[Ppnews] The Black Shirts of Guantánamo

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri May 15 12:43:49 EDT 2009


http://www.counterpunch.org/scahill05152009.html

May 15-17, 2009


Little Known Military Thug Squad Still Brutalizing Prisoners


The Black Shirts of Guantánamo

By JEREMY SCAHILL

As the Obama administration continues to fight 
the release of some 2,000 photos that graphically 
document U.S. military abuse of prisoners in Iraq 
and Afghanistan, an ongoing Spanish investigation 
is adding harrowing details to the ever-emerging 
portrait of the torture inside and outside 
Guantánamo. Among them: "blows to [the] 
testicles;" "detention underground in total 
darkness for three weeks with deprivation of food 
and sleep;" being "inoculated 
 through injection 
with 'a disease for dog cysts;'" the smearing of 
feces on prisoners; and waterboarding. The 
torture, according to the Spanish investigation, 
all occurred "under the authority of American 
military personnel" and was sometimes conducted 
in the presence of medical professionals.

More significantly, however, the investigation 
could for the first time place an intense focus 
on a notorious, but seldom discussed, thug squad 
deployed by the U.S. military to retaliate with 
excessive violence to the slightest resistance by prisoners at Guantánamo.

The force is officially known as the the 
Immediate Reaction Force or Emergency Reaction 
Force, but inside the walls of Guantánamo, it is 
known to the prisoners as the Extreme Repression 
Force. Despite President Barack Obama's 
publicized pledge to close the prison camp and 
end torture -- and analysis from human rights 
lawyers who call these forces' actions illegal -- 
IRFs remain very much active at Guantánamo.

IRF: An Extrajudicial Terror Squad

The existence of these forces has been documented 
since the early days of Guantánamo, but it has 
rarely been mentioned in the U.S. media or in 
congressional inquiries into torture. On paper, 
IRF teams are made up of five military police 
officers who are on constant stand-by to respond 
to emergencies. "The IRF team is intended to be 
used primarily as a forced-extraction team, 
specializing in the extraction of a detainee who 
is combative, resistive, or if the possibility of 
a weapon is in the cell at the time of the 
extraction," according to a declassified copy of 
the Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta 
at Guantánamo. The document was signed on March 
27, 2003, by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the man 
credited with eventually "Gitmoizing" Abu Ghraib 
and other U.S.-run prisons and who reportedly 
ordered subordinates to treat prisoners "like 
dogs." Gen. Miller ran Guantánamo from November 
2002 until August 2003 before moving to Iraq in 2004.

When an IRF team is called in, its members are 
dressed in full riot gear, which some prisoners 
and their attorneys have compared to "Darth 
Vader" suits. Each officer is assigned a body 
part of the prisoner to restrain: head, right 
arm, left arm, left leg, right leg. According to 
the SOP memo, the teams are to give verbal 
warnings to prisoners before storming the cell: 
"Prior to the use of the IRF team, an interpreter 
will be used to tell the detainee of the 
discipline measures to be taken against him and 
ask whether he intends to resist. Regardless of 
his answer, his recent behavior and demeanor 
should be taken into account in determining the 
validity of his answer."The IRF team is 
authorized to spray the detainee in the face with 
mace twice before entering the cell.

According to Gen. Miller's memo: "The physical 
security of U.S. forces and detainees in U.S. 
care is paramount. Use the minimum force 
necessary for mission accomplishment and force 
protection ... Use of the IRF team and levels of 
force are not to be used as a method of punishment."

But human rights lawyers, former prisoners and 
former IRF team members with extensive experience 
at Guantánamo paint a very different picture of 
the role these teams played. "They are the Black 
Shirts of Guantánamo," says Michael Ratner, 
president of the Center for Constitutional 
Rights, which has represented the most Guantánamo 
prisoners. "IRFs can't be separated from torture. 
They are a part of the brutalization of humans treated as less than human."

