Skip navigation
Prisoner Education Guide

Report on Torture and Treatment at Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Center for Constitutional Rights, 2006

Download original document:
Brief thumbnail
This text is machine-read, and may contain errors. Check the original document to verify accuracy.
Center for Constitutional Rights
666 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 614-6464
Fax: (212) 614-6499
E-Mail: info@ccr-ny.org

REPORT ON TORTURE AND CRUEL, INHUMAN, AND
DEGRADING TREATMENT OF PRISONERS
AT GUANTÁNAMO BAY, CUBA

July 2006

Center for Constitutional Rights
666 Broadway, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 614-6464
Fax: (212) 614-6499
E-Mail: info@ccr-ny.org

“You are in a place where there is no law – we are the law.”
U.S. military intelligence officers1

REPORT ON TORTURE
AND CRUEL, INHUMAN, AND DEGRADING TREATMENT
OF PRISONERS
AT GUANTÁNAMO BAY, CUBA

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface..........................................................................................................................................................................1
Introduction: The Accounts from Guantánamo ........................................................................................................3
I. A Legal Black Hole..................................................................................................................................................7
A. Enemy Combatants? .......................................................................................................................................7
B. Extreme Interrogation Techniques ..................................................................................................................9
II. Beyond the Law: Guantánamo, the Geneva Conventions, and the War Crimes Act ........................................10
A. Abandoning the Geneva Conventions and International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law.................10
B. The Army Field Manual................................................................................................................................11
C. Avoiding Liability Under the War Crimes Act ..............................................................................................13
III. Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment Reported at Guantánamo ......................................14
A. The Prison Camps ........................................................................................................................................14
B. Types of Torture and Abuse...........................................................................................................................15
1. Psychological Abuse..................................................................................................................................16
2. Physical Abuse ..........................................................................................................................................20
3. Medical Abuse ..........................................................................................................................................22
4. Sexual Provocation, Rape, and Harassment ..............................................................................................24
5. Religious and Cultural Abuse ...................................................................................................................25
6. Pre-Guantánamo Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment...............................................28
IV. The Abuse Continues ..........................................................................................................................................29
V. Avoiding Judicial Scrutiny of Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment...................................30
VI. Has the U.S. Been Committing Torture in Guantánamo? ................................................................................31
VII. United Nations and Committee on the Convention Against Torture
Find Torture Committed at Guantánamo ........................................................................................................33
A. United Nations Special Rapporteurs’ Report.................................................................................................33
B. United Nations Committee Against Torture’s Report....................................................................................34
VIII. Conclusion .......................................................................................................................................................34
Appendix - Practices that Rise to the Level of Torture at Guantánamo .................................................................36
Chronology................................................................................................................................................................38
Glossary .....................................................................................................................................................................40

7

|

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

PREFACE

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is a nonprofit legal and educational organization dedicated to
protecting and advancing the rights guaranteed by the
U.S. Constitution and International Law.
Since 1966, CCR has been litigating on behalf of victims of torture and arbitrary detention. Our work began
on behalf of civil rights activists, and over the last four
decades CCR has played an important role in many
popular movements for social justice. Through this
work, CCR uses litigation proactively to advance the
law in a positive direction, to empower poor communities and communities of color, to guarantee the rights of
those with the fewest protections and least access to
legal resources, to train the next generation of constitutional and human rights attorneys, and to strengthen
the broader movement for constitutional and human
rights.
Since the indefinite detentions at Guantánamo began,
CCR has been at the forefront of the fight for justice on
behalf of the prisoners. In the dark days after September
11, CCR was one of the first to call for humane treatment and due process for those the government had
branded “the worst of the worst.” In addition, CCR has
consistently challenged the U.S. government’s disregard
for the rule of law and its attempts to evade judicial or
public review of its detention and interrogation practices
used to wage the “war on terror,” both at Guantánamo
and abroad.
In February 2002, CCR filed a historic case against the
U.S. government on behalf of the prisoners held at
Guantánamo, Rasul v. Bush. In June 2004, the U.S.
Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Rasul
upholding the principle that the prisoners held in
Guantánamo have the right to challenge the legal and
factual basis for their detention in U.S. courts.
In the two years since the Court’s decision, the U.S.
government has employed every possible tactic to evade
judicial review of its detention and interrogation practices in the “war on terror,” including allegations that
U.S. personnel subject prisoners to torture and cruel,
inhuman, and degrading treatment. During this time,
CCR has responded by creating a network of hundreds
of attorneys who work collaboratively to represent indi-

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

1

vidual prisoners imprisoned at Guantánamo. This report
is a product of our united efforts.
This report uniquely recounts the experiences of prisoners inside Guantánamo Bay prison. Other reports, for
the most part, rely on the statements of released prisoners who were willing to tell their stories. Appearing in
this report are the accounts of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment drawn directly from
habeas counsels’ unclassified notes. Prisoner statements
were made to counsel during in-person interviews conducted at Guantánamo beginning in the fall of 2004.
Information provided to counsel through client interviews is presumed secret until cleared. Such information
must be provided to a Department of Defense (DoD)
privilege team for review. Once cleared, the information
carries no restriction. All of the information reported by
prisoners in this report has been cleared for publication.
Some information has been taken from public sources
compiled in a separate report by the law firm of
Shearman and Sterling LLP.2
The italicized block passages in this report are excerpts
from attorney notes and summaries of prisoner
accounts. In some cases, the passages are taken from
documents submitted in public court filings. In most
cases, the accounts are taken verbatim from attorney
summaries; in a few instances, the accounts are paraphrased or combined from more than one document.

2

|

To the extent possible, reported incidents have been corroborated by other public, unclassified sources, including government documents. Those corroborated
accounts are also cited in this report. Prisoners’ statements of abuse generally correspond with descriptions of
abuse recorded in government documents released
through a Freedom of Information Act suit brought by
the American Civil Liberties Union, CCR, Physicians
for Human Rights, and Veterans for Peace.3 Sergeant
Eric Saar, a former Guantánamo military intelligence
linguist, corroborates specific accounts of abuse in his
book Inside the Wire: A Military Intelligence Soldier’s
Eyewitness Account of Life at Guantánamo.4 Additional
corroboration can also be found in the book For God
and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire written by
Captain James Yee, a former Muslim chaplain at
Guantánamo who was falsely accused of spying for Al
Qaeda and later exonerated.5
Finally, given the limitations of access to the base, this
report cannot provide a full accounting of the incidents
of prisoner abuse at Guantánamo. Rather, by offering
examples of the abuses described to attorneys and, in
many cases, corroborated by independent government or
other documents, this report compels the conclusion
that a more detailed investigation must be conducted
into the treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo.

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

INTRODUCTION:
THE ACCOUNTS FROM GUANTÁNAMO

bono attorneys from a wide range of practices have
taken days from family and work and spent thousands
of dollars to travel to Guantánamo to meet with their
clients. Those meetings revealed not only facts suggesting many of the detentions were unlawful, but disturbing information about the conditions under which the
prisoners were confined and the treatment to which they
were subjected.

In early 2002, Americans saw photos of hooded, goggled, and shackled men in bright orange jumpsuits
kneeling before a wire mesh fence, their postures a
grotesque parody of common Muslim prayer positions.
Some of these men had been
picked up on or near the battlefields of Afghanistan. Others were
“Of the 550 [detainees]
turned over to U.S. forces from
that we have, I would say
places far from any battlefield –
most of them, the
Bosnia, Zambia, and The Gambia
– torn from their families, careers,
majority of them, will
and communities. They were at
either be released or
Guantánamo Bay Naval Base,
transferred to their own
Cuba, in a place called Camp Xcountries . . . Most of
Ray.6

The U.S. military has openly
acknowledged that many of the
men at Guantánamo do not
belong there. In October 2004,
Brigadier General Martin Lucenti,
then-deputy commander of the
military task force that runs the
detention center at Guantánamo,
stated:“[o]f the 550 [detainees]
that we have, I would say most of
these guys weren’t
Currently, about 460 prisoners
them, the majority of them, will
remain at Guantánamo (often
fighting. They were
either be released or transferred to
referred to by the acronym
running.
”
their own countries . . . Most of
“GTMO”).7 Approximately 200
these guys weren’t fighting. They
Brigadier General Martin Lucenti
habeas corpus petitions are pendwere running.”13 General Lucenti’s
ing in the U.S. District Courts and
comments reportedly have been
the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on
echoed by an active duty Guantánamo interrogator, who
behalf of nearly all of the prisoners now held at
stated that “the U.S. is holding dozens of prisoners at
Guantánamo. Those petitions invoke habeas corpus
the U.S. Navy Base at Guantánamo who have no meanrights, one of the most fundamental protections afforded
ingful connection to al-Qaida or the Taliban and is
by our Anglo-Saxon system of government. The writ of
denying them access to legal representation. . . . There
habeas corpus was first codified in the foundational docare a large number of people at Guantánamo who
ument of English law, the Magna Carta, and later preshouldn’t be there.”14 In January 2005, Brigadier
served in the U.S. Constitution.8 Habeas corpus protects
the right of a person not to be detained by the Executive
without a lawful basis.9 The original right is codified in
U.S. statutory law, and it has been broadened to afford
prisoners the right to challenge their custody as a violation of the laws, Constitution, or treaties of the United
States.10
Petitions for habeas corpus for Guantánamo prisoners
were filed after the Supreme Court’s 2004 decision in
Rasul v. Bush, which held that aliens in military custody
at Guantánamo are entitled to test the lawfulness of
their detention in the federal courts.11 In November
2004, District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled
that counsel for the prisoners could meet with their
clients at Guantánamo.12 Since then, more than 450 pro

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

3

General Jay Hood, then base comdignity, and potentially, the safety
mander at Guantánamo, admitted,
of all of us. Congress must act
“Sometimes, we just
“[s]ometimes, we just didn’t get the
now to create an independent
didn’t get the right folks.” bipartisan commission that will
right folks.”15 These statements,
Jay Hood, Commanding General,
and other recent findings,16 contraengage in credible, effective factJoint Task Force
dict the sweeping pronouncements
finding, end the practices of torof high level U.S. officials, includture and cruel, inhuman and
ing President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald
degrading treatment, hold U.S. officials accountable for
any unlawful conduct, make recommendations to guide
Rumsfeld, that Guantánamo prisoners are the “worst of
U.S. officials in the future, and move with due speed to
the worst.”17
close the prison at Guantánamo.
Both present and former prisoners consistently have
Mohammed Nechla and five other Bosnians were taken
reported they suffered systematic abuse at the hands of
into custody by Bosnian authorities in the Fall of 2001 at
U.S. military personnel. The government has tried to
the demand of the U.S., based on unsubstantiated allegadismiss prisoner accounts of mistreatment by claiming
tions by the U.S. embassy that they were part of a group
that prisoners are hardened terrorists, trained to allege
planning an attack on the Embassy. Mohammed Nechla
torture as part of their indoctrination by Al Qaeda, but
worked with orphans for the Red Crescent Society of the
these claims are belied by the mounting evidence.18
United Arab Emirates in Bihac, Bosnia as a social worker
Many in the military have objected to decisions that
when he was arrested.
resulted in prisoner abuse. Alberto J. Mora, former
The Bosnian Supreme Court ordered the six released after a
General Counsel of the Navy under President George
three-month investigation, which included searches of docuW. Bush, made public a series of strenuous objections he
ments, residences, and computers, yielded insufficient eviraised within the Administration concerning its depardence to detain them.21
ture from both domestic and international law with
respect to the detention, treatment, and interrogation of
On the night of January 18, 2002, Mr. Nechla and the
prisoners at Guantánamo.19 Echoing Mora’s concerns,
other five Bosnians were taken to the courtyard of the
Major General Jack L. Rives, Deputy Judge Advocate
Sarajevo jail. Mr. Nechla was given a document confirmGeneral for the Air Force, stated, “[T]he use of the more
ing that he was to be released. But he was not set free.
extreme interrogation techniques simply is not how the
Instead, he was turned over to nine officers/soldiers, includU.S. armed forces have operated in recent history. We
ing at least one American soldier, in full riot gear. A hood
have taken the legal and moral ‘high-road’ in the conwas placed over his head and his wrists were bound
duct of our military operations regardless of how others
20
extremely tightly. The six were taken to an airport, where
may operate.”
they were handed over to Americans. The Americans
CCR calls for an immediate end to the use of any
removed Mr. Nechla’s hood, and placed sensory deprivation
method or practice in connection with Guantánamo
goggles on his eyes, a surgical-type mask on his mouth, and
prisoners that constitutes torture. The disturbing
headphone-type coverings over his ears.
accounts set forth in this report support our call for an
After spending hours sitting on the ground in sub-freezing
independent commission to determine the full scope of
temperatures, Mr. Nechla and the others were forced onto a
the mistreatment at Guantánamo that has been relayed
plane. The pain from Mr. Nechla’s wrist restraints was
by the prisoners to their counsel. There is much at stake
excruciating because they were so tight; he was crying and
here. The world is watching. Many of our allies, as well
screaming, “My hands, my hands!” He began to feel numbas an increasing number of current and former U.S. offiness in his hands and arms.
cials, call for Guantánamo to be closed immediately. The
facts paint a picture of practices that are not only unlawful and immoral, but are actively eroding our government’s commitment to the rule of law and human

4

|

He was placed in a sitting position on the floor of the plane.
If he slumped or fell, he was slammed back into the sitting

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

position by soldiers. The flight lasted about six hours. When
the plane landed, they were in a place that was extremely
cold (-20 C). Mr. Nechla believes it was Turkey or
Germany.22 Mr. Nechla heard barking and snarling dogs
very close to him, but he could not see because of the goggles. He was terrified that the dogs would bite him or kill
him; the soldiers taunted him in the bitter cold.
Before boarding a second plane, Mr. Nechla was given a
new article of clothing, but he could not see what it looked
like. His hands remained in pain, and the numbness in his
arms grew. He was given no food. The plane trip lasted
many hours. Immediately before the plane landed at
Guantánamo, he was given an apple—the only food he
received during his nearly two-day journey.
After the plane landed, he was dragged to a bus, still wearing the goggles, mask, and headphones. The soldiers dragged
him by his biceps, gripping him tightly and painfully. The
bus had no seats. Soldiers were screaming at him in
English, “Don’t move!” “Don’t talk!” repeatedly.
When the bus stopped, Mr. Nechla was pulled down the
boarding stairs, again by the upper arms. There were several dogs barking very close to him, and he again feared he
would be bitten and attacked. He was dragged to an area
of gravel and placed in a painful position, with his legs
placed straight out in front of him, shackled, and his wrists
still shackled.

Soldiers were screaming insults at him and about his family. A soldier punched him around his head and shoulders.
The sun pounded down on him and it was unbearably hot.
He fainted. A soldier stepped forward, grabbed him, and
shoved him back into the painful seated position. This
occurred a few times. He was forced to sit in the intense
heat for an extended period. He was having difficulty
breathing through the mask and believed he was going to
suffocate. He cried out for help. A soldier came and pulled
the mask out and let it snap against his face. He began to
cry.23 He had arrived at Guantánamo.
O.K. was 15 years old when he was captured in July
2002.24 Military officials at Bagram treated him roughly,
despite his young age and his poor physical condition. He
was interrogated repeatedly by military officials, and on
many occasions was brought into the interrogation room on
a stretcher. On one occasion, interrogators grabbed and
pulled him, he fell and cut his left knee. On some occasions,
interrogators brought barking dogs into the interrogation
room while his head was covered with a bag. On other
occasions, interrogators threw cold water on him. They also
tied his hands above the door frame and made him dangle
painfully for hours at a time. While his wounds were still
healing, interrogators made O.K. clean the floors on his
hands and knees. They forced him to carry heavy buckets of
water, which hurt his left shoulder (where he had been

Second from the left: Mohammed Nechla

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

5

shot). When he was able to walk again, interrogators made
him pick up trash, then emptied the trash bag and made
him pick it up again. During the interrogation, he was not
allowed to use the bathroom, and was forced to urinate on
himself.
Around March of 2003, O.K. was taken out of his cell at
Camp Delta at approximately 12:00 – 1:00 a.m., and
taken to an interrogation room. An interrogator told O.K.
that his brother was at Guantánamo, and that he should
“get ready for a miserable life.” O.K. stated that he would
answer the interrogator’s questions if they brought his
brother to see him. The interrogator became extremely
angry, then called in military police and told them to cuff
O.K. to the floor. First they cuffed him with his arms in
front of his legs. After approximately half an hour they
cuffed him with his arms behind his legs. After another
half hour they forced him onto his knees, and cuffed his
hands behind his legs. Later still, they forced him on his
stomach, bent his knees, and cuffed his hands and feet
together. At some point, O.K. urinated on the floor and on
himself. Military Police poured pine oil on the floor and on
O.K., and then, with O.K. lying on his stomach and his
hands and feet cuffed together behind him, the Military
Police dragged him back and forth through the mixture of
urine and pine oil on the floor. Later, O.K. was put back
in his cell, without being allowed a shower or change of
clothes. He was not given a change of clothes for two days.25
Mustafa Ait Idir asked to speak with an officer after guards
refused to turn down fans that were making prisoners cold.
He was alone in his cell at about 2 p.m. when guards
entered, saying they wanted to search his cell. He sat on the
floor as he was instructed, and his hands were secured
behind him.

The guards then threw him on the floor and continued to
pound him and bang his head and body on the floor.
The guards then picked him up and banged his head on
the foot stirrups of the toilet unit in his cell. Mustafa
described the toilet as like a Turkish toilet – with a hole
beneath it and a sturdy place to place one’s feet and from
which to squat. They banged his head onto the foot holding
apparatus.
He was taken to solitary confinement after that beating.
Officers visited him twice that night to examine the bruises
covering much of his upper body.26

Mr. Ait Idir has been in Guantánamo since January
2002; he has not seen his son Muhamed in four years.

Suddenly guards grabbed him and picked him up. They
began to curse him and to say horrible things to him and
about him and his family.
The bunk in that cell was on a 3-foot high steel shelf. The
guards banged his body and his head into the steel bunk.
The bunk and cell appear to be of a single piece or welded
construction – much like a tub and wall unit – but made
of steel.

6

|

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

I. A LEGAL BLACK HOLE

nor any international body uses the term “enemy combatant.” “Enemy combatant” is solely a term coined by
Who are these men, and why have they been treated this
the U.S. government. The U.S. government’s sleight of
way? What are the implications of the U.S. government’s
hand redefinition of the term used to describe captured
decision to classify them as “enemy combatants?” What
war prisoners attempted to place
has occurred at Guantánamo in the
Guantánamo prisoners outside the
absence of public scrutiny, judicial
orbit of the laws of war and, more
Before a federal judge,
review, and government accountabroadly, the rule of law.
the U.S. government
bility? The American people, and
the global community, deserve
Over the past four years, the
conceded that, under
answers to these questions. And
the Wolfowitz definition, Administration has modified the
answers will only come to light
definition of “enemy combatant”
a “little old lady in
when Congress appoints an indeto suit its objectives; for example,
pendent commission to investigate
the government told the U.S.
Switzerland” could be
all accounts of torture and abuse at
Supreme Court in the Hamdi case
held as an enemy
Guantánamo, to put an end to the
that an enemy combatant was a
combatant if she –
practices of torture and cruel,
person fighting U.S. forces in
unknowingly – donated
inhuman and degrading treatment,
Afghanistan.28 That narrow definito hold government officials
tion would exclude many of the
funds to a charity that
accountable, to close the detention
men at Guantánamo.29
funneled
the
money
to
facility at Guantánamo, and to
In Rasul v. Bush, the Supreme
Al Qaeda.
make recommendations to prevent
Court rejected the
abuses in the future.
Administration’s assertion of unreA. Enemy Combatants?
viewable power to designate prisoners as so-called
“enemy combatants,” although the Executive continues
The U.S. government claims that Guantánamo prisoners
to resist any judicial oversight of its conduct in
are so-called “enemy combatants,” falling outside the
Guantánamo. In the wake of that decision, Deputy
historical protections provided individuals in U.S. miliSecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz issued an order
tary custody. A detention and interrogation system based
(Wolfowitz Order) in July 2004 expanding the term
upon ad hoc Executive rules renders prisoners particularenemy combatant to include:
ly vulnerable to abuse in the absence of clear guidance
for interrogators and prison guards. This new category
of military prisoners, accompanied by the failure to
adhere to traditional and long-established military law,
increases the risk that some individuals imprisoned
under these conditions may be wrongfully accused of
engaging in hostilities against the U.S.
Since the “war on terrorism” began, the U.S. government has insisted that the Executive has the sole authority to determine “enemy combatant” status. What is an
“enemy combatant?” The term “enemy combatant,”
taken literally, has the same meaning as “enemy
soldier,”27 but has no previously recognized legal significance. It is not a “term of art” in U.S. law. The U.S. has
not used the term in any previous armed conflict. No
international treaty, including the Geneva Conventions,

an individual who was part of or supporting Taliban
or al Qaeda forces, or associated forces that are
engaged in hostilities against the U.S. or its coalition
partners. This includes any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported hostilities in aid of enemy armed forces.30
The Wolfowitz definition is subject to criticism, at a
minimum, because it fails to describe what it means to
“support” Al Qaeda or be an “associated force.” Before a
federal judge, the U.S. government conceded that,
under the Wolfowitz definition, a “little old lady in
Switzerland” could be held as an enemy combatant if
she – unknowingly – donated funds to a charity that
funneled the money to Al Qaeda.31 In its efforts to combat terrorism, the U.S. government has claimed the right

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

7

to pick up alleged “enemy combatants” in every corner
of the world, on suspicion they are affiliated with a terrorist organization, and then to subject them to indefinite detention without judicial review. This
extraordinary exercise of executive power has no precedent in U.S. history.
Though the Administration repeatedly asserts
Guantánamo prisoners are hardened terrorists, the
accounts provided to habeas counsel and the statements
of several military officers suggest that many of the prisoners have no connection to terrorism. Rather, there is
evidence that many simply were in the wrong place at
the wrong time. The ABC News program 20/20 reported, “Afghanistan was showered with U.S. offers of
money for turning in any al Qaeda and Taliban ‘murderers.’”32 Twelve Kuwaiti citizens (who also sought review
of their detention before the U.S. Supreme Court with
Rasul) were serving in humanitarian organizations in
Pakistan and Afghanistan when they were picked up by
local villagers who sought to recover bounties offered by

the United States.33 Sami Al-Laithi, an Egyptian, was
also sold for a bounty.34
A recent report analyzed declassified records of certain
military panels, the Combatant Status Review Tribunals
(CSRT), mandated by the Wolfowitz Order to create a
vehicle to confirm the prisoners’ status as enemy combatants. Even though the CSRT procedures lacked most
fundamental due process protections, the records of
those reviews still provide significant data. The report
finds that, in fifty-five percent (55%) of the cases, prisoners were determined not to have committed any hostile act against the U.S. or its coalition allies. Eighty-six
percent (86%) were arrested by either Pakistan or the
Northern Alliance when the United States was paying
large bounties for apprehension of suspected Al Qaeda
or Taliban supporters.35 Following the 2002 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the practice of “selling” foreign
nationals arrested in or near Afghanistan to the U.S.
military for thousands of dollars in bounty money was
commonplace.36

