Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Unending Torture of Omar Khadr

He was a child of jihad, a teenage soldier in bin Laden's army. Captured on the battlefield when he was only fifteen, he has been held at Guantanamo Bay for the past four years -- subjected to unspeakable abuse sanctioned by the president himself

Jeff Tietz

At Ab Khail, a sergeant later said, every U.S. soldier who walked by Omar longed to put a bullet in his head. But an American medic, working near the corpse of Sgt. Speer, saved Omar's life, and he was taken to a hospital at Bagram Air Base with a bullet-split chest and serious shrapnel wounds to the head and eye. U.S. intelligence officers began interrogating him as soon as he regained consciousness. At that moment, Omar entered the extralegal archipelago of torture chambers and detention cells that the Bush administration has erected to prosecute its War on Terror. He has remained there ever since.

At Bagram, he was repeatedly brought into interrogation rooms on stretchers, in great pain. Pain medication was withheld, apparently to induce cooperation. He was ordered to clean floors on his hands and knees while his wounds were still wet. When he could walk again, he was forced to stand for hours at a time with his hands tied above a door frame. Interrogators put a bag over his head and held him still while attack dogs leapt at his chest. Sometimes he was kept chained in an interrogation room for so long he urinated on himself.

An hour or two later they came back, checked the tautness of his chains and pushed him over on his stomach. Transfixed in his bonds, Omar toppled like a figurine. Again they left. Many hours had passed since Omar had been taken from his cell. He urinated on himself and on the floor. The MPs returned, mocked him for a while and then poured pine-oil solvent all over his body. Without altering his chains, they began dragging him by his feet through the mixture of urine and pine oil. Because his body had been so tightened, the new motion racked it. The MPs swung him around and around, the piss and solvent washing up into his face. The idea was to use him as a human mop. When the MPs felt they'd successfully pretended to soak up the liquid with his body, they uncuffed him and carried him back to his cell. He was not allowed a change of clothes for two days.

The design of Omar Khadr's life at Guantanamo Bay apparently began as a theory in the minds of Air Force researchers. After the Korean War, the Air Force created a program called SERE -- Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape -- to help captured pilots resist interrogation. SERE's founders wanted to know what kind of torture was most destructive to the human psyche so that they could train pilots to withstand it. In experiments, they held subjects in dummy POW camps and had them starved, stripped naked and partially drowned. Administrators carefully noted the subjects' reactions, often measuring the levels of stress hormones in their blood.

The most effective form of torture turned out to have two components. The first is pain and harm delivered in unpredictable, sometimes illusory environments -- an absolute denial of physical comfort and spatial-temporal orientation. The second is a removal of the inner comfort of identity -- achieved by artfully humiliating people and coercing them to commit offenses against their own religion, dignity and morality, until they become unrecognizable to and ashamed of themselves.

Several weeks later, a man who claimed to be Afghan interrogated Omar. He wore an American flag on his uniform pants. He said his name was Izmarai -- "lion" -- and he spoke in Farsi and occasionally in Pashto and English. Izmarai said a new prison was under construction in Afghanistan for uncooperative Guantanamo detainees. "In Afghanistan," Izmarai said, "they like small boys." He pulled out a photograph of Omar and wrote on it, in Pashto, "This detainee must be transferred to Bagram."

One military-intelligence officer, speaking anonymously, told a reporter that more than seventy-five percent of the detainees at Guantanamo are innocent. When the government recently prepared Summaries of Evidence for its 517 detainees in an attempt to justify its "enemy combatant" designation, only eight percent were "definitively identified" as Al Qaeda fighters. Sixty-six percent have no definitive connection to Al Qaeda at all. The detention camps of Guantanamo Bay are filled with shepherds, taxi drivers, farmers, small businessmen, drug addicts, homeless people and children.

The entire revolting saga of barbarity piled upon barbarity can be found in the nine page article "The Unending Torture of Omar Khadr" - here.

markfromireland

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