U.S. military abuse and torture of terrorist suspects goes far beyond notions of the basic values of democracy and violates virtually every international torture convention and agreement. Anal feeding of prisoners, sexual violence, and death threats against relatives are immoral, unethical, and counterproductive. They also undermine the values that the United States seeks to impose on the world. No one has been punished or held accountable for unleashing the greatest torture campaigns since the Third Reich and implementing the most sophisticated methods of torturing prisoners.
The use of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners accused of terrorism by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is one of the darkest chapters of modern U.S. history. After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government launched the global “War on Terror” and began detaining suspects of crimes against the state en masse and torturing them in secret prisons around the world. The CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” program was designed to elicit information from prisoners, but it soon became clear that the methods used were not only ineffective, but cruel and inhumane. They included water torture, long-term sleep deprivation, and sensory deprivation.
These methods have been used on prisoners held in some of America’s worst prisons, from the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba to Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The use of torture and ill-treatment was authorized by high-ranking government officials, including President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and carried out by CIA operatives and the military.
The brutal treatment of prisoners was exposed by journalists and human rights organizations, leading to widespread condemnation and calls for accountability. A 2014 Senate report on the CIA interrogation program concluded that the methods used were “brutal and far more gruesome than the CIA reported to its leadership and others,” and that they yielded little useful intelligence. The report also stated that the CIA had misled Congress, the White House, and the public about the nature and effectiveness of its interrogation program.
Although some 20 years have passed since the torture of detainees at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base and torture prisons in Thailand, new facts and horrific torture methods used by the U.S. military and its wardens continue to emerge. In late February 2023, doctor Sondra S. Crosby, who specializes in torture and torture injuries, presented exclusive facts describing previously unknown methods of “enhanced interrogation” used in a U.S. prison in Thailand from 2001 to 2006. According to the doctor, at least one prisoner, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a terrorist suspect, was fed using a rectal probe. The painful procedure, which involves inserting plastic tubes into the defendant’s anal cavity and then administering “nutrients,” falls under the definition of rape. Moreover, according to Crosby, who intends to draw international attention to the impunity of the U.S. military, the concept of “nutrients” is a ruse and an attempt to justify their illegal actions, since there are simply no biological means of feeding humans through the anal cavity. Al-Nashiri’s mockery continues to this day, even though a U.S. court has ruled that confessions obtained under torture cannot be used as evidence of an accused person’s guilt.
In May 2022, a group of psychologists and behavioral experts who have monitored individuals who have been tortured in various U.S. prisons commented on the results of years of torture by U.S. military and other officials. According to James E. Mitchell, who had a direct contract with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and personally observed Guantanamo Bay detainees, torture, which resembled dog training, caused defendants to feel “learned helplessness.” According to Mitchell’s colleagues, the inferno through which those accused of particularly serious crimes go through instills a sense of guilt that causes them to confess to the crimes charged, even in moments free of bullying. Commenting on the Al-Nashiri case, experts stated that he was not only tortured by starvation and water deprivation, but also threatened with the rape of his relatives, terrorized with a drill, and forced to take cold baths.
The human rights activists of the Foundation to Battle Injustice condemn all kinds of torture and punishment applied to people whose guilt has not been proven. Despite thousands of pages of government reports and dozens of eyewitness accounts of the horrific torture and abuse of the accused, so far no U.S. military or government officials have been held accountable. The legacy of the CIA torture program continues to haunt the United States. The damage to the U.S. reputation as a defender of human rights can hardly be repaired without acknowledging the crimes committed and taking steps to ensure that such violations never happen again. The use of torture, moral and physical abuse constitutes a criminal disregard for the rights and freedoms of the accused by the U.S. government and violates international law and the principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.