Lawyers speculate about increased abuse at Gitmo since Obama election


Abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has worsened sharply since President Barack Obama took office as prison guards "get their kicks in" before the camp is closed, according to a lawyer who represents detainees.

Abuses began to pick up in December after Obama was elected, human rights lawyer Ahmed Ghappour told Reuters. He cited beatings, the dislocation of limbs, spraying of pepper spray into closed cells, applying pepper spray to toilet paper and over-forcefeeding detainees who are on hunger strike.

The Pentagon said on Monday that it had received renewed reports of prisoner abuse during a recent review of conditions at Guantanamo, but had concluded that all prisoners were being kept in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

"According to my clients, there has been a ramping up in abuse since President Obama was inaugurated," said Ghappour, a British-American lawyer with Reprieve, a legal charity that represents 31 detainees at Guantanamo.

"If one was to use one's imagination, (one) could say that these traumatized, and for lack of a better word barbaric, guards were just basically trying to get their kicks in right now for fear that they won't be able to later," he said.

"Certainly in my experience there have been many, many more reported incidents of abuse since the inauguration," added Ghappour, who has visited Guantanamo six times since late September and based his comments on his own observations and conversations with both prisoners and guards.

He stressed the mistreatment did not appear to be directed from above, but was an initiative undertaken by frustrated U.S. army and navy jailers on the ground. It did not seem to be a reaction against the election of Obama, a Democrat who has pledged to close the prison camp within a year, but rather a realization that there was little time remaining before the last 241 detainees, all Muslim, are released.


All such stories should be qualified by the fact that al Qaeda's training manual tells them to claim abuse whether true or not. Note that the hearsay testimony of the lawyer is also based on his imagination--"If one was to use one's imagination...."

Then there is the letting of Obama off the hook by saying "...the mistreatment did not appear to be directed from above...." I guess the good news is he did not blame Bush or Cheney.

Most of the abuse at Gitmo has come from the other direction where the detainees have attacked the guards. I suspect few of his clients have confessed to that, or admitted that restraints may have been used because of their attacks on guards.

While this guy describes the guards as barbaric, there is no evidence that any of the guards want to commit mass murder for Allah, while many of the detainees say they can't wait to get back to that job. There are many reasons for skepticism about this report.


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