Bush Official Admits Detainee Tortured At Gitmo
Mohammed al-Qahtani has been described as “the 20th hijacker” in the 9/11 attacks. Susan J. Crawford, the senior Pentagon official in charge of prosecuting detainees, told Bob Woodward of the Washington Post that his treatment amounted to torture. Techniques used included sustaned isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a “life-threatening condition.”
“We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution.
Crawford says the combination of the techniques, how long they lasted, and the effect on Qahtani’s health is what led her to her conclusion.
“The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge” to call it torture, she said.
Twice, the detainee had to be hospitalized because his heart rate fell below 60 beats per minute, once going below 35 beats per minute, a condition that can lead to death.
At one point he was threatened with a military working dog named Zeus, according to a military report. Qahtani “was forced to wear a woman’s bra and had a thong placed on his head during the course of his interrogation” and “was told that his mother and sister were whores.” With a leash tied to his chains, he was led around the room “and forced to perform a series of dog tricks,” the report shows.
Bush has said “we don’t torture”, that “it’s against our values.” Cheney has said, “And I think on the left wing of the Democratic Party, there are some people who believe that we really tortured.” Crawford, by the way is a life-long Republican, who says, “But there still has to be a line that we should not cross. And unfortunately what this has done, I think, has tainted everything going forward.” More Crawford:
“I was upset by it. I was embarrassed by it. If we tolerate this and allow it, then how can we object when our servicemen and women, or others in foreign service, are captured and subjected to the same techniques? How can we complain? Where is our moral authority to complain? Well, we may have lost it.”
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