Detainees Accuse GIs Of Torture

Shackled Taliban and al-Qaida prisoners in orange jumpsuits, sit in holding area, Guantanamo, photo AP

Eleven detainees say American troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan abused them before they were sent to the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, allegations that include beatings with chains, electric shock and sodomy, according to a lawyer's notes that were recently declassified and released Monday.

Some of the men say they falsely confessed to being members of Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime or the al Qaeda terror network to make the abuse stop, said Tom Wilner, a lawyer for the 11 Kuwaitis being held in the prison camp at the U.S. Navy base in eastern Cuba.

Human rights groups and defense lawyers have long charged that some of the information that led to incarcerations at Guantanamo Bay was obtained through abuse or torture. Many of the 545 prisoners have been held for more than three years, most without charge.

Maj. Michael Shavers, a Pentagon spokesman, said the government would be issuing a statement later Monday in response to questions by The Associated Press about the Kuwaitis' accusations.

The government has denied the use of torture, but multiple investigations into abuse of detainees in Afghanistan and Guantanamo are under way.

Although most of 11 Kuwaitis say physical abuse stopped once they arrived at Guantanamo, all complained of being locked in their cells with scant reading materials and little contact with the outside world or current events.

"At Guantanamo, the physical abuse — at least for Kuwaitis — has stopped, but there has been a switch to mental torture," Wilner said Monday during a telephone conference call from Washington. "Charles Manson has much better prison conditions than these men."

Wilner and other attorneys for the Kuwaitis were allowed to interview the prisoners for the first time in December and January, after the Supreme Court ruled last June that foreigners detained as enemy combatants at Guantanamo could challenge their imprisonment.

Wilner last visited his clients Jan. 10-13. He and other attorneys are required to surrender attorney-client notes before leaving the U.S. base. The notes are then sealed and sent to a secure facility in Arlington, Virginia, where lawyers must ask for them to be unclassified. The attorneys must also get government permission to speak about their conversations.

Some of Wilner's clients range from a young man who is accused of being Osama bin Laden's spiritual adviser to a low-level member of the Taliban. None have been charged.

One detainee, according to Wilner's notes, said: "The American soldiers kept saying, 'Are you Taliban or are you al Qaeda?' 'Are you Taliban or al-Qaeda!' They kept hitting me, so eventually I said I was a member of the Taliban." The detainees did not want to be identified by name.

Another Kuwaiti told Wilner he was held by U.S. troops in Afghanistan at bases in Bagram and Kandahar where he was hooded, tied with chains, hung by his wrists and stripped in front of female guards. He also said his interrogator forced him to sign a statement, but Wilner said the government has not provided him with any statement.

One Kuwaiti said he was sure he would be killed, Wilner's notes said.

Another Kuwaiti described how he confessed after having metal paddles placed under his arms and shocked in Afghanistan. Another said he was beaten so badly his ribs were broken. Some said they were beaten with chains.

One said U.S. troops in Afghanistan pulled down his pants and sodomized him with an object.

"One consistent theme, even at Guantanamo, has been religious humiliation," Wilner said.
  • Joel Roberts

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