Doing China’s Dirty Work

A new report by the Department of Justice alleges that soldiers at Guantanamo Bay engaged in abuse against Chinese nationals in order to “soften them up” for the arrival of members of Chinese intelligence.

According to the report by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine, an FBI agent reported a detainee belonging to China’s ethnic Uighur minority and a Uighur translator told him Uighur detainees were kept awake for long periods, deprived of food and forced to endure cold for hours on end, just prior to questioning by Chinese interrogators.

[…]

According to Fine’s report, the FBI agent said the Uighur detainee told him that the night before his interrogation by Chinese officials, “he was awakened at 15-minute intervals the entire night and into the next day.” The detainee also allegedly said he was “exposed to low room temperatures for long periods of time and was deprived of at least one meal.”

“The agent stated that he understood that the treatment of the Uighur detainees was either carried out by the Chinese interrogators or was carried out by U.S. personnel at the behest of Chinese interrogators,” the report by the Department of Justice inspector general stated.

What can I say now that hasn’t been said about this sort of thing already? Bad enough that the United States of America is torturing and abusing its prisoners of war. Now we’re assisting the Chinese in their campaign of repression against the Uighurs? I’m just speechless at this point, so let me just close this with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt in response to allegations of abuse and torture by American troops in the early part of the 20th Century:

“Great as the provocation has been in dealing with foes who habitually resort to treachery, murder and torture against our men, nothing can justify or will be held to justify the use of torture or inhuman conduct of any kind on the part of the American Army.”

If only we still upheld that principle.

(link via Matt Welch)

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, Terrorism, , ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. c. wagener says:

    Cold, hungry and sleep deprived is now torture?

    Holy cow, I was tortured in grad school.

    What’s left to be said? You could try something involving critical thought.

  2. Alex Knapp says:

    Cold, hungry and sleep deprived is now torture?

    Holy cow, I was tortured in grad school.

    What’s left to be said? You could try something involving critical thought.

    Have you even bothered to look into the long-term physical and psychological effects of hypothermia, sleep deprivation, and hunger? It does, horrible, horrible things to you. Try reading the Gulag Archipalego if you want to have Solzhenitsyn’s take on how the Soviets used these techniques against their political prisoners. Or you can just read medical and phsychological journals for a more clinical treatment of the subject.

  3. Hoodlumman says:

    Also from the article:

    In 2006, after the United States released five Uighurs from Guantanamo, China asked for them to be repatriated so they could be prosecuted as terrorists. The United States declined to do so, out of concern they would not be treated humanely. Instead they transferred the men to Albania, which was the only country out of 90 approached by the U.S. government who would take them.

  4. c. wagener says:

    “The Gulag Archipelago” is one of my favorite books. You might also want to try “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”. You might notice things are a bit more severe and have nothing to do with attaining information in order to save innocent lives. Are you aware that millions of people died in Stalin’s camps?

    The moral equivalence is beyond ridiculous.

  5. steveplunk says:

    One night of sleep deprivation is not “long term”.

    This is very tiresome. Making a big deal out of every little thing is a waste of everyone’s time.

  6. Floyd says:

    “”If only we still upheld that principle.””
    “””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

    It went the route of most of the others,… still here but twisted beyond recognition.

  7. Alex Knapp says:

    You might notice things are a bit more severe and have nothing to do with attaining information in order to save innocent lives.

    So now the ends justify the means?

    Are you aware that millions of people died in Stalin’s camps?

    The moral equivalence is beyond ridiculous.

    Just because we’ve tortured and abused a few thousand people instead of a few million doesn’t mean we’re just as wrong as the Soviets were.

  8. They wouldn’t print it if it wasn’t true.

  9. Wayne says:

    They did the same thing to us in SERE school. They even hose us down with water in the middle of February. Now that is miserable but it is not torture. The instructors told us going in we would be miserable but we would not be torture. I guess the standards were different since I went through under the Clinton administration.

  10. Richard Gardner says:

    This statement had me wondering

    forced to endure cold for hours on end

    I guess it is all relative in the tropics. Looking at monthly averages in Jan and Feb the temp gets down to 67F, with a high of 81F. Oh the horror!

    I imagine they could have cranked up the AC.

  11. c. wagener says:

    We’ve tortured and abused a few thousand?

    Can you provide some reference for “a few thousand”. Can you provide any evidence that people were tortured if torture is defined as it was pre 2002 (e.g., not being housed in the Four Seasons, I don’t consider torture)?

