Senate wants Gitmo 'torture' videos, too
Videotapes that ex-inmates say show guards beating prisoners at the U.S.
military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been reviewed by
the inspector general of the Navy and will be provided to senate
investigators, a military spokesman told United Press International.
officials insist that detainees are treated and interrogated humanely at
Guantanamo and that any abuse is immediately reported and punished.
Nonetheless, news of the existence of the tapes raises the prospect of more
images of alleged U.S. brutality emerging, broadening and deepening the
scandal over what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld called the
"radioactive" pictures of detainees being abused at the now twice-notorious
Abu Ghraib prison complex in Iraq.
One set of the Guantanamo allegations centers on the actions of the
Immediate Response Force, a special team of guards tasked to deal with
detainee misconduct and violence. In recent media interviews and letters to
U.S. senators, three Britons who were held at the camp until their release
in March 2004 described several incidents in which they say the team
savagely assaulted inmates.
"They pepper-sprayed me in the face. ... They tied me up like a beast and
then they were kneeling on me, kicking and punching," Tarek Dergoul, one of
the three, told the Observer newspaper in London Sunday.
The allegations were dismissed by the Pentagon Wednesday. "These accounts
are not credible," a Defense Department official who asked not to be named
told UPI. "If they were credible, they would have been investigated and the
Lt. Col. Leon H. Sumpter, the spokesman for the Joint Task Force that
runs Camp Delta, the detention and interrogation center at Guantanamo,
confirmed to UPI that all the interventions by the special team were
videotaped "to ensure that only the minimum force necessary is employed."
He added in an e-mail message that the teams -- which receive
"specialized training on how to ... use the minimum force necessary to
overcome the misconduct" -- know they are being filmed.
Sumpter said that Naval Inspector General Vice Adm. Albert T.
Church had reviewed several of the tapes during a visit to the base earlier
this month and had taken some of them away with him.
At a subsequent media briefing, Church stressed that his two-day visit
was a review, not an inspection, and that "you can't be 100 percent
confident of what your findings are when you have that little time to do the
Church said that he was aware of eight incidents over the past two years,
including one in which a detainee was assaulted after he had been subdued by
the IRF team. All had been reported up the chain of command and swiftly
dealt with in proper fashion, he said. None approached the level of violence
described by the three former detainees.
He said he had urged Rumsfeld to follow up his brief visit by looking in
more detail at some issues raised by the Red Cross and by "reaching back" to
interview personnel who were stationed at the base prior to the current team
being deployed nine or 10 months ago.
The tapes have also been requested by senators seeking to resolve the
lingering questions about how widespread the kind of abuse seen at Abu
"These tapes may help resolve some of the uncertainties about these
allegations," said an aide to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who requested the
tapes in a letter to Rumsfeld on Monday. Sumpter said that he had no
information about the request, but the task force would always "comply fully
with all authorized requests."
"If the incidents described (by Dergoul and the others) really happened,
it suggests that some of the same cruel and degrading treatment that we know
about at Abu Ghraib also happened at Guantanamo," the aide said.
suggest that it was much more pervasive than the administration has
Lawyers for the three men say the same techniques of stress and duress
and sexual humiliation revealed by the pictures from Abu Ghraib were used at
Barbara Olshansky, assistant legal director of the New York-based Center
for Constitutional Rights, represents two other British ex-detainees, Shafiq
Rasul and Asif Iqbal. She said last week that her clients were often taunted
by female personnel and menaced by dogs while being held naked in the same
way the notorious pictures from Abu Ghraib show detainees there being
Olshansky said the men's treatment was a matter of
"the policy of the
American military in handling all these situations." Of the men's treatment
at Guantanamo Bay, she said, "It appeared to them that this was the
Olshansky suggested that there was a lot more photographic material at
Guantanamo than just that of the incidents involving the IRF teams.
Her clients were "videotaped and photographed during the duration of
their detention," she said.
source: UPI - 5/19/2004