Sunday, December 18, 2005

Eye of the beholder

Behold.

The United States operated a secret prison in Afghanistan as recently as last year, torturing detainees with sleep deprivation, chaining them to the walls and forcing them to listen to loud music in total darkness for days, a human rights group alleged Monday.

The prison was run near Kabul, Afghanistan's capital, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in a report based on the accounts of several detainees at the U.S. prison for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay.

According to the report by the rights group, the detainees were kept in total darkness — they called the facility "Dark Prison" — and were tortured and mistreated by American and Afghan guards in civilian clothes, an indication the facility may have been operated by the CIA.

"They were chained to walls, deprived of food and drinking water, and kept in total darkness with loud rap, heavy metal music, or other sounds blared for weeks at a time," the report said.

"Some detainees said they were shackled in a manner that made it impossible to lie down or sleep, with restraints that caused their hands and wrists to swell up or bruise."

Human Rights Watch did not speak with the detainees directly because the United States has not allowed rights organizations to visit detainees at Guantanamo or other overseas detention sites.

Instead, the detainees' accounts were given to their lawyers, who passed them on to the rights group. The group said the allegations were credible enough to warrant an official investigation.

The report said Benyam Mohammad, an Ethiopian-born Guantanamo detainee who grew up in Britain, claimed he was held at the facility in 2004.

"It was pitch black, no lights on in the rooms for most of the time," he was quoted as telling his lawyer. "They hung me up. I was allowed a few hours of sleep on the second day, then hung up again, this time for two days."

Mohammad went on to say that he was forced to listen to Eminem and Dr. Dre for 20 days before the music was replaced by "horrible ghost laughter and Halloween sounds."

"The CIA worked on people, including me, day and night," he was quoted as saying. "Plenty lost their minds. I could hear people knocking their heads against the walls and the doors, screaming their heads off."
Dick Cheney, in an interview with ABC News:

Moran: How so, when it comes to cruel, inhuman— What's the president's
prerogative in the cruel treatment of prisoners?

Cheney: There's a definition that's based on prior Supreme Court decisions and prior arguments, and it has to do with the Fourth, Thirteenth, and — three specific amendments to the Constitution. And the rule is whether or not it shocks the conscience. If it's something that shocks the conscience, the court has agreed that crosses over the line.

Now, you can get into a debate about what shocks the conscience and what is cruel and inhuman. And to some extent, I suppose, that's in the eye of the beholder.
Shocking the conscience, huh? Where do you attach the electrodes for that?

Perhaps the administration's definition of torture takes the Court's language literally: "As you can see, your honor, this technique shocks only the detainee's testicles, leaving his conscience unscathed. Therefore, this cannot possibly be construed as torture."

Kidding aside, whose conscience are we talking about? I hope it's not Cheney's, or Donald "Why is standing limited to four hours?" Rumsfeld's. What if your leaders have no conscience?

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home