(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
While everyone was watching the hoopla in Charlotte and the Super Bowl champion Giants lose to the comeback Cowboys, Human Rights Watch released a report “Delivered into Enemy Hands: US-Led Abuse and Rendition of Opponents to Gaddafi’s Libya,” that revealed new allegations of rendition, torture and deaths of prisoners in the custody of the CIA.
A new report by the nonprofit group Human Rights Watch, based on documents and interviews in Libya after the fall of its dictator, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, includes a detailed description of what appears to be a previously unknown instance of waterboarding by the C.I.A. in Afghanistan nine years ago. [..]
The investigation by Human Rights Watch had its origins in a trove of documents related to detainees transferred to Colonel Qaddafi’s prisons, including several by the United States. The papers became available last year as a result of the uprising against the Libyan leader, which was supported by the United States and other NATO allies.
Researchers used the names on the files as part of their broader efforts to track down former prisoners transferred to Libyan custody and interview them, opening an unusual window into American detention, interrogation and rendition operations nearly a decade ago. Many of the former detainees are now living freely in Libya, and some are active in politics or have positions in the new government.
The 156-page report, “Delivered Into Enemy Hands: U.S.-led Abuse and Rendition of Opponents to Gaddafi’s Libya,” written by Laura Pitter, recounts interviews with 14 Libyans who it says are former detainees who were sent back to Libya around 2004, after Colonel Qaddafi agreed to renounce his nuclear ambitions and help fight Islamist terrorism. At least five, Ms. Pitter writes, had been held by the C.I.A. in Afghanistan before their rendition.
As reported in the New York Times article, the report focused on the ordeal of Mohammed Shoroeiya, who was reportedly detained in Pakistan in April 2003 and held in American custody in Afghanistan before being transferred to Libya. Spencer Ackerman of Wired gives the graphic details:
A drawing by a Libyan of a 1- by 1-meter box into which he says he was placed during his harsh interrogation by the U.S. in Afghanistan. Image: Human Rights Watch
Click on image to enlarge.
This is a drawing of a locked box which a Libyan man says U.S. interrogators once stuffed him into. It’s said to be about three feet long on each side. Only once during his two years in detention was the detainee put in the box; his confinement there lasted over an hour. The circles are small holes, into which his interrogators “prodded him with long thin objects.”
It wasn’t the only box that the CIA allegedly placed him inside. Another was a tall, narrow box, less than two feet wide, with handcuffs at the top. The detainee, Mohammed Ahmed Mohammed al-Shoroeiya, says he was placed into that one with his hands elevated and suspended by the handcuffs, for a day and a half, naked, with music blasting into his ears constantly through speakers built into the box. A different detainee describes being placed into a similar box for three days and being left with no choice but to urinate and defecate on himself.
Getting shoved into those boxes was only the start of Shoroeiya’s woes. The CIA would later deliver him and at least four others into the hands of the Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who further brutalized them for opposing his regime. Accordingly, a new Human Rights Watch report telling the stories of those detainees strips away a euphemism in the war on terrorism: how the CIA says it holds its nose and “works with” unsavory regimes. “It can’t come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats,” spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood told the Wall Street Journal. What may indeed come as a surprise is what that actually means in practice, as recounted by at least five Libyan ex-detainees Human Rights Watch interviewed.
Media reports on Thursday morning understandably focused on what Human Rights Watch called “credible allegations” of waterboarding by CIA officials, since the U.S. has only ever acknowledged waterboarding three detainees. But what Human Rights Watch has uncovered in Libya tells a broader story. It’s a story about how repressive governments used the war on terrorism to get the U.S. to deliver their political opponents to their custody. It was as easy as calling them terrorists – which was enough for the U.S. to play along.
Perhaps the most explosive new information in the report concerns charges by one of the prisoners that he was waterboarded. US authorities have long maintained that only three CIA-held prisoners were ever waterboarded, and the Department of Defense maintains it never waterboarded prisoners in DoD custody. [..]
Khalid al-Sharif, who was another LIFG leader captured at the same time as Shoroeiya, told HRW that he also was subjected to water torture while in U.S. custody. Today, Sharif is head of the Libyan National Guard. [..]
The UN Convention Against Torture, to which the U.S. is a signatory, states, “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.”
Sharif has said the Libyans placed him in “extreme isolation.” Shoroeiya said initially the Libyans told him he would not be maltreated because they had made assurances to U.S. authorities as to his safety as part of his transfer. Nevertheless, after six months, the Libyans began to torture Shoroeiya, including both “long periods of solitary confinement” and beatings by guards, who used “sticks, steel pipes, and electrical cables that were used as a whip” to bloody the prisoner.
U.S. Water Torture of Teen
The new revelations concerning waterboarding and waterboarding-like torture of detainees comes a year after a two-part series at Truthout in August 2011 which revealed that, despite denials by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other DoD authorities, waterboarding-like torture was used in DoD facilities, including Guantanamo.
While the HRW report is certain to get wide U.S. coverage, the recent release of documents related to the incarceration of Omar Khadr, a long-term Guantanamo detainee who was brought to that prison as a 15-year-old teenager, has so far not gained much attention.
In one of the documents published August 31 by Macleans Canada, US Army psychiatrist, Brigadier General (retired) Stephen Xenakis, wrote to Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews last February, describing his psychiatric evaluation of Khadr, based on hundreds of hours of meetings with the former child prisoner.
The HRW report, which was released after US Attorney General Eric Holder announced the end of the investigation of torture allegations without charges, makes these recommendations:
To the United States Government
- Consistent with obligations under the Convention against Torture, investigate credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment since September 11, 2001 and implement a system of compensation to ensure all victims can obtain redress.
- Acknowledge past abuses and provide a full accounting of every person that the CIA has held in its custody pursuant to its counterterrorism authority since 2001, including names, dates they left US custody, locations to which they were transferred, and their last known whereabouts.
- Ensure that any person subject to rendition abroad has the right, prior to transfer, to challenge its legality before an independent tribunal, including any diplomatic assurances made; to legal counsel; and to appeal a transfer before it is carried out.
- Prohibit reliance upon diplomatic assurances against torture and ill-treatment (and make public the procedures used to ensure compliance) if there is any credible evidence the person subject to transfer faces a risk of torture or other ill-treatment.
- Include in required periodic reports to the Committee against Torture, the Human Rights Committee, and other relevant international and regional monitoring bodies detailed information about all cases in which requests for diplomatic assurances against the risk of torture or other ill-treatment have been sought or secured in respect to a person subject to transfer.
To the President of the United States
- Direct the attorney general to begin a criminal investigation into US government detention practices and interrogation methods since September 11, 2001, including the CIA detention program. The investigation should examine the role of US officials, no matter their position or rank, who participated in, authorized, ordered, or had command responsibility for torture or ill-treatment and other unlawful detention practices, including enforced disappearance and rendition to torture or other ill-treatment.
- Make publicly available the August 2009 report of the Special Task Force on Interrogation and Transfers (an inter-agency task force set up by the Obama administration in January 2009).
To the US Congress
- Create an independent, nonpartisan commission to investigate the mistreatment of detainees in US custody anywhere in the world since September 11, 2001, including torture, enforced disappearance, and rendition to torture. Such a commission should hold hearings, have full subpoena power, compel the production of evidence, and be empowered to recommend the creation of a special prosecutor to investigate possible criminal offenses, if the attorney general has not commenced such an investigation.