Torture claims missing a certain something …

posted at 9:30 am on February 11, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The Associated Press reports that the British government lost its attempt to keep sensitive intelligence involving former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed secret despite pleas that it would damage cooperation with the US, and the courts have published a summary of what Mohamed’s advocates claim was torture at Gitmo.  The AP’s opening paragraph makes a damning statement:

Britain was forced by an appeals court Wednesday to reveal a long-secret description of how a former terrorism suspect was beaten, shackled and deprived of sleep during interrogations by U.S. agents.

Was Mohamed beaten, and shacked and deprived of sleep by US agents?  Most people would consider beatings to be torture, but not shackles or sleep deprivation.  Prisoners get shackled every day in the US, especially when transported from one location to another or for security purposes, and sleep deprivation is an interrogation technique that may not be pleasant but hardly rises to the level of torture.

The question in reading the AP report is whether the qualifier “by US agents” actually applied to the beatings — and in reading the article, in the 22nd paragraph, we discover that the alleged beatings took place in Pakistan and more torture in Morocco:

Mohamed, 31, moved to Britain as a teenager. He was arrested as a terrorist suspect in 2002 in Karachi by Pakistani forces and later transferred to Morocco, Afghanistan and in 2004 to Guantanamo Bay.

He says he was tortured in Pakistan, and that interrogators in Morocco beat him, deprived him of sleep and sliced his genitals with a scalpel.

Mohamed and his lawyers claim that the questions asked in both interrogations, especially Morocco, could only have come from British intelligence.  MI5 denies participating in torture, but the beatings and stabbings didn’t take place anywhere near Guantanamo.

Front Page takes a look at the actual report from the British court and finds a lot less than the AP advertises.  This is the entire passage:

[It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2001 as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer.

v)  It was reported that at some stage during that further interview process by the United States authorities, BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation.  The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed.

vi) It was reported that combined with the sleep deprivation, threats and inducements were made to him.  His fears of being removed from United States custody and “disappearing” were played upon.

vii) It was reported that the stress brought about by these deliberate tactics was increased by him being shackled in his interviews

viii) It was clear not only from the reports of the content of the interviews but also from the report that he was being kept under self-harm observation, that the inter views were having a marked effect upon him and causing him significant mental stress and suffering.

ix) We regret to have to conclude that the reports provide to the SyS made clear to anyone reading them that BM was being subjected to the treatment that we have described and the effect upon him of that intentional treatment.

x) The treatment reported, if had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, would clearly have been in breach of the undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972.  Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities]“

What did the US actually do to Mohamed?  They used the sleep-deprivation technique, under close supervision for any attempt at suicide, shackled him, and threatened him.  We would not use sleep deprivation in our criminal system, but that’s really the point.  Mohamed was not a suspect in a robbery, but a terrorist trained to kill Americans, which Thomas Joscelyn explains at Front Page, which makes him an unlawful combatant in a war captured abroad.  The US needed to know what terrorist plots were ready to be executed against our citizens.

Jacob Laskin scoffs at the notion that any of this amounts to “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment”:

As evidence of torture, this is far from compelling. Leaving aside the question of whether coercive interrogation techniques like waterboarding constitute “torture,” they were never used on Mohamed. The furthest that U.S. interrogators were willing to go was to deprive Mohammed of sleep – always under closely supervised conditions – and threaten – only threaten – him with the possibility of rendition – that is, that he could be sent somewhere where he really could be tortured.

Nor does the disclosure that Mohamed was shackled amount to torture. That is standard procedure for detainees interrogated at Guantanamo Bay, and it imposes no physical stress. In one section of Guantanamo Bay, for instance, detainees can sit for interrogations on a plush couch, even as they have to wear leg shackles. The latter does not significantly detract from their comfort.

