Archive for Friday, November 5, 2004

U.S. offers details of Cuba prison abuse cases

November 5, 2004


— A female interrogator ran her fingers through a prisoner's hair and sat in his lap, a barber gave reverse mohawks and a detainee was forced to kneel so many times he was bruised, the U.S. government says in the most detailed accounting of eight abuse cases at its Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects.

Those responsible for the abuse have been demoted, reprimanded or sent for more training, according to an 800-word U.S. military response to a written query from The Associated Press.

Allegations of mistreatment at Guantanamo, where 550 terror suspects have been held for nearly three years, surfaced after the abuse scandal broke last year at the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where pictures showed beatings and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners.

The details of abuse at Guantanamo come as lawyers for several prisoners challenge evidence presented by the government, saying some could have been obtained by force.

Only four prisoners have been formally charged at Guantanamo, where most are held without charge or access to lawyers. The military has reported 34 suicide attempts among detainees, though none has been reported since January.

Guantanamo's new commander says lessons have been learned from past abuses cases and troops are treating detainees humanely with a rigorous system of checks and balances.

"They've not been mistreated, they've not been tortured in any respect," Army Brig. Gen. Jay Hood said in an interview Wednesday.

Human rights monitors are not convinced.

"We're confident that there's more information out there that hasn't been released," said Jameel Jaffer of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has obtained nearly 6,000 documents about procedures at U.S.-run prisons. He was in Guantanamo to observe pretrial hearings.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, now in charge of U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, commanded the Guantanamo prison from November 2002 to March 2004 with a mandate to get better intelligence. Most abuses reported in August by James R. Schlesinger, who headed a U.S. Congressional committee to investigate abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, occurred under Miller's watch.

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