Unanswered Questions; Alberto Gonzales Will Likely Be Confirmed. but That Won't Stop the Widening Scandal over Gitmo Detainees

By Isikoff, Michael | Newsweek, January 17, 2005 | Go to article overview

Unanswered Questions; Alberto Gonzales Will Likely Be Confirmed. but That Won't Stop the Widening Scandal over Gitmo Detainees


Isikoff, Michael, Newsweek


Byline: Michael Isikoff

Ibraham Al Qosi's stories seemed fairly outlandish when they first surfaced last fall. In a lawsuit, Al Qosi, a Sudanese accountant apprehended after 9/11 on suspicions of ties to Al Qaeda, charged that he and other detainees at Guantanamo Bay had been subjected to bizarre forms of humiliation and abuse by U.S. military inquisitors. Al Qosi claimed they were strapped to the floor in an interrogations center known as the Hell Room, wrapped in Israeli flags, taunted by female interrogators who rubbed their bodies against them in sexually suggestive ways, and left alone in refrigerated cells for hours with deafening music blaring in their ears. Back then, Pentagon officials dismissed Al Qosi's allegations as the fictional rantings of a hard-core terrorist.

But in recent weeks a stack of declassified government documents has given new credence to many of the claims of abuse at Guantanamo. The documents are also raising fresh questions about the Bush administration's handling of detainees at a time when a prime architect of that policy, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, is facing a Senate confirmation vote as the president's nominee to be attorney general.

Many of the documents come from an unexpected source: the FBI. As part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the bureau has released internal e-mails and correspondence recording what their own agents witnessed at Gitmo. Coupled with accounts from other agencies such as the Defense Intelligence Agency--also released as part of the FOIA lawsuit--the FBI reports amount to a powerful case that many of the scenes alleged by Al Qosi and other Gitmo detainees may actually have happened. (Al Qosi is still in Gitmo, facing charges before a military tribunal.) And the reports suggest that the interrogation scandal is not going away any time soon, even if Gonzales is confirmed, as expected.

Many of the FBI accounts came from conscience-stricken agents troubled by what they had witnessed. …

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