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The National Security Archive at George Washington University

CONSORTIUM NEWS - Edited by Robert Parry


November 13, 2003

US Using 'Old Fashioned Torture' at Guantanamo

Lawyer Says Guantanamo Detainees Tortured (10/8/03 - AP via ABC News)

CANBERRA, Australia Oct. 8 -- The U.S. military has tortured terrorist suspects held without charge at the Guantanamo Bay military prison, an Australian lawyer representing some of the suspects claimed Wednesday.
U.S.-based Richard Bourke, who has been working for almost two years on behalf of dozens of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, said American military officials were using old-fashioned torture techniques to force confessions out of prisoners.

The methods "clearly" fell under the definition of torture under international conventions, he told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio in an interview from the United States.

"They are engaging in good old-fashioned torture, as people would have understood it in the Dark Ages," he said.

About 660 prisoners captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere are being held at Guantanamo without charges or access to lawyers some since January 2002. The U.S. government rarely comments on activities at the prison which has been dubbed Camp X-ray because of the strict security.

Earlier this year, U.S. officials denied using torture and said detainees are interrogated humanely, allowed to practice their religion and given good medical care.

Families are denied access and can only communicate with detainees through heavily censored mail. Human rights groups and the media have been given only limited and strictly controlled access.

Bourke told ABC radio that his claims are based on reports leaked by U.S. military personnel and from descriptions by some detainees that have been released.

"One of the detainees had described being taken out and tied to a post and having rubber bullets fired at them. They were being made to kneel cruciform in the sun until they collapsed," he said.

Media reports that many detainees have attempted suicide and are suffering mental health problems backed up claims of harsh treatment, he said.

Bourke said governments around the world must stand up to the U.S. government and demand that the United Nations investigate the reports of torture.

Almost all the detainees, from more than 40 countries, are said to be members of al-Qaida terrorist network or the ousted Afghan Taliban regime. They are to be tried by secret military tribunals. The U.S. government says they could be held until it declares an end to its "war on terrorism."

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