In Dan Froomkin’s roundup of torture news, he points to this op-ed by Joseph Margulies:
In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, Joseph Margulies, a lawyer representing detainee Abu Zubaydah, reminds us “that there was a human being strapped to that board. His name is Zayn al Abidin Mohamed Hussein, known to the world as Abu Zubaydah….
“They tormented a clerk….[and] Abu Zubaydah paid with his mind….
“Today, he suffers blinding headaches and has permanent brain damage. He has an excruciating sensitivity to sounds, hearing what others do not. The slightest noise drives him nearly insane. In the last two years alone, he has experienced about 200 seizures.
“But physical pain is a passing thing. The enduring torment is the taunting reminder that darkness encroaches. Already, he cannot picture his mother’s face or recall his father’s name. Gradually, his past, like his future, eludes him.”
More disgusting details from Mr. Margulies:
First, they beat [Abu Zubaydah]. As authorized by the Justice Department and confirmed by the Red Cross, they wrapped a collar around his neck and smashed him over and over against a wall. They forced his body into a tiny, pitch-dark box and left him for hours. They stripped him naked and suspended him from hooks in the ceiling. They kept him awake for days.
And they strapped him to an inverted board and poured water over his covered nose and mouth to “produce the sensation of suffocation and incipient panic.” Eighty-three times. I leave it to others to debate whether we should call this torture. I am content with the self-evident truth that it was wrong.
Second, his treatment was motivated by the bane of our post-9/11 world: rotten intel. The beat him because they believed he was evil. Not long after his arrest, President Bush described him as “one of the top three leaders” in Al Qaeda and “Al Qaeda’s chief of operations.” In fact, the CIA brass at Langley, Va., ordered his interrogators to keep at it long after the latter warned that he had been wrung dry.
But Abu Zubaydah, we now understand, was nothing like what the president believed. He was never Al Qaeda. The journalist Ron Suskind was the first to ask the right questions. In his 2006 book, “The One Percent Doctrine,” he described Abu Zubaydah as a minor logistics man, a travel agent.
Later and more detailed reporting in the Washington Post, quoting Justice Department officials, said he provided “above-ground support. … To make him the mastermind of anything is ridiculous.” More recently, the New York Times, relying on current and former intelligence officers, said the initial assessment was “highly inflated” and reflected “a profound misunderstanding” of Abu Zubaydah. Far from a leader, he was “a personnel clerk.”
I don’t care if the agents on the ground were just following orders from the lawless Bush Adminstration, they should be prosecuted for war crimes too. Torture is torture, and I am sickened and dismayed reading how agents of my government abused other humans in my name.