Psychological Operations (PsyOp)
Leaflet No. TF11-RP09-1

Pamphlet distributed by
U.S. Forces in Afghanistan

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

8

Senior military officials, like Steve Rodriguez, the Head
of Interrogations at Guantánamo, have questioned the
intelligence value of the majority of Guantánamo prisoners. In 2004, Rodriguez maintained that “20, 30, 40,
maybe even 50 [of the Guantánamo detainees] are providing critical information today.”37 Lt. Col. Anthony
Christino stated in 2004 “that there is a continuing
intelligence value . . . for [s]omewhere a[round] a few
dozen, a few score at the most” of the Guantánamo prisoners.38 At peak, the U.S. imprisoned approximately
660 men at Guantánamo.39
That innocent men may be arbitrarily imprisoned and
mistreated at Guantánamo is an especially egregious
miscarriage of justice. But even those who may have
been involved in armed conflict against the United
States or otherwise acted to harm U.S. interests should
not be disgraced, tortured, or treated inhumanely. U.S.
domestic laws and international treaties to which the
U.S. is a signatory absolutely prohibit such treatment.
B. Extreme Interrogation Techniques

• exposed to prolonged temperature extremes;
• beaten;
• threatened with transfer to a foreign country, for
torture;43
• tortured in foreign countries or at U.S. military bases
abroad before transfer to Guantánamo;
• sexually harassed and raped or threatened with rape;
• deprived of medical treatment for serious conditions,
or allowed treatment only on the condition that they
“cooperate” with interrogators; and
• routinely “short-shackled” (wrists and ankles bound
together and to the floor) for hours and even days during interrogations.
These aggressive interrogation techniques, when coupled
with the stress of indefinite, arbitrary detention, have
caused the prisoners tremendous psychological and
physical injury. At least one prisoner nearly died during
an interrogation.44

The extreme interrogation techniques that led to the
Most prisoners live in conditions that are debilitating.
abuses at Abu Ghraib were designed and implemented
Many have serious, untreated medical problems, often
first at Guantánamo and then exported to Iraq.40 The
caused by living conditions or physical punishment.
government deliberately chose Guantánamo as its prison
Some have lost their sanity. Numerous prisoners have
site because it believed foreign citizens detained there
tried to commit suicide, some multiple times, one in
stood beyond the reach of U.S. law, including U.S.
October 2005 during a visit by his lawyer.45
international obligations under the Geneva Conventions
Prisoners have undertaken several hunger strikes to
and other international humanitarian and human rights
protest conditions at Guantánamo.46 The longest and
law. The U.S. government calculated that, at
most serious hunger strike began in August 2005 and
Guantánamo, a prisoner would have no remedy to conresulted in the military intranasally force-feeding over
test his incarceration in U.S.
thirty prisoners.47 When several
courts.41 Legal memoranda from
hunger strikers reached a life2002 reveal that the White House
“There is a continuing
threatening stage, the military
and the DoD wanted to know
intelligence value . . . for began using an “emergency
how far they could “legally” go in
restraint chair” during force-feed[s]omewhere a[round] a
interrogating alleged terrorists.42
48
Guantánamo was the perfect locafew dozen, a few score at ings.
tion to test these limits.
On June 10, 2006, three prisoners
the most” of the
Prisoners being interrogated at
Guantánamo have been:

Guantánamo prisoners.
Lt. Col. Anthony Christino

• held in solitary confinement for
periods exceeding a year;
• deprived of sleep for days and weeks and, in at least
one case, months;

were found dead in their cells. A
hunger strike is underway in the
prison, as this report goes to press.

The accounts collected in this
report lead inexorably to only one conclusion: torture
and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment is being

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

9

The decision to strip

practiced routinely at the
captured in the “war on terrorism”
Guantánamo prisoners of are not protected by the Geneva
Guantánamo prison. To ensure
that these practices are prohibited,
Conventions or any other internathe protections of the
the U.S. government must underGeneva Conventions laid tional humanitarian or human
take a detailed, independent, and
rights law.
the foundation for a
transparent investigation into all
The decision to strip Guantánamo
prison beyond the law.
interrogation policies and practices
prisoners of the protections of the
in the war on terror, comprehenGeneva Conventions laid the
sively collect and analyze the data
foundation for a prison beyond the law. The U.S. govon the incidents and nature of abusive practices, and act
ernment intentionally pursued this course of action in
to prevent such actions from occurring in the future.
order to avoid the specific protections those treaties
Finally, it must end the practice of arbitrary, indefinite
afford. To understand why, we first have to understand
detention at Guantánamo.
what the Conventions are and what they do.
On one occasion, while in the interrogation room, an MP
The four Geneva Conventions are among the most unitrained a rifle directly on Mr. Al Dossari at close range,
versal treaties in all of international law.50 They derive
despite the fact that Mr. Al Dossari was shackled to the
from principles that constrain the conduct of belligerfloor. On another occasion, an interrogator in civilian
ents to an armed conflict and make clear the duties that
clothing threatened to send Mr. Al Dossari to a prison with
those belligerents owe to anyone “outside of combat,”
murderers, where he said Mr. Al Dossari would be raped.
whether they are civilians or prisoners of war.51 The four
At a subsequent interrogation, Mr. Al Dossari was told that
Geneva Conventions codify the protection of the cusit was known that he was a low-level al Qaeda soldier and
tomary international “laws of war.” The human rights
that if he admitted this, he would spend five to ten years in
component of this body of law is termed “international
prison. If he did not confess, Mr. Al Dossari was told, he
humanitarian law.”52 Parties to armed conflicts, includwould spend 50 years or perhaps the rest of his life in jail.
ing both state and nonstate actors, have observed the
Geneva Conventions and the protections they codify for
During another interrogation, a woman Mr. Al Dossari
the past fifty years.
believes was of Egyptian origin
banged Mr. Al Dossari’s head on a
The Third Convention, addressThe Third Convention
table. Mr. Al Dossari was shackled by
ing prisoner of war rights, and
a chain around his waist. The chain
the Fourth Convention addressexpressly guarantees
was pulled so tight that it caused him
ing civilian rights, contain
POWs charged with
to vomit.49
numerous protections for persons
crimes
fair
trial
rights.
captured during military hostiliII. BEYOND THE LAW:
GUANTÁNAMO, THE GENEVA
These fair trial guarantees ties. The Third Convention guarCONVENTIONS, AND THE
antees that members of the armed
are considered so
WAR CRIMES ACT
forces of a state party to an interessential
that
“willfully
national armed conflict and
A. Abandoning the Geneva
Conventions and
depriving a [POW] of the members of affiliated militias are
International Humanitarian
rights of a fair and regular entitled to prisoner of war
and Human Rights Law
(POW) status upon capture. One
trial prescribed in this
of the central protections providGuantánamo has been a lightning
Convention”
is
deemed
a
ed by the Third Convention is a
rod for international and domestic
detainee’s right to be treated as a
criticism in large part because of the
“grave breach” of the
POW unless and until his status
U.S. government’s assertion that
convention – i.e., a war
or innocence can be determined
Guantánamo is not only beyond the
crime.
by a “competent tribunal.”53 The
reach of U.S. law, but that prisoners

10

|

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

Third Convention also guarantees other basic dignities
and fundamental procedural rights, including rights to
(1) humane treatment including protection from violence, intimidation, insults, public curiosity, and coercive interrogation tactics;54 (2) due process if subject to
disciplinary or punitive sanctions;55 (3) communication
with protective agencies;56 (4) proper medical attention.57
The Third Convention expressly guarantees POWs
charged with crimes fair trial rights.58 These fair trial
guarantees are considered so essential that “willfully
depriving a [POW] of the rights of a fair and regular
trial prescribed in this Convention” is deemed a “grave
breach” of the convention – i.e., a war crime.
The Fourth Convention provides similar, and even more
protective, guarantees, including fair trial protections to
“protected persons.” “Protected persons” under the
Fourth Convention include all those “in the hands of a
Party to the conflict” who are not prisoners of war or
wounded or sick.59 This includes not only civilian
bystanders to the conflict, but even those individuals
who may be “definitely suspected of or engaged in activities hostile to the security of the State.”60
Article 17 of the Third Convention illustrates how parties to the Convention intended to ensure a baseline of
humane treatment for all persons even during times of
international armed conflict. While Article 17 limits the
manner and extent of interrogations of prisoners of
war,61 it does not prohibit interrogation altogether.
Rather, Article 17 forbids the use of “physical or mental
torture” and “any other form of coercion” to secure
“information of any kind whatever.”62 A country detaining prisoners of war is prohibited from threatening,
insulting, or exposing to unpleasant or disadvantageous
treatment of any kind “prisoners of war who refuse to
answer” questions.63
In addition to restricting the treatment of prisoners during interrogations, the Geneva Conventions obligate the
U.S. to provide humane conditions of confinement. The
majority of Third Convention provisions (such as Article
17) apply technically only to prisoners of war.
The provisions of the Fourth Convention, however,
cover all other persons who may be captured during an
armed conflict and provide even greater protections.

Common Article 3 (CA3) (so-called because it is common to all four Geneva Conventions) establishes a baseline of humane treatment for prisoners, civilians, and
the sick and wounded seized during any form of armed
conflict involving state or nonstate actors.64 CA3 protects all persons, no matter who they are, to ensure they
are treated humanely. It prohibits:
• violence to life and person, in particular murder of all
kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
• outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment;
• the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial
guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by
civilized peoples.65
Finally, CA3 requires that the “wounded and sick shall
be collected and cared for...”66
Along with the safeguards embodied in the Geneva
Conventions, the Guantánamo prisoners, like other captured prisoners, are the beneficiaries of the protections
of all other international human rights treaties to which
the United States is a signatory,67 as well as the protections of customary international law.
The decision to abandon the Geneva Conventions and
other international legal requirements represented an
unprecedented break with prior U.S. military policy. In
previous armed conflicts, even those involving unconventional enemies, the U.S. military adhered to the
Geneva Conventions, even when it had evidence that its
adversaries were abusing captured U.S. soldiers.68 The
United States did so on the principle that it should lead
through moral example as well as military might and
that it was putting its own soldiers in jeopardy by doing
otherwise.
B. The Army Field Manual

Since 1949, when the current version of the
Conventions was adopted, the U.S. military has conducted its activities in accord with the Conventions. For
many years, the Army’s Field Manual 34-52 (FM 34-52)
governing interrogations has been consistent with
Geneva’s prohibitions on torture and degrading treatment.69

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

11

The interrogation techniques outlined in the current
FM 34-52 are all psychological, not physical, methods
that focus on developing an emotional rapport with the
prisoner. Permissible techniques include:

FM 34-52 then instructs: “If you answer yes to either
of these tests, do not engage in the contemplated
action.”75

The decision to abandon the Geneva Conventions and
designate the prisoners as “enemy combatants” – rather
than conducting the legally required Geneva
Convention hearings to identify any prisoners of war
• Emotional Approach. Divining
and release noncombatants –
and playing upon the dominant
[T]he proposed standards enabled DoD to evade the Field
emotions motivating a prisoner.
Manual’s stringent standards. The
of treatment in the new
• Fear-Up Approach. Exploitation
rules of engagement in
Field Manual would
of a prisoner’s preexisting fear.
Guantánamo for interrogating
May take “harsh” (“usually a
alleged enemy combatants are
violate
the
anti-torture
dead-end”) or “mild” forms.70
protections advanced by deliberately vague, go beyond the
time and battle-tested standards of
• Fear-Down Approach. Calming
Sen. John McCain
the Field Manual, and, as a result,
the prisoner and assuring him he
contribute not only to confusion
will be properly and humanely
on the ground but to the sanctioning of abusive methtreated . . . . “When used with a soothing, calm tone
ods of prisoner treatment.76 By rejecting the Geneva
of voice, this often creates rapport and usually nothing
Conventions and other protections, the United States
else is needed to get the source to cooperate.”71
sought to exempt itself from any limits on interrogation
• Pride and Ego Approach. Goading or flattering.
methods for individuals detained in the “war on terrorism.”
• Futility. Convincing the source that resistance is futile,
• Incentive Approach. Giving and taking comfort
items.

and that everyone “talks sooner or later.” Most effective when playing on doubts already in source’s
mind.72
FM 34-52 prohibits the use of force.73 Indeed, Army
interrogation experts “view the use of force as an inferior
technique that yields information of questionable quality.”74
FM 34-52 instructs U.S. personnel to consider two tests
to determine whether an interrogation technique is permissible:
• Given all the surrounding facts and circumstances, would a reasonable person in the place
of the person being interrogated believe that
his rights, as guaranteed under both international and US law, are being violated or withheld,
or will be violated or withheld if he fails to
cooperate.
• If your contemplated actions were perpetrated
by the enemy against US POWs, you would
believe such actions violate international or
US law.

12

|

The U.S. government’s efforts to avoid its Geneva obligations continue.
For over a year, DoD has been drafting a new Army
Field Manual modifying instructions for prisoner interrogations. DoD recently stated that the new Field
Manual would omit a key tenet of the Geneva
Convention that explicitly bans “humiliating and
degrading treatment.” DoD has acknowledged that the
State Department as well as a number of senators and
senior generals vehemently oppose the change,77 observing that the proposed standards of treatment in the new
Field Manual would violate the anti-torture protections
advanced by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) last year and
codified in The Detainee Treatment Act of 2005. These
concerns have led to delay in publication of the new
manual; as of this writing, it has not yet been issued.
As this report goes to press, the U.S. government has
indicated that it is finalizing revisions to the Field
Manual.

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

Mr. Omar Deghayes, a prisoner from Libya, recounts an
incident of abuse he witnessed: At the end of 2004, [another prisoner] was in my block, and he refused to give back
his paper plate as a minor protest over something. Five
[military guards] came in on him and three kneed him in
the stomach until they had knocked him to the floor. This
ruptured his stomach and he suffered constant and increasing pain.
He asked for medical care for several months. Finally, on
May 7, 2005, he saw a doctor, who said his situation was
very dangerous. He has to undergo an operation as a result
of this. He was kept at the hospital for only two days, and
then returned to Camp V. We have heard his screams of
pain whenever he uses the toilet.

Willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, compelling
a prisoner of war to serve in the forces of the hostile
Power; or willfully depriving a prisoner of war of the
rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in this
Convention.81
The War Crimes Act also makes it a war crime to
violate CA3.82
From the outset, the Department of Justice was concerned that Administration officials could be charged
with violations of the War Crimes Act for carrying out
government actions for the “war on terrorism” and
looked for ways to avoid the reach of the Geneva
Conventions.

One day he collapsed in his cell, and so
we felt forced to conduct a joint protest
“As they took him to the If a determination is made that
on his behalf. Part of his problem is
clinic, he was crying out Afghanistan was a failed State . . .
that he does not speak English, so that
and not a party to the [Geneva
when he needs help, and when the
in pain, and the guards – Convention III] treaty, various
MPs finally respond to his cries, they
sad to say – were
legal risks of liability, litigation,
say that there is no translator. It is
and criminal prosecution are minilaughing at him.”
cruel. Finally, we were able to pressure
mized. . . . Thus, a Presidential
the military into taking him back to
determination against [Geneva
the clinic. As they took him to the clinic, he was crying out
Convention III] treaty applicability would provide the
in pain, and the guards – sad to say – were laughing at him.
highest assurance that no court would subsequently enterWhen he came back, he was put in the cell across from me,
tain charges that American military officers, intelligence
so I would hear each time he called for help from the MPs.
officials, or law enforcement officials violated Geneva
The MPs often refuse to respond to him, walking directly by
Convention rules relating to field conduct, detention conhis cell. Last week [June 2005], he collapsed in his cell again
duct or interrogation of detainees. The War Crimes Act of
and they took him back to the clinic. . . .
1996 makes violation of parts of the Geneva Convention a
Beating him so badly was, in the first place, a vicious act for
crime in the U.S.
so minor a rule violation – a rule violation committed by
Letter from Attorney General John Ashcroft to President
someone who is being held without being proven guilty of
George W. Bush (Feb. 1, 2002).83
any crime. He has received permanent injury from this.78
Other Presidential legal advisors offered similar advice.84
C. Avoiding Liability Under the War
Based on those recommendations, on February 7, 2002,
Crimes Act
President Bush issued a memorandum exempting alleged
Parties to the Geneva Conventions are required to crimimembers of al Qaeda from all Geneva Convention pronalize “grave breaches” of the Conventions through their
tections.85 President Bush determined that “none of the
domestic laws, which the United States did by enacting
provisions of Geneva apply to our conflict with al Qaeda
18 U.S.C. § 2441, the War Crimes Act.79 The War
in Afghanistan or elsewhere throughout the world,” and
Crimes Act makes it a war crime to commit a “grave”
specifically concluded that al Qaeda detainees “do not
breach of the Conventions.80 “Grave breaches” of the
qualify as prisoners of war” and are not protected by
Third Geneva Convention are defined as:
CA3.86 While confirming that the Geneva Conventions
applied to the U.S. conflict with the Taliban in

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

13

Afghanistan, President Bush nevertheless found that
CA3 also did not apply to Taliban detainees, and that
“Taliban detainees are unlawful combatants,” therefore
not qualifying as “prisoners of war under Article 4 of
Geneva.”87 As William H. Taft IV, former Legal Advisor,
Department of State, commented last year at a conference on the Geneva Conventions, the conclusions in
these memoranda “unhinged those responsible for the
treatment of the detainees in Guantánamo from the
legal guidelines for interrogation of detainees reflected in
the Conventions and embodied in the Army Field
Manual for decades.”88 These conclusions, Taft asserted,
created the conditions for abusive interrogations by placing prisoners (and thus their captors) outside the law.89
According to former General Counsel of the Navy
Alberto J. Mora, the interrogation techniques permitted
at Guantánamo rose to the level of torture.90
On June 29, 2006, the Supreme Court decided the
question of CA3’s applicability to alleged members of al
Qaeda in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, a case challenging the
legality of the military commissions established by
President Bush to try prisoners accused of war crimes in
the war on terror.91 Rejecting the Administration’s determination, the Supreme Court ruled that CA3 applies to
prisoners detained in the conflict with al Qaeda. The
significance of the Court’s ruling on this and the other
issues on review in Hamdan cannot be overstated; commenting on the decision, former U.S. Solicitor General
Walter Dellinger stated, "[t]wo years ago I [said] that the
court's 2004 enemy combatant cases were historic. And
they were. But not like today's. Hamdan is simply the
most important decision on presidential power and the
rule of law ever. Ever."92 This is so, in large part, because
the Court’s CA3 ruling confirms the unlawfulness of the
U.S. government’s use of torture, cruel, humiliating and
degrading treatment—all prohibited by CA3—on

14

|

Guantanamo prisoners, and recognizes that binding
international law places a limit on the President’s power
as Commander in Chief with respect to the treatment of
war prisoners. Importantly, the ruling opens the door to
criminal prosecutions under the War Crimes Act of
those who participated in such conduct.
III. TORTURE AND CRUEL, INHUMAN, AND
DEGRADING TREATMENT REPORTED AT
GUANTÁNAMO
A. The Prison Camps

The chillingly-named Camp X-Ray exemplified a prison
where every aspect of a prisoners’ life was under close
observation. A temporary camp set up until more permanent facilities could be erected, Camp X-Ray housed
prisoners, from January – April 2002, in cages (wire
mesh units, with wood/metal covers and concrete
floors). Without privacy, these units exposed prisoners to
the elements and to the scorpions, spiders, and banana
rats that populate the island.93
More permanent facilities for prisoners were soon built,
and, in April 2002, prisoners moved into the first buildings at Camp Delta. Camp Delta is referred to informally as “the Wire,” owing to the lengths of chain link fence
and concertina that surround it.94 At the camp’s main
gate stands a 4 x 8 foot sign, displaying the words:
“Honor Bound to Defend Freedom.”95
The actual physical layout of Camp Delta is not easy to
ascertain because access is tightly controlled by the military and its public affairs staff.96 What seems clear is that
Camp Delta includes five different facilities, numbering
One through Five, with the numbers based on the order
in which the camps were built.97 Together, Camps One
to Five have a capacity of over 1000.98
Camp Echo is a separate camp where a small number of
prisoners designated for military commissions once were

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

housed. It has a series of small huts
with two isolation units in each
hut. The units consist of a small
cell containing a steel bed, toilet,
and sink with a shower attached to
the cell. The cells are subject to 24hour video surveillance. A small slit
window and air conditioning were
not added until the middle of
2004. When attorneys began meeting with clients at the base and
raised objections to the impact of
these severe isolation conditions on
the prisoners, the military moved
those prisoners out of Camp Echo
and into a special block in Camp
Delta.99 Camp Echo continues to
be used for attorney-client meetings.100

“The female interrogator
had grabbed the
detainee’s genitals and
bent back his thumbs.
The marine then ‘implied
that her treatment of that
detainee was less harsh
than her treatment of
others by indicating that
he had seen her
treatment of other
detainees result in
detainees curling into a
fetal position on the floor
and crying in pain. . .’”

Camp Iguana has held juveniles101 and, as of June 2006,
currently houses a few prisoners who DoD has admitted
are not enemy combatants.102
Camp Five, a separate state-of-the-art maximum security
facility, comprises four wings of two stories, with 12 to
14 isolation cells each. Camp Five supervision is conducted from “a raised, glass-enclosed centralized control
center that sits in the middle of the facility, giving the
MPs a clear line of sight into both stories of each
wing.”103 Army National Guard Maj. Todd Berger calls
it “the nerve center of the camp.” It contains touchscreen computers that monitor and control all prisoner
movement.98 The DoD claims that Camp Five houses
prisoners deemed of greatest intelligence value.105 Most
continuing allegations of abuse involve prisoners housed
in Camp Five.