Clive Stafford Smith, who has represented 50 
Guantánamo prisoners, including 31 still 
imprisoned there, has seen the IRF teams up 
close. "They're goons," he says. "They've played a huge role."

While much of the "torture debate" has emphasized 
the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" 
defined by the twisted legal framework of the 
Office of Legal Council memos, IRF teams in 
effect operate at Guantánamo as an extrajudicial 
terror squad that has regularly brutalized 
prisoners outside of the interrogation room, gang 
beating them, forcing their heads into toilets, 
breaking bones, gouging their eyes, squeezing 
their testicles, urinating on a prisoner's head, 
banging their heads on concrete floors and 
hog-tying them -- sometimes leaving prisoners 
tied in excruciating positions for hours on end.

The IRF teams "were fully approved at the highest 
levels [of the Bush administration], including 
the Secretary of Defense and with outside 
consultation of the Justice Department," says 
Scott Horton, one of the leading experts on U.S. 
Military and Constitutional law. This force "was 
designed to disabuse the prisoners of any idea 
that they would be free from physical assault 
while in U.S. custody," he says. "They were 
trained to brutally punish prisoners in a brief 
period of time, and ridiculous pretexts were taken to justify" the beatings.

So notorious are these teams that a new lexicon 
was created and used by prisoners and guards 
alike to describe the beatings: IRF-ing prisoners or to be IRF-ed.

Former Guantánamo Army Chaplain James Yee, who 
witnessed IRFings, described "the seemingly 
harmless behaviors that brought it on [like] not 
responding when a guard spoke." Yee said he 
believed that during daily cell sweeps, guards 
would intentionally do invasive searches of the 
Muslim prisoners' "private areas" and Korans to 
"rile the detainees," saying it "seemed like 
harassment for the sake of harassment, and the 
prisoners fought it. Those who did were always IRFed."

"I'll put it like this," Stafford Smith says. "My clients are afraid of them."

"Up to 15 people attempted to commit suicide at 
Camp Delta due to the abuses of the IRF 
officials," according to the Spanish 
investigation. Combined with other documentation, 
including prisoner testimony and legal memos, the 
IRF teams appear to be one of the most 
significant forces in the abuse of prisoners at 
Guantánamo, worthy of an investigation by U.S. 
prosecutors in and of themselves.

The IRF-ing of Omar Deghayes

Perhaps the worst abuses in the Spanish case 
involve Omar Deghayes, whose torture began long 
before he reached Guantánamo, and intensified upon his arrival.

A Libyan citizen who had lived in Britain since 
1986, in the late 1990s, Deghayes was a law 
student when he traveled to Afghanistan, "for the 
simple reason that he is a Muslim and he wanted 
to see what it was like," according to his 
lawyer, Stafford Smith. While there, he met and 
married an Afghan woman with whom he had a son.

After 9/11, Deghayes was detained in Lahore, 
Pakistan, for a month, where he allegedly was 
subjected to "systematic beatings" and "electric 
shocks done with a tool that looked like a small gun."

He was then transferred to Islamabad, 
Pakistan,where he claims he was interrogated by 
both U.S. and British personnel. There, the 
torture continued; in a March 2005 memo written 
by a lawyer who later visited Deghayes at 
Guantánamo, he described a particularly ghoulish incident:

"One day they took me to a room that had very 
large snakes in glass boxes. The room was all 
painted black-and-white, with dim lights. They 
threatened to leave me there and let the snakes 
out with me in the room. This really got to me, 
as there were such sick people that they must 
have had this room specially made."

Deghayes was eventually moved to Bagram Air Base 
in Afghanistan, where he was beaten and "kept 
nude, as part of the process of humiliation due 
to his religion." U.S. personnel placed Deghayes 
"inside a closed box with a lock and limited 
air." He also described seeing U.S. guards 
sodomize an African prisoner and alleged guards 
"forced petrol and benzene up the anuses of the prisoners."

