Abu Ghraib prison, Iraq: Torture #2 - starring unnamed CIA officers, plus Charles Graner & Sabrina Harman
"A Briton released from Guantánamo alleged that, as in Abu Ghraib, sexual humiliation was identified by US officials as a way of breaking Muslim detainees. In Iraq it was the simulation of oral sex, forced masturbation and human pyramids, withpeople kept naked for long spells.
Abuse allegations against the US have now surfaced in Iraq, Guantánamo, Bagram, in Afghanistan, and even in Gambia, where a British businessman told the Guardian he was threatened with rape and beatings while being questioned by US agents.
Part of the interrogating team at Abu Ghraib was from the CIA. There are clues from that organisation's history that it has found ill-treating detainees to be useful in the past. Two CIA interrogation manuals surfaced in 1997 after the Baltimore Sun obtained them under freedom of information laws. Reading them in the context of the pictures from Iraq and accounts from Guantánamo suggests that the advice they contain is still being applied.
Sgt Frederick says detainees at Abu Ghraib were kept in isolation for up to three days in windowless rooms. According to the CIA manual, "a person's sense of identity depends upon the continuity in his surroundings, habits, appearance, relations with others ... Detention should be planned to enhance ... feelings of being cut off from anything known and reassuring."
The US denies it uses torture. While the pulling of fingernails may be out, coercion and psychological stress are permitted, according to the CIA manual. How to put such advice into practice is up to intelligence officers.
The 1983 CIA manual draws heavily from the 1963 "Kubark manual", named after the codeword the CIA gave itself. It explains what the US military may have hoped to gain by sexually humiliating prisoners. "The effectiveness of most of the non-coercive techniques depends upon their unsettling effect. The interrogation situation is in itself disturbing to most people encountering it for the first time. The aim is to enhance this effect, to disrupt radically familiar emotional and psychological associations ... When this aim is achieved, resistance is seriously impaired. There is an interval ... of suspended animation, a kind of psychological shock or paralysis. It is caused by a traumatic or sub-traumatic experience which explodes, as it were, the world that is familiar to the subject as well as his image of himself within that world. At this moment the source is farlikelier to comply."
This appears to be what US intelligence officers at Abu Ghraib have been putting into effect. Specialist Sabrina Harman, one of the accused guards, (the female soldier seen in these pictures) testified that it was her job to keep prisoners awake, including the hooded man placed on a box with wires attached to his fingers, toes and genitals.
According to the New Yorker, she stated: "MI [military intelligence] wanted to get them to talk. It is Graner [a guard] and Frederick's job to do things for MI ... to get these people to talk." The Kubark manual states that "resistance is sapped principally by psychological rather than physical pressures". It also warns that approval from headquarters is needed for "bodily harm" or "medical, chemical or electrical methods"."