DoD is constructing an additional,
reportedly permanent prison structure called Camp Six.
B. Types of Torture and
Abuse

Prisoners in Guantánamo have
reported being exposed to extraordinary psychological and physical
abuse. In addition to abusive interrogation practices, prisoners report
harsh disciplinary measures. These
reports have been corroborated by
military and news accounts. The
United States has systematically
applied the following techniques
to prisoners, in connection with
interrogation and disciplinary
measures, and in the context of conditions of arbitrary
confinement and detention.
FBI Observations at Guantánamo, Fall 2002

1. An FBI agent witnessed a female interrogator “apparently whispering in the detainee’s ear, and caressing and
applying lotion to his arms (this was during Ramadan
when physical contact with a woman would have been
particularly offensive to a Moslim [sic] male. On more
than one occasion the detainee appeared to be grimacing
in pain.” The view of the agent was obscured by a curtain fixed by duct tape at the request of the interrogator,
over a two-way observation mirror. The agent watched
the encounter through the surveillance camera and was
given to understand by a marine that the female interrogator had grabbed the detainee’s genitals and bent
back his thumbs. The marine then “implied that her
treatment of that detainee was less harsh than her treatment of others by indicating that he had seen her treatment of other detainees result in detainees curling into a
fetal position on the floor and crying in pain. . .”
2. “In September or October of 2002 FBI agents
observed that a canine was used in an aggressive manner
to intimidate detainee [redacted] and, in November
2002, FBI agents observed Detainee [redacted] after he
had been subjected to intense isolation for over three
months. During that time period, [redacted] was totally
isolated (with the exception of occasional interrogations)

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

15

in a cell that was always flooded with light. By late
November, the detainee was evidencing behavior consistent with extreme psychological trauma (talking to nonexistent people, reporting hearing voices, crouching in a
corner of the cell covered with a sheet for hours on
end).”
Letter from T. J. Harrington, Deputy Assistant
Director, FBI Counterterrorism Division to
Major General Donald J. Ryder, Department
of the Army, Criminal Investigation
Command, July 14, 2004.106

has resulted in extraordinary damage to prisoners’ mental health.109
In the first year and a half after the prison opened,
eighteen individuals engaged in twenty-eight suicide
attempts.110 Based on official U.S. government statements that have not been independently verified, in
2003 alone, there were 350 acts of “self-harm,” including 120 “hanging gestures.”111 In August 2003, a mass
suicide attempt took place in which twenty-three prisoners tried to take their lives.112 Since that time, reports of
prisoner suicide attempts have grown.

Mohammed al-Qahtani’s interrogation log indicates
that, after the period of isolation described, he was subject to fifty days of interrogation involving severe sleep
deprivation, solitary confinement, sexual assault, physical stress, and threats.107
1. Psychological Abuse

Psychological abuse includes solitary confinement, light and sound
manipulation, exposure to the elements and to temperature
extremes (arguably also physical
abuse), sleep deprivation, and
threats of transfer for torture in
another country. Though government memoranda rarely comment
on the rationale for these techniques, the CIA’s notorious
KUBARK manual on counterintelligence interrogation suggests such
techniques are able to induce
regression, psychic disintegration,
and feelings of helplessness that
lower prisoners’ defenses, goals
which are consistent with the
manipulation of the torture
victim.108
There are a variety of accounts –
not only from the prisoners themselves, but also from government
documents disclosed through
FOIA and statements by former
government personnel – indicating
that psychological abuse at
Guantánamo is unremitting and

16

|

On October 8, 2005, during a visit with his attorney,
Juma Al Dossari asked to use the bathroom. After a few
moments, his attorney opened the door to check on his
client (after hearing the toilet flush). He saw Mr. Al
Dossari hanging by his neck from
the upper part of the mesh wall
Based on official U.S.
that separates the cell area from the
government statements meeting area. He had cut his arm
and was bleeding. When Mr. Al
that have not been
independently verified, in Dossari was unresponsive, his
lawyer called for help. Mr. Al
2003 alone, there were
Dossari was taken by military per350 acts of “self-harm,”
sonnel to a hospital at
Guantánamo. Mr. Al Dossari surincluding 120 “hanging
vived this attempt and has since
gestures.”
been placed under close surveillance.113

As reported by Physicians
for Human Rights,
individuals exposed to
isolation for the first time
develop a “predictable
group of symptoms,”
including “bewilderment,
anxiety, frustration,
dejection, boredom,
obsessive thoughts or
ruminations, depression,
and, in some cases,
hallucination.”

On June 10, 2006, three prisoners
were found dead in their cells. The
DoD described the deaths as suicides, and the incident is currently
under investigation by the Navy
Criminal Investigative Services. At
the time of this writing, an independent investigation had not
begun.
Solitary Confinement. As reported by Physicians for Human
Rights, individuals exposed to isolation for the first time develop a
“predictable group of symptoms,”
including “bewilderment, anxiety,
frustration, dejection, boredom,

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

obsessive thoughts or ruminations,
depression, and, in some cases,
hallucination.”114 Several
Guantánamo prisoners have
reported being held in solitary
confinement for long periods,
sometimes in excess of one year.
• As of February 2004, Shaker
Abdur-Raheem Aamer had
spent eight months in solitary
confinement.115
• Feroz Abbasi spent more than
a year in solitary confinement
in Camp Echo; while at
Guantánamo, he has tried to
kill himself. 116
• David Hicks was in solitary
for almost a year in Camp
Echo.117
• As of late 2005, Mr. Al
Murbati had been held in isolation in Camp Five since
approximately May 2004.118
• As of late 2005, Mr. Al
Dossari had been held in isolation in Camp Delta, India
Block, and Camp Five since
early 2004.119

Several Guantánamo
prisoners have reported
being held in solitary
confinement for long
periods, sometimes in
excess of one year . . .
Mr. Al Dossari has been
held in isolation in Camp
Delta, India Block, and
Camp Five since early
2004.
Asif Iqbal reports that he
was put in isolation for
writing “have a nice day”
on a polystyrene cup
because it was deemed
to be “malicious damage
to U.S. government
property.”
Othman Abdulraheem
Mohammad has lived
under fluorescent lights
twenty-four hours a day
for the last three years.

• Saber Lahmar and Belkacem
Bensayah each were held in an
isolation cell in Camp Five
from August 2004 until mid
October 2005. Both suffered
visual deterioration and psychological trauma
as a result.120

Perhaps the most egregious example is Moazzam Begg,
who has stated that he was detained for a year in
Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan, where he was
deprived of all natural light.121 He then was transferred
to Guantánamo, where he was kept in solitary confinement for more than a year at Camp Echo.122 Asif Iqbal
reports that he was put in isolation for writing “have a
nice day” on a polystyrene cup because it was deemed to

be “malicious damage to U.S. government property.”123 Among the
other prisoners reporting solitary
confinement are Mr. Latif, Mr.
Alikhil, Mr. Haji, Mr. Sahgir, Mr.
Ait Idir, Mr. Lahmar, and Mr.
Boumediene.
Light and Sound Manipulation.
Othman Abdulraheem
Mohammad has lived under fluorescent lights twenty-four hours a
day for the last three years. Every
morning he wakes up with eye
pain and dizziness.124 Belkacem
Bensayah lived under similar conditions for seventeen straight
months and can no longer look at
anything for long because he sees
black spots.125 Mustafa Ait Idir was
kept in isolation for two months,
during which time the lights were
either kept at maximum intensity,
even during the night, or (occasionally and briefly) turned off
completely.126 Loud music is often
blared during interrogation.127 Mr.
Abbasi, Mr. Al Harith, Mr.
Uthman, Mr. Begg, Mr. Al Marri,
Mr. Khan, and Mr. El-Meki are
among the other prisoners that
have experienced this form of mistreatment.

Exposure and Temperature
Extremes. Cells are often kept
extremely hot or cold and prisoners are not given more than a single blanket at night.
Saber Lahmar’s room was so cold on one occasion that
ice formed on the vents.128 Jamal Al Harith recalled
sleeping under a metal bed to try and protect himself
from the cold air blowing in.129 Mustafa Ait Idir was left
shackled in a room with the air conditioning on very
high for 5 or 6 hours, exacerbating a kidney ailment he
was known to have. He was then placed in a solid steel
isolation cell (“very cold”), and his sleeping pad was
taken away because he refused to cooperate with inter-

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

17

Guantánamo, Belkacem Bensayah
was forced to get up and walk, and
frequently moved from cell to cell
during the night, at 30-minute
intervals for a two-month period,
which completely prevented him
from sleeping.134 Lakhdar
Boumediene was deprived of sleep
On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find
for 13 days during an intense interrogation period in
a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the
early 2002.135 During his first month at Guantánamo,
floor, with no chair, food, or water. Most times they had
soldiers would wake Mohamed Nechla every hour and
urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there
force him to place his shoes, brush, and soap in a certain
for 18, 24 hours or more. On one occassion [sic], the air
order along the side of his cage. An hour later, they
conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperwould force him to line up the shoes, brush, and soap in
ature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee
a new order. This would continue all night and was
was shaking with cold. When I asked
designed to prevent him from
the MP’s what was going on, I was
sleeping. At times, instead of
Mohammed Al-Qahtani
told that interrogators from the day
[ ], pursuant to a special reordering the position of his
prior had ordered this treatment,
shoes, brush, and soap, he was
and the detainee was not to be
“interrogation plan”
ordered to leave his cell while it
moved. On another occasion, the
approved by Secretary of was searched.136 Saber Lahmar
A/C had been turned off, making the
reported similar conduct over a
Defense Donald
temperature in the unventilated
period of several weeks. Perhaps
room probably well over 100 degrees.
Rumsfeld, was subjected one of the most severe examples of
The detainee was almost unconscious
to fifty days of sleep
sleep deprivation is that of
on the floor, with a pile of hair next
Mohammed Al-Qahtani who, purdeprivation.
to him. He had apparently been litsuant to a special “interrogation
erally pulling his own hair out
Except
for
one
day
during
plan” approved by Secretary of
throughout the night.132
this period, Mr. Al-Qahtani Defense Donald Rumsfeld,137 was
Other prisoners exposed to tempersubjected to fifty days of sleep
was
permitted
to
sleep
ature extremes are John Doe 1
deprivation. Except for one day
no more than four hours a during this period, Mr. Al-Qahtani
(Afghani), Mr. Ahmed, Mr.
Ahmad, Mr. Hassan, Mr. Boudella,
was permitted to sleep no more
day.
Mr. Lamar, Mr. Kurnaz, twelve
than four hours a day between the
Kuwaiti prisoners, and Mr. Rasul.
hours of 7:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Other prisoners who
report experiencing sleep deprivation include Mr. Hicks,
Sleep Deprivation. Sleep deprivation causes deterioraMr. Abbasi, Mr. Habib, Mr. Esmail, and Mr. Abd altion in cognitive abilities, including “impairments in
Malik al-Wahab.
memory, learning, logical reasoning, arithmetic skills,
complex verbal processing, and decision making.”133 It
Threatened with Transfer to Another Country, for
has been used as a frequent tactic to disorient and menTorture. Interrogators have threatened to transfer pristally weaken prisoners at Guantánamo.
oners to countries where torture is routinely practiced to
intimidate prisoners into cooperating or to induce “conPrisoners have reported that they are prevented from
fessions.” The juvenile O.K. stated that interrogators
sleeping by loud noises, fans, soldiers making banging
threatened to send him to Egypt, Israel, Jordan, or Syria
noises, and even being moved from cell to cell or to
if he did not cooperate.138 Mr. Al Murbati stated he was
other locations in the camp. When he first arrived at
told by an interrogator that if he did not cooperate he
rogators.130 The juvenile O.K.
spent a month in isolation in a
room “like a refrigerator.”131 An
FBI interrogator has documented
the use of cold temperatures and
sleep deprivation by military
guards:

18

|

Lakhdar Boumediene was
deprived of sleep for 13
days during an intense
interrogation period in
early 2002.

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

would be transferred back to
Bahrain to be imprisoned or sent
to Saudi Arabia where “they have
no mercy.”139 Mr. Boumediene
reported that on one occasion, he
was choked by a Jordanian interrogator who then threatened to
send Mr. Boumediene to Jordan
where they could “make [him]
talk.”140

“There, in an
interrogation room, he
was shackled to the floor
by his hands and feet,
with his hands pulled
underneath his legs. For
approximately 12 hours,
very loud music and
white noise was played
through six speakers
arranged close to Mr. Al
Murbati’s head.”

Within a few days of arriving at
Guantánamo, two older interrogators
dressed in civilian clothing showed
Mr. Al Murbati a document. The
interrogators told Mr. Al Murbati
that the document was a transcription of an audiotape made of a highranking al Qaeda member from Kuwait that described
potential targets. The interrogators asked Mr. Al Murbati
where the next attack would occur. When Mr. Al Murbati
was unable to respond he was put in solitary confinement
and threatened with a transfer to Egypt where, he was told,
he would be tortured.
Typically, Mr. Al Murbati’s interrogations in Camp Delta
were conducted from approximately 6 a.m. until 4 p.m., or
from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. For the entirety of most sessions,
Mr. Al Murbati was made to sit on the floor with his
ankles shackled to the floor and with his hands pulled
under his legs and also shackled to
the floor.
During certain interrogations, the air
conditioning was set very high, making the interrogation room quite cold.
At other times, there would be no air
conditioning, making the interrogation room very hot.
On multiple occasions, the floor of
the interrogation room had been
treated by what appeared to be a
mixture of water and a powerful
cleaning agent. This mixture would be thrown on Mr. Al
Murbati’s face and body, causing great irritation. Because
he would be shackled when this occurred, Mr. Al Murbati
was unable to do anything to alleviate the irritation.

Especially when the air conditioning
was turned off, the cleaning agent
that was put on the floor would
make breathing difficult. The cleaning agent also caused mucous discharges from Mr. Al Murbati’s nose.
Several days after a contentious
interrogation, Mr. Al Murbati was
taken from Camp Three to Camp
One. There, in an interrogation
room, he was shackled to the floor by
his hands and feet, with his hands
pulled underneath his legs. For
approximately 12 hours, very loud
music and white noise was played
through six speakers arranged close
to Mr. Al Murbati’s head.

This technique was used on multiple other occasions as
well, most of which occurred in or around Ramadan 2003
(October and November). In certain sessions, multiple
flashing strobe lights were used as well; these lights were so
strong that Mr. Al Murbati had to keep his eyes closed. The
interrogation rooms were always cold when the music and
strobe lights were employed. Generally, Mr. Al Murbati was
not asked any specific questions during these sessions,
although sometimes he was told that he needed to cooperate
generally.
When Mr. Al Murbati was not in the interrogation room
during this period, he was moved
from cell to cell ..., typically on an
hourly basis. As such, Mr. Al
Murbati was never able to sleep for
more than short periods even when
not in the interrogation rooms. Mr.
Al Murbati knows of at least one
other detainee (Faruk el Meki, a
Saudi) who was subjected to similar
treatment with respect to the use of
music in the interrogation room and
frequent moves among cells.
At other times, when Mr. Al Murbati was shackled and
facing away from the door, someone would enter the room
quietly and then blow a very loud horn in Mr. Al
Murbati’s ear.141

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

19

2. Physical Abuse

Numerous reports of extreme physical abuse have
emerged from Guantánamo. Physical abuse is often
meted out systematically by the specially trained
“Immediate Reaction Force” (IRF); at other times, soldiers have beaten prisoners for no apparent reason or in
connection with an alleged violation of a camp disciplinary rule. Some prisoners have sustained permanent
physical injury as a result.
Physical Beatings. Beatings are the most frequently
reported form of mistreatment, with many prisoners
providing details of such physical mistreatment.
Prisoners assert that pretexts for physical punishment are
frequently devised. Mr. Al-Harith said prisoners had
been punished for keeping six packets of salt in their cell
instead of five and for hanging their towels through
their cages when they weren’t wet.142
Military reports admit that many prisoners have been
thrown or dropped on the ground or thrown against
walls.143 Several prisoners report that assailants jumped
on their backs or shoved their heads into hard surfaces
while they were incapacitated and lying on the
ground.144 For example, Yasein Khasem Mohammed
Esmail claims that when he arrived in Guantánamo,
while he was still shackled, he was thrown into the air
and allowed to fall to the ground. When he lay on the
ground, soldiers stomped on him.145 A group of soldiers
sprayed Mr. al-Wahab with “disorienting gas,” burst in
his cell, handcuffed him, pulled him out of his cell, and
pushed and rubbed his head against concrete until he
lost consciousness.146 Mustafa Ait Idir sat down on the
floor when guards, angry because he had asked to see an
officer, told him to; the vindictive guards tied his hands
behind his back, picked him up and banged his body
and head into the side of his steel bunk. They threw him
down and pounded his head into the floor.147
Many other prisoners describe frequent and vicious beatings. Lakhdar Boumediene described several occasions in
early 2002 when guards returned him to his cell following interrogation, grabbed him under his armpits, lifted
him up, and threw him to his cage floor repeatedly
while his wrists were shackled to his waist and his feet
were shackled to an anchor in the floor of his cage.148
Mr. Boumediene also stated that on one occasion, a soldier pushed him to the ground, put his knee behind Mr.

20

|

Boumediene’s knee, and ground Mr. Boumediene’s knee
into the floor. He now has a scar he attributes to that
beating.149
Sami Al-Laithi, a pro-democracy English teacher who
was determined to be “no longer an enemy combatant”
on May 10, 2005, and was later released, is now confined to a wheelchair as a result of beatings by the U.S.
military.
Sami Al-Laithi was a teacher at Kabul University. He
taught Arabic and English. Mr. Al-Laithi spent 17 years
teaching English in Pakistan and Afghanistan, believing
that he was helping the cause of the U.S. He has never been
an opponent of the U.S., but says he has “always believed
in U.S. ideology” of democracy and rule of law.
Mr. Al-Laithi is not, and never has been, an Islamic
extremist. He was interested only in teaching and in playing football. He opposed the Taliban, because he believes in
democracy, freedom, and open elections. These are the same
reasons for his consistent opposition to the repressive regime
of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
As a result of his criticism of the Mubarak regime, he was
pursued by Egyptian agents intent on kidnapping or murdering him. He then fled to Pakistan and Afghanistan
where he has lived and worked for 17 years.150
Though a healthy man when taken into U.S. custody, Mr.
Al-Laithi is now confined to a wheelchair with two broken
vertebrae. He attributes his current infirmity to severe beatings that he received soon after arriving at GTMO.
“Once they stomped my back,” Al-Laithi wrote [in an affidavit filed recently with the district court]. “An MP threw
me on the floor, and they lifted me up and slammed me
back down. A doctor said I have two broken vertebrae and
I risk being paralyzed if the spinal cord is injured more.”151
Al-Laithi said his neck is also permanently damaged
because IRF teams repeatedly forced him to bend over
toward his knees. While many prisoners have had their
anuses probed during strip searches, Mr. Al-Laithi also
alleges that the military forced a large object into his anus
on the pretext of doing a medical exam.
“I am in constant pain,” he continued. “I would prefer to
be buried alive than continue to receive the treatment I
receive. At least I would suffer less and die.” 152

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

A military spokesperson indicates that the military takes no
responsibility for Mr. Al-Laithi’s condition, saying that the
fractured vertebrae are the result of a degenerative disease.153
Short-Shackling and Stress Positions. Short-shackling –
a very painful technique in which a prisoner’s arms and
legs are shackled together and to the ground, forcing him
into a stooped position, often for many hours at a time –
was routinely employed at Guantánamo until April 2003,
but sporadic reports of its use persist. Reports of shortshackling include the following: Abdullah Majed Sayyah
Hassan Al Noaimi was shackled for hours in a room that
had been made frigid by an air conditioner.154 Tarek
Dergoul was short shackled in an interrogation room
alone for eight hours and eventually urinated on himself.155 Shafiq Rasul was also left short shackled for long
periods of time and would often miss meals and

prayers.156 Murat Kurnaz was short shackled to the floor
for almost 24 hours and forced to urinate on himself.157
As a result of being held in stress positions for extended
periods of time in short-shackles or other restraints, prisoners have reported suffering from permanent back,
knee, and other joint injuries.158
The Immediate Reaction Force (IRF). Some of the
most severe physical abuse reported at Guantánamo is
attributed to the IRF.159 Comparable to a riot squad, the
IRF functions as a disciplinary force within the camps.
As documented by the former military intelligence linguist, Sergeant Eric Saar, military police (MP) rotate on
and off IRF duty and may not always be trained adequately for the job.160 MPs carry Plexiglas shields and
frequently use tear gas or pepper spray. Though domestic and international law forbid the use of
physical force to punish, rather than restrain,
prisoners, Guantánamo prisoners are frequently IRF’d as punishment.161 Because of
the acronym IRF, “being IRF’d” is
Guantánamo-speak for being beaten by a
group of military guards.162
These incidents are usually videotaped, but
the U.S. military has closely guarded the
tapes and so far asserts they are exempt from
FOIA review.163 However, in June 2004, the
U.S. Southern Command issued a short
report after viewing 20 of 500 hours of thenavailable IRF videos. The report concluded
that the tapes raised questions about abuse
and misconduct. In one video, the IRF
punched a prisoner “on an area of his body
that seemingly would be inconsistent with
striking a pressure point.” In another, an IRF
guard repeatedly sprayed pepper spray on a
prisoner and taunted him. In a third, guards
tied a prisoner to a gurney for interrogation.164
Mr. Al Dossari returned to his cell and saw that
the few items that had been in his cell had been
removed. The MP on duty, named Webster,
pushed him to the ground of the cell and cursed at
him. Mr. Al Dossari yelled in response. The MP
called for the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF).

DoD internal investigation memorandum

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

21

When the IRF team arrived, it
found Mr. Al Dossari lying on his
stomach with his hands on his back.
Nonetheless, an MP named Smith
burst into the cage and jumped on
Mr. Al Dossari’s back wearing full
riot gear. According to other
detainees who viewed this incident,
Smith weighed approximately 240
pounds. At least two other men held
Mr. Al Dossari by the legs. MP
Smith began to choke him with his
hands, while another repeatedly hit
his head on the floor. While being
beaten, Mr. Al Dossari lost consciousness.
Former Guantánamo detainees from
the United Kingdom who witnessed
the incident later told Mr. Al
Dossari that the IRF team held his
face on display for the video camera
after he had lost consciousness.
When the cage was hosed down later,
the water ran red with blood. Mr.
Al Dossari later asked Smith why
Smith had beaten him. Smith
replied, “because I’m Christian.” 165
The force used by the IRF is illustrated by an injury sustained by an
American soldier who was ordered
to act as a prisoner in a “training”
exercise. Because the guards
believed they were restraining an
actual prisoner, not a U.S. soldier,
they used the force regularly used
against prisoners, slamming the
soldier’s head into the floor and
grinding his temple into the steel.
He suffered a traumatic brain
injury and now has epilepsy, with
up to 12 seizures a day. The U.S.
military reports that the video of
this episode is “missing.”166

22

|

The force used by the IRF
is illustrated by an injury
sustained by an American
soldier who was ordered
to act as a prisoner in a
“training” exercise.
Because the guards
believed they were
restraining an actual
prisoner, not a U.S.
soldier, they used the
force regularly used
against prisoners,
slamming the soldier’s
head into the floor and
grinding his temple into
the steel. He suffered a
traumatic brain injury and
now has epilepsy, with up
to 12 seizures a day. The
U.S. military reports that
the video of this episode
is “missing.”
In July 2005, the New
England Journal of
Medicine published a
report criticizing
Guantánamo medical
personnel for violating
medical ethics by sharing
confidential medical
records with
interrogators.

