Defense Gets Interrogator to Suggest Khadr Was Tortured
GUANTANAMO BAY — After a tough morning session for the defense, Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, Omar Khadr’s military lawyer, brought some momentum back to his team. Jackson cross-examined an Army master sergeant, known to the court only as “Interrogator #2,” who participated in an early interrogation of Khadr at Bagram in the summer of 2002. Jackson got Interrogator #2 to affirm that he was familiar with the old Geneva Conventions-compliant Army field manual on interrogation, formerly known as FM 34-52. Specifically, Interrogator #2 recalled that the manual cited as an example of torture “forcing an individual to stand, sit or kneel in abnormal positions for a prolonged period of time.”
Then, recalling that a medic called Mr. M testified yesterday that guards shackled Khadr’s arms at forehead level as a punishment, Jackson asked if such an “abnormal position” would include “standing with your hands shackled, even with your forehead.”
“It could be, sir,” Interrogator #2 said. He conceded he had heard of an “air lock technique,” where a detainee was forced to stand with their hands held outside a hole in the outer door of their cell. The differences with Khadr’s case and the “air lock” is that Khadr was shackled with his hands held at forehead height, not straight out, and the “air lock” doesn’t involve shackling. “But they put their hands through, and stay there?” “Yes,” Interrogator #2 said.
That’s directly relevant for this hearing. If the defense can show that Khadr was abused early in his detention, it stands a greater chance of persuading Col. Patrick Parrish, the military judge presiding over the case, to rule that Khadr’s statements to interrogators were unreasonably coerced — jeopardizing the government’s case not just against Khadr, but potentially against other detainees tried before military commissions.
Interrogator #2 also described other techniques allowed for interrogators at Bagram that appeared abusive. ”We could play music, yes sir. … Loud music, yes.” A report about Khadr contemporaneous with Interrogator #2′s time in Bagram said Khadr was “sedated” during an interrogation. And Interrogator #2 chafed when Jackson asked if Bagram interrogators could use “stress positions,” replying that they were cleared to use something called “safety positions.”
“Well, first it was called stress positions, wasn’t it?” Jackson asked. “Yes, sir,” Interrogator #2 replied.
That raised Parrish’s interest: “Is there a difference?”
Interrogator #2 replied, “No, sir.”
Interestingly, Interrogator #2 assisted a figure we know only as “Interrogator #1,” the lead interrogator for Khadr, who will testify – on behalf of the defense — to threatening Khadr with rape.