    As for ends justifying the means, well yeah, in war sometimes they do. See for example: any war in the history of humanity. Having a terrorist be a little chilly versus thousands of dead innocents. You decide.

  12. Hoodlumman says:

    c. wagener, don’t you know there are elections to demagogue?

  13. Alex Knapp says:

    Can you provide some reference for “a few thousand”. Can you provide any evidence that people were tortured if torture is defined as it was pre 2002 (e.g., not being housed in the Four Seasons, I don’t consider torture)?

    Well, the Roosevelt quote referenced above was that President’s response to American soliders waterboarding detainees, so yeah… Also, sleep deprivation and hypothermia are classic Gestapo techniques.

    Anyways, as for evidence, there’s tons of it out there. You’d have to be willfully blind to not have encountered it. But here’s a couple of starting points:

    The documentary “Standard Operating Procedure”.

    The book “The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib” edited by Karen J. Greenberg and Joshua L. Dratel

    The numerous FBI reports on the torture and abuse of detainees, available online.

    And here’s the Inspector General’s report referenced in this article:
    http://www.usdoj.gov/oig/special/s0805/final.pdf

  14. c. wagener says:

    Gestapo techniques, gosh that is scary. I understand mass transit is a standard fascist technique. Being nice to animals … totally Hitlerian.

    Anyway, thanks for the references. I didn’t come up with thousands of cases, but certainly dozens. The problem is you’re defining down torture to a near meaningless level. You’re also suggesting that the abuses that did occur are standard procedure. Do you find it a bit ironic that a film named “standard operating procedure” is a story about a couple of psychopaths that abused prisoners for fun (not information) and took pictures over the course of a single day? They were then prosecuted. If one cop abuses a prisoner, can you then say all cops do and that it is standard procedure?

  15. Alex, all I see is an allegation, and the ABC News article is rather clear about that, yet you can’t wait to condemn us as barbarians. The FBI agent doesn’t even know whether it was US or Chinese authorities who are supposed to have been responsible for the interrogation. Either way, while I certainly don’t approve of mistreatment of prisoners under our control, the lack of specificity would seem to require something other than a knee-jerk acceptance of the accusation as gospel without further investigation.

    This reminds me a lot of a nearby OTB post about Hillary Clinton hoping something bad will happen to Obama.

  16. Floyd says:

    “”Cold, hungry and sleep deprived is now torture?””
    “””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

    Torture??… Heck that sounds like the democrats new tax policy!

  17. M1EK says:

    In case you’re wondering, James, the apologist comments here are doing more to turn people off from the “Republican brand” than anything else.

  18. Does asking for proof before condemnation now constitute apologizing? Good thing I’m not a Republican.

  19. Eric says:

    Alex, OTB Gang:

    Hey, it’s your *moderate* conservative views that keep me coming here, so keep up the good work and ignore the trolls who constantly whine about you guys being “apologists” or whatever. You guys are some of the few reasonable conservatives I can read these days without wondering if most conservatives have lost their minds.

    Anyway, I just wanted to weigh in here to say that those who at this time and after everything that has been revealed still believe that the Bush Administration did not sanction torture, or who apparently think that torture consists of nothing more than a few hours in the cold and a “dunk in the water,” are not treating this issue with the seriousness it deserves. It’s not like there has been some murky, barely corroborated allegation here. There is in fact solid evidence of systematic abuse and torture of detainees sanctioned at the highest levels.

    It had been America’s proud tradition of being a country of laws and high principles that had made us the envy of the world. It is also our principles that separate us from the terrorists. If we deign it OK to torture, or even come close to torture, because “they would do the same to us” (or whatever,) how does that make us better than them? What moral high ground can we then legitimately claim?

    I’m with Alex: whether two or two million were tortured is irrelevant. We need principles precisely for situations like this, not in spite of them. You don’t become the enemy to beat the enemy.

  20. Anderson says:

    You guys are some of the few reasonable conservatives I can read these days without wondering if most conservatives have lost their minds.

    Seconded.

    *Whatever* we did, the very IDEA of “softening up” prisoners for Chinese interrogators is stomach-turning. Our loving emulation of Communist methods has sunk to new lows.

  21. brainy435 says:

    So we didn’t do anything you all haven’t lamely bitched about us doing to other enemy combatants, but because the Chinese are involved you want to characterize it differently?

    Spin, baby, spin.