Sunday, May 24, 2009

Justice Department Announces New Interrogation and Detention Policies

Washington, D.C.--The Justice Department announced the country’s new terrorist interrogation policies yesterday, under which interrogators will be confined to the techniques listed in the Army Field Manual, which bans all threatening methods. President Obama ordered the changes in January.

The Manual goes so far as to ban grabbing terrorists by the collar, but Justice Department lawyers assured reporters that interrogators could continue to gather actionable intelligence from terrorists by capturing their attention in other ways, such as dressing in bumblebee costumes.

The Manual also bans the use of “stress positions” in which detainees would be placed in uncomfortable positions for long periods of time. “From now on,” said a Justice Department spokesperson, “only interrogators will be expected to remain bent over with any regularity.”

Terrorists are currently held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, where detainees take art classes, play sports, table tennis, and foosball, and watch DVDs. There is also one medical personnel -- including doctors and nurses -- for every three detainees. Still, outside organizations were invited to the press conference to express their concerns about conditions at the facility, which the Obama Administration pledged to address.

The International Red Cross cited instances in which soccer balls were not properly inflated, tea was served at room temperature, and mail service operated so slowly that detainees’ messages were delivered well after plots could be brought to fruition.

Amnesty International also reported on the flimsy quality of the mealtime plasticware, which it said was entirely unsuitable for use by detainees in constructing the sorts of dangerous handmade weapons prison guards had confiscated in the past.

There were also complaints about the adequacy of the health care provided. The Red Cross noted the example of Abdullah Mehsud, a terrorist who lost a leg in battle, was captured, fitted with a prosthetic limb at taxpayer expense, then released. “They said he received a state-of-the-art prosethetic, but we question that” said one official, “When Mehsud was recaptured after he returned to the battlefield, he clearly wasn’t able to outrun the military.”

Overcrowding was also cited as a problem at the facility. The Center for Constitutional Rights alone has coordinated the representation of detainees with a network of over 500 pro bono habeas counsel, and the detainees’ cells aren’t large enough to comfortably fit all their lawyers. One detainee was almost crushed between two dollies of extra large trial bags.

In February, Attorney General Eric Holder announced after an inspection that the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities were professionally run and met all international standards, but he insisted the facility would be closed regardless because “we need to show the world America is determined to follow through on its most fundamental traditions of cheap presidential campaign rhetoric.”

Associated articles:;;;;;;