A high-profile detainee, who made much-publicized charges this month of torture by guards at the Guantanamo prison, never lodged such complaints during virtually all his seven-year stay in Cuba.
Lakhdar Boumediene told ABC News and other news media he was repeatedly abused by guards from the beginning of his imprisonment in 2001. He said personnel forced him to run with them. "If he could not keep up, he was dragged, bloody and bruised," ABC said. During a hunger strike, Boumediene said, guards forced food down his nose and poked his arms with hypodermic needles.
Executive branch sources who spoke on condition of anonymity told HUMAN EVENTS Editor Jed Babbin that Boumediene, whom U.S. intelligence linked to al Qaeda terrorists, never complained of torture or other abuse while imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. Additionally, those sources told him that there were no records of such complaints by Boumediene or of his being treated for injuries resulting from abuse. Those sources did not know whether Boumediene had been treated for injuries he may have sustained while resisting the force-feeding performed to interfere with what might otherwise have been his suicide by hunger strike.
Asked if Boumediene ever filed a complaint, a Guantanamo prison spokesman told HUMAN EVENTS, "I have found no specific information on this. We take all allegations seriously and we investigate all credible allegations of abuse."
Al Qaeda’s playbook for captured operatives — a copy of which was seized by authorities in Great Britain — tells them to lodge charges of torture once they gain access to the news media and/or to the legal system.
In Boumediene’s case, his lawyer, Robert C. Kirsch, filed the first abuse complaint with the Justice Department earlier this year after a U.S. District Court judge ordered his client’s release.
Kirsch told HUMAN EVENTS the complaint revolved around how Boumediene, during a hunger strike, was abused by guards during force-feedings and kept in isolation with no running water or blankets.
"There is no question this happened," Kirsch said. "I don’t have any doubt this happened."
As to the charge that guards dragged Boumediene until he was bloody, Kirsch said this happened early in the confinement.
"We were treating them in horribly inhumane ways," he said. "The guards didn’t understand [the inmates foreign languages]. They were frequently hitting them. We used a lot of violence and it was tolerated. It was during this period they would run along with him and drag."
Know as the "Church Report," a U.S. military investigation into the prison’s first three years stated it "found no evidence of torture or inhumane treatment at JTF-GTMO."
Boumediene, who was captured in Bosnia, is the named appellant in the landmark Supreme Court case in which the justices decided, 5-4, that Guantanamo detainees have the right to petition U.S. federal courts for release in writ of habeas corpus cases.
The U.S. did not appeal Boumediene’s November 2008 release order. The Obama administration arranged for his transfer to France, where he has given press interviews.
The news media has profiled Boumediene as a victim of President George W. Bush post-September 11 zeal. To the press, the Algerian was locked up in Cuba for seven years on the basis of flimsy evidence.
HUMAN EVENTS examined the results of Boumediene’s status view panels and found a number of pieces of evidence linking him to al Qaeda. The U.S. military classified him as an enemy combatant based on support it said he provided to Osama bin Laden’s terror organization.
A 2004 hearing found that Boumediene:
- Traveled from Algeria repeatedly to conflicts in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
- Provided subsistence "on multiple occasions to a known al Qaeda operative. He gave interrogators conflicting statements on the nature of that association."
- Retained a lawyer and provided financing for another al Qaeda member who was arrested for terrorist activities. (Read the report.)
A 2005 review board found that Boumediene:
- Was known to be one of al Qaeda’s "closet associates in Bosnia."
- Had ties to the Algerian Armed Islamic Group.
- Paid 5,000 Deutsche Marks in 1998 to illegally obtain Bosnian citizenship.
- Planned to travel to Afghanistan in September 2001 "as soon as an al Qaeda member arrived to make arrangements."
- Was arrested by Bosnian authorities a month later. They found that his Bosnian military records were forgeries.
At Guantanamo, Boumediene denied that he associated with Taliban or al Qaeda operatives.
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