Ex-officer describes lewd tactics at Guantanamo
By PAISLEY DODDS
And Mail" -- San Juan, Puerto Rico — Female interrogators tried to break Muslim detainees at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with sexual touching, by wearing a miniskirt and thong underwear, rubbing a prisoner's back with her breasts and in one case, smearing a Saudi man's face with fake menstrual blood, according to an insider's written account.
A draft manuscript obtained by The Associated Press is classified as secret pending a Pentagon review for a planned book detailing ways the U.S. military used women as part of tougher physical and psychological interrogation tactics to get terror suspects to talk.
It's the most revealing account so far of interrogations at the secretive detention camp, where officials say they have halted some controversial techniques.
"I have really struggled with this, because the detainees, their families and much of the world will think this is a religious war based on some of the techniques used, even though it is not the case," said the author, former Army Sergeant Erik Saar.
Sgt. Saar didn't provide the manuscript, but confirmed the authenticity of several draft pages. He worked as an Arabic translator at the U.S. camp from December, 2002, to June, 2003. At the time, it was under the command of Major-General Geoffrey Miller, who had a mandate to get better intelligence from prisoners, including alleged al-Qaeda members caught in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Saar said he witnessed about 20 interrogations. About three months after his arrival, he started noticing what he called "disturbing" practices.
One female civilian contractor used a special outfit that included a miniskirt, thong underwear and a bra during late-night interrogations with prisoners, mostly Muslim men who consider it taboo to have close contact with women who aren't their wives.
Beginning in April, 2003, "there hung a short skirt and thong underwear on the hook on the back of the door" of one interrogation team's office, the draft says. "Later, I learned that this outfit was used for interrogations by one of the female civilian contractors . . . on a team which conducted interrogations in the middle of the night on Saudi men who were refusing to talk."
In another case, Sgt. Saar describes a female military interrogator questioning an unco-operative 21-year-old Saudi detainee who allegedly took flying lessons in Arizona before the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"His female interrogator decided that she needed to turn up the heat," Sgt. Saar wrote. She repeatedly asked the detainee who had sent him to Arizona, telling him he could "co-operate" or "have no hope whatsoever of ever leaving this place or talking to a lawyer."
The female interrogator wanted to "break him," he added, describing how she removed her uniform top to expose a tight-fitting T-shirt and began taunting the detainee, touching her breasts, rubbing them against the prisoner's back and commenting on his apparent erection. The detainee spat in her face, the manuscript recounts.
The interrogator left the room to ask a Muslim linguist how she could break the prisoner's reliance on God. The linguist told her to tell the detainee that she was menstruating, touch him, then make sure to turn off the water in his cell so he couldn't wash.
The interrogator used ink from a red pen to fool the detainee, Sgt. Saar says. "He began to cry like a baby," the draft says.Lieutenant-Colonel James Marshall, a spokesman for U.S. Southern Command, refused to say whether the military has a specific strategy to use women to interrogate Muslim suspects.
"U.S. forces treat all detainees and conduct all interrogations, wherever they may occur, humanely and consistent with U.S. legal obligations, and in particular with legal obligations prohibiting torture," he said.
The book is due out this year.
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