In a Washington Post story this morning, Petula Dvorak writes about World War II interrogators who
lamented the chasm between the way they conducted interrogations during the war and the harsh measures used today in questioning terrorism suspects [and] denounced the controversial techniques. And when the time came for them to accept honors from the Army’s Freedom Team Salute, one veteran refused, citing his opposition to the war in Iraq and procedures that have been used at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
Can someone tell me what controversial procedures have been used at Guantanamo Bay? As far as I’m aware there is not a shred of hard evidence — and certainly no proof — that torture or even enhanced interrogation methods have been employed there. You can argue that it’s unfair to hold unlawful enemy combatants indefinitely (but then you really need to suggest what else should be done with them) but I don’t see how you can simply say: “Well, bad things happened at Abu Ghraib therefore let’s assume that bad things have been happening at Guantanamo, too.”
Not only is this idea of odious “procedures” being used at Guantanamo unsupported, almost every reproter who has visited the place (myself included) have found conditions there — medical care, quality of food, access to the ICRC and to lawyers — to be of the highest standard.
At Gitmo, the interrogation rooms are fitted out with televisions and easy chairs. The idea is for detainees to view interrogations as pleasant diversions, engage in conversation with their interrogators and, over time, reveal useful tidbits of information. Detainees can — and do – decline to be interrogated. This approach doesn’t work in a “ticking time-bomb” scenario but it makes sense with the kinds of combatants being held at Guantanamo.
I suppose retired interrogators such as thosed profiled above believe the worst about Gitmo because that’s the narrative the Washington Post and other mainstream media outlets continue to drive — including in this story.