A Man with a Flashlight


Did Bush order mock executions?
April 11, 2007, 10:00 am
Filed under: Hell, Let's Call it Torture, The Imperial President

And if so, is he criminally liable?

This article in the Wall Street Journal describes the Guantanamo treatment of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, suspected of aiding the 9/11 hijackers. (Nod to Andrew Sullivan)

The independently corroborated treatment of Mr. Slahi includes death threats:

…a masked interrogator told Mr. Slahi he had dreamed of watching detainees dig a grave… The interrogator said he saw “a plain, pine casket with [Mr. Slahi’s] identification number painted in orange lowered into the ground.

The threat to have his mother raped:

He gave the prisoner a forged memorandum indicating that Mr. Slahi’s mother was being shipped to Guantanamo, and that officials had concerns about her safety as the only woman amid hundreds of male prisoners…

And mock execution:

Two men took a shackled, blindfolded Mr. Slahi to a boat for a journey into the waters of Guantanamo Bay. The hour-long trip apparently led Mr. Slahi to think he was to be killed and, in fear, he urinated in his pants.

Mr. Slahi also claims he was beaten, sexually humiliated, and subjected to extreme temperatures. I wouldn’t necessarily credit everything he says, but one does note that these techniques have a familiar ring.

Who gave the orders? Lt. Col. V. Stuart Couch, assigned to prosecute Mr. Slahi, realized that he had been tortured and refused to proceed. The chief prosecutor, Army Col. Bob Swann, was indignant. Their debate mentioned the president:

An impassioned debate followed, the prosecutor recalls. Col. Swann said the Torture Convention didn’t apply to military commissions. Col. Couch asked his superior to cite legal precedent that would allow the president to disregard a treaty. The meeting ended when Col. Swann asked the prosecutor to turn over the Slahi files so the case could be reassigned, Col. Couch recalls.

It seems likely that someday, perhaps soon, we will know who was responsible for this. The truth will out. Torture cannot be allowed to stand. And we will have to decide what to do about it, legally speaking.

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