"The camp looked like the Nazi camps that I saw in films," Deghayes said.

When Deghayes finally arrived at Guantánamo in 
September 2002, he found himself the target of the feared IRF teams.

"The IRF team sprayed Mr. Deghayes with mace; 
they threw him in the air and let him fall on his 
face 
 " according to the Spanish investigation. 
Deghayes says he also endured a "sexual attack." 
In March 2004, after being "sprayed in the eyes 
with mace," Deghayes says authorities refused to 
provide him with medical attention, causing him 
to permanently lose sight in his right eye. 
Stafford Smith described the incident:

"They brought their pepper spray and held him 
down. They held both of his eyes open and sprayed 
it into his eyes and later took a towel soaked in 
pepper spray and rubbed it in his eyes.

"Omar could not see from either eye for two 
weeks, but he gradually got sight back in one eye.

"He's totally blind in the right eye. I can 
report that his right eye is all white and milky 
-- he can't see out of it because he has been 
blinded by the U.S. in Guantánamo."

In fact, Stafford Smith says his blindness was 
caused by a combination of the pepper spray and 
the fact that an IRF team member pushed his finger into Deghayes' eye.

The Spanish investigation into Deghayes' torture 
draws much from the March 2005 memo, which 
described several acts of abuse of Deghayes at 
the hands of the IRF teams. (The memo refers to 
IRF by its alternative acronym ERF):

ERF-ing Omar -- The Feces Incident

On one of the ERF-ing incidents where Omar was 
abused, the officer in charge himself came into 
the cell with the feces of another prisoners 
[sic] and smeared it onto Omar's face. While some 
prisoners had thrown feces at the abusive guards, 
Omar had always emphatically refused to sink to 
this level. The experience was one of the most disgusting in Omar's life.

ERF-ing Omar -- The Toilet Incident

In April or May 2004, when the Guantánamo 
administration insisted on taking Omar's 
English-language Quran, he objected. The ERF team 
came into Omar's cell and put him in shackles. He 
was not resisting. They then put his head in the 
toilet, pressed his face into the water. They repeatedly flushed it.

ERF-ing Omar -- The Beating

In one ERF-ing incident, Omar was shackled by 
three American soldiers in their black Darth 
Vader Star Wars uniforms. The first was going to 
punch Omar, but before he could, the second kneed 
Omar in the nose, trying to break it. The third 
queried this, and the second said, "If his nose 
is broken, that's good. We want to break his 
******* nose." The third soldier then took him to hospital.

ERF-ing Omar -- The Drowning

The ERF team came into the cell with a water hose 
under very high pressure. He was totally 
shackled, and they would hold his head fixed 
still. They would force water up his nose until 
he was suffocating and would scream for them to 
stop. This was done with medical staff present, 
and they would join in. Omar is particularly 
affected by the fact that there was one nurse who 
"had been very beautiful and kind" to him to 
[sic] took part in the process. This happened three times.

ERF-ing Omar -- Tango Block

Omar was out on the Tango block rec yard when 15 
ERF soldiers came, with two other soldiers in the 
towers, armed with guns. They grabbed him (and others) and sprayed him.

They then pulled him up into the air and slammed 
his face down, on the left side, on the concrete. 
They had someone from the hospital there, and she 
just watched. She then came up to him and asked 
whether he was OK. He was taken off to isolation after that.

A medical examination cited in the Spanish 
investigation confirmed that Deghayes suffered 
from blindness of the right eye, fracture of the 
nasal bone and fracture of the right index 
finger, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder and "profound" depression.

Evidence Destroyed?

At the Pentagon, an official paper trail should 
exist that documents the IRF-ing of Deghayes. 
What's more, according to Gen. Miller's SOP memo, 
all of the actions of the IRF teams were to be videotaped as well.

After a prisoner was IRF-ed, "The medical 
personnel on site will conduct a medical 
evaluation of the detainee to check for any 
injuries sustained during the IRF," and, "all IRF 
Team members are required to submit sworn 
statements." These statements, reports and video were "to be kept as evidence."

