U.S. Torture Policy Goes to the Top



To the Editor of THE EAGLE:


        Tony Blair, also known in the U.K. as Tory Blur and Tony Bliar, will shortly be evaluated in British elections. To help him out, President Bush -- after much prodding -- finally released five British nationals who had long been prisoners at Guantanamo. Like other prisoners, the five weren't allowed access to lawyers and visitors. Fortunately, after their arrival back home, the immediate arrest of four of the five and threats made against all five did not completely gag them, and they are speaking out. It turns out that all five -- 100 percent of those released -- agreed that torturing prisoners was routine while they were at Guantanamo. All five -- 100 percent of those released -- had been beaten repeatedly themselves.


        Methods of torture at "Gitmo" included being forced to stand naked for long periods in stress positions, and being subjected to snarling dogs and extreme temperatures. These same methods of torture were also used in Iraq.


        Two of the British detainees have charged in a letter that the torturing of prisoners is not occurring in a vacuum, but that, "this [torture] is very much part of the policy of the American military." Those carrying out the torture have been trained and ordered to do so. There is overwhelming evidence that this is the case.


        Another Guantanamo detainee, Libyan refugee and permanent British resident Omar Deghayes, has described the torture which cost him an eye. With eyes forced open, pepper spray was applied directly and rubbed in with a towel. After a long time, some sight returned to Omar's left eye but he remains totally blind in his right eye.


        Now, thanks only to a hard-won court victory of the ACLU, U.S. Army documents have revealed that pictures of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan posing with hooded and bound detainees at mock executions were destroyed following the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq. This illegal destruction of evidence was done solely to prevent us from learning more about the outrages routinely being done around the world in our name.


        It could not be clearer that U.S. government's torture of prisoners is widespread and routine, and that the torture has had the approval of the Pentagon and White House. This is in total disregard of treaties the U.S. has signed, and other U.S. laws, that forbid torture for any reason whatsoever.


        It is quite apparent why our government, one of the most wicked in the world -- and certainly the most dangerous -- continues to maintain that it will approve the International Criminal Court (ICC) Treaty only if U.S. citizens are exempted from the court's jurisdiction. The July 1998 Treaty was approved by 120 countries and rejected by only the United States and six others. The Bush administration is currently threatening some countries with punitive economic measures if they fail to agree to the exemption of U.S. citizens. Our government's leaders, so eager to place Saddam Hussein and others on trial for their criminal offenses, insist on their own freedom to commit atrocities without any fear of punishment.


        Enough with the cover-up and whitewash! It is not enough to mildly punish a few low-level participants in the torture crimes in exchange for their not pressing their right to demonstrate the culpability of higher-ups even more responsible. President Bush and Donald Rumsfeld must themselves be held accountable for these terrible crimes!



Pittsfield, Feb. 19, 2005


(As Printed in The Berkshire Eagle on March 2, 2005)