Harrowing Gitmo memoir published

Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian detained at Guantánamo since August 2002, had portions of his handwritten prison-camp memoir published in Slate on April 30. Slahi wrote the 466-page journal from 2005-2006, and it has just become unclassified, although many sections are redacted. Slahi mostly grew up in Germany and went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet-backed regime in 1990, where he apparently fell in with al-Qaeda. He repudiated al-Qaeda in 1992 and returned to Germany to study, later moving to Canada. In 2001 back in Mauritania, he was detained “for questioning” by police at US behest—and promptly renditioned to Jordan. There, he was tortured for months on suspicion of involvement in the 2000 “Millennium Plot“—on the specious grounds that a member of his Montreal mosque was caught with plot-related explosives. The Jordanians concluded he wasn’t involved, but the US sent him to Bagram and then to Guantánamo. That’s when the nightmare really began.

What followed was one of the most stubborn, deliberate, and cruel Guantánamo interrogations on record. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld personally signed Slahi’s interrogation plan. Like Mohamed al-Qahtani, the Pentagon’s other “Special Project,” Slahi would be subjected to months of 20-hour-a-day interrogations that combined sleep deprivation, severe temperature and diet manipulation, and total isolation with relentless physical and psychological humiliations. He was told his mother had been detained and would soon be at the mercy of the all-male population at Guantánamo. He was threatened with death and subjected to a violent mock rendition. Declassified files, including the Defense Department’s Schmidt-Furlow Reportthe Justice Department’s investigation of FBI involvement in Guantánamo interrogations, and the Senate Armed Services Committee’s report on the treatment of detainees, document the Pentagon’s plan and its meticulous and malicious implementation.

It all came to naught, as did fruitless attempts to tar him as having recruited 9-11 hijackers. A federal judge ordered his release in 2010, but the Justice Department appealed. His habeas corpus case is still wending its way through the courts.

  1. Gitmo lawyers seek end to abusive search policy
    Lawyers representing Guantanamo Bay prisoners filed a complaint May 23 alleging search policies restrict the detainees’ access to counsel. According to a new policy, detainees are subject to a genital pat-down whenever they wish to leave the detention camp, which they must do to meet with their lawyers. This caused representatives for more than a dozen detainees to file the complaint, saying:

    The new policies have no legitimate purpose, but are pretextual, imposed in order to chill the right of access to counsel… The inescapable inference, however, is that the new policies have no legitimate purpose, but are pretextual, imposed in order to chill the right of access to counsel. Indeed, one guard has admitted that the purpose of the physical searches and the treatment inflicted upon detainees.

    This new policy is said to offend and humiliate the prisoners in such a way as to prevent them effective access to counsel. Because of this, the challengers of the policy seek an immediate end to the practice.

    From Jurist, May 24. Used with permission.