3. Medical Abuse

Doctors’ Involvement in
Interrogations. Doctors and psychologists have reportedly been
actively involved in abuse and
interrogation at Guantánamo. In
July 2005, the New England
Journal of Medicine published a
report criticizing Guantánamo
medical personnel for violating
medical ethics by sharing confidential medical records with interrogators.167 The report noted that,
while the “laws of war defer to
medical ethics,” the American military was requiring its medical personnel, as a matter of policy, to
violate those ethics.168 For example, the report documents that
medical personnel shared prisoners’ medical records with interrogators from the very beginning,
though initially the ostensible purpose was to limit interrogation
techniques based on prisoners’
health status. An August 6, 2002,
DoD memorandum expressly
required military medical personnel at Guantánamo to breach
patient confidentiality and communicate medical information to
non-medical military personnel
and to volunteer information considered of value.169
Prisoners report that information
is the camp currency, and interrogators control access to medical
care based on prisoners’ level of
cooperation in interrogations.
Othman Abdulraheem
Mohammad reported that he had
a rash on his back and was told it
would not be treated until he
cooperated with interrogators.170

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

Mr. Boumediene relayed that for an extended period,
States, at times, has refused to provide necessary treatevery time he made a request, for example, for medicament. Mr. Ruhel Ahmed, one of the British prisoners
tion, he was told to ask his interwho first called attention to abuse
rogator. Interrogators controlled
at Guantánamo, had a need for
Medical personnel
corrective lenses because of an eye
his access to medical treatment,
monitored Mohammed al problem that, left untreated,
and access to that treatment was
Qahtani’s interrogation
would cause permanent damage.
granted or denied based on the
He did not receive the lenses for
interrogator’s assessment of his
during a period of nearly
170
one and a half years and, when he
level of cooperation.
two months of severe
did, he was not given solution to
Medical records obtained in FOIA
sleep deprivation and
rinse them.He now has permanent
litigation brought by counsel for
severe damage to his eyes.174
physical
stress.
At
one
the Bosnian prisoners confirm that
point, they rushed him to In other instances, prisoners have
medical staff were sometimes present during prisoner interrogations
reported that doctors forced, or
the base hospital when
and authorized interrogations to
attempted to force, unnecessary
his heart rate dropped
proceed. On one occasion, Mr.
amputations.175 Omar Deghayes
dangerously
low.
After
describes how even prisoners who
Boumediene complained of stomhave had limbs removed do not
ach pain while being interrogated.
stabilizing him, they
receive the treatment they need.
Medical personnel entered the
returned him for further
interrogation room, examined Mr.
interrogation the following The plight of the people who have
Boumediene, and “cleared” him for
had limbs amputated is among the
day.
“interrogation and all other
saddest of the conditions of this ugly
detainee things.”172 Medical percamp. I have twice been housed next
sonnel monitored Mohammed al
to prisoners with prosthetic limbs. It
“The prisoners were
Qahtani’s interrogation during a
effectively blackmailed by was one of the most depressing expeperiod of nearly two months of
riences I have endured. The prisoners
severe sleep deprivation and physitheir interrogators who
were effectively blackmailed by their
cal stress. At one point, they rushed
said that they had to
interrogators who said that they had
him to the base hospital when his
cooperate in order to get to cooperate in order to get their prosheart rate dropped dangerously
thetic devices back. They are denied
their prosthetic devices
low. After stabilizing him, they
the toilet chairs, the sticks they need
returned him for further interrogaback. They are denied the to walk and even the cream they
tion the following day.173
need to ensure that the wound will
toilet chairs, the sticks
Withholding Medical Care or
not become infected and inflamed.
they need to walk and
Conducting Unnecessary Medical
The pain is apparently particularly
even the cream they
Procedures. The military has been
great when they are denied the necesneed
to
ensure
that
the
accused of withholding needed
sary prosthetic socks, so that the
medical care that has resulted in
wounds are exposed to the extreme
wound will not become
permanent injuries and disabilities,
cold of the cells.176
infected and inflamed.”
in addition to furthering prisoners’
BSCT Teams. In addition to parpain or suffering. In other cases,
ticipation in medical abuse and neglect, psychiatrists and
prisoners have described doctors performing unnecessary
psychologists also assisted in designing the extreme
procedures.
interrogation techniques discussed above, as part of the
Even minor conditions, if neglected, can develop into
Behavioral Science Consultation Team (BSCT, propermanent or life-endangering illnesses, yet the United
nounced “Biscuit”).177 In late 2002, BSCT was tasked

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

23

When he pushed away a torment detainees in interrogations
with developing new strategies to
“improve” the productivity of
to try to sever their relationship
woman who placed her
interrogations. Other medical perwith God, I probably would have
hand down his shirt, he
sonnel were apparently drawn into
thought that sounded fine. And if
was
beaten
by
an
IRF
the execution of these extreme
someone had spelled out for me
team and left shackled for the details of the interrogation I
interrogation techniques. Mr. Ait
Idir observed that medical personhad just participated in, I probably
about 20 hours.
nel also have played a role in disciwould have approved.
pline. If the guards claimed a
But I hated myself as I walked out of that room, even
prisoner had misbehaved, regardless of whether the allethough I was pretty sure we were talking to a piece of
gation of misbehavior was true, a medical staff member
shit in there. I felt as if I had lost something. We lost
would “determine” that the prisoner had “mental probsomething. We lost the high road. We cashed in our
lems.” After such a determination was made, everything,
principles in the hope of obtaining a piece of inforexcept underwear and the Qur’an, was removed from
mation. And it didn’t even fucking work.182
the cell as a way of punishing the prisoner.178
A document produced pursuant to the FOIA includes a
Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, an authority on the participation
description of an interrogation that resembled a fraterniof doctors in torture, says of the role Guantánamo and
ty party.
Abu Ghraib doctors have played: “The doctors thus
At this point in time the session advanced into what can
brought a medical component to . . . an ‘atrocity-proonly be described as the proverbial “strip club lap dance.”
ducing situation’ – one so structured, psychologically
The ICE personnel [redacted] removed her overblouse
and militarily, that ordinary people can readily engage in
behind the individual and proceeded stroking his hair and
atrocities. . . . [In such situations, t]he participation of
neck while uttering sexual overtones and making comments
doctors can confer an aura of legitimacy and can even
179
about his religious affiliation. The session progressed to
create an illusion of therapy and healing.”
where she was seated on his lap making sexual affiliated
4. Sexual Provocation, Rape, and Harassment
movements with her chest and pelvis while again speaking
Photographs of military personnel sexually abusing prissexual [sic] oriented sentences. This then progressed to the
oners at Abu Ghraib published in 2004 sent shock
individual being placed on the floor with her straddling
waves around the world. The use of sexual degradation
him, etc. Needless to say many inappropriate comments
and humiliation techniques was developed at
were made during this time concerning the session and the
Guantánamo and then exported to Iraq. Prisoners report
area had the atmosphere of a party. During this period, I
an alarming incidence of sexual abuse, particularly by
became very uncomfortable and departed the monitoring
interrogators. Mr. Al Noaimi said that female MPs freare[a]. I went to the MP monitoring area where I found
quently searched him and other prisoners, touching
approximately 4-6 personnel watching the session as well.
their bodies.180 An incident where a female interrogator
Again derogatory comments flourished. I witnessed [redactsmeared fake menstrual blood on a prisoner has been
ed] as well as a “guard” watching for any officer personnel.
widely reported in the press; the intent of this appalling
ACS Defense Analyst, Memorandum for Record re: Possible
treatment was to make the prisoner feel so unclean that
Inappropriate Activities (26 April 2003). 183
he would not be able to pray.181 In many respects, this
Prisoners report that sex frequently is used to harass
abuse has both a particular religious as well as a sexual
them. Women wearing bikinis and lingerie sexually
component. After witnessing one such incident, former
taunted Murat Kurnaz on two occasions and suggested
military intelligence linguist Sergeant Saar relates that he
they would do sexual favors in return for cooperation.
said to himself:
When he pushed away a woman who placed her hand
Had someone come to me before I left for Gitmo
down his shirt, he was beaten by an IRF team and left
and told me that we would use women to sexually
shackled for about 20 hours.184 Sexual provocations by

24

|

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

female interrogators carried this distinctly religious
dimension, as Islam places restrictions on physical contact between unrelated men and women.185

ed to enter the cell while another MP stood lookout, but
either due to a fear of detection or a change of mind, he
left the cell and did not carry out his threat.190 Mr.
Boumediene reported that his interrogators threatened
to send him to an American prison where he would be
raped; they also threatened to shave his beard and apply
lipstick to him.191

On another occasion . . . Al Dossari was taken to an interrogation room in the Orange Building in Camp Delta.
Adjacent to this interrogation room was a computer room.
The door to the computer room was open when Mr. Al
5. Religious and Cultural Abuse
Dossari was brought into the interrogation room and
shackled to the floor. Through the door Mr. Al Dossari saw
Guantánamo techniques include conduct intended to
a man and woman who were naked and having sex on a
“soften up” prisoners by abusing items or disrupting rittable in the computer room. The MPs who brought Mr. Al
uals known to have particular importance for Muslims.
Dossari into the interrogation room observed this as well
Desecration of the Qur’an. The statements of prisoners
although they quickly left after shackling Mr. Al Dossari.
to their attorneys indicate that desecration of the Qur’an
After several minutes, the man got up from the table and
is widespread. Many prisoners describe guards and interremoved a condom that he had been wearing. He gave Mr.
rogators as regularly defiling the Qur’an by touching it
Al Dossari a “thumbs-up” gesture and asked “good?” The
intentionally, dropping it, stepping on it, and throwing
man and woman then dressed and came into the interrogait on the ground. In the early days of Camp X-Ray, soltion room. The man showed Mr. Al Dossari pictures of peodiers repeatedly threw copies of the Qur’an on the
ple wearing traditional Saudi dress. He asked if Mr. Al
ground.192 Mr. Ait Idir witnessed a
Dossari could tell him anything
guard throw a Qur’an on the
about the people in the pictures. He
The released British
ground and place underwear on
said that if Mr. Al Dossari provided
prisoners
allege
that
top of it,187 and he saw a superviany information Mr. Al Dossari
sor order a soldier to search the
several young prisoners
could have sex with his “girlfriend”
Qur’an, even after the soldier said
and indicated the woman. Mr. Al
said they were taken to
that he was not supposed to touch
Dossari did not respond and after
isolated sections of the
it.194 The mass suicide attempted
approximately 30 minutes of further
prison and raped by
in the summer of 2003 was organquestioning the man and woman
ized to protest abuse of the Qur’an
guards.
left. Mr. Al Dossari had never seen
after an interrogator had thrown a
these individuals before this incident
prisoner’s Qur’an on the floor,
186
and has not seen them since.
“stepped on it, and kicked it across the room.”195
Not all sexual abuse occurs in connection with interroAbuse of the Qur’an also appears to be used to provoke
gation or is heterosexual. The released British prisoners
the prisoners to anger, after which the IRF is called to
allege that several young prisoners said they were taken
forcibly punish them. James Yee, the former military
to isolated sections of the prison and raped by guards.187
chaplain at Guantánamo, describes MPs purposely treatThese prisoners also said that an Algerian man was
ing the Qur’an with disrespect:
“forced to watch a video supposedly showing two prisoners dressed in orange, one sodomizing the other, and
The most contentious issue . . . was the way many MPs
was told that it would happen to him if he didn’t coophandled the detainees’ Qur’ans. This is an extremely sensierate.”188 One of the twelve Kuwaiti prisoners was
tive practice, as the Qur’an is the most respected book in
shown a packet of condoms and told that if he didn’t
Islam. Muslims believe that the Qur’an contains the actual
talk, the condoms would be used on him.189 On one
words of God and therefore is to be treated with the utmost
occasion, while Mr. Al Noaimi was in his cell, an MP
respect. Muslims keep the Qur’an in a high place inside our
from Unit 94 threatened to rape him and taunted him
homes as a show of respect and would never allow it to
by winking and blowing kisses at him. The MP attempttouch the floor or any place that is even slightly dirty.

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

25

Muslims also believe that a condition for handling the
Qur’an is cleanliness and ritual purity. Some stricter interpretations of Islamic law even consider a non-Muslim handling the Qur’an as sacrilegious.

shaved three times by Military Personnel; one time he
was shaved so that he was left with a cross-shaped patch
of hair.198 Other prisoners have stated that some guards
mock the call to prayer by barking like dogs or
donkeys.199 An oft-reported form of punishment at
Guantánamo also included transferring a prisoner to
“Romeo” block where guards would remove the prisoner’s pants.200 This prevented the prisoner from praying
because a Muslim man cannot pray unless his waist and
legs are covered.201

Guards understood this but didn’t respect it. They claimed
detainees might be hiding a weapon inside their Qur’an,
and in plain view of the prisoners MPs would violently
shake the Qur’an, looking for something to drop out. They’d
break the binding and drop the Qur’an on the floor. I
never heard of an incident where a detainee hid anything
dangerous in the Qur’an – doing so would be considered an
Mustapha Ait Idir described in detail how he was severeinsult. The detainees would become outraged when the
ly injured trying to resist an orchestrated instance of colguards touched their holy books, and this behavior often led
lective religious-physical abuse that took place at Romeo
to some of the worst clashes on the blocks. Once a female
Block.202
MP was being particularly rough
Knowing that Arab men are
with a prisoner she was escorting to
required to be clothed while praying,
“With the other
the showers. He spat at her and the
military police ordered all 48 prisdetainees watching, she oners in Romeo Block to give up
IRF team was summoned. After he
had been taken to MSU, she was
took the prisoner’s Qur’an their pants. Mr. Ait Idir told the
assigned to clear out his cell and take
guards that, as a Muslim, he would
and threw it forcefully
away all of his personal items. With
down into the bag at her be unable to pray without his pants
the other detainees watching, she
on, and so he begged them not to
took the prisoner’s Qur’an and threw
feet. She knew what she force him to undress. He offered
it forcefully down into the bag at her
was doing. The detainees them his shoes only. The guards
feet. She knew what she was doing.
threatened to use force.
who saw this became
The detainees who saw this became
A colonel – with a flower on his hat
enraged and a massive
enraged and a massive riot ensued,
in which she was drenched with
riot ensued, in which she – spoke with him and demanded
the pants. The officer told him the
water. She later told Eke that she
was
drenched
with
water.
IRF would forcibly take the pants.
had deliberately provoked it. “You
The Colonel would make no accomShe later told Eke that
should have seen how nuts it got,”
modation to allow Mustafa to pray
she told him.
she had deliberately
in his pants. Mr. Ait Idir offered to
. . . I frequently had to replace
provoked it. ‘You should
give up the pants if the officer promQur’ans when pages were ripped and
have seen how nuts it
ised to return them for prayers. The
bindings broken as the MPs searched
officer said the pants would not be
got,’ she told him.”
them.196
returned for prayers.
Religious Humiliation and
When the officer left to summon the IRF, Mr. Ait Idir
Interference with Religious Practices. Prisoners report
feared the soldiers would leave him naked. He tore off a
additional abusive practices targeted specifically to
portion of his pants and left it in a corner of his cell. He
humiliate them as Muslims or to interfere with their
also put on his short pants underneath so he would not be
ability to practice Islam. For example, prisoners were freleft naked if they took his pants.
quently shaved as punishment. Lakhdar Boumediene
As threatened, the IRF came. Before entering, they sprayed
said that growing a beard is a form of Muslim religious
197
tear gas into his cell. He shielded his face behind his sleeping
expression but “the U.S. thinks it marks a terrorist.”
pad. After the spraying stopped, the IRF – in full protective
Fahmi Abdullah Ahmed Al Towlaqi has had his head

26

|

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

gear – charged into the cell. He struck
defensively at the first soldier – who
carried a shield. Mr. Ait Idir, a former demonstration team Karate
champion, knocked the soldier back,
and all 5 IRF members retreated .
The colonel returned and again
demanded the pants. Mr. Ait Idir
pleaded that he could not give up his
pants or he could not pray. A few
minutes later the IRF resumed tear
gas spraying. By then many internees
near him . . . were yelling, encouraging him to surrender his pants so he
would not be injured.

The second IRF enforcer
grabbed Mr. Ait Idir’s legs
and wrapped them in a
tight hug, trying to knock
him over. Mr. Ait Idir
struggled to knock the
enforcer away. His eyes
were blurry and stinging
from the spray. The lead
IRF enforcer ran back
from the wall and
grabbed Mr. Ait Idir’s
testicles and squeezed.

The IRF charged into his cell again.
Mr. Ait Idir again assumed a defensive posture and managed to drive them out of his cell.
The officer again approached and asked Mustafa to surrender his pants. Other internees were by then pleading with
him to give up his pants. Mr. Ait Idir again offered his
pants, if he could have them back when he needed them to
pray. He was told the pants would be taken away and he
would not get them back to pray.
The third spray event was much more prolonged and
intense than the first two. His cage was so filled with spray
that he could not see. When the IRF entered, Mr. Ait Idir
again defended his pants. He knocked the first IRF enforcer
to the side. By then, a second IRF enforcer was in the cell.
He and Mr. Ait Idir were wrestling
with each other.
Then a soldier
The second IRF enforcer grabbed Mr.
Ait Idir’s legs and wrapped them in a
tight hug, trying to knock him over.
Mr. Ait Idir struggled to knock the
enforcer away. His eyes were blurry
and stinging from the spray. The lead
IRF enforcer ran back from the wall
and grabbed Mr. Ait Idir’s testicles
and squeezed.
Mr. Ait Idir was in intense pain. He
feared he would be crippled and lay
down in a fetal position. The IRF

enforcers jumped on him. The first
team member landed on his back
while he was face down; the second
did the same. Both landed on their
padded knees. Mr. Ait Idir’s hands
now were behind his back, secured
in restraints by the IRF enforcers.

While the two enforcers pinned him
down – after he had stopped resisting and his hands were tied, and
after he was fully in their control,
one of the guards slowly bent his
fingers back until one of them
broke. The pain was excruciating,
but he was afraid that if he
screamed the IRF would react by
injuring him further.203 He was not given medical treatment for his fingers despite many requests and the clear
deformity of his hand.

Religious abuse at Guantánamo is systematic, calculated,
and part of the disciplinary system. Prisoners are punished for infractions, such as refusing to talk, by having
their religious items taken from them. When a prisoner
is “reclassified” from level one to level two, he loses his
prayer mat; at level three, he loses his beads, and so
on.204 Religious abuse has been used to coerce interrogations, including at Ramadan when guards have withheld
food at the break of fast.205 Moazzam Begg observed: “it
is the faith of the detainees that is targeted: the religion
of Islam.”206

jumped on
the left side of his head
with full weight, forcing
stones to cut into Mr. Ait
Idir’s face near his eye.

. . . As a result of this
incident, the left side of
Mr. Ait Idir’s face became
paralyzed for several
months.

Mr. Ait Idir’s resistance during the
episode of religious-physical abuse
described above led to a further,
unprovoked attack, which ultimately resulted in partial facial
paralysis and a life-long disability.
One day shortly after the pantsrelated beating, guards told him
they wanted to search his cell.
There had been no intervening
disciplinary issues. He sat on the
floor as instructed. Despite his full
cooperation, he was sprayed in the
face with chemical irritant, and
put into restraints. Guards then

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

27

slammed him head first into the
with cigarettes and that he was
Al Hela describes a
cell floor, lowered him, face-first
made to walk barefoot over broken
detention
facility
in
Kabul,
into the toilet and flushed the toiglass and his head was pushed into
let – submerging his head. He was
where he says prisoners the ground, into the glass. Mr. Al
Dossari further reports that during
then carried outside and thrown
were kept completely
an interrogation, interrogators
onto the crushed stones that surisolated
and
deprived
of
shocked him with an electric
round the cells. While he was
light, in a place they
device and poured a hot liquid
down on the ground, his assailants
over his head. When he asked for a
stuffed a hose in his mouth and
called “prison of
doctor, they spat on him and
forced water down his throat.
darkness.”
replied, “We brought you here to
Then a soldier jumped on the left
kill you.” At night, he said the solside of his head with full weight,
diers would line him up with other prisoners and threatforcing stones to cut into Mr. Ait Idir’s face near his eye.
en to shoot them if any moved. If they did move,
The guards twisted his middle finger and thumb on his
though not shot, prisoners were beaten. In addition, he
right hand back almost to the point of breaking them.
claims he saw an American soldier throw a Qur’an into
The knuckles were dislocated. As a result of this incia bucket used as a collective toilet for prisoners in his
dent, the left side of Mr. Ait Idir’s face became paralyzed
tent.212
for several months. The symptoms from that attack continue to plague him two years later.207
Murat Kurnaz reports that while in Kandahar, his head
Cultural Abuses. Cultural insult also is a feature of prisand upper body repeatedly were submerged in water to
oner life at Guantánamo. Mr. Al Qosi saw prisoners
the point of near drowning, a practice called water208
being wrapped in Israeli flags during interrogations.
boarding,213 and he had electric shocks applied to his
FBI Deputy Director T.J. Harrington corroborates this
feet. He was hung by his hands and left for days at a
209
account in a memo released through FOIA litigation.
time, sometimes without food.214 Also in Kandahar, a
Kuwaiti prisoner was allegedly beaten by US forces, susThe U.S. Southcom report reviewing a small number of
pended upside down and beaten again. They squeezed
selected IRF videos confirms that on some occasions the
his testicles, made him strip, and screamed, “You’re a
IRF teams have been all-female. Stopping short of drawmember of Al Qaeda!”215 Abdulsalam Ali Abdulrahman
ing the conclusion that military officials intended to
Al Hela describes a detention facility in Kabul, where he
offend Muslim men, who are forbidden to be touched
says prisoners were kept completely isolated and
by women who are not their wives, the report noted, “A
deprived of light, in a place they called “prison of darkdetainee appears to be genuinely traumatized by a
ness.”216
female escort securing the detainee’s leg irons,” and
called the use of an all-female IRF team “inexplicabl[e].”
Australian Mamdouh Habib, who was released from
Tellingly, the report recommended “talking points” to
Guantánamo in January 2005, has alleged incidents of
“refute or diminish the charge that we use women
highly sophisticated methods of torture while he was
(against) the detainees’ culture or religion.”210
held in Egypt and Pakistan, where U.S. authorities had
taken him before they removed him to Guantánamo:
6. Pre-Guantánamo Torture and Cruel,
Inhuman and Degrading Treatment

Horrific as is the treatment alleged at Guantánamo, prisoners have reported that what happened to them before
their arrival there was in many cases even worse.211 Mr.
Al Dossari, the prisoner who recently tried to commit
suicide during his lawyer’s visit, described exceptional
abuse while in U.S. custody in Kandahar. He alleges that
U.S. soldiers urinated on prisoners and burned them

28

|

On another occasion, Mr. Habib was suspended from hooks
on the wall, with his feet resting on the side of a large
cylindrical drum. Down the middle of this drum ran a
metal rod, with wires attached at both ends. The wires ran
to what appeared to be an electric battery. When Mr.
Habib did not give the answers his interrogators wanted,
they threw a switch and a jolt of electricity ran through the
rod, electrifying the drum on which Mr. Habib stood. The

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

action of Mr. Habib “dancing” on the drum forced it to
rotate, and his feet constantly slipped, leaving him suspended by only the hooks on the wall. The instinctive struggle to
regain his balance forced him to place his feet back on the
drum, which of course only sent another excruciating jolt of
electricity into his feet. Eventually, Mr. Habib was forced to
raise his legs, leaving him to hang by his outstretched arms
until he could stand it no longer and, exhausted, he
dropped his legs back onto the electrified drum. This ingenious cruelty lasted until Mr. Habib finally fainted.217
IV. THE ABUSE CONTINUES

Abusive treatment continues at Guantánamo. Though
some practices, such as short-shackling, may have been
officially discontinued, manipulation of light and physical abuse remain severe problems.218 Allegations of sexual humiliation and abuse of the Qur’an continue.219
Sleep deprivation in Camp Five remains a serious
issue.220

• Removal of juveniles from Camp Five
• End of religious abuse225
The United States has maintained that hunger-striking
prisoners received medical care, but attorneys for 21year-old hunger-striker, Yousef Al-Shehri, described him
as “visibly weak and frail,” wincing in pain from a nasal
tube, and requiring the support of a “walker.”226 He had
difficulty speaking because of lesions in his throat caused
by involuntary force-feeding, administered without anesthesia.227 His sickening descriptions of how hunger-striking prisoners are treated, with the approval of medical
personnel, allege disturbing, serious abuse.

