05 Aug

On Bush Administration’s Use of Water Torture

The O’Leary: “This is not going to go away.” (See


Keith Olbermann opened his “Countdown” show on Current TV last night with a segment on new revelations on the use of water torture at American military facilities like Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Olbermann specifically cited a story that ran on by Jeff Kaye, who regularly writes and publishes to this blog (although Olbermann did not name Kaye on air).

Olbermann says this story brought to the light “the first evidence that torture specifically waterboarding was done not in the legally murky so-called black sites but in American military facilities, specifically at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba” while President George W. Bush was president. The revelations showed the American military went well beyond “enhanced interrogation techniques” that were approved, such as slamming prisoners into wall, forced nudity, etc.

Truthout reported on the military’s variations on waterboarding: a hose forced into a detainee’s mouth, detainee’s head put into a toilet, the use of a wet towel on prisoners, spraying prisoners down with cayenne pepper and then hosing off the detainees to make the skin burn, etc.

The segment features former Guantanamo Bay detainee Murat Kurnaz during a House committee hearing testifying that he was subjected to “water treatment;” not waterboarding but “water treatment.” His head was put into a bucket of water and as he was asphyxiating he was punched in his stomach.

Countdown contributor and Nation magazine contributor puts the story into perspective:

SCAHILL: One of the things that remains missing from this is that the Bush administration authorized extrajudicial killings around the world in addition to the details on torture that we are now learning. What we are seeing is the Bush administration really played semantics here. The fact is the Bush administration were using water as a method to torture people, whether it was defined as water boarding or called water boarding is a different story. One of the cases I have been investigating for a couple of years is one prisoner who had a hose shoved up his nose at Guantanamo and then the water turned on at full throttle shooting up his nose, putting prisoners’ heads in toilets and then repeatedly flushing it. What we’re learning are more sick details of torture tactics that most certainly were authorized and advocated for at the highest levels of the Bush administration. 

He also describes a force, the Immediate Reaction Force (IRF), which is known to have been used to dole out punishment to detainees. The force has done what is called “IRF-ing.” They douse prisoners in chemical agents, leave the cell, come back in, each of the men grab a body part of the detainee, the detainee is hogtied and then the detainee can be made to sit outside in the blazing sun.

Here’s the segment from last night:




Published Years Ago


It’s not going to go away,
However much you might want it to.

It’s not going to go away,

the acts of sexual humiliation, the “stress positions,” the “walling,”
the months, years of solitary confinement, the “waterboarding,”

the photos of the pyramid of naked bodies, the wired, hooded man on a box,
the man cowering from an attacking dog, the man dragged by a leash,

These are not going to go away.

the attempts to legalize, the Geneva Conventions deemed “quaint,”
“if it does not result in serious physical injury,” “organ failure,” “death,”

the lies of Condoleeza Rice, “the United States does not engage in torture,”
the lies of Donald Rumsfeld, “a few bad apples,”
the lies of George W. Bush, “We do not torture.”

These are not going to go away.

the torture testimonies of prisoners negating fair trials,
the calls for accountability from institutions and persons of integrity
are not going to go away.

Oh, yes, we know, we know,
We face so many problems right now.

Many of those you will address and some will be solved
Through your brilliance and commitment.

But this, this will not be solved, and this will not go away;

This destruction of our reputation as a nation of laws,
These sickening, heinous, inhuman acts done in your name and our names,
This criminal betrayal of America,

This is not going to go away.


Mary O’Leary McGlinn

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