Top US official says military used torture

January 15th, 2009 - 6:00 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 15 (DPA) A top US official has for the first time publicly stated that a suspect incarcerated at the Guantanamo Bay military prison camp was tortured, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.Susan J. Crawford, who was the top Bush Administration official deciding on whether suspects at the camp should be brought to trial, told the paper that she decided against prosecuting Saudi national Mohammed al-Qahtani because his interrogation met the legal definition of torture.

The paper quoted her as saying that al-Qahtani, who allegedly planned to participate in the Sep 11, 2001 attacks on the US but was denied entry into the country, was subjected to prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and exposure to cold that placed him in a “life threatening condition”.

“The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent,” said Crawford, a former inspector general of the Pentagon.

“You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive,” she was quoted as saying.

She said it was the “medical impact” that pushed her “over the edge” to call it torture.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said it remains the policy of the Bush administration to prohibit torture.

“Let me just make sure it’s clear and I’ll say it on the record one more time, that it has never been the policy of this president or this administration to torture,” Perino said.

The report said that al-Qahtani was also threatened with a military dog, forced to wear women’s underwear, was led around a room on a leash and forced to perform dog tricks.

The report came out amid growing certainty that president-elect Barack Obama will as one of his first acts issue an executive order to close the notorious prison camp.

Obama is under huge pressure from human rights groups to close Guantanamo, but has also conceded that closing it is quite complicated and will take some time.

Crawford said that the harsh techniques used against al-Qahtani were approved by then-defense secretary Donald H Rumsfeld. “A lot of this happened on his watch,” she said.

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