Guest Post: Torture Is Continuing Under the Obama Administration, Creating More Terrorists and Further Destabilizing the Economy

As I pointed out in May 2008:

The U.S. has imprisoned 2,500 children since 9/11 as “enemy combatants”, in violation of the Geneva Convention against classifying children as POWs …

Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Seymour Hersh says that the U.S. Government has videotapes of boys being raped at Abu Ghraib prison (and see this; see also this – General Taguba discusses the sexual humiliation of a father with his son – see this and this).

This doesn’t come as a complete surprise, given that assistant deputy Attorney General John Yoo has publicly argued that the president can order the torture of a child of a suspect in custody – including by crushing that child’s testicles.

In April 2009, I noted:

Respected political scientist Michael Haas has confirmed that children were tortured, and Raw Story has explained that the newly-release Bush torture memos may corroborate claims that at least some detainees’ children were tortured using insects.

The number two man at the State Department, Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson, said that many of those tortured at Guantanamo Bay were innocent, but that the Bush administration did not really care whether they were innocent or not.

Last December, I wrote:

Many reporters have said that the Bagram prison facility in Afghanistan is worse than Guantanamo ever was. Moreover, abuse is apparently still occurring there.

As Spiegel wrote on September 21, 2009, in an article entitled “Prisoner Abuse Continues at Bagram Prison in Afghanistan”:

US President Barack Obama has spoken out against CIA prisoner abuse and wants to close Guantanamo. But he tolerates the existence of Bagram military prison in Afghanistan, where more than 600 people are being held without charge. The facility makes Guantanamo look like a “nice hotel,” in the words of one military prosecutor

Bagram is “the forgotten second Guantanamo,” says American military law expert Eugene Fidell, a professor at Yale Law School. “But apparently there is a continuing need for this sort of place even under the Obama administration.

“From the beginning, “Bagram was worse than Guantanamo,” says New York-based attorney Tina Foster, who has argued several cases on behalf of detainee rights in US courts. “Bagram has always been a torture chamber.”

And what does Obama say? Nothing. He never so much as mentions Bagram in any of his speeches. When discussing America’s mistreatment of detainees, he only refers to Guantanamo…

From the beginning, Bagram was notorious for the brutal forms of torture employed there. Former inmates report incidents of sleep deprivation, beatings and various forms of sexual humiliation [and rape with sticks]…

At least two men died during imprisonment. One of them, a 22-year-old taxi driver named Dilawar, was suspended by his hands from the ceiling for four days, during which US military personnel repeatedly beat his legs. Dilawar died on Dec. 10, 2002. In the autopsy report, a military doctor wrote that the tissue on his legs had basically been “pulpified.” As it happens, his interrogators had already known — and later testified — that there was no evidence against Dilawar…

However attorney Tina Foster feels that the new initiative is just a cosmetic measure. “There is absolutely no difference between the Bush administration and the Obama administration’s position with respect to Bagram detainees’ rights,” she says during an interview with SPIEGEL in her office in the New York borough of Queens.

And see this.

Moreover, Obama is still apparently allowing “rendition flights” – where prisoners are flown to countries which freely torture – to continue…

Finally, Jeremy Scahill – the reporter who broke most of the stories on Blackwater – says that some forms of torture at Guantanamo have continued under Obama, and may even have gotten worse. For example, Scahill points out that:

The Center for Constitutional Rights released a report titled “Conditions of Confinement at Guantánamo: Still In Violation of the Law,” which found that abuses continued. In fact, one Guantanamo lawyer, Ahmed Ghappour, said that his clients were reporting “a ramping up in abuse” since Obama was elected.

Now, reports are circulating that boys were tortured last year – after Obama was sworn in as President – at the Bagram prison in Afghanistan:

As the Washington Post reported Friday:

The U.S. military has begun investigating allegations that two Afghan teenagers were beaten and humiliated by guards while in American custody last year at a secret detention center at Bagram air base, according to U.S. and Afghan officials.

U.S. military officials took statements from the teenagers last month and are contacting others who say they were held at what Afghans call Bagram’s “black prison,” a detention center run by U.S. Special Operations forces. This classified facility is separate from the main prison at Bagram, which holds about 700 detainees.

The allegations of physical violence and sexual humiliation.

And see this.


Not much …

Way to create more terrorists and to further disrupt the civilian economy, Obama administration.