It’s true that measures like sleep deprivation, even if carefully monitored, are by design unpleasant. But to conclude, as the High Court did, that this treatment qualifies as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities” is to expand the definition of torture beyond all reasonable boundaries. And while it’s possible that Mohammed did suffer from “mental stress” due to his confinement, it’s equally clear that nothing he experienced at the hands of U.S. authorities can be construed as torture. (To be sure, Mohamed has also alleged that he was tortured with a scalpel during a rendition to Morocco. That is a serious allegation. Yet the intelligence summary released this week provides no evidence for this abuse, let alone that either the British or U.S. authorities knowingly approved of it.)

Suffice it to say that the proclamations that this proves torture at Gitmo are very much overblown, assisted in no small part by some very sloppy writing at the Associated Press.


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Sleep deprivation? Would those who have been parents of a newborn baby please weigh in on this issue?

Wethal on February 11, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Threats and sleep deprivation? Who knew I was actually being tortured day after day in boot camp; I’m going to sue.

Bishop on February 11, 2010 at 9:35 AM

Med school and architecture schools are famous for sleep deprivation.
What else?

seven on February 11, 2010 at 9:36 AM

Sleep deprivation? Why do you think long haul truck drivers are so surly?

Skandia Recluse on February 11, 2010 at 9:36 AM

Terrorists are supposed to get a bye from the UK if they are captured and mishandled by another country first. And the UK doesn’t do sleep deprivation or threats.

The British are true gentlemen, which is why they’ve got to have cameras on every square inch of public thoroughfare to catch the buggers after the act…

unclesmrgol on February 11, 2010 at 9:37 AM

Why do you think long haul truck drivers are so surly?

Skandia Recluse on February 11, 2010 at 9:36 AM

Hemorrhoids?

thomasaur on February 11, 2010 at 9:39 AM

Threats and sleep deprivation? Who knew I was actually being tortured day after day in boot camp; I’m going to sue.

Bishop on February 11, 2010 at 9:35 AM

Exactly. Anything that is routinely done to our own soldiers as part of training is, ipso facto, not torture.

jwolf on February 11, 2010 at 9:39 AM

Torture

I’m for it!

If I was on the delta flight I would have tournqueted his arms and legs so he would still be able to talk,

but without arms or legs sincethry were amputated

I would sleep on a pile of rocks like a baby knowing it

Sonosam on February 11, 2010 at 9:39 AM

This is ridiculous. The Left has been screaming TORTURE for years! Now we find out that the worst offense the US can be sure to have committed is….sleep deprivation?

Cry me a river.

Mord on February 11, 2010 at 9:40 AM

At what point can we hold our own press responsible for slandering this country?

cntrlfrk on February 11, 2010 at 9:41 AM

Once again, al-AP proves its irrelevance.

Del Dolemonte on February 11, 2010 at 9:41 AM

Send him to bed without any supper and if that doesn’t work, lash him with a wet noodle.

On the other hand, if we get a Republican in custody – anything goes, waterboarding, the rack, etc.

Because the Obama “administration” knows who the real enemies of Americans are – the Republican-American community.

NoDonkey on February 11, 2010 at 9:42 AM

And most Americans, again, do not care if Terrorists were/are tortured. We don’t care.

bridgetown on February 11, 2010 at 9:43 AM

…assisted in no small part by some very sloppy intentionally misleading writing at the Associated Press.

IrishEi on February 11, 2010 at 9:43 AM

Mord on February 11, 2010 at 9:40 AM

That is not the worst, my friend.

They were also forced to listen to Madonna…LOUD!

Oh, the humanity!

cntrlfrk on February 11, 2010 at 9:43 AM

bridgetown on February 11, 2010 at 9:43 AM

I care! I want it done in the most brutal and inhumane fashion possible and I want their brains splattered on the ground once we squeeze every last ounce of information out of these vermin.

Because I care.

NoDonkey on February 11, 2010 at 9:44 AM

It seems to me that lving under sharia law is “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.”