These large tubes – the thickness of a finger, he estimated –
were viewed by the detainees as objects of torture. They were
forcibly shoved up the detainees’ noses and down into their
stomachs. No anesthesia or sedative was provided to alleviate the obvious trauma of the procedure. Yousef said that he
could not breath with this thick tube inserted into his nose
As recently as August 2005, Hisham Sliti, while in
(which was so large it caused his nostril to distend). When
shackles, was severely abused during an “interrogation.”
the tube was removed, it was even
He reported that the interrogator
more painful, and blood came
threw a chair at him and severely
gushing out of him. He fainted,
The United States has
injured his eye.221 The interrogator
and several of the other detainees
maintained that hungeralso threw a mini-refrigerator at
also lost consciousness. The
him, and then MPs appeared and
detainees were told by the guards:
striking
prisoners
beat Mr. Sliti further.222
“we did this on purpose to make
received medical care,
you stop the hunger strike.” They
In response to these abuses, prisonbut attorneys for 21-year- were told that this tube would be
ers began hunger strike protests in
old hunger-striker, Yousef inserted and removed twice a day,
June 2005. Initially called off when
Al-Shehri, described him every day until the hunger strike
camp officials negotiated with prisended. Yousef described the pain as
oners and promised to bring the
as “visibly weak and frail,” “unbearable.”
camps into compliance with the
Geneva Conventions, the hunger
strike was reinstated in August 2005
after officials reneged on their
promises.223 Prisoners who were designated as Prisoners Council in
negotiations were put into isolation.224

wincing in pain from a
nasal tube, and requiring
the support of a “walker.”

• Release or prosecution of real charges

Yousef explained that doctors were
present as the Initial Reaction Force
forcibly removed these [nasal gastric] tubes by placing a foot on one
end of the tube and yanking the
detainee’s head back by his hair, causing the tube to be
painfully ejected from the detainee’s nose. When the
detainees saw this happening, they begged to have the tubes
remain, but the guards refused and continued to forcibly
remove the tubes.

• Immediate release of those determined to be innocent
by CSRTs

Then, in front of the Guantánamo physicians – including
the head of the detainee hospital – the guards took nasal

Prisoners on the August 2005 hunger strike made four
demands:

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

29

gastric tubes from one detainee, and with no sanitization
whatsoever, re-inserted it into the nose of a different
detainee. When these tubes were re-inserted, the detainees
could see the blood and stomach bile from other detainees
remaining on the tubes. A person the detainees only know
as “Dr. [name redacted]” stood by and watched these procedures, doing nothing to intervene.228
Yousef, who was a juvenile at the
time of capture, relayed that guards
told him that a U.S. court had
ordered the force-feeding and that
was the only reason that he and
other prisoners complied with the
force-feeding. He was “greatly disturbed,” according to his attorneys,
to find out that no such order had
been given and that he had been
lied to. When his attorneys tried to
meet with him a second time, they
were told that he had removed his
nasal gastric tube and was encouraging other prisoners to do the
same.229

The U.S. courts have not addressed the prisoners’
request to ban the use of the emergency restraint chair.
In June 2006, the military acknowledged that over
eighty prisoners had begun another hunger strike and at
least six were swiftly subjected to force-feeding.
V. AVOIDING JUDICIAL SCRUTINY OF TORTURE AND CRUEL, INHUMAN, AND DEGRADING TREATMENT

“U.S. government
officials immobilized the
hunger strikers’ heads by
strapping them in the
restraint chair, restrained
their hands, inserted
feeding tubes in their
noses, and force fed
them large bags of liquid
nutrients.”

The U.S. government has steadfastly declared that the prisoners in
Guantánamo are treated humanely, that any isolated incidents of
abuse occurred long ago, and the
individual soldiers involved reprimanded. The government points
to the fact that none of the investigations undertaken so far “found
that any governmental policy
directed, encouraged or condoned
these abuses.”231 The government’s
self-serving reliance on the conclusions of its own investigations
highlights the urgent need for an
The government’s selfindependent investigation of prisIn January 2006, the military subserving reliance on the
oner treatment and conditions of
jected over thirty prisoners to
confinement. The U.S. governconclusions of its own
intranasal force-feeding. When sevment has failed to provide the
investigations highlights
eral prisoners reached a life-threatprisoners with any means to
ening stage, the military turned to
the urgent need for an
address and remedy their allegathe use of an “emergency restraint
independent
investigation
tions of torture and cruel, inhuchair” to immobilize prisoners durof prisoner treatment and man and degrading treatment.
ing several hours of force-feeding
Neither the military proceedings
every day. According to one prison- conditions of confinement.
in Guantánamo nor the federal
er’s legal challenge to this practice,
courts in the United States have
the military grossly misused the emergency restraint
held the U.S. government accountable for the conduct
chair:
in Guantánamo or prohibited these practices. As the
U.S. government officials immobilized the hunger strikers’
prisoners enter their fifth year of detention, not a single
heads by strapping them in the restraint chair, restrained
federal habeas hearing has been held to challenge a pristheir hands, inserted feeding tubes in their noses, and force
oner’s “enemy combatant” status, and mistreatment in
fed them large bags of liquid nutrients. The account further
Guantánamo and continued arbitrary confinement.
describe hunger strikers bleeding and vomiting from these
CSRTs. In June 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in
actions, and urinating and defecating on themselves because
Rasul v. Bush that U.S. federal courts have jurisdiction to
Respondents had denied them access to a bathroom.230
hear Guantánamo prisoners’ habeas cases. Within a
Once the military began using the emergency restraint
week, the July 7, 2004 Wolfowitz Order established
chair, all but three prisoners ended their hunger strike
Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs) that purdue to the pain and humiliation.
ported to provide a process for confirming that each

30

|

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

prisoner correctly had been determined to be an enemy
combatant. The CSRTs, however, provided nothing
more than an administrative “rubberstamp” of previously made determinations. The CSRTs did not occur until
some prisoners had already been in custody for two and
one-half years, prisoners were denied access to counsel,
and secret evidence frequently formed the basis for the
CSRT determinations.
Despite complaints raised by numerous prisoners, the
CSRTs failed to investigate and remedy allegations that
statements obtained under torture or abuse were used
against the prisoners by the U.S. military.
The government argues . . . that this Court must
accept the validity of CSRTs without undertaking
factual or evidentiary review. The government does
not deny that the CSRTs would be inconsistent with
due process if they relied on statements obtained by
torture, but simply asserts as a factual matter that the
CSRTs did not rely on coerced statements and asked
this court to take it at its word.232
Detainee Treatment Act. On June 15, 2005, the U.S.
Senate, in response to widespread criticism at home and
abroad, including concerns about torture and abuse documented by the FBI,233 opened hearings regarding the
Guantánamo prisoners.234 Six months later, Congress
passed the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA), which is the
first legislation explicitly related to the Guantánamo
prisoners. The President signed the DTA into law on
December 30, 2005.
The DTA expressly prohibits “cruel, inhuman, or
degrading treatment” of American captives. However, an
amendment introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham,
Carl Levin, and Jon Kyl (Graham-Levin-Kyl amendment) deprives courts of the ability to enforce that ban
on behalf of Guantánamo prisoners.235 The GrahamLevin-Kyl amendment provides that “no court, justice,
or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider”
applications for habeas corpus or “any other action
against the U.S.” brought by aliens detained at
Guantánamo.
The Bush Administration has asserted the DTA as a
defense against claims of torture by Guantánamo prisoners. In March 2006, Administration lawyers contended
in federal court and in legal filings that Mohammed

Bawazir, a Yemeni national held since May 2002, cannot
claim protection under the Act’s anti-torture provisions
because that prohibition does not apply to people held
at Guantánamo.236 Bawazir’s attorneys have contended
that “extremely painful” new tactics used by the government to force-feed him and end his hunger strike
amounted to torture. U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler
said in a hearing on March 2, 2006, that she found allegations of aggressive U.S. military tactics used to break
the prisoner hunger strike “extremely disturbing” and
possibly against U.S. and international law.237 However,
government lawyers argued that even if the tactics did
violate the Act’s anti-torture ban, under the DTA, prisoners at Guantánamo have no recourse to challenge that
ban in court.238
Perhaps the most hotly contested issue concerning the
DTA is whether it applies to deprive the courts of jurisdiction to hear pending habeas cases brought by the
Guantánamo prisoners. The U.S. government contends
that it does; through the DTA, the government once
again is seeking to place prisoners in a legal black hole at
Guantánamo, so it may continue its detention operations outside the supervision of U.S. courts. The U.S.
Supreme Court’s June 29, 2006, decision in Hamdan v.
Rumsfeld unambiguously rejected that position, holding
that the DTA does not strip federal court jurisdiction to
hear habeas claims in pending cases.239
VI. HAS THE U.S. BEEN COMMITTING TORTURE IN GUANTÁNAMO?

Only an independent commission can fully address the
nature and extent of the use of torture against
Guantánamo prisoners. Yet, the evidence assembled in
this report clearly points to a pattern and practice of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment that
implicates a policy encouraging its use. Given the limitations on access to the prisoners and the extreme conditions at Guantánamo, the facts uncovered thus far
demand immediate examination of these most serious
allegations.
The definitions of torture and cruel, inhuman, and
degrading treatment are found in several sources of
statutory and treaty law. Foremost is the Convention
Against Torture (CAT), which provides a definition of
torture, requires state parties not to return a person to a
place where he will be subject to torture and prohibits

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

31

the use of statements obtained under torture in legal
proceedings.240 The United States was one of the main
proponents of the treaty and is a signatory to it.
Article 1 of the CAT defines torture as:
any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether
physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a
third person information or a confession, punishing
him for an act he or a third person has committed or
is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or
coercing him or a third person . . .241
The CAT flatly prohibits torture.

The United States also refused to opt into CAT’s individual complaint mechanism that allows individual victims of torture, after exhausting domestic remedies, to
file a complaint directly with the Committee Against
Torture.248 The United States further declared that CAT
was non-self-executing, which means that the United
States must pass implementing legislation to codify certain provisions of the treaty. Further, it means that the
treaty itself is not an independent basis to bring a lawsuit for violations of its provisions.249 To implement its
obligation under CAT to criminalize torture, the United
States passed 18 U.S.C. §§ 2340 – 2340A, which makes
it a crime for a U.S. national to commit torture outside
of the U.S.280

Article 2 provides:
18 U.S.C. §§ 2340-2340A defines “torture” as:
No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a
state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency may be invoked
as a justification of torture.242

an act committed by a person acting under the color
of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical
or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another
person within his custody or physical control;251

The United States ratified the CAT in 1994, subject to
certain conditions, known as Reservations, Declarations
“Severe mental pain and suffering” is further defined as:
and Understandings (RUDs).237 For example, the United
States limited its obligation under Article 16. Article 16
prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from –
provides that “[e]ach State Party shall undertake to pre(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction
vent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of
of severe physical pain or suffering;
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
(B) the administration or application, or threatened
which do not amount to torture as defined in article 1 .
administration or application, of
. . under color of law.244 The United
mind-altering substances or
States declared that “cruel, inhuman
“No exceptional
other procedures calculated to
and degrading treatment” be consocircumstances
disrupt profoundly the senses or
nant with the prohibition of “cruel,
whatsoever, whether a
unusual and inhumane treatment or
the personality;
punishment” under the Fifth, Eighth,
state of war or a threat of (C) the threat of imminent
and/or Fourteenth Amendments of
war, internal political
death; or
the U.S. Constitution.245 It also statinstability or any other
(D) the threat that another pered an understanding that torture is
son will imminently be subjectpublic
emergency
may
be
“an act . . . specifically intended to
inflict severe physical or mental pain
invoked as a justification ed to death, severe physical pain
246
or suffering, or the administraor suffering.” Finally, because the
of
torture.
”
tion or application of mindCAT did not define “mental pain or
altering substances or other
suffering,” the United States defined
procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the sensit in terms of its objective causes rather than its subjeces or personality.252
tive qualities. Despite these RUDs the U.S. is bound by
its treaty obligations not to engage in torture at any
time.247

32

|

Plainly, many Guantánamo prisoners report being subject to treatment that falls within these definitions of

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

torture. The appendix included at the end of this report
illustrates specific conduct, keyed to the definitions of
torture banned by U.S. and binding international law.
CCR believes that U.S. government conduct at
Guantánamo has resulted in numerous violations of the
prohibition against torture and cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment.
VII. UNITED NATIONS AND COMMITTEE ON
THE CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE FIND
TORTURE COMMITTED AT GUANTÁNAMO

Punishment; Freedom of Religion or Belief; and Right
of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable
Standard of Physical and Mental Health) conducted an
in-depth investigation and evaluation of U.S. treatment
of Guantánamo prisoners. The investigators reviewed
publicly available information and interviewed former
Guantánamo prisoners. The investigators were denied
the opportunity to interview current prisoners first
hand.256

The UN report criticized the
United States for denying
After eighteen months of Guantánamo prisoners many basic
rights and, above all else, personal
study, UN investigators
After eighteen months of study,
liberty.257 The report found that
released a report
UN investigators released a report
interrogation techniques, condicondemning U.S. treatment of
condemning U.S.
tions of detention, the use of
prisoners held at Guantánamo and
treatment of prisoners
excessive violence, and transfer of
concluding that certain practices at
held at Guantánamo and prisoners to countries that pose a
Guantánamo amounted to
serious risk of torture violate the
torture.253 The fifty-four page
concluding that certain
basic human right to be free from
report, released on February 16,
practices at Guantánamo torture.258 The report criticized the
2006, disclosed an alarming numUnited States for failing to provide
amounted to torture.
ber of practices at Guantánamo
trial by an independent tribunal
that violate human rights and
and adequate healthcare and for persecuting prisoners
international humanitarian treaties and standards to
because of their Muslim faith.259 The report concluded
which the United States is a party, including the
that the United States should close “the Guantánamo
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
detention facilities without further delay.”260
(ICCPR), the CAT, the International Convention on
the Elimination of All Forms of
The response of world leaders to
Racial Discrimination (ICERD),
The UN report concluded the UN Report was immediate;
and the International Covenant on
many called for the closure of
that
the
United
States
Economic, Social and Cultural
Guantánamo, including British
should close “the
Rights (ICESCR).254
Prime Minister Tony Blair,
German Chancellor Angela
Guantánamo detention
One of the UN’s main human
Merkel, UN Secretary-General
rights monitoring bodies, the
facilities without further
Kofi Annan, and Archbishop
United Nations High
delay.”
Desmond Tutu.261 Recently, British
Commissioner on Human Rights
Attorney General Lord Goldsmith
(UNHCHR) first began monitorissued
one
of
the
strongest
condemnations of the U.S.
ing the prisoners’ situation in January 2002.255 After two
detention center at Guantánamo to date from a British
and one-half years of continued allegations of human
government official:
rights violations, a group led by five UNHCHR mandate holders (the Chairperson of the Working Group on
The existence of Guantánamo remains unacceptable.
Arbitrary Detention, and the Special Rapporteurs on the
It is time, in my view, that it should close. Not only
Independence of Judges and Lawyers; Torture and Other
would it, in my personal opinion, be right to close
Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Guantánamo as a matter of principle, I believe it
A. United Nations Special
Rapporteurs’ Report

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

33

would also help to remove what
has become a symbol to many –
right or wrong – of injustice.
The historic tradition of the
U.S. as a beacon of freedom,
liberty and of justice deserves
the removal of this symbol.262
B. United Nations’
Committee Against
Torture Report

The lesson of this report
is that widespread
abuses have occurred,
are now occurring, and
will continue to occur at
Guantánamo. The report
reveals patterns and
systematic practices that
implicate not the
idiosyncratic predilections
of sadistic soldiers and
interrogators but policies
approved at the highest
level of the U.S.
government.

On May 19, 2006, the United
Nations Committee Against
Torture, the treaty body charged
with monitoring contracting states’
compliance with the CAT, issued a
scathing and thorough critique of
the U.S. record on torture. The
Committee called upon the United
States to close all secret prisons,
hold both military and civilian
senior officials accountable for
their role in acquiescing to acts of torture committed by
their subordinates, and end its practice of transferring
prisoners to countries with known torture records. Of
particular note, the Committee expressly rejected the
U.S. government’s contention that the CAT did not
apply to U.S. personnel acting outside of the U.S. or
during wartime, and called for the immediate cessation
of the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantánamo
and closure of the facility.263
VIII. CONCLUSION

As William H. Taft, former Legal Advisor, Department
of State in the George W. Bush Administration, has stated, “How our government treats people should never, at
bottom, be a matter merely of policy, but a matter of
law.”264 The government’s unilateral decision to abandon
our obligations under the Geneva Conventions and
international humanitarian and human rights law tarnishes the reputation of the U.S. as a country committed to the rule of law, sets a poor example for other
nations, gives human rights abusing regimes justification
to follow suit, and endangers U.S. troops abroad.
Fundamentally, these practices cause substantial physical
and psychological injury to the men imprisoned in

34

|

Guantánamo and have a ripple
effect upon the lives of the men’s
families throughout the world.
The lesson of this report is that
widespread abuses have occurred,
are now occurring, and will continue to occur at Guantánamo.
The report reveals patterns and
systematic practices that implicate
not the idiosyncratic predilections
of sadistic soldiers and interrogators but policies approved at the
highest level of the U.S. government. Independent and transparent investigation into the sources
and planning of these practices is a
pre-requisite to answering the
query: how could these abuses
occur and how can they be
stopped?

The abuses easily can give rise to rage and resentment in
the Muslim world and elsewhere. The alleged use of religious and cultural abuse at Guantánamo, if not condemned in the strongest terms, may validate Muslim
concerns that the United States is hostile to the religion
of Islam. How the United States is treating prisoners in
the “war on terrorism” should be the subject of a searching and self-reflective national debate.
Investigations conducted to date – largely by DoD itself
– have failed to hold accountable those responsible for
implicitly or explicitly authorizing torture and cruel,
inhuman and degrading treatment at Guantánamo.265
This atmosphere of impunity only deepens the fear and
psychological trauma of the prisoners.
The United States is violating the human rights of
Guantánamo prisoners by holding them indefinitely
without charge and without a fair process for determining whether their imprisonment is lawful. The accounts
of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment
presented in this report show that the prisoners are subject to countless acts of mistreatment and abuse, both in
interrogation and as part of their daily lives at
Guantánamo.

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

All mistreatment of Guantánamo prisoners must immediately end. CCR calls on Congress to take all necessary
steps to appoint an independent bipartisan commission,
modeled on the 9/11 Commission, to investigate thoroughly all incidents of torture and abuse at Guantánamo
and other detention facilities and to analyze the nature
and extent of such practices. This commission should
also be charged with holding government officials
accountable who have violated domestic and international law in allowing these abuses to occur and with
making specific policy recommendations designed to
prevent any such abuses in the future.

35

|

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

APPENDIX
PRACTICES THAT RISE TO THE LEVEL OF TORTURE AT GUANTÁNAMO

The definitions in both the CAT and U.S. statute define the following practices, which routinely occur at
Guantánamo, as torture.
PRACTICES

PRISONER ASSERTIONS

“PHYSICAL PAIN OR SUFFERING”
• David Hicks was beaten during interrogations and
interrogated at gunpoint.266
• IRF incidents, such as assaults on Messrs. Al-Laithi
and Al Dosari.267
“SEVERE MENTAL PAIN AND SUFFERING”
defined as “prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting
from“(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction
of severe physical pain or suffering;
• IRF incidents, such as assaults on Messrs. Ait Idir
and Al-Shehri.268
“(B) the administration or application, or threatened
dministration or application, of mind-altering substances
or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the
senses or the personality;
• David Hicks was injected with unknown medications and struck while under the influence of
sedations that were forced upon him.269
• O.K. has found partially dissolved tablets and/or
powder in the bottom of a glass given to him by
his captors. The pills produce various effects:
sleepiness, dizziness, alertness.270
• Mr. Abd al-Malik al-Wahab states that detainees
deemed uncooperative are injected with heavy
tranquilizers that sedate them for a month and
leave some addicted.271
• Other prisoners have had teeth broken for refusing injections, and then as punishment they are
sedated. 272
• Instance of prolonged sleep deprivation, as
reported by Messrs. Al-Qahtani, Boumediene,
and Nechla.273
• Instances of prolonged solitary confinement, as
reported by Messrs. Lahmar and Bensayah.274

36

|

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

PRACTICES

PRISONER ASSERTIONS

“(C) the threat of imminent death; or
• Mr. Abd al-Malik al-Wahab was threatened with
torture and execution.275
• Moazzam Begg was threatened with summary trial
and execution.276
• In Afghanistan, an MP loaded a rifle and aimed it
at Murat Kurnaz’s head.277
“(D) the threat that another person will imminently be
subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the
administration or application of mind-altering substances
or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the
senses or personality.”
• Mr. Abd al-Malik al-Wahab was sleep deprived and
forced to spend long hours in cold temperatures,
while threatened with torture and execution and
told harm would befall his family.278
• A female soldier informed Mr. Al Noaimi that she
was from Virginia and had learned he had family
members there. She threatened to kill them.279

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

37

Chronology of Events

September 11, 2001

Al Qaeda attacks the United States.

September 18, 2001

Congress passes the AUMF.

October 7, 2001

Ground war in Afghanistan begins.

November 13, 2001

President Bush authorizes trials by military commission.

December 27, 2001

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld announces plan to send prisoners to GTMO.

December 28, 2001

Legal advisors inform President Bush GTMO is probably beyond reach of federal courts.

January 6, 2002

Construction of temporary facility, Camp X-Ray, begins; first troops [JTF-160] arrive at GTMO.

January 9, 2002

Legal advisors inform William Haynes, Defense Department General Counsel, laws of war do not
restrain President Bush, and Geneva Conventions do not protect prisoners seized during war on
terror.

