Senate Armed Services Hearings, Learning how to torture

The Senate Armed Services Committee hearing this week — “on the origins of aggressive interrogation techniques: Part I of the Committee’s inquiry into the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody” — has revealed:

Pentagon officials drawing up methods to question suspects after the September 11 attacks consulted experts who taught U.S. troops how to resist harsh interrogation, a Senate committee was told on Tuesday.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said a little-known unit that taught skills of Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) provided a list of interrogation techniques.

And the AP reported:

Military lawyers warned against the harsh detainee interrogation techniques approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in 2002, contending in separate memos weeks before Rumsfeld’s endorsement that they could be illegal, a Senate panel has found.

The investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee also has confirmed that senior administration officials, including the Pentagon’s then-general counsel William “Jim” Haynes, sought the help of military psychologists early on to devise the more aggressive methods – which included the use of dogs, making a detainee stand for long periods of time and forced nudity, according to officials familiar with the findings.

Other coverage on the hearings:

Rumsfeld Aides Sought Torture How-To

McClatchey Newspapers reports that, “Torture wasn’t merely an option for military guards in Afghanistan in the first couple of years of the war on terror: It was routine.”

So it appears, anyway, from the extensive reporting by McClatchy Newspapers, which has been serialized this week in The Oregonian. The stories describe the casual and widespread use of inhuman techniques of “interrogation” and imprisonment, including hanging detainees by their wrists, beating their legs to pulp and kicking and punching prisoners until they collapsed.

At least two detainees died after being beaten. Few Americans were punished. And many Afghans were radicalized by the widespread harsh treatment.

A North Carolina House judiciary committee is scheduled to consider a ban on torture and forced disappearances:

The plan to be discussed Tuesday would make torture a felony punishable by up to more than six years in prison.

The proposed law defines torture as both the mental or physical suffering inflicted on a person to obtain information or coerce them.

It also would make the abduction or inappropriate detention of someone a felony.

The bill’s sponsors have said they introduced the measure after hearing allegations that a Smithfield-based company helped the CIA transport suspected terrorists to secret overseas prisons. They pushed for a similar law last year, but the plan never made it out of the House.


June 18, 2008 - Posted by | Torture News | , , , , , , , , , ,

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