Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Fly on the Wall at Gitmo: An Antidote for Compassion Fatigue

Here's an opportunity to do the right thing: via RobinElliot at Kos, via Major Barry Wingard, a Gitmo detainee's lawyer.
Let’s recap: Some guy made a couple of afghanis by selling Fayiz to our guys so that the thug-infested Bush administration could justify their fraudulent little war and all its torture-y perks.

And what did Fayiz get? This:

While in U.S. custody in Kabul in December 2001, Al-Kandari was shackled in various stress positions for as long as 36 hours at a time. He was beaten with a chain and water hose. Photographs documenting his condition have not been released.
In early 2002, Al-Kandari was transferred to Bagram and held in a roofed tent with no sides where overnight temperatures typically reached below freezing. Photographs again documented his condition, but they have never been released. [...] He was transferred to Kandahar in early 2002, ... [where] his entire body was shaved (except for a cross on his chest, which was later shaved off) and he was initially kept awake in solitary confinement for five straight days. The abuse continued and resulted in broken ribs and severe bruising documented by medical exams performed months later.
Before being placed on the plane out of Kandahar, his sound-proof headgear was lifted and a female voice whispered, "You are going to hell in GTMO." At the time, he was also drugged, sandbagged, and placed into a head harness for the 24 hour trip.
At Guantanamo, he was again shackled into stress positions for extended periods of time. He was also urinated on and subjected to sleep deprivation, strobe lights, ear piercing music, cell extractions, and extreme heat and cold conditions in his cell via temperature controls. All told, Al-Kandari has been interrogated approximately 400 times and abused throughout the time he was in U.S. custody.

Wait, sidebar: I smell a reason for releasing those pesky torture photos everyone's talking about... evidence. Sidebar over.

So... all that torture must have worked, right? I mean, who could withstand that kind of abuse and not spill what’s left of their guts, because, you know, "some" say torture works and-- What’s that? Sorry, something’s coming through my imaginary earpiece:

A Department of Defense legal review of Al-Kandari’s case found the evidence against him "is made up almost entirely of hearsay evidence recorded by unidentified individuals with no first hand knowledge of the events they describe."
In short, the U.S. learned nothing of value from its abusive treatment of Al-Kandari and in all likelihood exculpatory materials confirming Al-Kandari’s whereabouts and accounts of abuse will be classified and withheld from public view.

So what options are available to Fayiz and those like him? Not many. It all boils down to those infamous military commissions, Wingard's skills, and a judge who will believe Fayiz's testimony, because with the word "classified" popping up everywhere, that's all detainees like him have.

Sidebar #2: Per Barry Wingard, "the military is not behind the commissions." Sidebar #2 over.

However, Major Wingard did share one silver lining with me: He could get a sympathetic judge. Maybe. If he's lucky. But—and there’s always a pesky but-- delays and more delays are kicking that silver-lined opportunity down the road, and Fayiz is still in prison.

But at least he has one hell of a caring, persistent, ethical lawyer.

Vice-President Cheney insists that enhanced interrogations were only used on "hardened terrorists" after other efforts failed, that such efforts prevented the deaths of thousands, and that the U.S. never lost its moral bearings in its treatment of detainees. Al-Kandari is living proof he is wrong on all counts.


SeattleDan said...

Thanks for the post, No Blood. There will be follow-ups to the story at : on Friday.

Anonymous said...

No Blood For Hubris:

I wish I could be a perfect being, but--since I can't--I would love to see the torturers and their commanders treated to the same loving care.

the rev. paperboy said...

Well if this guy didn't "hate America" before he was abducted and imprisioned and tortured for six years, I don't think anyone would fault him for doing so now.

No Blood for Hubris said...

Yes, exactly.