January 11, 2002

First planeload of 20 prisoners arrives at Camp X-Ray.

February 7, 2002

President declares Geneva Conventions do not apply to AQ, and Taliban fighters are not eligible
for POW status.

February 18, 2002

U.S. Southern Command authorizes JTF-170 to conduct interrogations at GTMO.

February 19, 2002

Habeas litigation on behalf of GTMO prisoners commences.

February 27, 2002

Camp Delta expansion begins; prisoners begin first hunger strike.

April 5, 2002

First prisoner released from GTMO.

April 29, 2002

Prisoner transfer to Camp Delta completed; Camp X-Ray closed.

Summer 2002

Gen. Jack Keane, Vice Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army, visits GTMO; finds quality of intelligence gathered unsatisfactory; recommends intelligence and military functions be combined under
unified command.

August 1, 2002

President Bush’s legal advisors narrow definition of torture and conclude President Bush, as
Commander in Chief, can authorize any interrogation technique, even if contrary to domestic
statute against torture.

October 9, 2002

Brig. Gen. Rick Baccus leaves GTMO after being relieved of his duties as commander.

October 11, 2002

Maj. Gen. Michael Dunlavey, head of interrogations at GTMO, requests permission to use
tougher interrogation techniques.

November 4, 2002

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller takes over command at GTMO; JTF-160 and JTF-170 merge to form
JTF- GTMO.

December 2, 2002

Rumsfeld formally approves use of coercive interrogation techniques, including stress positions;
deprivation of light and auditory stimuli; isolation up to 30 days; hooding; forced grooming;
removal of clothing; removal of comfort items (including religious items).

December 2002

Navy officials threaten to pull Navy interrogators out of GTMO after chief Navy psychologist
calls the techniques used “abusive” and “coercive.”

January 15, 2003

Rumsfeld rescinds 12/2/02 approval of coercive interrogation techniques and orders a working
group to assess legal, policy, and operational issues relating to interrogations.

April 2, 2003

Medium-security prison completed.

April 4, 2003

Working Group on Detainee Interrogations issues final report recommending use of 35 interrogation techniques, including 9 to be used only subject to limits, including whether prisoner is “medically and operationally evaluated as suitable.”

April 16, 2003

Rumsfeld approves 24 techniques and requires prior authorization for coercive techniques.

April 22, 2003

Department of Defense independent contractor reports witnessing MPs slamming prisoner violently into floor.

May 2, 2003

Maj. Gen. Miller discontinues use of “fear up” techniques.

July 3, 2003

Military commissions process commences.

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

38

August 18-26, 2003

23 prisoners undertake mass suicide attempt to protest Koran abuse; military does not confirm
until January 24, 2005.

August 31 – September 9, 2003 Miller sent to Iraq to review interrogation and prison operations; conducts assessment using JTFGTMO procedures and interrogation authorities as baseline.
March 24, 2004

Brig. Gen. Jay Hood assumes command at GTMO.

April 2004

Construction of Camp Five completed.

June 28, 2004

Supreme Court holds in Rasul v. Bush that GTMO prisoners are entitled to a hearing on the merits of their habeas claims in U.S. federal court.

June 28, 2004

Supreme Court holds in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld that alleged enemy combatants entitled to minimum
due process rights.

July 7, 2004

Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz establishes Combatant Status Review Tribunals (CSRTs)

July 26, 2004

3 released British prisoners issue lengthy statement accusing United States of severe mistreatment.

July 31, 2004

13 habeas petitions, representing 60 prisoners, pending in federal court.

August 31, 2004

First habeas counsel visits base.

October 4, 2004

Government moves to dismiss habeas cases arguing prisoners have no rights.

December 20, 2004

ACLU releases FBI e-mails concerning torture and abuse during interrogations.

January 11, 2005

Government announces Australian Mamdouh Habib will be released, five days after his allegations
of torture are made public in court proceedings.

January 19, 2005

Judge Leon rules prisoners have no constitutional rights and dismisses two habeas cases.

January 26, 2005

Prisoner Habib freed and returned to Australia.

January 31, 2005

Judge Green rules prisoners have constitutional rights, and CSRTs violate due process.

February 9, 2005

Government notices appeal of Judge Green’s ruling.

February 22, 2005

Petitioners notice appeal of Judge Leon’s ruling.

June 3, 2005

Brig. Gen. Hood concludes inquiry on Koran abuse at GTMO.

June 9, 2005

Pentagon releases “Schmidt Report” on interrogations at GTMO confirming most FBI allegations
of abuse, concluding interrogation of Mohammed al Qahtani was “abusive and degrading,” and
recommending reprimand of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller for failing to supervise the interrogation.
Recommendation overruled by General Bantz Craddock, Commander of the U.S. Southern
Command.

Late June 2005

Hunger strike begins.

July 28, 2005

Prison officials agree to bring GTMO into compliance with Geneva Conventions; hunger strike
ends.

August 8, 2005

Hunger strike resumes when GTMO officials fail to honor agreement with prisoners and place
prisoners’ representatives in segregation.

September 8, 2005

Oral Argument before DC Court of Appeals in consolidated Green/Leon appeals.

November 7, 2005

Supreme Court decides to rule on the constitutionality of the military commissions process in
Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

November 10, 2005

Senate passes amendment by Senator Lindsey Graham stripping the federal courts of jurisdiction
to hear habeas petitions.

December 21, 2005

Congress passes a compromise amendment sponsored by Senators Graham, Levin, and Kyl and an
amendment sponsored by Senator McCain, banning cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of
anyone in United States custody.

December 30, 2005

President Bush signs into law the Graham-Levin-Kyl and McCain amendments, together known
as the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, with qualification that he will construe the McCain
amendment “in a manner consistent with constitutional authority of the President . . . as
Commander in Chief.”

39

|

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

Glossary

ACLU – American Civil Liberties Union
ACS Defense – an independent defense contractor
working with the Department of Defense.
Abu Ghraib – prison in Iraq where American soldiers
abused imprisoned Iraqis.
Al Qaeda – terrorist group headed by Osama Bin Laden
that attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001.

Enemy Combatant – in general, the government’s term
for persons not belonging to the regular army of any
nation who allegedly have harmed, or intend to harm,
U.S. persons or interests. The government’s definition
of the term has been inconsistent since 2002. It was
most recently and broadly re-defined in Secretary of
Defense Paul Wolfowitz’s order establishing the Combat
Atatus Review Tribunals (CSRTs).

Article 17 – article of Third Geneva Convention prohibiting torture and coercion during interrogation of
prisoners of war.

Eric Saar – former soldier in military intelligence at
Guantanamo.

BSCT – Behavioral Science Consultation Team.

FM 34-52 – Field Manual 34-52; army guidelines on
interrogation.

Bagram – as used in this report, U.S. Air Force Base in
Afghanistan.
CA3 – Common Article Three of the Geneva
Conventions, providing for a baseline of humane treatment for any person detained during military conflict.
CAT – Convention Against Torture; international treaty
U.S. has signed prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman,
and degrading treatment of persons in custody.

FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation.

FOIA – Freedom of Information Act.
Geneva Conventions – international humanitarian
treaties signed in 1949, in part successors to the Hague
Convention, codifying the laws of war regarding treatment of captured persons.
George W. Bush – President of the United States.

CIA – Central Intelligence Agency.

GTMO (or Gitmo) – acronym for Guantánamo Bay,
Cuba.

Camp Echo – special prison at GTMO housing prisoners to be tried before military commissions if the
Supreme Court finds the military commissions process
constitutional.

Habeas corpus – fundamental right requiring the
Executive to demonstrate the legal grounds for imprisoning a person; empowers courts to order release if
detention is unlawful.

Camp Delta – main prison at GTMO; Camp Delta
includes Camps 1-4.

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld – Supreme Court decision holding
that a U.S. citizen “enemy combatant” has right of due
process.

Camp Five – maximum security prison at GTMO.
Camps 1-4 – (see Camp Delta).
Camp X-Ray – original, temporary facility composed of
wire cages for GTMO prisoners.

Hunger strike – refusal to take in nourishment, often
undertaken by prisoners to protest detention or conditions.
ICE – Interrogation Control Element.

DoD – Department of Defense.
Detainee – government’s term for prisoners held indefinitely at GTMO.

Interrogation – formal process of questioning prisoners
for information, in the past conducted according to
Army Field Manual 34-52 guidelines.

Detainee Levels 1-4 – government designation of
detainees based on level of cooperation with military, 1
being most cooperative, 4 being least.

IRF – Immediate Reaction Force (sometimes referred to
as “Extreme Reaction Force”), team of military guards
trained to respond to disturbances with force.

Donald Rumsfeld – Secretary of Defense.

40

|

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

IRF’d – GTMO slang for being “worked over” by
the IRF.

Reservation – (see interrogation) military slang for
interrogation.

JTF-GTMO -- Joint Task Force, Guantánamo; name of
military task force in charge of overseeing detention and
interrogation operations in GTMO; joint because it is
composed of units from the different armed services .

Sensory deprivation – coercive interrogation technique
involving isolation.

James Yee – former Muslim chaplain at GTMO;
accused of spying for Al Qaeda and later exonerated.
Koran (or Qu’ran) – Muslim holy book.
KUBARK – CIA cryptonym (code name) for CIA itself.
Kandahar – as used in this report, U.S. Air Force Base
in Southern Afghanistan.
MP – military police.
NG – nasal-gastric; tubes used for force-feeding hunger
strikers.
NLEC – No Longer Enemy Combatant; a status classification assigned to prisoners whose CSRTs determined
them not to be enemy combatants.
PHR – Physicians for Human Rights.
POW, PW – prisoner of war.
Paul Wolfowitz – former Deputy Secretary of Defense
(see Wolfowitz Order).
Prisoner – detainee whose detention is potentially
indefinite.

Short-shackling – stress position in which a prisoner’s
arms and legs are shackled together and to the ground,
forcing him into a stooped position.
Sleep deprivation – coercive interrogation technique
usually accomplished through use of light and sound
disturbances or by moving the prisoner repeatedly from
cell to cell during the night.
Solitary confinement – isolation of prisoner as form of
extreme interrogation technique.
Taliban – conservative Muslim political-religious group
controlling government of Afghanistan when Al Qaeda
attacked the U.S.
Qu’ran (see Koran).
War Crimes Act – U.S. law making certain violations of
Geneva Conventions a criminal offense.
Wolfowitz Order – directive from Deputy Secretary of
Defense Wolfowitz on July 7, 2004 that established
CSRT process and defined “enemy combatant” in broad
terms; set down just two weeks after the Supreme
Court’s decision in Rasul v. Bush that federal courts consider prisoners’ claims.

Rasul v. Bush – Supreme Court decision holding that
writ of habeas corpus extends to prisoners in
Department of Defense custody at GTMO and that
prisoners are entitled to a hearing on the merits of their
claims.

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

41

1 Robert

Kirsch, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Hadj Boudella
(on file with author) (statement made by U.S. military intelligence
officers to prisoner Hadj Boudella).

2 See

Cecili Thompson Williams & Kristine A. Huskey, Detention,
Interrogation, and Torture at Guantánamo Bay: Materials and Case
Files (Oct. 2005) [hereinafter Shearman Sterling Report] (on file with
author).

3 ACLU v. Dep’t of Def. 406 F.Supp.2d 330 (S.D.N.Y. 2005).
Documents produced as a result of this litigation will be referred to as
“FOIA Documents.”
4 See

ERIC SAAR & VIVECA NOVAK, INSIDE THE WIRE: A
MILITARY INTELLIGENCE SOLDIER’S EYEWITNESS
ACCOUNT OF LIFE AT GUANTÁNAMO (2005).

5 JAMES

YEE & AIMEE MOLLOY, FOR GOD AND COUNTRY:
FAITH AND PATRIOTISM UNDER FIRE (2005). For a review, see
Joseph Lelyveld, The Strange Case of Chaplain Yee, N.Y. REV. OF
BOOKS, Dec. 15, 2005, available at www.nybooks.com/articles/18550 (last visited June 20, 2006). The formal charges against Mr.
Yee included mishandling of classified documents and adultery.

6 The

United States originally acquired Guantánamo in 1898 when it
militarily occupied Cuba during the Spanish-American War. When
Cuba became independent in 1903, the United States was “granted” a
perpetual lease on the land occupied by the Base. The terms of the
treaty provided that the United States “shall exercise complete jurisdiction and control,” while Cuba retains “ultimate sovereignty.” Lease of
Lands for Coaling and Naval Stations, art. III, T.S. 418. A subsequent
treaty in 1934 continued the terms of the lease agreement signed in
1903 and provided that “[s]o long as the United States of America
shall not abandon the said naval station of Guantánamo or the two
Governments shall not agree to a modification of its present limits,”
the arrangement could continue. Treaty Between the United States of
America and Cuba Defining Their Relations art. 3, U.S.-Cuba, May
29, 1934, 48 Stat. 1682 (1934).
7 See

Press Release, U.S. Dep’t of Def., Office of Public Affairs
Detainee Transfer Announced (May 18, 2006) available at
http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2006/nr20060518-13076.html
(last visited June 20, 2006).

8 MAGNA

CARTA [CONSTITUTION], paras. 38-39 (Eng.); U.S.
CONST. art. 1, § 9, cl.2.

9 See
10 28

id.
U.S.C. § 2241(c)(1)(c)(3).

11 542

U.S. 466 (2004). The litigation before the Supreme Court
involved two consolidated cases; Rasul v. Bush, No. 03-334, was spearheaded by Joseph Margulies and the Center for Constitutional Rights
and Al Odah v. United States, No. 03-343, by the law firm of
Shearman and Sterling. Anticipating the litigation culminating in
Rasul v. Bush in December 2001, the DoD asked the Department of
Justice (DOJ) for its legal opinion concerning the question of whether
federal courts would have jurisdiction to hear habeas petitions from
aliens held at Guantánamo. See Memorandum from Patrick F. Philbin,
Deputy Assistant Att’y Gen. Dep’t of Justice & John Yoo, Deputy
Assistant Att’y Gen. Dep’t of Justice, to William J. Haynes II, General
Counsel, Dep’t of Def. (Dec. 28, 2001), in THE TORTURE
PAPERS: THE ROAD TO ABU GHRAIB 29 (Karen J. Greenberg &
Joshua L. Dratel eds., 2005) [hereinafter THE TORTURE PAPER]
(concluding federal courts probably could not assert jurisdiction but
some litigation risk existed).

42

|

12 Al

Odah v. United States, 346 F. Supp.2d 1 (D.D.C. 2004).

13 Mark

Huband, U.S. Officer Predicts Guantánamo Releases, FIN.
TIMES (LONDON), Oct. 4, 2004.
14 Samara Kalk Derby, How Expert Gets Detainees to Talk THE CAPITAL TIMES (Madison, Wis.), Aug. 16, 2004, at 1A; see also SAAR,
supra note 4, at 149 (“From what I was seeing in the files . . . detainees
with valuable information weren’t the norm. I was amazed that some
of the files I was looking at were so thin – sometimes just a mug shot,
an ID number from Bagram, and a summary of the detainee’s initial
interrogation, which might say that he had maintained he was a
farmer, that he denied any connection to terrorism, and claimed to
have been picked up by the Northern Alliance or the Pakistanis.”).
15 Christopher Cooper, Detention Plan: In Guantánamo, Prisoners
Languish in a Sea of Red Tape, WALL ST. J., Jan. 26, 2005.
16 See infra Part I.A (discussing study of the Combatant Status Review
Tribunals’ records).
17 For

a selection of statements made by U.S. officials in early 2002
about the prisoners in Guantánamo, see DAVID ROSE,
GUANTÁNAMO: THE WAR ON HUMAN RIGHTS 8 (2004)
quoting Vice-President Dick Cheney: “These are the worst of a very
bad lot. They are very dangerous. They are devoted to killing millions
of Americans, innocent Americans, if they can, and they are perfectly
prepared to die in the effort” Cheney’s remarks were made on Fox
News Sunday, Fox News, Transcript: Cheney on Guantánamo
Detainees (Jan. 27, 2002), available at
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,44082,00.html (last visited
June 20, 2006).
18 The excerpt from the Al Qaeda training manual posted on the DOJ
website does call for torture to be brought to the attention of the court
if a “brother” is on trial. It does not instruct members to make up allegations of torture but appears to assume that torture will occur as a
matter of course, perhaps because terrorism suspects were likely to be
handed over to human rights abusing regimes where prisoners are routinely tortured. See Al Qaeda Training Manual, Lesson Eighteen,
available at www.fas.org/irp/world/para/manualpart1.html (last visited
June 20, 2006).
19 Jane

Mayer, The Memo, NEW YORKER (Feb. 27, 2006), available
at http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060227fa_fact (last
visited June 20, 2006). The original memo is available at
http://www.newyorker.com/images/pdfs/moramemo.pdf (last visited
June 20, 2006).

20 See,

e.g., Memorandum from Maj. Gen. Jack L. Rives, Deputy
Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Air Force, on Final Report and
Recommendations of the Working Group to Assess the Legal, Policy
and Operational Issues Relating to Interrogation of Detainees Held by
the U.S. Armed Forces in the War on Terrorism (Feb. 5, 2003) (on file
with author). This memorandum was made public by Senator Lindsey
Graham on July 25, 2005.

21 Decision

and Order of the Supreme Court of the Federation of
Bosnia and Herzegovina, No. Ki-1001/01 (Sarajevo, Jan. 17, 2002)
(emphasis supplied).
[The] Office of Federal [sic] prosecutor has with document no.
KT-115/01 from 17 January 2002 informed [the] investigative
judge that [his] opinion is that there are no further reasons or circumstances based upon which this measure for ensuring [the] presence of [the] accused in criminal procedure was ordered.
Therefore[,] the measure of the detention can be terminated to all
accused persons and they can be released from detention.

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

Reviewing [the] suggestion of [the] Deputy Federal prosecutor and
[the] status of [the] investigation [sic] case, [the] investigative
judge agreed with this suggestion and since the reasons based upon
which [the] detention was ordered and extended, article 189, para [.]
1 and 2 of the Law on Criminal Procedure, do not exist any more, it
has been decided as in declaration of this decision.
In 2004, the Federal Prosecutor dropped all charges related to the
alleged plot and closed the criminal investigation. See Letter from
Zdravko Knezevic, Federal Chief Prosecutor, to UN High
Commission for Human Rights (Nov. 8, 2004) (on file with author).
22

Documents produced by the U.S. government in FOIA litigation
have subsequently confirmed that the plane took off from the Tuzla
Air Force base in Bosnia and landed at the U.S. Air Force base at
Incirlik, Turkey, en route to Guantánamo. FOIA Documents 35063562 (on file with the author).
23 Melissa Hoffer, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Mohammed
Nechla (on file with author).
24 O.K.

v. Bush, 377 F. Supp.2d 102, 103 (D.D.C. 2005).

25 Exhibit

A to Motion for Preliminary Injunction at 4, O.K. v. Bush,
377 F. Supp.2d (D.D.C. 2005) (No. 04-1136).
26 Robert Kirsch, unclassified attorney notes regarding Mustafa Ait Idir
(on file with author).
27 See,

e.g., Ex Parte Quirin, 317 U.S. 1 (1942); Madsen v. Kinsella,
343 U.S. 341 (1952).

28 Hamdi

v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507, 516 (2004).

29 Compare News Briefing on Military Commission by Donald H.
Rumsfeld, Sec’y of Def., Gen. Peter Pace, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs
of Staff, Douglas Feith, Under Sec’y of Def., and William J. Haynes II,
General Counsel of the Dep’t of Def. (March 21, 2002),
http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2002/t03212002_t0321sd.htm
l (last visited June 23, 2006) (Guantánamo prisoners are “enemy combatants that we captured on the battlefield seeking to harm U.S. soldiers
or allies”), with Memorandum from William J. Haynes II, General
Counsel, Dep’t of Def., to Members of the ASIL-CFR Roundtable
(Dec. 12, 2002),
http://www.cfr.org/pub5312/william_j_haynes/enemy_combatants.ph
p# (last visited June 23, 2006) (“An ‘enemy combatant’ is an individual who, under the laws and customs of war, may be detained for the
duration of an armed conflict. In the current conflict with al Qaida
[sic] and the Taliban, the term includes a member, agent, or associate of
al Qaida or the Taliban”) (emphasis added).
30 Memorandum to the Sec’y of the Navy from Paul Wolfowitz,
Deputy Sec’y of Def. (Jul. 7, 2004),
http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2004/d20040707review.pdf (last
visited June 23, 2006).
31 Transcript of Oral Argument at 25-26, In re Guantánamo Detainee
Cases, 355 F. Supp.2d 443 (D.D.C. 2005) (Nos. 02-CV-0299, et al.).
At that hearing, counsel for the government also admitted that the
definition was broad enough to include “a resident of Dublin, England
[sic] who teaches English to the son of a person the CIA knows to be a
member of Al-Qaeda,” or “a Wall Street Journal reporter, working in
Afghanistan, who knows the exact location of Osama bin Laden but
does not reveal it to the U.S. government in order to protect her
source.” Id. at 27, 29-30.
32 Transcript,

ABC NEWS, 20/20, Guantánamo, June 25, 2004, at 2
[hereinafter ABC News] (on file with author).

33 Rasul v. Bush, Nos. 03-334 & 03-343, slip op. at 3 n.4 (D.C. Cir.
June 28, 2004).
34 Motion for a Preliminary Injunction Barring the Government from
Rendering Sami Al-Laithi to Egypt to Face Persecution, or Revealing
to the Egyptian Government Additional Facts Concerning His
Opposition to the Repressive and Undemocratic Regime of Hosni
Mubarak at 5, Sliti v. Bush, (D.D.C. 2005).
35 Id.

at 2-3.

36 See,

e.g., Nancy Gibbs with Viveca Novak, Inside “The Wire”
Security breaches. Suicidal detainees. A legal challenge heading to the
Supreme Court. Welcome to Guantánamo, TIME December 8, 2003, at
40. (“U.S. officials concluded that some detainees were there because
they had been kidnapped by Afghan warlords and sold for the bounty
the U.S. was offering for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. ‘Many would
not have been detained under the normal rules of engagement,’ the
source concedes”).
37 ABC

NEWS, supra note 32 at 13.

