Wednesday, May 20, 2009
While Obama and the US Congress refuse to hold Bush-era torturers accountable, a Spanish judge fights for accountability and uncovers more US atrocities.
By Jeremy Scahill
On Friday, I wrote a piece for AlterNet on how the Obama administration is continuing to use a notorious military police unit at Guantanamo that regularly brutalizes unarmed prisoners, despite Obama’s pledge to uphold the Geneva Convention. This force officially known as the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF) has been labelled the “Extreme Repression Force” by Gitmo prisoners. Its members were also characterized as the “Black Shirts of Guantanamo” by human rights lawyer Michael Ratner. The IRF force is “an extrajudicial terror squad that has regularly brutalized prisoners outside of the interrogation room, gang beating them, forcing their heads into toilets, breaking bones, gouging their eyes, squeezing their testicles, urinating on a prisoner’s head, banging their heads on concrete floors and hog-tying them — sometimes leaving prisoners tied in excruciating positions for hours on end.”
There has been very little public attention focused on this force. But, as I noted in my story, this unit could potentially be subjected to legal scrutiny, even if the Congress and Justice Department refuse to do their jobs. That’s because one of the men brutalized by this force is a primary figure in the (largely ignored by the US media) Spanish investigation—a British resident named Omar Deghayes. (See my article, “Little Known Military Thug Squad Still Brutalizing Prisoners at Gitmo Under Obama,” for more on this story.)
Deghayes’s torture, including under the IRF Teams at Guantanamo, was highlighted in Spanish Judge Balthazar Garzon’s criminal investigation into the US torture program. A total of five Spanish citizens or residents were held by the US at Guantanamo. Testimony of four of those men is cited by the Spanish investigators. In addition to Deghayes, the men are: Hamed Abderraman Ahmed, Lahcen Ikassrien and Jamiel Abdulatif Al Banna. (An English translation of the Spanish writ was recently released by the Center for Constitutional Rights and can be accessed here.)...(Click for remainder.)