As of early 2005, there were reportedly 500 hours 
of video; the ACLU attempted to force their 
release, but they never have been produced.

"Where are those tapes?" asks CCR President 
Michael Ratner. In some cases, the answer may 
well be that they never existed or no longer do. 
"When an IRFing took place a camera was supposed 
to be present to capture the IRFing," said Army 
Spec. Brandon Neely, who was on one of the first 
IRF teams at Guantánamo. "Every time I witnessed 
an IRFing a camera was present, but one of two 
things would happen: (1) the camera would never 
be turned on, or (2) the camera would be on, but 
pointed straight at the ground."

Neeley recently gave testimony to the University 
of California, Davis' Guantánamo Testimonials 
Project. He also described one IRF-ing where the 
video of the incident was destroyed.

Regarding the videos, Stafford Smith says, "There 
are some things I can't talk about, but I will 
confirm there is photographic evidence. I am 
absolutely confident that if all of the 
photographs were revealed to the world, they 
would provide irrefutable physical evidence that 
the prisoners had been" abused by the IRFs.

As for the "sworn statements" by IRF team 
members, a review of hundreds of pages of 
declassified incident reports reveals an almost 
robotic uniformity in the handwritten accounts, 
overwhelmingly composed of succinct portrayals of 
operations that went off without a hitch. Almost 
all of them contain the phrases "minimum amount 
of force necessary" and the prisoner "received 
medical attention and evaluation" before being returned.

"All internal investigations of Gitmo so far have 
completely whitewashed the IRF process," says 
Horton. "They did so for obvious reasons."

"The IRF program was supported by advice secured 
from the Justice Department suggesting that 
insubordinate behavior could be cited to justify 
a departure from guidelines against physical 
force. It has a conspiratorial odor to it," says 
Horton. "In fact the use of IRFs was illegal, a 
violation of Common Article 3 [of the Geneva 
Convention] and a violation of the Uniform Code 
of Military Justice, which forbids the use of 
unnecessary force against prisoners."

While Spain will probably pursue the role the IRF 
teams played in the torture of its citizens or 
residents, its scope goes far beyond those specific incidents.

"I have seen detainees IRF'ed while they were 
praying, or for refusing medication."

Deghayes' treatment at the hands of the feared 
IRF teams mirrors that of several other released Guantánamo prisoners.

David Hicks, an Australian citizen held at 
Guantánamo, said in a sworn affidavit, "I have 
witnessed the activities of the [IRF], which 
consists of a squad of soldiers that enter a 
detainee's cell and brutalize him with the aid of 
an attack dog ... I have seen detainees suffer 
serious injuries as a result of being IRF'ed. I 
have seen detainees IRF'ed while they were 
praying, or for refusing medication."

Binyam Mohamed, released in February, has also 
described an IRF assault: "They nearly broke my 
back. The guy on top was twisting me one way, the 
guys on my legs the other. They marched me out of 
the cell to the fingerprint room, still cuffed. I 
clenched my fists behind me so they couldn't take 
[finger]prints, so they tried to take them by 
force. The guy at my head sticks his fingers up 
my nose and wrenches my head back, jerking it 
around by the nostrils. Then he put his fingers 
in my eyes. It felt as if he was trying to gouge 
them out. Another guy was punching my ribs, and 
another was squeezing my testicles. Finally, I 
couldn't take it any more. I let them take the prints."

A report prepared by British human rights lawyer 
Gareth Peirce, documents the alleged abuse of a 
Bahraini citizen, Jumah al Dousari by an IRF 
team. Before being taken to Guantánamo, al 
Dousari was widely known to be "mentally ill." On 
one occasion, the IRF Team was called into his 
cell after al Dousari allegedly insulted a female 
soldier. Another prisoner who witnessed the incident described what happened:

"There were usually five people on an ERF team. 
On this occasion there were eight of them. When 
Jumah saw them coming, he realized something was 
wrong and was lying on the floor with his head in 
his hands. If you're on the floor with your hands 
on your head, then you would hope that all they 
would do would be to come in and put the chains 
on you. That is what they're supposed to do.

