Alleged torture in terror war imperils U.S. standards of humanity

Rights on the Rack
Los Angeles Times, Mar. 6, 2003 (Commentary)
By Jonathan Turley, Jonathan Turley is a law professor at George Washington University.

In Afghanistan, it is hardly surprising to find two dead bodies with signs of torture. This week, however, a shocking U.S. military coroner’s report also suggested that the most likely suspect in the homicides was the U.S. government. Even more disturbing is emerging evidence that the United States may be operating something that would have seemed unimaginable only two years ago: an American torture facility.

While the U.S. government is quick to chide other countries for alleged human right violations, America itself has vehemently fought against an international anti-torture pact.

Credible reports now indicate that the government, with the approval of high-ranking officials, is engaging in systematic techniques considered by many to be torture.

U.S. officials have admitted using techniques that this nation previously denounced as violations of international law. One official involved in the “interrogation center” in Afghanistan said “if you don’t violate someone’s human rights, you probably aren’t doing your job.”

For months, international human rights groups have been protesting activities at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. In a closed-off part of the base, the CIA has constructed an “interrogation center” out of metal shipping containers. Last year, reports began to surface that the CIA was getting information the old-fashioned way — by breaking suspects physically, except when they inconveniently die.

Information about U.S. human rights violations and related issues is included in this web log for the following reasons:

America’s goverment frequently accuses and even threathens (e.g. with economic boycotts) countries that protect their citizens against destructive and/or fraudulent cults of violating ‘human rights.’

Meanwhile, Washington consistently and deliberately fails to address America’s serious, real human rights violations.

As a Christian, the publisher of Apologetic Index / Religion News Blog believes that he (and other Christians) should address human rights violations.

As a member of Amnesty International, the publisher of Apologetics Index / Religion News Blog is an outspoken critic of America’s manifold human rights violations.

There is a striking consistency to these accounts, including those from unnamed U.S. officials. Following the arrest of terrorist suspect Abu Zubeida last year after he was shot in the chest, groin and thigh, U.S. officials admitted withholding painkillers as an inducement to force information from him. For part of his interrogation, John Walker Lindh was held naked in an unheated metal container in the dead of winter and duct-taped to a stretcher with a bullet in his leg.

The latest allegation concerns two men who died while guests of the CIA. According to the military coroner, both men show “blunt force trauma” that contributed to their deaths. They died within a week of each other at the base, one of a pulmonary embolism and one of a heart attack. Both cases are now officially listed as homicides.

One U.S. official is quoted as predicting that “this investigation will not go well for us.”

U.S. Special Forces troops have been accused of beating suspects before turning them over for exposure to other techniques, such as being kept awake for days or forced to stand or kneel for long periods in painful positions. Witnesses also reported the use of bright lights and loud noises to reduce suspects to blithering idiots through sleep deprivation.

To the amazement of the international community, the U.S. government has openly admitted that it is now using such “stress and duress techniques.” These practices would be unconstitutional — if not criminal — if committed in the United States.

However, the government insists that it can use the techniques abroad and that they fall just short of a technical definition of torture.

Respected international organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International and other groups disagree and have condemned the techniques as flagrant violations of international law. Though not declaring them to be torture, the European Court of Human Rights found in 1978 that identical practices used by the British in Ireland were “inhuman” and in violation of various international agreements.

Among the violations is the denial of rights under the Vacation? Short break? Day trip? Get Skip-the-line tickets at GetYourGuide.


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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday March 7, 2003.
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