WashJeff on February 11, 2010 at 9:44 AM

Clearly we need the Spanish Inquisition. Bring on the comfy chairs and soft cushions!

rbj on February 11, 2010 at 9:49 AM

Sleep deprivation? Would those who have been parents of a newborn baby please weigh in on this issue?

Wethal on February 11, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Newborn baby? How about a colicky baby and a wife who doesn’t work but wants nothing to do with comforting the baby? Now that feels like torture, but it’s worth every second. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

Daggett on February 11, 2010 at 9:49 AM

It’s true that measures like sleep deprivation, even if carefully monitored, are by design unpleasant. But to conclude, as the High Court did, that this treatment qualifies as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities” is to expand the definition of torture beyond all reasonable boundaries.

Ed–superb post. A frequently appearing tactic by the left is to reframe an argument–to either expand it unnecessarily and unjustly (as in the overblown “torture” argument) or to narrow it unnecessarily as to make the original context blurred and perverted.

In this instance, the term “torture” was used to define the specific context of sleep deprivation and threats. It was done unjustly, a complete disservice to our intelligence officers and their methods. If, in this instance, sleep deprivation equates to “torture”, then skipping lunch would equate to “starving.” This story needs a correction and the specific terms and definitions used by the left in the press need full examination rather than being taken at face value.

Nice work, Ed.

ted c on February 11, 2010 at 9:54 AM

Wow, his big fear was being removed from US custody, not staying in it.

LeeSeneca on February 11, 2010 at 9:55 AM

In an old Three Stooges film they did a torture scene where Moe says “get me the hose” which turned out to be panty hose. Of course the victim opened up and told everything.It worked in the movie.

docflash on February 11, 2010 at 9:59 AM

It is torture for Muslims just to be around filthy unbelievers. America tortures American Muslims everyday, just look at this outrage. And look at what happened to this jewel of diversity who was only conducting research. You are brutal and unfair to Islam America. I don’t know ho much more they can take.

BL@KBIRD on February 11, 2010 at 10:00 AM

you want real waterboarding?

take a ride to the japanese POW camps circa 1943

blatantblue on February 11, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Gitmo detainees get better medical treatment and eat better than I do.

Being a freelance writer for a music site, I also experience sleep deprivation (deadlines) and loud music (I have to listen to MANY metal bands).

Where the f*** are the libs on my situation?

foucaultsvac on February 11, 2010 at 10:01 AM

I hear the CIA has just ordered 300 copies of the Richard Simmons “Party Off The Pounds” DVD. The bastads.

Sharke on February 11, 2010 at 10:01 AM

I\’m tortured every day when I have to listen to soundbites of how clueless our president is. And his blatant lies.

loudmouth883 on February 11, 2010 at 10:01 AM

Oh, the humanity!

cntrlfrk on February 11, 2010 at 9:43 AM

Well that changes everything! BOOSH is a war criminal, fire up the international courts.

Mord on February 11, 2010 at 10:01 AM

give them a houseful of colicky babies then and call it parenthood.
How ridiculous.

ORconservative on February 11, 2010 at 10:03 AM

How about we slather them in female pig in heat juice and hand them over to a bull pig who has that lovin’ feeling?

That would look really great on YouTube.

NoDonkey on February 11, 2010 at 10:05 AM

Make them listen to 1970s bubblegum music.

Wethal on February 11, 2010 at 10:06 AM

Dude, our drill sergeants did worse to us, almost every day. Marching for 20+ miles in 100 degree hear, weighed down with weapons & equipment; waking up to blaring music; strenuous exercise for answering a question incorrectly; having to sleep on the ground in the driving rain under a cheap burlap flap; yelling in your face; being singled out for humiliation; being taken into company grade officers’ offices to be yelled at by high ranking non-commissioned officers; being forced to take critical tests on material you only covered 5 minutes ago, like dismantling & correctly reassembling complex weapons; etc.

