Amy Goodman recently interviewed independent journalist Jeremy Scahill on her Democracy Now! show (5/19/09) regarding the fact that, in Scahill’s words, “while much of the focus has been on the tactical use of torture at Guantanamo, almost no attention had been paid to a parallel force” known as the Immediate Reaction Force. Describing the methods of this “thug squad that is used to mercilessly punish prisoners”–“They go in, and they hogtie the prisoner… douse them with chemical agents…. They’ve squeezed their testicles…. They’ve taken the feces from one prisoner and smeared it in the face of another prisoner”–Scahill tells us the results, and their reaction:
In February of this year, about a month after Obama was inaugurated, there were 16 prisoners on a hunger strike at Guantanamo. The …Immediate Reaction Force was used to go in and violently shove massive tubes down their noses into their stomachs…. They would use no anesthetics or any painkillers, shove this massive tube by force down their nose into their stomach and then yank it out. Some prisoners have described this as torture, torture, torture. And many have passed out from the sheer pain of this operation.
When Scahill mentions that “this force has received almost no scrutiny in the U.S. Congress or the U.S. media and operates at this moment,” Goodman wonders, “How do you know about this?” It turns out Scahill used a little-known tactic called “reporting”: “I discovered these teams, because I’ve been covering the investigation being done by Judge Baltasar Garzon in Spain into the Bush torture system”:
And yet, the only time when it’s really made any kind of a flash in the corporate media was when a U.S. soldier, a young guy named Sean Baker… was ordered, he says, by his superiors to dress up in an orange jumpsuit and play the part of a restive or combative detainee at Guantanamo. He was told that the team that was going to come in to handle him knew that he was a U.S. soldier, knew that it was a training drill, and he was given a word, a codeword, “red,” that when he said it, the beating was supposed to stop…. He describes them just mercilessly beating him, and he’s yelling out “Red!” and they continue to beat him, even after he then said, “I’m a U.S. soldier! I’m a U.S. soldier!”
And the fate of not-even-real-prisoner Baker?–he “has permanent brain damage, suffers from multiple seizures, and had actually sued Rumsfeld and other officials because of his treatment.”