On Friday (at half past midnight in the UK), I was delighted to prop up my wilting eyelids to talk to leading progressive radio host Jeff Farias about the latest disturbing developments in the Guantánamo story. The particular spur for the interview was the recent — and electrifying — District Court ruling in the habeas corpus petition of the Kuwaiti prisoner Fouad al-Rabiah, which I covered in detail in my article, “A Truly Shocking Guantánamo Story: Judge Confirms That An Innocent Man Was Tortured To Make False Confessions.”
As well as discussing why the revelations in Fouad al-Rabiah’s case were so shocking, I also had the opportunity to explain why they are, essentially, the tip of a particularly grim iceberg, given that al-Rabiah’s torture and false confessions came about because he was one of at least 100 prisoners in Guantánamo who were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques,” drawn from torture techniques taught in US military schools (the SERE schools) to train military personnel to resist interrogation if captured. I also had the opportunity to highlight the fact that any fool should have been able to see that the techniques — drawn from those used on captured US pilots in the Korean War — would fail when reverse engineered for use in the real world, because they were explicitly used by the Communist Chinese to produce false confessions in the first place.
Jeff and I also discussed the motivations for the Bush administration’s torture regime, which I explained as a desire for violence and vengeance on the part of senior officials, accompanied by an arrogant and uninformed suspicion of the established rapport-building techniques favored by agencies including the FBI, which eschew torture because it is unreliable and because it produces false confessions, and also because its use destroys the possibility of criminal prosecutions.
In a follow-up to the circumstances of Fouad al-Rabiah’s habeas ruling, we also talked about the failure of anyone in a senior position in the Justice Department to monitor what is happening with the Guantánamo cases, and to prevent the kind of embarrassments in court that are occurring on a regular basis (with 30 of the 38 cases so far decided ending in rulings in favor of the prisoners). This allowed me to lament the fact that one of the reasons that the administration is able to press on regardless is that its embarrassments — and its implicit and unacceptable defense of the Bush administration’s chaotic, cruel and incompetent approach to intelligence-gathering — are not front-page news, and, sadly, are not a cause of consternation to the majority of the American public.
Andy Worthington is the author of 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 (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, published in March 2009, and if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
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