Monday, February 25, 2008


The Guardian runs a story on a perhaps lesser-known side to prisoner abuse: the damage it does to the abusers. It's not the strongest article, but it's an important one in pointing up another element of the institutionalization of torture (as I also pointed out here in my Helsinki Commission testimony). No one involved, except those who are already morally deadened or too distant from the practice, is spared damage.

The taunts of prisoners and the things his superiors required him to do to them had a severe psychological impact on Mr H. "He was called upon to bring detainees, enemy combatants, to certain places and to see that they were handcuffed in particularly painful and difficult positions, usually naked, in anticipation of their interrogation," said Smith.

On occasion he was told to make prisoners kneel, naked and handcuffed, on sharp stones. To avoid interrogation the prisoners would often rub their wounds afterwards to make them worse so that they would be taken to hospital.

Some of the techniques used by interrogators resulted in detainees defecating, urinating, vomiting and screaming.

Mr H told Smith he felt profoundly guilty about his participation. "It was wrong what we did," he said.

The prisoners also threatened Mr H. "They would tell him they had networks of people throughout the world," said Smith. "If he did not take letters out and mail them then they would see to it that his family suffered the consequences."

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