Two former inmates at Guantánamo Bay have said that they were either subjected to or witnessed some of the same methods of harsh interrogation seen in pictures taken at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. They said that detainees at the Cuba base have been interrogated while naked, chained to the floor, and “molested” by women.
The two men, Shafiq Rasul and Asif Iqbal, who were released from Camp Delta in March and remain free in Britain, wrote an open letter to President Bush last week saying that they were “kicked and beaten” by U.S. soldiers and interrogated with guns held to their head, soon after their arrest in Afghanistan over two years ago. A lawyer for the two had no comment on why the Britons were in Afghanistan.
Once at Guantánamo Bay, they said they were interrogated for up to twelve hours at a time, while shackled and chained to the floor. Meals were irregular, and some days, they wrote, they were not fed. “Sometimes dogs were brought in to frighten us,” the letter says, adding that loud music, freezing temperatures, and strobe lights were all part of the interrogation regime.
Rasul and Iqbal also wrote that they witnessed “a number of brutal assaults upon prisoners,” including beatings by a group of guards known as the Extreme Reaction Force (ERF). These beatings were known as “ERFing”.
“We should point out that there were and, no doubt, still are cameras everywhere in the interrogation areas,” they wrote.
A Spokesperson for the Pentagon, Lieutenant Commander Barbara Burfeind, told the Voice that “credible allegations will be investigated and reported to the proper authorities.”
“I think much of what happened in Guantánamo has been exported to Iraq,” said Steven Watt, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. The group filed an appeal challenging the legality of Rasul and Iqbal’s detention before the two were released. “I don’t think the Americans are going to change their methods,” he said. “That’s seen by ensconcing General [Geoffrey] Miller in Iraq. I don’t think you’ll see them open their doors to human rights organizations. And [oversight] shouldn’t be left to internal reviews.”