England is nothing but a land of liberal socialists, and if they’ve a problem with how we do business, then we don’t work with them, anymore. By dissolving EUCOM, we’ll have a big troop surge, pouring all those assets into CENTCOM and some into AFRICOM. Screw the UK, and especially its stupid-looking, bench wig wearing, Salem Witch Trial reject judges.

Virus-X on February 11, 2010 at 10:08 AM

foucaultsvac on February 11, 2010 at 10:01 AM

wannnaa review a band

blatantblue on February 11, 2010 at 10:08 AM

…and sliced his genitals with a scalpel.

Ouch, ouch, OUCH!

Anyway, I find this the most interesting part:

His fears of being removed from United States custody and “disappearing” were played upon.

So, one of his biggest fears was not being in the custody of the United States? Sounds like the guy knows who the real torturers are and it ain’t us.

Kafir on February 11, 2010 at 10:08 AM

“Heat”; I’m typing on a tiny phone keyboard.

Virus-X on February 11, 2010 at 10:10 AM

The only matter of importance, here, is whether he gave up any useful information.

I don’t care how they get it, just so long as they do.

In truth, the rights of a terrorist are non-existent.

OldEnglish on February 11, 2010 at 10:12 AM

His fears of being removed from United States custody and “disappearing” were played upon.

This one says it all. Even Binyam Mohamed knew that he was safe as long as he was in United States Custody. He knew that he would be treated humanely, get excellent treatment, and three hots and a cot. The best thing that ever happened to him was getting transferred to Gitmo.

Haiku Guy on February 11, 2010 at 10:15 AM

…the proclamations that this proves torture at Gitmo are very much overblown, assisted in no small part by some very sloppy writing at the Associated Press.

Sloppiness? If their “slopiness” errors cut both ways, it might be sloppiness. But AP’s “sloppiness” virtually always cuts in favor of the political players and policies AP’s editors and management support. These aren’t coincidences.

novaculus on February 11, 2010 at 10:23 AM

Torture??? You want to fricking see torture??? Try deciding whether to jump from 82 stories or burn to death…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXnA9FjvLSU

lovingmyUSA on February 11, 2010 at 10:23 AM

Even Binyam Mohamed knew that he was safe as long as he was in United States Custody.

I don’t know, Eric Holder is known for his aggressive cuddling technique.

Also, he was in danger of being overwhelmed by big sloppy wet kisses and bored by Eric droning on and on about his agreement with his jihadi cause.

NoDonkey on February 11, 2010 at 10:32 AM

Eric holder should be necklaced for his excellent work…

Sonosam on February 11, 2010 at 11:02 AM

Thanks a helluva lot U.K.

Now as dependable a partner in guarding our intelligence as the NY Times.

Good luck with your terrorism problem, dhimmi losers.

profitsbeard on February 11, 2010 at 11:07 AM

Torture??? You want to fricking see torture??? Try deciding whether to jump from 82 stories or burn to death…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXnA9FjvLSU

lovingmyUSA on February 11, 2010 at 10:23 AM

Funny how all the 9/11 video disappeared down the memory hole, ain’t it.

And the movie about 9/11, shown once, then what? No DVD, no nothing.

Guess Bush really was the enemy…

Bruno Strozek on February 11, 2010 at 11:20 AM

Seems to me like we should bring back the Pear of Anguish to give people some perspective.

Lehosh on February 11, 2010 at 11:30 AM

Clearly we need the Spanish Inquisition. Bring on the comfy chairs and soft cushions!

rbj on February 11, 2010 at 9:49 AM

I wasn’t expecting that.

29Victor on February 11, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Real torture would be to lock the terrorist in a room with The View playing 24/7 behind a glass wall that you could not turn off…

Seven Percent Solution on February 11, 2010 at 11:40 AM

They…uh…they turned me into a newt.

29Victor on February 11, 2010 at 11:40 AM

So who do I sue for my insomnia?

CurtZHP on February 11, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Mohamed was not a suspect in a robbery, but a terrorist trained to kill Americans, which Thomas Joscelyn explains at Front Page, which makes him an unlawful combatant in a war captured abroad.

