In December, 2001, members of the Northern Alliance, the U.S.-backed anti-Taliban force in Afghanistan, picked up a man named Shaker Aamer and turned him over to the U.S. military, presumably receiving the bounty being offered for Taliban supporters.
It soon became apparent that Aamer did not have any useful information and that there was no reason to hold him. Yet he sent to Guantanamo Bay, where he was kept for more than 13 years. He was never charged with anything, and cleared for release by military authorities eight years ago. He was freed on Saturday.
Here are some things that were done to him, as outlined in a psychiatric report.
- “Welcoming Parties” and “Goodbye Parties” as Aamer was transferred among U.S. facilities. Soldiers at these “parties” were encouraged and allowed to beat and kick detainees as their proclivities and desires dictated. Here’s a video of what a beating under the eyes of American soldiers looks like.
- Aamer was made to stand for days, not allowed to sleep for days, not allowed to use the toilet and made to shit and piss on himself for days, not fed or fed minimally for days, doused with freezing water for days, over and over again. For 13 years.
- Aamer was denied medical care as his interrogators controlled his access to doctors and made care for the wounds they inflicted dependent on Aamer’s ongoing compliance and repeated “confessions.”
- Aamer was often kept naked, and his faith exploited to humiliate him in culturally-specific ways. He witnessed a 17-year-old captive of America sodomized with a rifle, and was threatened with the same.
- At times the brutality took place for its own sake, disconnected from interrogations. At times it was the centerpiece of interrogation.
- The torture of Aamer continued at Gitmo, for as an occasional hunger striker he was brutally force-fed.
Via Peter Van Buren
Reading about Aamer’s ordeal is like reading Solomon Northrup’s Twelve Years a Slave. It is an example of the unbridled cruelty of certain types of people when they are freed from restraint and accountability.
I don’t know what Aamer, a British citizen of Saudi Arabian heritage, was going in Afghanistan at that time. I don’t care. No human being deserves to be treated like this. Killing ends a human life, which someday was going to end anyway. Torture destroys the human personality and spirit. It is the ultimate evil.
Enemy combatants are either enemy soldiers, in which case they should be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention, or they are criminal terrorists, in which case they should be put on trial in an American or international court.
If they have useful information, professional interrogators have ways of inducing them to talk that do not involve Gestapo or KGB methods. What was done to Aamer was done to induce a confession and to gratify the perverted desires of sadists.
My fight for justice at Guantanamo by Shaker Aamer for The Guardian (2010)
Shaker Aamer on Wikipedia.
Shaker Aamer reunited with his children as he is released from Guantanamo Bay by Nick Craven and David Rose for the Daily Mail
For 13 Years: Torture of the Human Being Shaker Aamer by the United States by Peter Van Buren for We Meant Well.
Shaker Aamer will need years of therapy after release from Guantanamo by Jamie Doward for The Guardian. (Hat tip to my expatriate e-mail pen pal Jack)
Psychiatric evaluation of Shaker Aamer by Emily A. Karem, M.D. (2014)