"The first man is meant to go in with a shield. 
On this occasion, the man with the shield threw 
the shield away, took his helmet off, when the 
door was unlocked ran in and did a knee drop onto 
Jumah's back just between his shoulder blades 
with his full weight. He must have been about 240 
pounds in weight. His name was Smith. He was a 
sergeant E-5. Once he had done that, the others 
came in and were punching and kicking Jumah. 
While they were doing that the female officer 
then came in and was kicking his stomach. Jumah 
had had an operation and had metal rods in his 
stomach clamped together in the operation.

"The officer Smith was the MP sergeant who was 
punching him. He grabbed his head with one hand 
and with the other hand punched him repeatedly in 
the face. His nose was broken. He pushed his 
face, and he smashed it into the concrete floor. 
All of this should be on video. There was blood 
everywhere. When they took him out, they hosed 
the cell down and the water ran red with blood. We all saw it."

Force Feeding as a Form of Torture

The IRF teams were also used to force-feed 
hunger-striking prisoners at Guantánamo, 
including in August 2005. Deghayes was among the 
hunger strikers, writing in a letter, "I am 
slowly dying in this solitary prison cell, I have 
no rights, no hope. So why not take my destiny 
into my own hands, and die for a principle?"

While the U.S. government portrayed a situation 
where the hunger strikers were being given 
medical attention, lawyers for some of the men 
claim that the tubes used to force feed them were 
"the thickness of a finger" and "were viewed by 
the detainees as objects of torture."

According to attorney Julia Tarver, one of her 
clients, Yousef al-Shehri, had a tube inserted 
with "one [IRF member] holding his chin while the 
other held him back by his hair, and a medical 
staff member forcibly inserted the tube in his 
nose and down his throat" and into his stomach. 
"No anesthesia or sedative was provided to 
alleviate the obvious trauma of the procedure." 
Tarver said this method caused al-Shehri and 
others to vomit "substantial amounts of blood."

This was painful enough, but al-Shehri, described 
the removal of the tubes as "unbearable," causing 
him to pass out from the pain.

According to Tarver, "Nasal gastric (NG) tubes 
[were removed] 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. Then, in front 
of the Guantanamo physicians 
 the guards took NG 
tubes from one detainee, and with no sanitization 
whatsoever, reinserted it into the nose of a 
different detainee. When these tubes were 
reinserted, the detainees could see the blood and 
stomach bile from the other detainees remaining 
on the tubes." Medical staff, according to 
Tarver, made no effort to intervene. This was one 
of many incidents where IRF teams facilitated such force-feeding.

Aside from hunger strikes, other forms of 
resistance were met with brutal reprisal. Tarek 
Dergoul, a prisoner interviewed by Human Rights 
Watch, described how IRF teams beat him because 
he "often refused to cooperate with cell searches 
during prayer time. One reason was that they 
would abuse the Quran. Another was that the 
guards deliberately felt up my private parts under the guise of searching me."

Dergoul said, "If I refused a cell search, MPs 
would call the Extreme Reaction Force, who came 
in riot gear with plastic shields and pepper 
spray. The Extreme Reaction Force entered the 
cell, ran in and pinned me down after spraying me 
with pepper spray and attacked me. The pepper 
spray caused me to vomit on several occasions. 
They poked their fingers in my eyes, banged my 
head on the floor and kicked and punched me and 
tied me up like a beast. They often forced my head into the toilet."