What is your evidence that he was a terrorist? If he was a terrorist, why is he now a free man?

The reason he’s free now is that there was never credible evidence that he was ever a terrorist. He has never been found guilty. Thus, in the eyes of the law, he is an innocent man.

And yes, it’s true that the men who used a razor to slash his penis did so in Morocco, not Gitmo. So your little semantic exception is technically correct (though I still think it’s grotesque to treat an innocent man the way he was treated).

But the genital mutilation occurred under the US’s extraordinary rendition program. So we must accept responsibility for his treatment.

orange on February 11, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Sliced his genitals with a scalpel? Did they circumcise him or something? I can see how that could be considered torture in his culture.

But to put the onus on the US for actions committed in Pakistan, or Morocco? I don’t theeeenk so.

NavyspyII on February 11, 2010 at 11:49 AM

After reading the article, and checking the dictionary for the meaning of the word “torture”, I did manage to find one applicable use of the word…

torture (verb) – …”to distort or pervert (language, meaning, etc.)”

Apparently, “torture” applies more to AP’s writing style than to anything the US did to detainees!

dominigan on February 11, 2010 at 12:33 PM

But the genital mutilation occurred under the US’s extraordinary rendition program interrogators in Morocco. So we must cannot accept responsibility for his treatment while in their custody.

orange on February 11, 2010 at 11:43 AM

FIFY

dominigan on February 11, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Shackles and sleep deprivation? Sounds like a Saturday night to me….

mjk on February 11, 2010 at 12:41 PM

Threats and sleep deprivation? Who knew I was actually being tortured day after day in boot camp; I’m going to sue.

Bishop on February 11, 2010 at 9:35 AM

Not to mention being in SAC while on alert.

Johan Klaus on February 11, 2010 at 12:44 PM

orange on February 11, 2010 at 11:43 AM

How many “innocent” folks who were released from Gitmo were re-captured or killed on the battlefield?

Johan Klaus on February 11, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Question. Would any progressive/liberal, congressman, or congresswoman also progressive/liberal, any aclu lawyer, or anyone else that feels moddle coddling terrorists, sit in a locked room without a weapon, and talk to any of these terrorists, unshackled? Even if it meant a direct threat to their security, and life?

I doubt it! Hypocrites!

capejasmine on February 11, 2010 at 1:03 PM

Threats and sleep deprivation? Who knew I was actually being tortured day after day in boot camp; I’m going to sue.

Bishop on February 11, 2010 at 9:35 AM

The Left argues:

1. The soveriegn American people have no say in the definition of torture; it was handed down by diplomats in 1985 in Germany and the US government can’t back out any more than Nazi generals could dispute the authority of the Allied powers.

2. The mental state of a soldier in training is so much more at ease than a prisoner of the CIA, that doing the exact same thing to the exact same result has a different MENTAL effect, so it’s really torture because mental anguish is part of torture, sez the striped pants.

Chris_Balsz on February 11, 2010 at 1:39 PM

We will never convince the Left that sleep-deprivation, shackling and threatening someone isn’t torture when it’s done by a Republican administration. I thought the terrorists were these brave “willing to die for Allah” types -apparently they are as big of wussies as the liberals.

katiejane on February 11, 2010 at 2:13 PM

Well. Unshackle him and stick him in a cell by himself and tell him since he dislikes his jailers so much you’ll send him back to Morocco. Then simply mention the fact that you forgot to give your Moroccan counterpart his birthday present. You believe he asked for a new scalpel.

Sultry Beauty on February 11, 2010 at 3:48 PM

orange on February 11, 2010 at 11:43 AM

He was definitely an unlawful combatant, which is synonymous with terrorist. He should have just been interrogated and shot, but in the west, we are soft hearted, which is synonymous with stupid.

Slowburn on February 11, 2010 at 5:51 PM