A federal court judge on Monday revealed that the brutal interrogation of an alleged “war on terror” detainee imprisoned at Guantanamo for more than seven years was videotaped and she ordered the government to turn over the materials to the prisoner’s lawyers.
Mohammed al-Qahtani was someone Bush administration officials had referred to as the “20th hijacker” of the 9/11 attacks. The government claimed the Saudi man intended to take part in 9/11, but he was denied entry into the United States by an immigration official a month before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The treatment of al-Qahtani was cataloged in an 84-page “torture log” that was leaked in 2006. The “torture log” shows that beginning in November 2002 and continuing well into January 2003, al-Qahtani was subjected to sleep deprivation, interrogated in 20-hour stretches, poked with IVs and left to urinate on himself.
From Raw Story
According to Susan Crawford, convening authority at the Office of Military Commissions, “We tortured Qahtani.”
“His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case” for prosecution said Crawford.
She added that US military interrogators repeatedly subjected Qahtani to sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a “life-threatening condition.”
“The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent,” she said.
“This was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge” to call it torture.
From a Center for Constitutional Rights media advisory
“The videotapes the government is required to produce will reveal the time period at the end of three months of intensive solitary confinement and isolation that immediately preceded the implementation of the ‘First Special Interrogation Plan,’ a regime of systematic torture techniques approved by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for use against Mr. al Qahtani.”
Back in June 2005, the Pentagon insisted that al-Qahtani had provided vital intelligence, focusing on key al-Qaeda leaders and some 30 fellow prisoners at Guantanamo whom he identified as Osama bin Laden’s bodyguards.
Now, in an eyewitness account of al-Qahtani at Guantanamo, his recently appointed American lawyer tells TIME that al-Qahtani has repudiated all of his previous statements – claiming they were extracted under brutal torture. And that repudiation is sure to fuel the growing number of challenges in American courts from the detainees at Guantanamo whom al-Qahtani fingered.
For most of his confinement at Guantanamo, al-Qahtani, like other “enemy combatants,” has been in legal limbo, never charged with a crime, unrepresented by legal counsel and without any recourse to U.S. courts.
Let’s sum up, Susan Crawford the Bush official who was the first to admit torture occurred at Guantanamo, refused to prosecute al-Qahtani. She maintained that the combination of “interrogation techniques” directly authorized by Rumsfeld, and signed off on by George Bush constituted torture.
As al-Qahtani’s lawyers work for some resolution to his 7 year imprisonment, it is suddenly revealed that his torture was captured on video.
And that the videotapes of his torture has been covered up…until now.
These were not ‘questionable techniques.” These were authorized techniques that in combination, constituted torture. And the government has been covering up the evidence of that torture.
A December 20, 2005, Army inspector general report relating to the capture and interrogation of al-Qahtani included a sworn statement by Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt, who said Secretary Rumsfeld was “personally involved” in the interrogation of al-Qahtani and spoke “weekly” with Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the commander at Guantanamo, about the status of the interrogations between late 2002 and early 2003.