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About George Washington

George Washington is the head writer at Washington’s Blog. A busy professional and former adjunct professor, George’s insatiable curiousity causes him to write on a wide variety of topics, including economics, finance, the environment and politics. For further details, ask Keith Alexander…


  1. Toby

    This very distressing evidence describing a world and a people who occupy it far beyond my worst nightmares, obliges us to withdraw all support from our governments generally, and indeed to agitate for their downfall. I am not an American, I am British, but feel issues of this nature go deeper than the nation state and right into the heart of what it means to be human. We have allowed somehow the rotting of governmental and other power systems during a period of human history in which we have good justification for expecting far better of ourselves. Torture has been with us for centuries, but surely we know better now. We say we get the politicians we deserve, but it seems the innocent pay dearly for our greed, short-sightedness, cowardice and ignorance.

    To give voice to that cliche once again: it’s time to wake up, or pehaps it’s time to grow up. Thank you George Washington for bringing this to our attention.

  2. Francois T

    Yet, no one shall be brought to justice. There are too many politicians (mos tespecially Republicans) who are deeply involved.

    With the extreme political polarization in this country, the slothfulness, moral depravity and subservient mindset of the mainstream media toward the powers that be, the active complicity of several Federal Courts (see Arar v. Achcroft for a most repugnant example of dereliction of duty by the Judicial branch) ) it is very easy to imagine how ugly (JFK comes to mind) things would turn out if Obama had started unrestricted judicial investigations about the whole torture disgrace.

    Plus, he has an agenda to fulfill, doesn’t he? Investigating the recent past would be such a distraction; can’t have that! There are Wall Street bankers health care and pharmaceutical executives to attend to, as well as a myriad of actors within the military-industrial complex. Oh! Let’s not forget to drop some crumbs for the hoi polloi too, by the way.

    It is only a matter of time before this country become a de facto fascist state.

  3. Seal

    The US has been under the thralldom of a military/industrial/Congressional dictatorship for some time. Out “professional” military, in place after the glory days of WW 2, have FAILED TO PREVAIL in all 3 major conflicts since then – Korea, Vietnam and now Iraq & Afghanistan.

    The dots I do not see connected by anyone are that America’s MORAL decline has created its financial decline. Mark my words – the Potomac is Petraeus’s Rubicon!

  4. Ted K

    Interesting stories, but where is the proof??? These people are told by their Koran that it’s ok to lie to infidels.

    We have many soldiers who are not getting proper treatment from Veterans Hospitals. When they ask for psychiatric help it gets on their record and they get drummed out of the military. Mothers and children here in America with no father figure. Any plans on their stories???

    1. Skippy

      And so does the Christan Church, so your point is? VA you say, your not very connected to the things happing around you, are you.

      Skippy…America has blood of innocents on its hands and that means you too.

      1. Vinny G.

        True. Anybody who pays taxes in this country is an accomplice to what those taxes are used for.

        Fortunately, in recent years, my US income has been so low, I have been actually getting a credit from the IRS… :)


  5. Vinny G.

    Hi Ya’ll,

    I was wondering, is three a way we can combine “Dancing with the Stars” and torture? Kind of like a new reality show.

    For example, if any of you are old enough to remember that scene in Dirty Dancing, where Patrick Swazee gets a bucket of water thrown at him while dancing, I was thinking maybe we can update that to the 21st century by adding water boarding to the Donny Osmond and Kym Johnson number.

    People are liable to go nuts about it. It’ll be a modern day Coliseum show, guaranteed! We can add lions too, for nostalgic purposes, of course. What do you think?

    PS — this way nobody will notice while Goldman Sucks steals the remaining fiat dollars floating around.

  6. bobh

    If you read to the end of the Common Dreams link that has John Yoo’s if-a-bomb-is-ticking-it’s-okay-to-crush-children’s-testicles quote, there is a series of early 2008 campaign quotes from John McCain, Hilary Clinton, and Barack Obama on torture. Guess who was the only one to take a forthright and idealistic stand against it as not just immoral but counterproductive as well. It took me right back to those lovely chage-we-can-believe-in days. Probably not a good idea to believe anything this guy says.

  7. bob goodwin

    The problem with posting so far off topic (torture and foreign policy) is not that you are necessarily right or wrong, or that your facts are correct, selectively correct, or wrong. The problem is that you are creating an echo chamber which will necessarily optimize for people with similar thinking. That in turn causes debate to be dampened on topics where the readership is more informed. The included ones feel more empowered, the ones who feel slightly off-key feel less empowered. By debating facts rather than ideology there is a possibility of realigning intellectual thought to fix the new problems rather than keep the old divisions.