38 Id.

Lt. Col. Christino has also said that President Bush and
Secretary Rumsfeld have “wildly exaggerated” the intelligence value of
Guantánamo prisoners and that the “screening process” in Afghanistan
for deciding which prisoners to send to Guantánamo was “hopelessly
flawed from the get-go.” Martin Bright, Guantánamo Has ‘Failed to
Prevent Terror Attacks,’ OBSERVER (U.K.), Oct. 3, 2004, available at
http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1318633,00.htm
l (last visited June 23, 2006).
39 Based on government figures, CCR estimates this was the peak
number. See Press Release, U.S. Dep’t of Def., Transfer of Guantánamo
Detainees Complete (Nov. 24, 2003),
http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2003/nr20031124-0685.html (last
visited June 23, 2006). As of October 1, 2005, the total number of
men who have ever been detained in GTMO according to DoD figures was approximately 752. See Press Release, U.S. Dep’t of Def.,
Detainee Transfer Announced (Oct. 1, 2005),
http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2005/nr20051001-4826.html (last
visited June 23, 2006). The United States has made it difficult, if not
impossible, to compile accurate statistics about the number of individuals detained in Guantánamo. The DoD and other agencies have
refused to release publicly the name, citizenship, or place of seizure of
anyone in Guantánamo. It is only through sporadic letters from prisoners to their families and meetings between prisoners and their habeas
attorneys that any specific details about the prisoners are made public.
The DoD limits its public statements to the approximate number of
prisoners detained at any given time. However, as a result of a lawsuit
brought by the Associated Press, the DoD released two list of names:
the first was of all Guantánamo prisoners who were the subjects of
Combatant Status Review Tribunals. This included approximately 560
names. The second was a list of all persons ever incarcerated on
Guantánamo. It included over 700 names. The absolute reliability of
these two lists is not known. Even less information is available about
the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) activity at Guantánamo. The
CIA has refused to confirm or deny allegations that at Guantánamo it
was holding individuals as “ghost” prisoners, or prisoners unlisted on
any prisoner records, and it has denied access to International
Committee of the Red Cross inspectors. John Hendren & Mark
Mazzetti, Pentagon Reportedly Aimed to Hold Detainees in Secret, L.A.
TIMES, July 9, 2004 (noting that only prisoners in DoD custody are
required, under the Wolfowitz Order, to have yearly reviews of their
status).
40 See,

e.g., SEYMOUR M. HERSH, CHAIN OF COMMAND:
THE ROAD FROM 9/11 TO ABU GHRAIB 1-20 (2004); Josh

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

43

White, Abu Ghraib Tactics Were First Used at Guantánamo, WASH.
POST, July 14, 2005, at A1.
41 See

Col. Daniel F. McCallum, Why GTMO? 6, available at
http://www/justicescholars.org/pegc/archive/Journals/McCallum_why_
gtmo.pdf (last visited June 25, 2006).
42 The

two most notorious discussions were addressed to Alberto R.
Gonzales, Counsel to the President. 9 Memorandum from Jay S.
Bybee, Assistant Att’y Gen., U.S. Dep’t of Justice, to Alberto R.
Gonzales, Counsel to the President (Aug. 1, 2002), in THE TORTURE PAPERS, supra note 11, at 172; Letter from John C. Yoo,
Deputy Assistant Att’y Gen., U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Office of Legal
Counsel, to Alberto R. Gonzales, Counsel to the President (Aug. 1,
2002), in id. at 218.
43 “Extraordinary rendition” refers to transferring a prisoner without
legal process to another country for interrogation, often where the
transferee country has a dubious human rights record. See, e.g., Jane
Mayer, Outsourcing Torture, NEW YORKER, Feb. 14, 2005, available
at http://newyorker.com/printables/facts/050214fa_fact6 (last visited
June 23, 2006).
44 This

54 Id.

arts. 13, 17, 18 & 19.

55 Id.

arts. 99-108.

56 Id.

arts. 8-11.

57 Id.

art. 15.

58 Id.

arts. 99 and 103-07 guarantee the rights not to be tried or sentenced for acts not forbidden by law at the time; not to give coerced
confessions; the right to a defense and to assistance of a qualified advocate or counsel; the right to a speedy trial; limits on pretrial confinement; timely notice of charges; the right to call witnesses; the right to
an interpreter if necessary; the right to private communications
between advocate or counsel and the accused; and the right of appeal
in the same manner as for members of the armed forces of the detaining power. Id. arts. 99, 103-107.
59 Geneva

Convention (No. IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian
Persons in Time of Warrant art. 4, Aug. 12, 1949.

60 Id.

art 5.

61 GC

III, supra note 51, art. 17.

was Mohammed al-Qahtani, the alleged twentieth hijacker. See
Adam Zagorin & Michael Duffy, Inside the Interrogation of Detainee
063, TIME, June 20, 2005. It appears that Mr. al-Qahtani nearly died
while undergoing interrogation in early December 2002. His heart
rate slowed to 35 beats per minute and he was taken to the military
hospital for a CT scan and stabilizing. For this story, Time obtained a
leaked copy of the interrogation log for al-Qahtani. Personal communication from Adam Zagorin. This was not the first time al-Qahtani
had been taken to the hospital during his interrogations. Gitanjali
Gutierrez, Unclassified Attorney Notes (on file with author).

64 CA3 provides that “[p]ersons taking no active part in the hostilities,
including. . . those placed ‘hors de combat’ by sickness, wounds, detention,
or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, religion or faith,
sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria” (emphasis added).
E.G., G.C III, supra note 51, art. 3(1).

45 Josh

65 Id.

art. 3(1)(a),(c)-(d).

66 Id.

art. 3(2).

62 Id.
63 Id.

White, Guantánamo Desperation Seen in Suicide Attempts,
WASH. POST, Nov. 1, 2005, at A1 (recounting suicide attempt two
weeks earlier and quoting Lt. Col. Jeremy Martin, spokesman for Joint
Task Force Guantánamo, on the total number of attempts (36 by 22
different prisoners)). The government’s estimates have not been independently corroborated.

include the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, the Convention Against Torture, and the Convention Against
All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

46 See

68 JOSEPH

Center for Constitutional Rights, The Guantánamo Prisoner
Hunger Strikes & Protests: February 2002 – August 2005, September
2005, available at http://www.ccrny.org/v2/legal/september_11th/docs/Gitmo_Hunger_Strike_Report_
Sept_2005.pdf (last visited June 23, 2006).

47 See

infra Part IV (detailing treatment of prisoners during hunger
strike).

48 See

id.

49 Guantánamo

Bay Detainee Statements, Jum’ah Mohammed
AbdulLatif Al Dossari, Isa Ali Abdulla Al Murbati, Abdullah Al
Noaimi and Adel Kamel Abdulla Haji 5 (May 2005) (Joshua
Colangelo-Bryan) [hereinafter Guantánamo prisoner Statements].

50 See

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), 1949
Conventions & Additional Protocols,
http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/CONVPRES?OpenView (last visited June
25, 2006).
51 Geneva

Convention (no. III) relative to the treatment of prisoners
of war, Aug. 12, 1949, 6 U.S.T. 3316, 75 U.N.T.S. 135 [hereinafter
GC III]

52 See

International Committee of the Red Cross, supra note 50.

53 See

GC III, supra note 51, art. 5.

44

|

67 These

MARGULIES, Guantánamo and the Abuse of Presidential
power (2006).

69 U.S. Army, Field Manual 34-52: Intelligence Interrogation at iv.-v.
(1992) [hereafter FM 34-52] (“These principles and techniques of
interrogation are to be used within the constraints established by the
following: . . . Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the
Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of August 12, 1949, .
. . Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War
of August 12, 1949, . . . Geneva Convention Relative to the
Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of August 12,
1949…”).
70 Id.

at 3-14 to 3-17.

71 Id.
72 Id. at 3-18 to 3-19. Other techniques in FM 34-52 include both
psychological ruses and varied forms of questioning: “We Know All”
(appearing to know everything a source might be concealing); “File
and Dossier” (appearing to have all information about a source);
“Establish Your Identity” (convincing the source you have mistaken
him for someone else); “Repetition” (repeating a question over and
over again); “Rapid Fire” (interrupting the source with unrelated questions); “Silent” (maintaining eye contact while not speaking); “Change
of Scene” (getting source away from atmosphere of interrogation
room). Id. at 3-19 to 3-20.

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

73 Working Group Report on Detainee Interrogations in the Global War
on Terrorism: Assessment of Legal, Historical, Policy, and Operational
Considerations, Draft (Mar. 6, 2003), in THE TORTURE PAPERS,
supra note 11, at 241, 285.
74 Id.
75 FM

34-52, supra note 69, at 1-9 (emphasis added).

76 Capt.

Ian Fishback, Op-Ed, A Matter of Honor, WASH. POST,
Sept. 28, 2005, at A21; see also SAAR, supra note 4, at 225 (“[I]f we
felt queasy about what was happening, it wasn’t because we thought
we were breaking any rules. That Geneva Convention meeting had
blurred all the lines”).
77 Eric

Schmitt, Pentagon Rethinking Manual with Interrogation
Methods, N.Y. Times, June 14, 2006.

78 Motion

for a Preliminary Injunction Concerning Conditions of
Confinement at 17, Sliti v. Bush (D.D.C. 2005) (No. 05-CV-429)
(citing Unclassified Memorandum re: Omar Deghayes (July 19, 2005),
at 3-4).
79 18

U.S.C. § 2441. The statute also criminalizes violations of certain
other treaties related to the laws of war. See 18 U.S.C. § 2441(c)(2).
80 18

U.S.C. § 2441(c)(1).

81 GC
82 18

III, supra note 51, art. 130.

U.S.C. § 2441(c)(3).

83 Letter

from John Ashcroft, Att’y Gen. to George W. Bush, President
(Feb. 1, 2002), in THE TORTURE PAPERS, supra note 11, at 126,
available at
http://news.findlaw.com/wp/docs/torture/jash20102ltr.html (last visited June 23, 2006).

June 23, 2006).
91 Hamdan

v. Rumsfeld, -S.Ct. - , 2006 WL1764793 at *7-11.

92 Walter

Dellinger, A Supreme Court Conversation, SLATE,
http://www.slate.com/id/244476/entry/2144826/ (last visited July 5,
2006).

93 Guantánamo

94 Ted Conover, In the Land of Guantánamo, N.Y. TIMES, June 29,
2003.
95 Id.
96 See

ROSE, supra note 17 at 54-55 (comparing the GTMO that
reporters see with a “Potemkin” village).

97 See

U.S. Army, Joint Task Force Guantánamo Bay Press Kit
Commissions [hereinafter JTF-GTMO Press Kit], available at
www.defenselink/mil/news/Aug2004/d20040818PK.pdf.

98 Id.
99 Hamdan

v. Rumsfeld, 344 F. Supp. 2d 152, 152, 172 (D.D.C.

2004).
100 JTF-GTMO

youngest prisoner detained at Guantánamo was approximately
ten-years-old. Alex Belida, 3 Afghan Children Released from
Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp, VOICE OF AMERICA NEWS,
http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/library/news/2004/01/sec040129-voa03.htm.
102 Conover,

supra note 94 (“The juvenile enemy combatants live in a
prison called Camp Iguana”). Current information provided by Sabin
Willett after a January 2006 visit to that camp.
103 Kathleen

85 Memorandum from George W. Bush, President, to the Vice
President of the United States Sec’y of State, et al. (Feb. 7, 2002), in
THE TORTURE PAPERS, supra note 11 at 134-35 (asserting the
Geneva Conventions did not apply to terrorist organizations like Al
Qaeda and that the Taliban were unlawful combatants).
[Memorandum from Sec. of Def. to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff (Jan. 19, 2002) (“The United States has determined that Al
Qaida and Taliban individuals . . . are not entitled to prisoner of war
status for purposes of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.”]

106 FOIA

87 Id.
88 Taft

Speech, available at
http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/uslaw/pdf/taft-amer-uni-32405.pdf
(last visited June 23, 2006).

89 Taft

Speech supra notes 88.

90 Memorandum from Dep’t of the Navy to the Inspector General,
Dep’t of the Navy, Statement for the Record: Office of General
Counsel, Involvment in Interrogation Issiues (July 7, 2004) available
at http://www.newyorker.com/images/pdfs/moramemo.pdf (last visited

Press Kit, supra note 97.

101 The

84 See Draft Memorandum from John Yoo, Deputy Assistant Att’y
Gen., Dep’t of Justice & Robert J. Delabunty, Special Counsel, Dep’t
of Justice, to William J. Haynes II, General Counsel, Dep’t of Def.
(Jan. 9, 2002), in THE TORTURE PAPERS, supra note 11, at 38,
50; Memorandum from Jay S. Bybee, Assistant Att’y Gen., Dep’t of
Justice, to Alberto R. Gonzales, Counsel to the President & William J.
Haynes, II, General Counsel, Dep’t of Def. (Jan. 22, 2002), in THE
TORTURE PAPERS, supra note 11 at 81, 95.

86 Id.

Prisoner Statements, supra note 49 at 3.

T. Rhem, Detainees Living in Varied Conditions at
Guantánamo, American Forces Information Service (Feb. 16, 2005),
available at
http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Feb2005/n02162005_2005021604.
html (last visited June 23, 2006).
104 Id.
105 Id.

Documents 4622-24,
http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/FBI_4622_4624.pdf (last visited June 25, 2006).
107 Zagorin

& Duffy, supra note 44.

108 CENTRAL

INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, KUBARK COUNTERINTELLIGENCE INTERROGATION (1963),
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB122/#kubark (last
visited June 25, 2006); Id. at 88 (“[A] person cut off from external
stimuli turns his awareness inward, upon himself, and then projects
the contents of his own unconscious outwards, so that he endows his
faceless environment with his own attributes, fears, and forgotten
memories.”); Id. at 103 (“The interrogatee’s mature defenses crumbles
[sic] as he becomes more childlike.”).
109 For

a more detailed summary of psychological abuse at
Guantánamo (as well as Afghanistan), see PHYSICIANS FOR
HUMAN RIGHTS, BREAK THEM DOWN: SYSTEMATIC USE
OF PSYCHOLOGICAL TORTURE BY U.S. FORCES (2005)
[hereinafter PHR], available at http://www.phrusa.org/research/torture/pdf/psych_torture.pdf (last visited June 25, 2006).
110 Carlotta

Gall & Neil A. Lewis, Threats and Responses: Captives –

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

45

Tales of Despair from Guantanamo, N.Y. TIMES, June 17, 2003, at A1.

Regarding O.K. (on file with authors).

111 PHR, supra note 109, at 53-54 n.293 (citing BBC News, Mass
Guantánamo Suicide Protest Jan. 25, 2005,
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/420427.stm (last visited June 25,
2006) (quoting Army spokesman Lt. Col. Sumpter)).

132 FOIA

112 Id.
113 White,

supra note 45, at A1.

114 PHR,

supra note 109, at 10 (quoting Brief of Professors and
Practitioners of Psychology and Psychiatry as Amicus Curiae in Support
of Respondent at 12-13, Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. 209 (2005)
(No. 04-495)).

115 Shearman

Sterling Report, supra note 2 at 8.

116 Shearman

Sterling Report, supra note 2 at 9.

117 Hicks Aff. at 4-5, Hicks v. Bush, 397 F. Supp.2d 36 (D.D.C. 2005)
(No. 02-299).
118 Joshua

Colangelo-Bryan, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding
Isa Ali Abdulla Al Murbati (on file with author).
119 Joshua

Colangelo-Bryan, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding
Jum’ah Mohammed AbdulLatif Al Dossari (on file with author).
120 Stephen

Oleskey, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Saber
Lahmar (Dec. 2004, Oct. 2005) (on file with author); Robert Kirsch
& Stephen Oleskey, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Belkacem
Bensayah (Dec. 2004 and Oct. 2005, respectively) (on file with
authors).
121 Letter

from Moazzam Begg to U.S. Forces Administration (July 12,
2004), available at
http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/chared/bsp/hi/pdfs/01_10_04.pdf (last visited June 25, 1006).
122 Id.
123 Shearman

125 Robert

Kirsch, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Belkacem
Bensayah (on file with author).
126 Robert

Kirsch, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Mustafa Ait
Idir (on file with author).
127 According

to Sergeant Saar, Mr. Al-Qahtani “was subjected to
strobe lights; a loud, insistent tape of cats meowing (from a cat food
commercial) interspersed with babies crying; and deafening loud
music,” often with repeated violent lyrics. SAAR, supra note 4 at 164.
Dogs were also used to threaten Mr. Al-Qahtani. Id.
128 Robert

Kirsch, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Saber
Lahmar (on file with author).
Sterling Report, supra note 2 at 16.

130 Robert

Kirsch, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Mustafa Ait
Idir (on file with author).
131 Richard

46

|

133 PHR,

supra note 109 at 11. Menachem Begin, a former Israeli
Prime Minister, describes his experience with sleep deprivation while
being held in a Soviet prison:
In the head of the interrogated prisoner a haze begins to form. His
spirit is wearied to death, his legs are unsteady, and he has one sole
desire: to sleep, to sleep just a little, not to get up, to lie, to rest, to
forget. . . . Anyone who has experienced this desire knows that not
even hunger or thirst are comparable with it. . . . I came across
prisoners who signed what they were ordered to sign, only to get
what the interrogator promised them. He did not promise them
their liberty. He promised them—if they signed—uninterrupted
sleep!

Tom Malinowski, The Logic of Torture, WASH. POST, June 27, 2004,
at B7.
134 Robert

Kirsch, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Belkacem
Bensayah (Feb. 2005) (on file with author); Sergeant Saar witnessed
prisoners being taken on late-night “walkabouts.” SAAR, supra note 4,
at 174, 217.
135 Melissa

Hoffer, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Lakhdar
Boumediene (on file with author).
136 Melissa

Hoffer, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding
Mohammed Nechla (on file with author).
137 Michael

Scherer & Mark Benjamin, What Rumsfeld Knew?
SALON.COM Apr. 14, 2006, http//:www.salon.com/news/feature/2006/04/14/rummy (last visited June 25, 2006).
138 O.K.

v. Bush, 377 F. Supp.2d 102, 107 (D.D.C. 2005).

139 Guantánamo

Sterling Report, supra note 2 at 40.

124 Mark Falkoff, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Othman
Abdulraheem Mohammad (on file with author); see also FOIA
Document 4585,
http:/www.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/FBI_4585.pdf (last visited
June 25, 2006) (“BAU personnel witnessed sleep depravation [sic] . . .
and utilization of loud music/bright lights/growling dogs in the
Detainee interview process by DoD representatives”).

129 Shearman

Document 5053,
http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/FBI_5053_5054.pdf (last visited June 25, 2006).

J. Wilson & Muneer Ahmad, Unclassified Attorney Notes

Prisoner Statements (Colangelo-Bryan) supra note

49, at 14.
140 Stephen

Oleskey, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Lakhdar
Boumediene (on file with author).
141 Guantánamo
142 Shearman

Prisoner Statements, supra note 49 at 11-12.

Sterling Report, supra note 2 at 16.

143 An

“ACS Interrogator” filed an allegation of inhumane treatment
regarding an incident that occurred on April 22, 2003, in which the
use of military guards during interrogations was described in some
detail. In a memorandum for Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller regarding
the results of an inquiry into an allegation of inhumane treatment of
[name of prisoner redacted], the staff JAG lawyer quoted from the
allegation: “. . . they [MPs] pushed in the back of the detainee’s knees
with their knees, taking the detainee to his knees. Then holding the
detainee by his upper arms they slammed his upper body to the floor.”
FOIA Documents 1318-22,
http://action.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/072605 (last visited June 25,
2006). The memorandum said further that the complaining interrogator stated that this procedure was repeated 25-30 times and with such
force that the floor and a booth next door were shaking. The interrogator stated that when the prisoner was pushed to the floor, he
turned his head so that the side of his face was hitting the floor and
that such force was used the interrogator feared for the prisoner’s safety. The complaining interrogator’s supervisor (the name is redacted)
corroborated the details of this allegation and the degree of force and
moreover added that either the MPs or the military interrogators (the
names are redacted) were laughing while this activity was taking place.

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

Id. at 1319. The military downplayed these concerns by saying that
the shaking of the floor was caused by guards stomping on the floor
with their boots as they pushed the prisoner down and that the guards
had “constant control” of the prisoner at all times. Id. at 1319-20. In a
memorandum from an ACS defense analyst, the April 22 incident is
described as one that was “totally inappropriate and bordered on criminal.” FOIA Document 1333,
http://action.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/072605 (last visited June 25,
2006).

159 The

144 A

FOIA Document recording a “Narrative Medical Summary” for
a prisoner says that the prisoner “reports that Reservation has ‘dragged
me across the floor’ resulting in scrapes on his feet, jerked on the
chains which have caused marks on his wrists, gripped the cuffs so that
they tightened excessively causing marks on his wrists, lifted him up
then ‘slammed’ him down on his knees, made his mouth such that he
was spitting up blood, made a tooth loose, bruised several areas of his
upper arms and torso, and created pain on his lower ribs. He denies
trauma to the rib area but does not know how that area is causing him
so much pain. He felt so bad last night that he tried to ‘cut’ the artery
in his neck with his fingernails.” FOIA Documents 1347-50,
http://action.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/072605/1243_1381.pdf (last
visited June 25, 2006). The author of the medical summary noted:
“Stated source of injury for the various areas is consistent with the
injuries noted today.” Id. at 1349. Reservation is the term used within
the camps in Guantánamo to refer to interrogations. Cf. YEE, supra
note 5 at 77 (“We never used the word ‘interrogation’ on the blocks,
saying instead that the detainees were going to ‘reservation.’”).

163 Paisley

145 Mark Falkoff, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Yasein
Khasem Mohammed Esmail (on file with author).

167 M. Gregg Bloche & Jonathan H. Marks, Doctors and Interrogators
at Guantánamo Bay, 353 NEW ENG. J. MED. 6, 6-8 (2005).

146 Mark

168 See

designation ERF (Extreme Reaction Force) is sometimes also

used.
160 SAAR,

supra note 4 at 96-99.

161 See

YEE, supra note 5 at 109 (“IRFing should have been kept to
the bare minimum and carried out only when necessary, but there
were weeks when it occurred every day”).
162 See

SAAR, supra note 4 at 102.

Dodds, Tapes Show Guantánamo Squads’ Tactics, ASSOC.
PRESS, Feb. 1, 2005.
164 Id.
165 Guantánamo

Prisoner Statements, supra note 49 at 3-4. This incident is corroborated by several sources. A substantially similar description is reported by Shafiq Rasul, Asif Iqbal, and Rhuhel Ahmed.
SHAFIQ RASUL, ASIF IQBAL, & RHUHEL AHMED, supra note
158 ¶ 167. What appears to be the same incident is also the subject of
an FBI memo (dated June 7, 2002, but referring to an incident that
occurred “three or four weeks ago”). The FBI memo notes that the
prisoner “had what appeared to be a recent wound on the bridge of his
nose.” FOIA Document 3855,
http://aclu.org/turturefoia/released/05/25/05 (last visited June 25,
2006). Mr. Al Dossari’s lawyer corroborates that the prisoner has “a
prominent scar” on his nose that is consistent with his account.
166 CBS

News, G.I. Attacked During Training, Nov. 3, 2004.

Kirsch, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Mustafa Ait
Idir (on file with author).

id. at 7 (“Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions provides that medical personnel ‘shall not be compelled to perform acts or
to carry out work contrary to the rules of medical ethics.’ Although
the protocol has not been ratified by the U.S., this principle has
attained the status of customary international law.”).

