggesting that, if David Hicks had been interrogated according to the directive of Secretary Rumsfeld which we referred to earlier, the 2003 directive, that would have been a good thing. If it were the case, how were other people similarly interrogated?

STEVEN MILES: Sure. The approach that was strenuously argued for by the FBI was the one that’s used by their behavioural analysis unit, which is one of trying to find ways to build rapport and make deals with people, ways to transcend cultural divides in order to establish a relationship with people. Let me tell you about an amazing event described in the emails within the FBI. They were engaged in this war with the Defense Department and finally they say they basically struck a bet over a prisoner, whereby the FBI took this guy for a couple of days and they talked to him and they said to the army, “This is what this guy knows”. Then the army took this guy and they worked him over and they couldn’t get anymore out of him. The FBI and army sat down over a conference table and the FBI guy said that the army conceded that they couldn’t get anymore information out of the guy but the FBI said, “It’s not going to make any difference,” they’re committed to their strategy.

TONY JONES: Dr Steven Miles, I’m afraid we’re out of time talking to you. We’ll bring you back another time to perhaps participate in a debate on the subject. We thank you for getting up so early and joining us on the program today, this morning, your time. Thank you.

STEVEN MILES: It’s a pleasure, thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s