The Washington Spectator has the first major American article on released Guantánamo prisoner Murat Kurnaz since the publication of his book Fünf Jahre meines Lebens: Ein Bericht aus Guantánamo (Five Years of My Life: A Report from Guantánamo), which will be published in the US in January 2008.
Of particular interest are Kurnaz’s claims that he saw a dead prisoner hanging from chains in Kandahar airbase, and that, while there, he was not only hung by his wrists for days, given electric shocks and beaten constantly (claims which are depressingly familiar from other released prisoners’ stories), but was also subjected to the reviled torture method known as waterboarding, which was only supposedly used on a handful of the most “high-value” prisoners, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, as opposed to being practiced on an apprentice shipbuilder from Germany, who had never set foot in Afghanistan, and was kidnapped by Pakistani police from a bus in Pakistan –- where he had gone to study his religion –- and sold to the Americans for $3,000.
As the article describes it, Kurnaz “theorize[d] that much of the torture was a result of the failure of the American soldiers and agents to capture any real terrorists in the initial sweeps.” “They didn’t have any big fish,” he said. “And they thought that by torture they could get one of us to say something. ‘I know Osama’ or something like that. Then they could say they had a big fish.”
Interestingly, the article also points out –- and I hadn’t noticed this before –- that “enhanced interrogation,” the phrase the US administration uses to sidestep the use of the word “torture,” is “a direct translation of verschärfte Vernehmung, a euphemism for torture the Gestapo coined in 1937.”
For more on Guantánamo, and torture and murder in the US prisons in Afghanistan, see my book The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed.
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