Torture In The Brig

The Pentagon itself was worried about the way Chimnpy’s detainees were being handled in South Carolina.

A previously undisclosed Pentagon report concluded that the three terrorism suspects held at a brig in South Carolina were subjected to months of isolation, and it warned that their “unique” solitary confinement could be viewed as violating U.S. detention standards.

According to a summary of the 2004 report obtained by The Washington Post, interrogators attempted to deprive one detainee, Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri, a Qatari citizen and former student in Peoria, Ill., of sleep and religious comfort by taking away his Koran, warm food, mattresses and pillow as part of an interrogation plan approved by the high-level Joint Forces Command.

Interrogators also prevented the International Committee of the Red Cross from visiting at least one detainee, according to the report, which noted evidence of other unspecified, unauthorized interrogation techniques.

The report by the Navy’s inspector general was presented to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in May 2004 and was declassified in 2005. It was the first to raise the question of mistreatment of alleged enemy combatants inside the United States.

Its details about conditions at the Navy brig in 2004 could prove critical to the fate of two of the “enemy combatant” detainees who spent years in the prison: Marri, the only one of the three who remains there and is facing the prospect of a special military trial, and Jose Padilla, a Brooklyn-born U.S. citizen now facing criminal charges in Miami.

Attorneys for Padilla have argued in recent court filings that any abusive interrogation methods used on their client may mean that his statements to government agents were coerced and, therefore, inadmissible in his trial. He is accused of engaging in a conspiracy to kill U.S. citizens and provide material support to terrorists abroad.


Marri remains at the brig awaiting an appeals court ruling on whether he will be tried in a U.S. court or by a military commission, as the government requested last month. He sued the government last year over the conditions of his confinement, alleging that for 16 months in 2003 and 2004, he had been barred from contact with anyone but guards delivering food, causing his mental state to deteriorate.

Thiessen wrote in his summary that the Joint Forces Command had approved that “one detainee in Charleston has Koran, mattress, and pillow removed and is fed cold MRES as part of interrogation plan.” He also noted concerns about isolation: “Limited number and unique status of detainees in Charleston precludes interaction with other detainees. Argument could be made that this constitutes isolation.”

Extended solitary confinement can be considered a form of inhumane treatment. In 2003, Rumsfeld specified the use of isolation as an interrogation tactic, but he cautioned that its use required detailed plans and approvals from superiors for the length of time. His memo warned that use of isolation for more than 30 days was atypical, and that nations that consider detainees subject to prisoner-of-war protections may view this technique as “inconsistent with the requirements of Geneva [Article] III.”

3 thoughts on “Torture In The Brig

  1. Yeah, but the U.S. doesn’t have to follow the Geneva Conventions with regard to the detainees, right? Isn’t that what that new act said? My soul is sick with this stuff. I cannot believe I live in a country which condones torture.

  2. I can’t believe that we, as a country, are giving a pass to the war criminals in charge who approved this violation of the US Constitution and the Geneva conventions. By not impeaching them, or at the very least, doing the investigations needed to flesh out the story about their crimes, we are all complicit in these crimes. But, I don’t hear any outcry for impeachment hearings to start.

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