148 Melissa

169 Id.

Falkoff, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Abd al-Malik
al-Wahab (on file with author).
147 Robert

Hoffer, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Lakhdar
Boumediene (on file with author).
149 Id.
150 Motion

for a Preliminary Injunction Barring the Government from
Rendering Sami Al-Laithi to Egypt to Face Persecution, or Revealing
to the Egyptian Government Additional Facts Concerning His
Opposition to the Repressive and Undemocratic Regime of Hosni
Mubarak at 2-3, Sliti v. Bush, No. 05-CV-0429 (D.D.C. 2005).
151 Carol

D. Leonnig, Guantánamo Detainee Says Beating Injured
Spine, WASH. POST, Aug. 13, 2005, at A18.

170 Mark Falkoff, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Othman
Abulraheem Mohammad (on file with author).
171 Melissa

Hoffer, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Lakhdar
Boumediene (on file with author).
172 Chronological

152 Id.
153 Id.
154 Shearman

Sterling Report, supra note 2 at 21.

155 Shearman

Sterling Report, supra note 2 at 29.

156 Shearman

Sterling Report, supra note 2 at 50.

157 Baher

Azmy, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Murat Kurnaz
(on file with author).
158 SHAFIQ

at 6 (“[C]ommunications from ‘enemy persons under U.S. control’ at Guantánamo ‘are not confidential and are not subject to the
assertion of privileges’ by detainees.”) (quoting Memorandum from
Richard A. Huck, Chief of Staff, U.S. Southern Command, on U.S.
Southern Command Confidentiality Policy for Interactions Between
Health Care Providers and Enemy Persons (Aug. 6, 2002)).

RASUL, ASIF IQBAL, & RHUHEL AHMED, COMPOSITE STATEMENT: DETENTION IN AFGHANISTAN AND
GUANTANAMO BAY (2004), http://www.ccr-ny.org/v2/legal/september_11th/docs/Guantanamo_composite_statement_FINAL.pdf
(last visited June 25, 2006).

Medical Record for Lakhdar Boumediene (Feb. 20,
2003), Bates No. OLE 00826 (released as a result of FOIA litigation
by Boumediene petitioners, Oleskey v. U.S. Dept. of Defense, U.S. Dept.
of Justice, No. 05-10739 (D. Mass 2005)).
173 Interrogation

Log for Detainee 063, TIME,
http://www.time.com/time/2006/log/log.pdf (last visited June 25,
2006).
174 Shearman

Sterling Report, supra note 2 at 11.

175 Motion

for a Preliminary Injunction Requiring that Respondents
Provide His Counsel with a Complete Copy of His Own Medical
Records, and Cease Their Practice of Intentional Medical Malpractice
Against Him at 20, Sliti v. Bush, No. 05-CV-0429 (D.D.C. 2005).
176 Motion

for a Preliminary Injunction Concerning Conditions of
Confinement at 24, Sliti v. Bush, No. 05-CV-429 (D.D.C. Aug. 9,

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

47

2005) (citing Unclassified Memorandum re: Omas Deghayes (July 19,
2005). Lawyers for Abdulla Thani Faris Al-Anazi, a double amputee,
believe he is receiving “inadequate medical care”; his lawyers have
requested that his defective prostheses be repaired and that he be given
treatment for the lesions they cause. See Letter to Lt. Comdr. De
Alicante on Medical Treatment for Prisoner Abdulla Thari Faris AlAnazi (Aug. 29, 2005) (Anant Raut).

Idir (on file with author).

177 New

197 Stephen

Yorker reporter Jane Mayer has detailed efforts of military
behavioral scientists to “reverse-engineer” harsher interrogation techniques drawn from a classified military program called Survival,
Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE). During the SERE program,
U.S. military personnel are taught to survive extreme and aggressive
interrogation tactics. Behavioral scientists have drawn from the SERE
program to develop tactics that prisoners cannot withstand. See Jane
Mayer, The Experiment, NEW YORKER, July 11 & 18, 2005; see also
Bloche & Marks, supra note 166 at 7-8.
178 Robert

194 Robert

Kirsch, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Mustafa Ait
Idir (on file with author).
195 YEE,

Oleskey, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Lakhdar
Boumediene (on file with author).
198 Neha

Gohil, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Fahmi
Abdullah Ahmed Al Towlaqi (on file with author); see also FOIA
Document 1379, available at
http://action.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/072605 (last visited June 15,
2006) (“documenting case in which a Camp barber intentionally gave
two unusual haircuts, in an effort to frustrate detainee requests for
similar haircuts, as a sign of detainee unity”).

Kirsch, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Mustafa Ait
Idir (on file with author).

199 Neha

179 Robert Jay Lifton, Doctors and Torture, 351 NEW ENG. J. MED.
415, 416 (2004).

200 See

180 Joshua

Colangelo-Bryan, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Al
Noaimi (on file with author); see also FOIA Document 00002,
http://action.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/062405 (last visited June 25,
2006) (stating that a female interrogator who wiped dye from red
magic marker on prisoner’s shirt after prisoner spit on her “received a
verbal reprimand for inappropriate contact/interrogation technique”).
181 One

prisoner reported that menstrual blood was smeared on a prisoner’s chest during interrogation. Mark Falkoff, Unclassified Attorney
Notes (on file with author); see also SAAR, supra note 4 at 225-28
(describing an incident corresponding to this allegation).
182 SAAR,

supra note 4 at 228.

183 FOIA

Document 1333,
http://action.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/072605 (last visited June 25,
2006).
184 Baher

Azmy, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Murat Kurnaz
(on file with author).
185 Cf.

YEE, supra note 5 at 110 (“Female guards were often used to
provoke the detainee. Knowing that physical contact between unrelated men and women is not allowed under Islamic law, the female MPs
would be exceptionally inappropriate in how they patted down the
prisoners and how they touched them on the way to the showers or
recreation. Detainees often resisted and then were IRFed.”).

supra note 5 at 115.

196 Id.

Gohil, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Fahmi
Abdullah Ahmed Al Towlaqi (on file with author).
infra note 202 and accompanying text.

201 Fiqh-us-Sunnah,

Volume 5: Tawaf or Circumambulation around
Ka'bah,
http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/law/fiqhussunnah/fus5_76.html (last
visited June 25, 2006).
202 Motion

for a Preliminary Injunction Concerning Conditions of
Confinement at 22, Sliti v. Bush (D.D.C. 2005) (No. 05-CV-429)
(citing Unclassified Memorandum re: Omar Deghayes (July 19, 2005)
at 5). The memo describes Camp Romeo Block as a special disciplinary block where prisoners are frequently made to strip and are held
only in their shorts.
203 Robert

Kirsch, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Mustafa Ait
Idir (Feb. 2004) (on file with author). This account is corroborated by
Fahmi Abdullah Ahmed Al Towlaqi, who states that he witnessed MPs
bend back a prisoner’s finger so far that it broke. Neha Gohil,
Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Fahmi Abdullah Al Towlaqi
(on file with author). Mr. Ait Idir’s GTMO medical records confirm
that his finger was broken. The records fail to reflect that it was the
IRF that broke his finger. Lakhdar Boumediene also witnessed Mustafa
Ait Idir’s finger being bent back. Stephen Oleskey, Unclassified
Attorney Notes Regarding Lakhdar Boumediene (Feb. 2005) (on file
with author). See also FOIA Documents 4622-24,
http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/FBI_4622_4624.pdf (last visited June 15, 2006) (describing a similar incident in which a female
interrogator bent back prisoner’s thumbs).
204 Interview

187 Carol D. Leonnig, Further Detainee Abuse Alleged, WASH. POST,
Dec. 26, 2004, at A01.

with Marc Falkoff, Attorney, Covington & Burling,
broadcast by Nasseb Vibes (Feb. 15, 2005), available at
www.naseeb.com/naseebvibes/interview-detail.php?aid=3526 (last visited June 21, 2006).

188 Id.

205 Hicks

189 Thomas

206 REPORT

186 Guantánamo

Prisoner Statements, supra note 49 at 7-8.

B. Wilner, Neil Koslowe, Kristine Huskey, Jared
Goldstein, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding 12 Kuwaiti
Prisoners (on file with authors).
190 Guantánamo

Prisoner Statements supra note 49 at 17.

191 Stephen

Oleskey, Melissa Hoffer, Unclassified Attorney Notes
Regarding Lakhdar Boumediene (on file with authors).
192 Melissa

Hoffer & Robert Kirsch, Unclassified Attorney Notes
Regarding Hadj Boudella (on file with authors).
193 Robert

48

|

Kirsch, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Mustafa Ait

Aff., supra note 117 at 3:20.

INTO THE SYSTEMATIC AND INSTITUTIONALIZED U.S. DESECRATION OF THE QUAR’AN AND OTHER
ISLAMIC RITUALS: TESTIMONIES FROM FORMER
GUANTÁNAMO BAY DETAINEES 2,
www.cageprisoners.com/downloads/USQuranDesecration.pdf (last visited June 15, 2006) (statement by Moazzam Begg).
207 Robert

Kirsch, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Mustafa Ait
Idir (on file with author).
208 Shearman

Sterling Report, supra note 2, at 13; see also FOIA
Document 4737.

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

http://www.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/FBI_4737_4738.pdf (last visited June 15, 2006); Othman Abdulraheem Mohammed describes
interrogators wrapping Qur’ans in Israeli flags, throwing them on the
ground, and stomping on them. Mark Falkoff, Unclassified Attorney
Notes Regarding Othman Abdulraheem Mohammed (on file with
author).
209 FOIA

Document 4737-38,
http:www.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/FBI.121504.4737-1738.pdf
(last visited June 30, 2006).
210 CBS

News Video Shows Gitmo Abuse” Feb. 1, 2005
www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/02/04/terror/main671682.shtml (last
visited June 15, 2006).
211 The

heightened severity of pre-Guantánamo abuse accounts is probative of the truth of prisoner allegations, since it may be reflective of
an awareness on the military’s part that, whatever the precise status of
Guantánamo, its actions there are more constrained.
212 Joshua

Colangelo-Bryan, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding
Jum’ah Mohammed Abdul Latif Al Dossari (on file with author).
213 “Waterboarding”

entails the use of a “wet towel and dripping water
to induce the misperception of suffocation.” Memorandum from
Dept. of Def. on Counter-Resistance Techniques at 6 (Nov. 27, 2002).
Typically, “The prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and
head slightly below the feet. Cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s
face and water is poured over him.” Brian Ross & Richard Esposito,
CIA Harsh Interrogation Techniques Described, ABC NEWS, May 19,
2006.
214 Baher

Azmy, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Murat Kurnaz
(on file with author).
215 Thomas

B. Wilner, Neil Koslowe, Kristine Huskey, Jared
Goldstein, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding 12 Kuwaiti
Prisoners (on file with authors).
216 Mark Falkoff, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Abdulsalam
Ali Abdulrahman Al-Hela (on file with author).

223 See

Motion for a Preliminary Injunction Concerning Conditions of
Confinement 3-4, Sliti v. Bush (D.D.C. 2005) (No. 05-CV-429) (citing unclassified statement of Binyam Mohammed).
224 Motion

for a Preliminary Injunction Concerning Conditions of
Confinement 13, Sliti. v. Bush (D.D.C. 2005) (No. 05-CV-429) (citing Shaker Aamer Statement).
225 Id.

at 14-15.

226 Decl.

of Julia Tarver, Majid Abdulla Al Joudi v. Bush, Civ. No. 050301, at para. 7 (Oct. 14, 2005).
227 Id.
228 Id.

at paras. 14-16.

229 Id.

at para. 9, n 1.

230 Emergency

Motion for Injunction Against Further Torture of
Mohammed Bawazir, Al-Adahi v. Bush (D.D.C. No. 05-280 (GK))
(citation omitted).
231 U.S.

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, SECOND PERIODIC
REPORT OF THE U.S. OF AMERICA TO THE COMMITTEE
AGAINST TORTURE, Annex I, Part I (2005), available at
www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/45738.htm (last visited June 23, 2006). The
Second Periodic Report substantiates only 10 minor episodes of misconduct at GTMO, such as: a female interrogator sitting in a prisoner’s lap and running her fingers through his hair; an interrogator using
duct tape to tape shut the mouth of a prisoner who was not cooperating; an interrogator bruising a prisoner’s knees by repeatedly directing
MPs to force him into and out of a prone position; and an MP
assaulting a prisoner by spraying him with a hose after the prisoner
had thrown a foul-smelling liquid on the MP. Id.
232 Brief

of Petitioner-Appellees/Cross-Appellants at 14-15, Fawzi
Khalid A.F. Al Odah v. U.S., 05-5064, 05-5095-05-5116 (Cir. C.D.
June 28, 2005).
233 See

217 Decl. of Joseph Margulies at para. 12, Habib v. Bush, (D.D.C. Apr
27, 2005) (No. 02-CV-1130).

generally FBI documents released under the Freedom of
Information Act, available at
http://action.aclu.org/site/PageServer?pagename=torturefoia (last visited June 23, 2006).

218 Motion

234 See

for a Preliminary Injunction Concerning Conditions of
Confinement 16-17, Sliti v. Bush (D.D.C. 2005) (No. 05-CV-429)
(citing Unclassified Memorandum re: Omar Deghayes (July 19, 2005)
at 3-4).
219 Id.

at 5, 7 (cited in id. at 22-23, 26).

220 Motion

for a Preliminary Injunction Concerning Conditions of
Confinement 16, Sliti v. Bush (D.D.C. 2005) (No. 05-CV-429) (citing
Unclassified Memorandum re: Omar Deghayes (July 19, 2005) at 3).
“The lights are some of the worst tools used against us. They are neon,
two and a half metres long, glaring 24 hours a day. They are fitted
directly above the concrete tomb that is meant to be our bed. They are
never dimmed. Have you ever lived in bright lights for 24 hours a day,
every day? It is a constant struggle to get any sleep at all. Many in the
camp suffer mentally from sleep deprivation.” Id.
221 Motion

for a Preliminary Injunction Concerning Conditions of
Confinement at 12-13, Sliti. v. Bush (D.D.C. 2005) (No. 05-CV-429)
(citing Memo on Conditions in Guantánamo Bay 3 (Aug. 13, 2005).
The incident was corroborated by Saber Lahmar. Melissa Hoffer,
Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Saber Lahmar (Aug. 2005) (on
file with author).
222 Id.

U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Notice of Committee
Hearing (June 8, 2005), available at http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearing.cfm?id=1542 (last visited June 22, 2006).
235 See

Judith Resnik, Opening the Door, Court Stripping:
Unconscionable and Unconstitutional?, SLATE
http://www.slate.com/id/2135240 (last visited June 23, 2006).

236 See

Josh White & Carol Leonnig, U.S. Cites Exception in Torture
Ban; McCain Law May Not Apply to Cuba Prison, WASH. POST, Mar.
2006, at A04.

237 Id.
238 Id.
239 -

S.Ct. - , 2006 WL 176473.

240 See

infra notes 241-252 and accompanying text.

241 Convention

Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Art. 1, Dec. 10, 1984, Senate
Treaty Doc. No. 100-20, 1465 U.N.T.S. 85 [hereinafter CAT].
242 Id

art. 2(2). The CAT prohibits not only torture but “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Id art. 16(1). Article 16
provides that “[e]ach State Party shall undertake to prevent in any ter-

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

49

ritory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined
in article 1…” under color of law. Id. The CAT does not define “cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
243 U.S.

Reservations, Declarations and Understandings, Convention
Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
or Punishment, Cong. Rec. S17486-01 (Oct. 27, 1990) (establishing
those reservations that modify the CAT). A reservation modifies the
terms of a treaty with respect to the country making the Reservation;
the Reservation will be deemed invalid if deviates from the object, purposes and substance of the treaty term. An understanding announces
how a ratifying country “understands” or interprets a treaty.
244 Id

art. 16.

245 Id.

at I(1). This understanding arguably binds the United States to
the same standards of behavior as those adhered to in its domestic
criminal justice system. Through this understanding, the Constitution
and its judicial interpretation appear to become the measure by which
U.S. compliance with its treaty obligations under Article 16 of the
CAT will be judged. At a minimum, violations of the Eighth
Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment are
deemed by the U.S. as equivalent to an Article 16 violations. However,
U.S. officials conducting the “war on terrorism” appear to disagree
about the precise reach of this prohibition. Compare U.S. DEPT. OF
DEF., WORKING GROUP REPORT ON DETAINEE INTERROGATIONS IN THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM: ASSESSMENT OF LEGAL, HISTORICAL, POLICY, AND
OPERATIONAL CONSIDERATIONS 36 (2003), available at
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpsrv/nation/documents/040403dod.pdf (last visited June 22, 2006)
(“The standards of the Eighth Amendment, however, are relevant
because of the U.S. Reservation to the Torture Convention’s definition
of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment”), with Gonzales testimony, Hearing Before the Committee on The Judiciary, U.S. Senate,
109th Cong. 10 (2005) (Statement of Alberto R. Gonzales) (“as a
direct result of the reservation the Senate attached to the CAT, the
Department of Justice has concluded that under Article 16 there is no
legal prohibition under the CAT on cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment with respect to aliens overseas”).
246 U.S.
247 See

RUDs, supra note 243, at II(1)(a).

id.

CAT, supra note 241, art. 22(4)(b). The Committee Against
Torture is the treaty body, created by the CAT, tasked with overseeing
the implementation of the treaty.
RUDs, supra note 243, at III(1) and (2).

250 18

U.S.C. 2340, 2340A. The United States later passed another
crucial piece of implementing legislation. The CAT requires that “no
State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to
another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he
would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” CAT, supra note
241, art. 3. The Congress required the Immigration and
Naturalization Service to promulgate regulations to insure U.S. compliance with this proscription. See Foreign Affairs, Reform and
Restructuring Act of 1998, P.L. 105-227, 112 Stat. 2681-82. The regulations were issued and went into effect in 1999. They elaborate the
definition of torture, as understood by the United States on signing
the CAT. See 8 CFR § 208.18 et. seq.
251 18

U.S.C. 2340.

252 Id.

50

|

Econ. & Soc. Council [ECOSOC], Situation of Detainees at
Guantánamo Bay at 6, U.N. Doc., Future E/CN.4/2006/120 (Feb. 15,
2006)
http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/chr/docs/62chr/E.CN.4.2006.12
0_.pdf. (last visited June 25, 2006).
254 Id.

at 7-8.

255 The

UNCHR is supported, in large part, by U.S. funding.
Between January 1, 2006 and April 30, 2006, the United States donated $216,796,577 to the UNCHR. Government of the United States
of America – UNHCR Donor Profile and Donor History
http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/opendoc.htm?tbl=PARTNERS&page=home&id=3b9f6316a (last visited June 23, 2006).
256 ECOSOC,

supra note 253.

257 Id.

at 11-21.

258 Id.

at 21-27.

259 Id.

at 11-21 27-38.

260Id.

at 38-39.

261 DemocracyNow.org, Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Guantánamo,
President Bush and the Invasion of Iraq Oct. 5th, 2004
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/10/05/1411259.
262 BBC

News, UK calls for Guantánamo Closure May 10, 2006
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/4759317.stm (last visited
Jjune 25, 2006).
263 Sam

Cage, UN Urges US to Shut Guantánamo Prison ASSOC.
PRESS May 19, 2006.
264 Taft

Speech, supra note 88. When asked during his tenure at the
U.S. State Department to comment on prisoner status, Taft recommended that prisoners be treated in accordance with the Geneva
Conventions. See William H. Taft IV, Memorandum Regarding
President Counsel’s Paper on the Geneva Convention (Feb. 2, 2002),
available at
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB127/02.02.02%20
DOS%20Geneva.pdf (last visited June 22, 2006) (noting that “the
U.S. bases its conduct not just on its policy preferences but on its
international legal obligations”).
265 See

248 See

249 U.S.

253 U.N.

VICE ADM. ALBERT T. CHURCH, NAVAL INSPECTOR
GEN., EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF REPORT TO SEC. OF
DEFENSE ON INTERROGATION OPERATIONS (2005)
www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar2005/d20050310exe.pdf (last visited
June 25, 2006). This report into abuse at Guantánamo, as well as Iraq
and Afghanistan, found that, as of September 30, 2004, only eight
incidents occurred at Guantánamo and “all . . . were relatively minor
in their physical nature.” Id. Only three of these incidents were related
to interrogation, and two of the three involved sexually provocative
behavior. Id. at 14. According to the Executive Summary, the report
only looked at interrogation technique policy and not at the overall
climate of misbehavior fostered by the abrogation of the Geneva
Conventions. See also ARMY REGULATION 15-6, EXECUTIVE
SUMMARY OF FINAL REPORT, INVESTIGATION INTO FBI
ALLEGATIONS OF DETAINEE ABUSE AT GUANTÁNAMO
BAY, CUBA DETENTION FACILITY (2005)
www.defenselink.mil/news/Jul2005/d20050714report.pdf (last visited
June 25, 2006) (reporting the results of another investigation into FBI
allegations of abuse at Guantánamo and finding that interrogators had
creatively interpreted FM 34-52 interrogation technique guidelines to
include rubbing perfume on a prisoner and impersonating officials
from the FBI).

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

266 Hicks

Aff., supra note 117 at paras. 5-6.

267 Guantánamo

Prisoner Statements, supra note 49 at 3-4.

268 Robert

Kirsch, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Mustafa Ait
Idir (on file with author), Decl. of Julia Tarver, supra note 226.
269 Hicks

Aff., supra note 117 at paras. 13.

270 Richard

J. Wilson & Muneer Ahmad, Unclassified Attorney Notes
Regarding O.K. (on file with authors).
271 Mark Falkoff, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Abd al-Malik
al-Wahab (on file with author).
272 See Motion for a Preliminary Injunction Requiring that
Respondents Provide His Counsel with a Complete Copy of His Own
Medical Records, and Cease Their Practice of Intentional Medical
Malpractice Against Him at 11-12, Sliti v. Bush (No. 05-CV-0429)
(D.D.C. 2005).
273 Melissa

Hoffer, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Lakhdar
Boumediene (on file with author), Melissa Hoffer, Unclassified
Attorney Notes Regarding Mohammed Nechla (on file with author).
274 Stephen

Oleskey, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Saber
Lahmar (Dec. 2004, Oct. 2005) (on file with author); Robert Kirsch
& Stephen Oleskey, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Belkacem
Bensayah (Dec. 2004 and Oct. 2005, respectively) (on file with
authors).
275 Mark Falkoff, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Abd al-Malik
al-Wahab (on file with author).
276 Letter

from Moazzam Begg to U.S. Forces Administration, supra

note 121.
277 Baher

Azmy, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Murat Kurnaz
(on file with author).
278 Mark Falkoff, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding Abd al-Malik
al-Wahab (on file with author).
279 Joshua

Colangelo-Bryan, Unclassified Attorney Notes Regarding
Abdullah Al Noaimi (on file with author).

Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

|

51

 

Advertise here

 



 

Disciplinary Self-Help Litigation Manual

 



 

Federal Prison Handbook

 



 


 

InmateMagazineService.com