July 29, 2005 – More evidence of abuse at US-run prison camps in Iraq and GuantÃ¡namo Bay were brought to light this week in document releases, news accounts and military hearings. The latest round of information prompted fresh calls for investigations and prosecutions of top military officials from the worldâ€™s two largest and most influential humanitarian and civil liberties organizations.
Wednesday, the Denver Post reported that it received transcripts of a closed military court martial hearing describing how CIA officials regularly beat Iraqi detainees with sledgehammer handles.
Reportedly, the transcript, which was released to the Post under court order, also described one officialâ€™s boasts of abusing prisoners. The transcript was from a March hearing to decide whether three soldiers should face murder charges in the interrogation death of an Iraqi general.
According to the Associated Press, a former warden at the US-run Abu Ghraib prison facility testified Wednesday that General Geoffrey D. Miller, then commander of the GuantÃ¡namo Bay detention camp, recommended using un-muzzled dogs in interrogations as far back as 2003. The testimony arose during a hearing to decide whether the dog-handlers should face a court martial.
Also Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union released another round of documents detailing abuse at GuantÃ¡namo Bay. The papers were obtained as a result of a lawsuit several human and civil rights groups filed after the Department of Defense refused to grant Freedom of Information Act requests.
The documents relate to internal military investigations into interrogation tactics. In one instance described in the papers, a detainee was repeatedly slammed into the floor while interrogators held his limbs. Another describes an open blouse lap dance-like act performed by a female contract employee on a Muslim detainee.
In addition, several documents describe instances in which interrogators withheld food from detainees, lowered the temperature in cells to 52 degrees and denied the prisoners access to toilets. In another set of documents, papers describe a prisonerâ€™s 2002 hunger strike, during which he shed 30 pounds in three months.
Citing the recently released documents and those revealed earlier this year, the ACLU and Amnesty International have both renewed demands for an independent investigation into the detention camps and allegations of torture.
In a statement, Amnesty writes, "In the â€˜war on terror,â€™ governments are not only using torture and ill-treatment, they are making the case that this is justifiable and necessary."
"These new documents provide vivid descriptions of how interrogation techniques approved by Rumsfeld constituted serious abuse in some instances," ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said in a statement accompanying the release of the new documents. "Thereâ€™s no denying that these approved techniques went too far and that the military knew full well how they were being used on detainees."
There are currently more than 500 detainees held at the US military prison camp in GuantÃ¡namo Bay, Cuba. Most have been held for upwards of three years with severely limited access to attorneys. The Bush administration, which has declared the GuantÃ¡namo detainees ineligible for legal and human rights protections under international law and the US Constitution, has only charged a handful of its wards with crimes.
A recently completed Pentagon investigation into the treatment of detainees confirmed a few reports of detainee mistreatment at GuantÃ¡namo, but a high-level military official was not disciplined, despite the reportâ€™s recommendations, as The NewStandard reported earlier this month.