Blog Archive

Blog Archive – April, 2009

What was really going on at Guantanamo Prison?

April 01, 2009

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Guantanamo Bay Prison will close. But what about the files—records of the treatments or ‘experiments’ that went on there?

Don’t expect us to believe that detailed records those thousands of days of interrogations were not carefully amassed. Whether or not the prisoners are guilty of any war crimes, whether they will be released or not, the managers of this torture center have doubtless accumulated hundreds of thousands of pages—not to mention the videos and audio files-- of their ‘sessions’ with the prisoners. I speak not of pages of confessions, but pages of ‘observations’. What is to be done with this material? And do these have some ‘scientific’ value beyond any putative security purpose?

Let us be honest: as abhorrent a thought as it may be to us, torture and interrogation are could be viewed by some as a ‘science’. Careful records of those activities are made. We learn how ‘treatments’ are often systematically applied, reapplied, and applied again. Some reports by former prisoners speak of repeated torture sessions. They are retuned to their cells, then called out and interrogated again, with the same questions, over the over. They tell of promises made, or threats. We learn about the rigorous procedures applied by security staff when prisoners do not ‘behave’. We know about the involvement of ‘doctors’, perhaps psychologists, and of video tapings (for security purposes?). We learn that torture is applied psychologically and physically.

Yes, these ugly, shameful, illegal sessions may be used to secure ‘information’. But what prison needs years to interrogate individuals, using whatever means?

To me, procedures applied through such a sustained program suggest something more sinister than has been spoken of. I suggest the real aim of the torture and captivity was not primarily to extract information. Guantanamo became an “experimental center” on human behavior—specifically the behavior of Muslim men. Information sought was about how these people respond to various torture techniques, what reveals of their faith-- Islam.

Perhaps never in modern history have western authorities had what they might view as an opportunity to understand what they might consider to be ‘an alien religion’. Maybe some of the violence against these men served a masochistic purpose for some guards. Approached more coldly, applications could be conducted with the aim of discovering, for example, how these ‘aliens’ can be humiliated, enraged, converted? For those who resist, the jailers want to discover how their faith help motivates them, protects or defends them?

Experiments on prisoners were conducted in the not distant past. Is America capable of such things today?

 

[ What was really going on at Guantanamo Prison? ]


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