Since 2002, a small part of the United States military base at Guantanamo Bay has been used to hold prisoners; the detainment exists in a legal grey area that places the prisoners outside of the jurisdiction of the Federal court system. The executive branch maintains that prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are not granted the protections recognized by the United States Bill of rights; this is a position that is not known to be confirmed by any Supreme Court decision.
The detainees are not considered prisoners of war and are not treated as common criminals giving them an unclear legal status. While these people have been held outside of the scope of all known legal systems a pattern of systemic abuse is starting to show. A recent Army report details some of the interrogation practices used at Guantanamo Bay; the report listed a number of torturous interrogation techniques, including:
Short shackling is when a person has their hands bound to an eyebolt in the floor, forcing them to either squat or lie in a fetal position.
The medical definition of hypothermia is a core body temperature of 95 degrees or less.
- Finding #4: On numerous occasions between July 2002 and October 2004, detainees were yelled at or subjected to loud music during interrogation. This includes subjects being left alone in the interrogation booth for an indefinite period of time while loud music played and strobe lights flashed.
- Finding #8: On at least two occasions between February 2002 and February 2003, two detainees were “short shackled” to the eye-bolt on the floor in the interrogation room.
- Finding #14: On several occasions between November 2002 and January 2003 interrogators would adjust the air conditioner to make the subject of the first Special Interrogation Plan uncomfortable. This includes inducing a body temperature between 95 and 97 degrees twice.
- Finding #15: From 23 Nov 02 to 16 Jan 03, the subject of the first Special Interrogation Plan was interrogated for 18-20 hours per day for 48 of the 54 days, with the opportunity for a minimum of four hours rest per day.
- Finding #16e: On 20 Dec 02, an interrogator tied a leash to the subject of the first Special Interrogation Plan’s chains, led him around the room, and forced him to perform a series of dog tricks.
- Finding #16f: On 20 Dec 02, an interrogator forced the subject of the first Special Interrogation Plan to dance with a male interrogator.
- Finding #16g: On several occasions in Dec 02, the subject of the first Special Interrogation Plan was subject to strip searches. These searches, conducted by the prison guards during interrogation, were done as a control measure on direction of the interrogators.
Fourth Geneva Convention
Why does the Bush Administration ignore the Fourth Geneva Convention which deals specifically with civilians in armed conflicts?
Supporters of the detention argue that constitutional rights have never been afforded for prisoners of war or non-U.S. citizens. This line of argument ignores the U.S. ratification of international treaties that ban torture or the shipping of prisoners to countries where they will be tortured. The Bush administration argues that the Third Geneva Convention does not apply to perceived Al Quaeda or Taliban fighters. This argument ignores the Fourth Geneva Convention which deals explicitly with civilians. Critics of U.S. policy say the government has violated the Conventions in attempting to create a distinction between ‘prisoners of war’ and ‘illegal combatants’.
A military investigation confirms the use of torture at Guantanamo Bay.
- U.S. Said to Overstate Value of Guantanamo Detainees from the New York Times
- Guantanamo torture and humiliation still going on, says shackled Briton from The Guardian