I was pleased to be asked to appear on the successful RT news program The Alyona Show earlier today. The interview was offered as a follow-up to an investigatory article published at Truthout last week, which showed that all protestations by Donald Rumsfeld and U.S. government authorities aside, the U.S. military did engage in torture remarkably similar to waterboarding, if not waterboarding itself. An accompanying article was also posted here at The Dissenter.
Alyona Minkovski is one of a handful of broadcasters who have been following the torture scandal and the ongoing US wars abroad, bringing on experts with a point of view seldom or never heard on other mainstream news programs. Keith Olbermann also did a segment on August 4 for Current TV, with commentary by Jeremy Scahill, on my investigation into DoD water torture, remarking that "our understanding of our history of torture by this country has just been advanced by this story."
My investigation, based on multiple detainee accounts, news reports, doctor review of selected Guantanamo medical records, testimony before a Congressional committee, and Department of Justice and Department of Defense investigations, revealed that a number of detainees at different DoD sites, including Guantanamo, were held down and had streams of water from a hose directed for minutes at a time between their mouth and nose. Other detainees had their heads stuffed into toilets or buckets of water. The Truthout article also detailed instances in which military officials -- and in one case, former Vice President Dick Cheney himself -- requested or directed that waterboarding take place.
More Rumsfeld Lies About Whether He "Approved" Waterboarding or Not
Donald Rumsfeld claims that he rejected the use of waterboarding when it was suggested to him in a memo in late 2002, writing in his recent memoir, "When military interrogators at Guantanamo Bay sent up their chain of command a request to use waterboarding in late 2002, I rejected it."
But the truth is DoD's legal counsel, William Haynes, recommended in a memo in November 2002 a number of coercive interrogation techniques, noting that waterboarding "may be legally available", though he advised against its use, as well as a few other highly coercive torture techniques "at this time." Rumsfeld signed off on the memo. He did not reject Haynes' characterization that waterboarding "may be legally available." Yet Rumsfeld must have been aware that numerous legal experts within DoD itself and its various service branches had serious doubts about its legality.
Given that the US public has been told to accept the narrative that waterboarding was restricted to the CIA, and to only (!) three victims of CIA torture, I've decided to continue with this investigation with the aim of correcting this faulty narrative. As I wrote in my Dissenter piece, "the use of water torture and waterboarding or quasi-waterboarding can only represent a pattern of such kinds of torture, which has been kept out of the public eye through a combination of secrecy, and artfully framing the issue around a definition of waterboarding that is meant to exclude examination of the full use of such water-drowning torture."
Meanwhile, since I wrote the original Truthout story, I've found at least four more cases of DoD "water treatment" or "water torture," which involved the submersion of DoD prisoners into water, or the forced choking of detainees with application of water. I'll be posting more on this in an upcoming article. But I should note that even formal, CIA-style waterboarding may have also taken place.
In an interview with The Talking Dog in May 2007, one of the attorneys for the Guantanamo detainees, Brent Mickum, who also represents Abu Zubaydah, explained what he heard about waterboarding at Guantanamo:
After my recent C-Span appearance, someone called me and spoke to me at length, telling me (without giving his name) that he was a guard at the GTMO camps. He told me that he and other guards were instructed to brutalize prisoners. He confirmed that water-boarding, which he called “drown-proofing” took place. This individual knew extensive details of the camp layout and the names of military personnel. Eventually, the full story will be released and people will be shocked at the extent of the depravity.In the video accompanying this post, I explain to Alyona why the US government has played around with the semantics of what is waterboarding, why this issue has not been investigated officially, and why it is Congress has refused to act on this information, even when it was formally presented before them. -- I should add that it was a pleasure to be interviewed by someone as well-informed and also passionate about the issue as Alyona clearly was.