Jamal al-Harith claims he was beaten by a 
five-man IRF team for refusing an injection: "I 
was terrified of what they were going to do. I 
had seen victims of [IRF] being paraded in front 
of my cell. They were battered and bruised into 
submission. It was a horrible sight and a 
frequent sight. 
 They were really gung-ho, hyped 
up and aggressive. One of them attacked me really 
hard and left me with a deep red mark from my 
backbone down to my knee. I thought I was 
bleeding, but it was just really bad bruising."

The IRF-ing of Army Sgt. 1st Class Sean Baker

Ironically, perhaps the most well-publicized case 
of abuse by this force was not inflicted on a 
Guantanamo prisoner, but on an active-duty U.S. soldier and Gulf War veteran.

In January 2003, Sgt. Sean Baker was ordered to 
participate in an IRF training drill at 
Guantánamo where he would play the role of an 
uncooperative prisoner. Sgt. Baker says he was 
ordered by his superior to take off his military 
uniform and put on an orange jumpsuit like those 
worn by prisoners. He was told to yell out the 
code word "red" if the situation became 
unbearable, or he wanted his fellow soldiers to stop.

According to sworn statements, upon entering his 
cell, IRF members thought they were restraining 
an actual prisoner. As Sgt. Baker later described:

They grabbed my arms, my legs, twisted me up and, 
unfortunately, one of the individuals got up on 
my back from behind and put pressure down on me 
while I was face down. Then he -- the same 
individual -- reached around and began to choke 
me and press my head down against the steel 
floor. After several seconds, 20 to 30 seconds, 
it seemed like an eternity because I couldn't 
breathe. When I couldn't breathe, I began to 
panic and I gave the code word I was supposed to 
give to stop the exercise, which was 'red.' 
 
That individual slammed my head against the floor 
and continued to choke me. Somehow I got enough 
air. I muttered out: 'I'm a U.S. soldier. I'm a U.S. soldier.'

Sgt. Baker said his head was slammed once more, 
and after groaning "I'm a U.S. soldier" one more 
time, "I heard them say, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa,' you 
know, like 
 he was telling the other guy to stop."

According to CBS:

Bloodied and disoriented, Baker somehow made it 
back to his unit, and his first thought was to 
get hold of the videotape. "I said, 'Go get the 
tape,' " recalls Baker. " 'They've got a tape. Go 
get the tape.' My squad leader went to get the tape."

Every extraction drill at Guantanamo was 
routinely videotaped, and the tape of this drill 
would show what happened. But Baker says his 
squad leader came back and said, "There is no tape."

The New York Times later reported that the 
military "says it can't find a videotape that is 
believed to have been made of the incident." 
Baker was soon diagnosed with traumatic brain 
injury. He began suffering seizures, sometimes 10 to 12 per day.

"This was just one typical incident, and Baker 
was recognizable as an American," says Horton. 
"But it gives a good flavor of what the Gitmo 
detainees went through, which was generally worse."

IRF-ing Continues Under Obama

On Jan. 7, 2009, a prisoner named Yasin Ismael 
threw a shoe in frustration at the inside of a 
cage to which he had been confined. The guards 
accused Ismael of attacking them and called in an IRF team.

According to his attorneys, "The team shackled 
him, and he put up no resistance. They then beat 
him. They blocked his nose and mouth until he 
felt that he would suffocate and hit him 
repeatedly in the ribs and head. They then took 
him back to his cell. As he was being taken back, 
a guard urinated on his head. Mr. Ismael was 
badly injured, and his ear started to bleed, 
leaving a large stain on his pillow."

Less than two weeks later, on Jan. 22, newly 
inaugurated President Obama issued an executive 
order requiring the closure of Guantánamo within 
a year and also ordered a review of the status of 
the prisoners held there, requiring "humane 
standards of confinement" in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

But one month later, the Center for 
Constitutional Rights released a report titled 
"Conditions of Confinement at Guantánamo: Still 
In Violation of the Law," which found that abuses 
continued. In fact, one Guantanamo lawyer, Ahmed 
Ghappour, said that his clients were reporting "a 
ramping up in abuse" since Obama was elected, 
including "beatings, the dislocation of limbs, 
spraying of pepper spray into closed cells, 
applying pepper spray to toilet paper and 
over-force feeding detainees who are on hunger strike," according to Reuters.

