June 17, 2007

Desire to Hold Detainees Motivates Torture

The US military in Iraq has rules. For example, there were apparently rules against having non-trained interrogators conduct interrogations. So, according to pfc. Evan Knappenberger...
We didn’t call them interrogations. The terminology had to be changed, as is the case with many things we do in the military that we’re not really allowed to do. If you change the name, you can – you are allowed to do it but, because it’s not – it’s the same action, a different name. We call them tactical questionings.

Another set of military rules determines how to handle detainees. In a response to a question from DemocracyNow's Amy Goodman about who's in the room during a "tactical questioning" session, Knappenberger describes his experience:

Well, I can’t really go into specifics, but typically there would be one or two soldiers. At times it would be nobody more than two junior enlisted soldiers, and an Iraqi interpreter, and the suspect.

When asked about the kinds of questions asked he replied by describing the 24-hour rule:

the rule was we could hold these guys for 24 hours without doing any paperwork on them. And at the end of that 24 hours, if we had enough on them,... we’d keep them in. Otherwise we had to release them.

Basically, it's a rule that keeps one-day detentions secret by having no paper work. But, Knappenbergers' next statement that is even more troubling:

The problem then became getting something out of them to keep them.

Hmmm.... Imagine young, junior enlisted soldiers, who likely feel angry about their situation, trying to "get something" on a detainee to "justify" holding them longer. It's a formula for abusive treatment, that is, torture.

Take Action:

If you feel a responsibility to bring this flawed situation to someone's attention, you might consider contacting the US Department of Defense.

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