Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Binyam Mohammed "details" released

Under compulsion from their courts, the Brits have disclosed what we revealed to them about the interrogation of Binyam Mohammed:
[It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2001 [sic] as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer.

v) It was reported that at some stage during that further interview process by the United States authorities, BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed.

vi) It was reported that combined with the sleep deprivation, threats and inducements were made to him. His fears of being removed from United States custody and “disappearing” were played upon.

vii) It was reported that the stress brought about by these deliberate tactics was increased by him being shackled in his interviews

viii) It was clear not only from the reports of the content of the interviews but also from the report that he was being kept under self-harm observation, that the inter views were having a marked effect upon him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.

ix) We regret to have to conclude that the reports provide to the SyS made clear to anyone reading them that BM was being subjected to the treatment that we have described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment.

x) The treatment reported, if had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, would clearly have been in breach of the undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972. Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities."
Sleep deprivation was of course a favorite of the Inquisition and the NKVD for obtaining confessions, true or otherwise. And death threats are clear violations of the Torture Act and/or the War Crimes Act.

The date is interesting, as Sully notes: the Bybee-Yoo torture memos were dated August 2002, and here we were using torture before then. Is that the real reason the U.S. pitched a fit about this disclosure?

... N.b. that the Brits' link says "we have alerted the court to a typographical error," which Emptywheel, correctly I think, pegs as "2001" for "2002." Post corrected. Emptywheel:
That “expert interviewer” and that “new strategy” almost certainly were associated with Mitchell and Jessen, who were at that moment pitching using their “new strategy” with Abu Zubaydah.

So this is not just proof that the US was engaging in torture before they got their CYA memo authorizing such torture. But it was proof that they were using Mohamed, in addition to Abu Zubaydah, as guinea pigs to test out that torture.

This proves the entire myth told to explain the torture memos (and Abu Zubaydah’s treatment) to be a lie.
Hopefully we'll learn more soon.

... Jim White, linked at Emptywheel's post, notes that these paragraphs had been redacted from a High Court opinion (sorry, I've never been real up on the Binyan Mohammed case). He infers that under the Convention Against Torture, the U.S. now has a duty to investigate. But (1) the treaty would probably be held not self-enforcing, and (2) an "investigation" would merely be a cover-up.

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