"Certainly in my experience there have been many, 
many more reported incidents of abuse since the inauguration," Ghappour said.

While the dominant media coverage of the U.S. 
torture apparatus has portrayed these tactics as 
part of a "Bush era" system that Obama has now 
ended, when it comes to the IRF teams, that is 
simply not true. "[D]etainees live in constant 
fear of physical violence. Frequent attacks by 
IRF teams heighten this anxiety and reinforce 
that violence can be inflicted by the guards at 
any moment for any perceived infraction, or 
sometimes without provocation or explanation," according to CCR.

In early February 2009, at least 16 men were on 
hunger strike at Guantanamo's Camp 6 and refused 
to leave their cells for "force feeding." IRF 
teams violently extracted them from their cells 
with the "men being dragged, beaten and stepped 
on, and their arms and fingers twisted 
painfully." Tubes were then forced down their 
noses, which one prisoner described as "torture, torture, torture."

In April, Mohammad al-Qurani, a 21-year-old 
Guantánamo prisoner from Chad managed to call 
Al-Jazeera and described a recent beating: "This 
treatment started about 20 days before Obama came 
into power, and since then I've been subjected to 
it almost every day," he said. "Since Obama took 
charge, he has not shown us that anything will change."

Al-Jazeera reported:

Describing a specific incident, which took place 
after change in the U.S. administration, 
al-Qurani said he had refused to leave his cell 
because they were "not granting me my rights," 
such as being able to walk around, interact with 
other inmates and have "normal food."
A group of six soldiers wearing protective gear 
and helmets entered his cell, accompanied by one 
soldier carrying a camera and one with tear gas, he said.

"They had a thick rubber or plastic baton they 
beat me with. They emptied out about two 
canisters of tear gas on me," he told Al-Jazeera.

"After I stopped talking, and tears were flowing 
from my eyes, I could hardly see or breathe.

"They then beat me again to the ground, one of 
them held my head and beat it against the ground. 
I started screaming to his senior 'see what he's 
doing, see what he's doing' [but] his senior 
started laughing and said 'he's doing his job.'"

In another incident after Obama's inauguration, 
prisoner Khan Tumani began smearing excrement on 
the walls of his cell to protest his treatment. 
According to his lawyer, when he "did not clean 
up the excrement, a large IRF team of 10 guards 
was ordered to his cell and beat him severely. 
The guards sprayed so much tear gas or other 
noxious substance after the beating that it made 
at least one of the guards vomit. Mr. Khan 
Tumani's skin was still red and burning from the gas days later."

The CCR has called on the Obama administration to 
immediately end the use of the IRF teams at 
Guantánamo. Horton, meanwhile, says "detainees 
should be entitled to compensation for injuries they suffered."

As the abuse continues at Guantánamo, and 
powerful congressional leaders from both parties 
and the White House fiercely resist the 
appointment of an independent special prosecutor, 
the sad fact is that the best chance for justice 
for the victims of U.S. torture may well be an ocean away in Madrid, Spain.

"The Obama administration should not need 
pressure from abroad to uphold our own laws and 
initiate a criminal investigation in the U.S.," 
says Vince Warren, CCR's executive director. "I 
hope the Spanish cases will impress on the 
president and Attorney General Eric Holder how 
seriously the rest of the world takes these 
crimes and show them the issue will not go away."

Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist who 
reports frequently for the national radio and TV 
program Democracy Now, has spent extensive time 
reporting from Iraq and Yugoslavia. He is 
currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation 
Institute. Scahill is the author of 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/156858394X/counterpunchmaga>Blackwater: 
The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary 
Army.His new website is <mailto:RebelReports.com>RebelReports.com

This article originally ran on <http://www.alternet.org/>Alternet.




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