Red Cross Report: Medical Officers ‘Participated in Torture’

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A confidential report by the International Committee of the Red Cross has revealed that medical officers and health personnel supervised, and in some cases assisted as detainees were deprived of food, exposed to extreme temperatures, and subjected to waterboarding. A copy of the 2007 report was posted on a magazine web site Monday night. The report quotes one medical official telling a detainee: “I look after your body only because we need you for information.”

 

The new details of alleged CIA interrogation practices are contained in a 43-page volume written by ICRC officials who were given unprecedented access to the CIA’s’high-value detainees’ in 2006. Excerpts of the report had been leaked previously, and the entire document was made public for the first time on Monday evening by author Mark Danner, a journalism professor, on the New York Review of Books online site.

The ICRC experts have codified the CIA interrogation methods into 12 basic techniques — with each specific method combined with other methods — as follows:

* Suffocation by water poured over a cloth placed over the nose and mouth…
* Prolonged stress standing position, naked, held with the arms extended and chained above the head…
* Beatings by use of a collar held around the detainees’ neck and used to forcefully bang the head and body against the wall…
* Beating and kicking, including slapping, punching, kicking to the body and face…
* Confinement in a box to severely restrict movement…
* Prolonged nudity…this enforced nudity lasted for periods ranging from several weeks to several months…
* Sleep deprivation…through use of forced stress positions (standing or sitting), cold water and use of repetitive loud noises or music…
* Exposure to cold temperature…especially via cold cells and interrogation rooms, and…use of cold water poured over the body or…held around the body by means of a plastic sheet to create an immersion bath with just the head out of water.
* Prolonged shackling of hands and/or feet…
* Threats of ill-treatment, to the detainee and/or his family…
* Forced shaving of the head and beard…
* Deprivation/restricted provision of solid food from 3 days to 1 month after arrest…

The ICRC report further clarifies the report’s frequent use of the term ‘ill-treatment’:

The general term “ill-treatment” has been used throughout the following section, however, it should in no way be understood as minimising the severity of the conditions and treatment to which the detainees were subjected. Indeed, as outlined in Section 4 below, and as concluded by this report, the ICRC clearly considers that the allegations of the fourteen include descriptions of treatment and interrogation techniques — singly or in combination — that amounted to torture/and or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Furthermore, nine of the fourteen detainees reported that they had been subjected to threats of ill-treatment that included waterboarding, electric shocks, infection with HIV, sodomy, arrest and rape of family, torture, being brought close to death, and interrogation sessions where “no rules applied.”

The Washington Post reports:

The ICRC report was based on accounts made separately to agency investigators by individual detainees, all of whom had been kept in isolation before the interviews, the document states. CIA officials have confirmed that three of the detainees were subjected to waterboarding, a technique that simulates drowning.

The CIA had no immediate comment on the report. Previously, top Bush administration officials defended the interrogation methods, saying they were legal and necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. A U.S. official, commenting on a leak of portions of the report in March, said: “It is important to bear in mind that the report lays out claims made by the terrorists themselves.”

Among the conclusions noted in the ICRC report:

“That the US authorities investigate all allegations of ill-treatment and take steps to punish the perpetrators, where appropriate, and to prevent such abuses from happening again.”

The full ICRC report is available here(pdf).

–Diane Sweet

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