Bush Scandals List

343. Torture in Afghanistan in 2003

Material acquired by the ACLU through a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request and released April 16, 2008 show that torture occurred at a detention center in Gardez, Afghanistan run by Special Forces. Previously, personnel had admitted using techniques derived from the military’s SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) program which seeks to prepare trainees for brutal treatment they might face if captured. This included open handed slapping.

The FOIA documents show that much more went on than this. They cover a criminal investigation undertaken in 2004 concerning the treatment of 8 prisoners in March 2003. They relate how these prisoners were doused with cold water, made to kneel outside in freezing conditions, and kicked and punched in the kidneys, nose, and knees if they moved. One of them, Jamal Nasser died. The military concluded his death occurred due to a “stomach ailment” although no autopsy was performed. The documents also indicate that unnamed prisoners were sodomized. Despite this, a 2006 military review found that allegations of torture were unsupported although there was evidence of “misconduct that warrants further action.”

What this episode says is that the culture of torture and mistreatment of detainees was already well established 7 months before the events at Abu Ghraib began.

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