Black Holes and Mock Burial

The other day, I posted on black holes in Bagram and Somalia. This important story, describes the plight of Tanzanian fisherman Suleiman Abdallah, who was kidnapped and sold for bounty in Mogadishu then rendered to three different American prisons, ultimately to Bagram, before he was freed five years later.

In addition to the portraying yet another innocent disappeared into our prison system, the story provides a few important details.

In fact, Suleiman was thousands of kilometers from his familiar Indian Ocean reefs, in an underground prison in central Afghanistan.

“It was pitch black, with constant noise and not enough food,” he recalled. His American interrogators would pour freezing cold water on him and beat him, saying, “We know you are a sea man, but here we have more water than out there in the sea. It never stops raining here.” Suleiman also describes being hung from the ceiling in the “strappado position,” slung in chains so that his toes just touched the floor. He also says American interrogators would take the ablution jug (used by Muslims for ritual cleansing before prayer), and stick its long spout up his rectum.


The litany of abuses described by Suleiman included severe beatings, prolonged solitary confinement, forced nakedness and humiliation, sexual assault, being locked naked in a coffin and forced to lie on a wet mat, naked and handcuffed, and then rolled up like a corpse. It was extremely tough. There were times when both of us clinicians, and the patient, broke down in tears.” [my emphasis]

While Clare Gutteridge doesn’t say it, the underground prison in Afghanistan sounds like the Salt Pit (Cage Prisoners says it was a different prison, but that he was then transferred to the Salt Pit). He was transferred to the relatively better Bagram in mid-2003.

In any case, that means the prisons in Afghanistan were using dousing after it may have contributed to Gul Rahman’s death the previous year, and after the CIA IG investigation into torture started.

Then there’s the mock burial–the only treatment John Yoo ever deemed torture. While Abdallah’s torturers might call the coffin “small box confinement,” between that and the funeral shroud, the intent of the treatment seems fairly clear.

And remember: top Bush officials had reason to know this treatment would elicit false confessions. It sounds like CIA and FBI interrogators learned fairly early on Abdallah was not who they had thought he was (they originally believed he had a role in the 1998 Embassy bombings).

Were we using the methods that even John Yoo found to be illegal to invent some justification for kidnapping Abdallah?

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+0Email to someone

9 Responses to Black Holes and Mock Burial

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz At this point, not only should multiple CPD officers/commanders be charged w/ obstruction, Anita Alvarez should too
bmaz Photos Show Chicago Police Officer [deleting video] at Burger King Night of Laquan McDonald's Death via @nbcchicago
bmaz @emptywheel Are there any notable deaths? What happened to the diamonds??
bmaz @brahmresnik @BitterSmith @GeneralBrnovich Who is Bitter Smith's attorney that released the statement you quoted?
bmaz @erinscafe This is false. Kids can play on cactus, they just grow up to be pricks.
bmaz @joanwalsh @PPact Terrible. But fear and loathing is their game. Don't accept or give in.
bmaz @speedbudget @Beyerstein There are plenty of very smart people who disagree with me, but from my experience in crim justice system, yes.
bmaz @speedbudget @Beyerstein None of this is about "extra penalties". It is about extra govt leverage and investigatory/surveillance abilities.
bmaz @speedbudget @Beyerstein ...which with sentencing enhancements is effectively life in prison. How much more can you give an adult human??
bmaz @speedbudget @Beyerstein Think about it: 1st degree murder is either life or death penalty. Even armed kidnapping/robbery is 2nd degree
bmaz @speedbudget @Beyerstein It gives the govt better leverage against suspects/defendants, and WAY more invasive tools+rules to investigate.
bmaz @speedbudget @Beyerstein No. For instance in both Dylan Roof+Dear in CO, both are 1stdegree/capital crimes already. What does terrorism add?
June 2012
« May   Jul »