In June 2005, Time magazine published the interrogation log of "Detainee 063," Mohammed al-Qatani, whom his interrogators believed to be the intended 20th 9/11 hijacker. (He was detained at an Orlando airport in August 2001 by an extremely alert security official.) Among the treatment al-Qatani endured at Guantanamo Bay was forced hydration designed to pressure his bladder to the point where he must confess to working for Osama bin Laden and urinate in his pants; sleep deprivation; extremely loud music (Christina Aguilera); temperatures so cold that it slowed down his heartbeat; and the forced shaving of his beard.
As it happened, the following month I took a reporting trip to Guantanamo, where I was shepherded around the detention facility by three very nice soldiers. I was not allowed to interview any detainees. But I asked about the interrogation log. Oh, I was told, you can’t trust Time magazine. Do you really think that someone could endure as much forced hydration as that story said? Really? You’re that gullible? Come on.
And now, Bob Woodward reports, the convening authority for U.S. military commissions, Judge Susan Crawford, says unequivocally that al-Qatani was tortured:
"We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that’s why I did not refer the case" for prosecution….
Crawford, 61, said the combination of the interrogation techniques, their duration and the impact on Qahtani’s health led to her conclusion. "The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge" to call it torture, she said.
One of the things I’ll miss the least about the Bush administration is being told not to believe my lying eyes and my common sense.
Crossposted to The Streak.