Don’t blog Andrew Sullivan much around here, but this is a must:
One great merit of the Schmidt report — which is otherwise riddled with worrying euphemisms, dismissal of troubling facts, exoneration of almost all commanders — is that we now know that almost every one of the Abu Ghraib techniques was practised and innovated at Guantanamo. These were not improvised out of nowhere. They were what the report calls “the creative application of authorized interrogation techniques,” and the interrogators “believed they were acting within existing guidance.” Here’s a list of techniques used at Gitmo. You might find some of them familiar:
- interrogators “brought a military working dog into the interrogation room and directed it to growl, bark and show teeth”
- some prisoners were restrained with “hand restraints connected directly to an eyebolt in the floor”
- one interrogator “tied a leash to hand chains, led [the detainee] around the room through a series of dog tricks.”
- a prisoner was pinned down while a female interrogator straddled him
- a prisoner was told he was gay and forced to dance with another male
- one prisoner had his entire head duct-taped because he refused to stop “chanting passages from the Koran;” one had his Koran removed; another had an interrogator squat over his Koran on a table, while interrogating him.
If you recall Abu Ghraib, you will remember how almost every one of these techniques was deployed on the night shift. This is a critical point. The kind of techniques used in Abu Ghraib — sexual humiliation, hooding, use of dogs, tying prisoners up in “stress positions”, mandatory nudity, humiliating prisoners for their religious faith, even the famous Lynndie England leash — were all developed at Guantanamo Bay under the strictest of supervision. What we were told were just frat-guy, crazy techniques on the night shift — had been deployed by the best trained, most tightly controlled, most professional interrogation center we have. The Schmidt report argues that, while some of this was out of bounds, it was only because of some extra creativity, not because the techniques themselves were illicit, or unauthorized by Rumsfeld and Bush. Abu Ghraib is and was policy — just policy absorbed by ill-trained, unprofessional hoodlums. But those hoodlums didn’t get their ideas from thin air. They got them from the Pentagon and the White House.
(via Political Animal)