Seven Years of Guantanamo, Seven Years of Torture and Lies

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by Andy Worthington
January 12, 2009, The Huffington Post

Seven years ago, on January 11, 2002, when photos of the first orange-clad detainees to arrive at a hastily-erected prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba were made available to the world's press, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld reacted to the widespread uproar that greeted the images of the kneeling, shackled men, wearing masks and blacked-out goggles and with earphones completing their sensory deprivation, by stating that it was "probably unfortunate" that the photos were released.

As so often with Rumsfeld's pronouncements, it was difficult to work out quite what he meant. He appeared to be conceding that newspapers like Britain's right-wing Daily Mail, which emblazoned its front page with the word "torture," had a valid point to make, but what he actually meant was that it was unfortunate that the photos had been released because they had led to criticism of the administration's anti-terror policies.

Rumsfeld proceeded to make it clear that he had no doubts about the significance of the prisoners transferred to Guantánamo, even though their treatment was unprecedented. They were, in essence, part of a novel experiment in detention and interrogation, which involved being held neither as prisoners of war nor as criminal suspects but as "enemy combatants" who could be imprisoned without charge or trial. In addition, they were deprived of the protections of the Geneva Conventions so that they could be coercively interrogated, and then, when they did not produce the intelligence that the administration thought they should have produced, they were -- as a highly critical Senate Armed Services Committee report concluded last month -- subjected to Chinese torture techniques, taught in U.S. military schools to train American personnel to resist interrogation if captured.

But none of this mattered to Donald Rumsfeld. "These people are committed terrorists," he declared on January 22, 2002, in the same press conference at which he spoke about the photos. "We are keeping them off the street and out of the airlines and out of nuclear power plants and out of ports across this country and across other countries." On a visit to Guantanamo five days later, he called the prisoners "among the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth."

Seven years after Guantanamo opened, it should be abundantly clear that neither Rumsfeld nor Vice President Dick Cheney, President Bush or any of the other defenders of Guantanamo who indulged in similarly hysterical rhetoric, had any idea what they were talking about.

Continue reading Worthington's Seven Years of Guantanamo, Seven Years of Torture and Lies.

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This page contains a single entry published on January 11, 2009 9:15 PM.

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