    1. DownSouth

      “By debating facts rather than ideology…”

      Yes, as we all well know, especially in the wake of their stellar successes in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, that the neocons are so good at that, that if given a level playing field, no one could possibley win an argument against them.

  8. mikefromArlington

    I see links to searches for some of your claims that torture is still occurring but I don’t see any sort of evidence systematic torture is occurring.

    Are there abuses?

    Sure, there are abuses in our Federal prisons.

    Is that abuse orchestrated by our U.S. Govn’t?

    Probably not.

    Is it wrong? Yes. Should it be investigated? Yes.

    There is a HUGE difference between what you are insinuating and the systematic torture of detainees for information that occurred under the Bush administration.

    Nice try George but you missed the mark.

    1. bobh

      “There is a HUGE difference between what you are insinuating and the systematic torture of detainees for information that occurred under the Bush administration.”

      HUGE? No. Maybe a small difference. Obama doesn’t have the psychopath Cheney, deeply in love with torture, finding ways to game the system and get legal findings that torture, and even the occasional, inadvertent murder of a detainee, doesn’t violate our laws or the conventions we agreed to with other civilized nations. Instead Obama, as is his wont, doesn’t stoop to orchestrate it; he tries to find a nice compromise with evil, a middle ground between torturing everyone we can get our hands on and standing up, renouncing torture and actively working to end it so we can begin to clean up our country’s soiled reputation and honor. The problem some of us have with this is that it isn’t what he promised us during the primaries, when he said:

      “The secret authorization of brutal interrogations is an outrageous betrayal of our core values, and a grave danger to our security …torture is not a part of the answer – it is a fundamental part of the problem …. Torture is how you create enemies, not how you defeat them. Torture is how you get bad information, not good intelligence … When I am president America will …[stand] up to these deplorable tactics. When I am president we won’t work in secret to avoid honoring our laws and Constitution, we will be straight with the American people and true to our values.”

    1. Doug

      I hope since this topic was now introduced on this blog there will be follow up – it would be unfortunate if this topic did not now get further investigative treatments, since by reader comments it is clear some have been deeply distraught by this post for obvious reasons.

      Perhaps it is unrealistic to have prior practices brought to a rapid conclusion. Maybe, what is realistic is in which direction things are being pushed.

      The link supplied by mikefromArlington is appreciated, and the fact that this was not included by the author of this blog entry is viewed with suspicion.

      Hopefully, the people crying came back read the follow up comments.

      The best thing to do? Hope and pray that those in power and those in the field act in a humane and moral way. Obama ran on a specific platform to end torture – I hope he is proceeding to do so.

      So please do proceed to blog this if the objective is to put accurate information in our hands.


      1. George Washington Post author

        Doug, MikeFromArlington posted his link after I published the article.

        If true that Bagram will be handed back, that is good news indeed (see my comment above).

        However, Gitmo is still in limbo, and it may be a long time before anything actually changes at Bagram.

        1. Doug

          Fair enough, I appreciate the reply. I hope that Bagram closes and nothing else opens up in it’s stead. I was hoping Obama would bail on Afghanistan, and he promised to do so in his campaign. But then was not held responsible for escalating times 3. So you can be sure that “torture” stories out of Afghanistan will never see the light of day, except in places such as this. Oddly, I read on another post in this blog today that the USA does not employ “Censureship” like the Soviet Union. OH REALLY?

          This topic affected me deeply, excuse my ignorance, and I appreciate your work in this area.


      2. Skippy

        Facility’s are the casino in a desert, bright lights and shout look at me!

        Until we have an Executive order backstopped by the Congress and Senate with strong penalty’s for the use of *it* outside *verbal interrogation at length*, it will persist in our name.

        Too reiterate, torture is not an address or location it is a policy and as such its the policy that must end and not the closure, handover of responsibility (hand washing), or political promises to its demise. It must be made law, with severe penalties[!] every thing else is lip service!

        Skippy…how the hell can you fight in the name of moral and ethical imperative, yet have none. Efficacy has a lot to answer for these days, everyone demands it in external applications, yet decries its effects to their person….sigh.

  9. Jeremy

    Targeted people like me, whose lives ended under the Bush administration, were hoping (against our better judgement) that Obama would fix things. I can tell you from personal experience that the torture has not ended. I and people like me are in an invisible prison with electronic walls, hounded by networks of police informants and neighborhood watch groups just like in East Germany.

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