Saturday, October 02, 2004

The New York Times > Washington > Briton Held at Cuba Base Cites Torture

The New York Times > Washington > Briton Held at Cuba Base Cites Torture:
"A British detainee being held at the Guantánamo Naval Base in Cuba said in a declassified letter released Friday that he had been a victim of 'vindictive torture and death threats' since January 2002.

The 36-year-old detainee, Moazzam Begg, said he had been held in solitary confinement since Feb. 8, 2003, and claimed to have been 'partially witness' - a phrase he did not explain - to the killing of two detainees at the American air base at Bagram in Afghanistan."

In the letter, which includes a long list of demands like repatriation, Mr. Begg said he was innocent of any crime and had never been a member of Al Qaeda. He was nonetheless abducted from Pakistan by "U.S. intelligence and law enforcement'' in January 2002, he said, and taken to Afghanistan.

"During several interviews,'' he wrote, "particularly - though unexclusively - in Afghanistan, I was subjected to pernicious threats of torture, actual vindictive torture and death threats, amongst other coercively employed interrogation techniques."

"Interviews were conducted in an environment of generated fear, resonant with terrifying screams of fellow detainees facing similar methods," he said. "In this atmosphere of severe antipathy towards detainees was the compounded use of racially and religiously prejudiced taunts."

"This culminated, in my opinion, with the deaths of two fellow detainees at the hands of U.S. military personnel,'' Mr. Begg added, "to which I myself was partially witness.''

International support for the war on terrorism is weakening because of human rights abuses by the United States The United States is far from the worst human rights abuser, but Washington has so much power today that when it flouts human rights standards it damages human rights causes worldwide.

Even when the U.S. government does try to promote human rights, its authority is undermined by its refusal to be bound by the standards it preaches to others. From its rejection of the Geneva Conventions to its misuse of the 'enemy combatant' designation, from its threatened use of substandard military commissions to its misuse of immigration laws to deny criminal suspects their rights, Washington has waged war on terrorism as if human rights were not a constraint.
con·cept: The New York Times > Washington > Briton Held at Cuba Base Cites Torture