Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pentagon Acknowledges Charleston Interrogation Tapes

Posted by Greg Hambrick on Thu, Mar 13, 2008 at 10:12 AM

The Pentagon acknowledged for the first time that some interrogations had been videotaped, pointing to nearly 50 tapes of interrogations at the local Navy base of suspected terrorists Jose Padilla and Ali al-Marri.

One tape allegedly shows the "forcible gagging of a terrorism suspect."

Two government officials said that the tape showed Mr. Marri being manhandled by his interrogators, but did not show waterboarding or any other treatment approaching what they believed could be classified as torture. According to one Defense Department official, the interrogators dispensing the rough treatment on the tape were F.B.I. agents.

(Defense spokesman Don Black) said that Mr. Marri was chanting loudly, disrupting his interrogation, and that interrogators used force to put duct tape on his mouth, while Mr. Marri resisted. Mr. Black said most of the videos showing Mr. Marri’s interrogations had been destroyed. The government has never charged Mr. Marri, but because of his designation as an enemy combatant, the Pentagon is allowed to hold him indefinitely.

Lawyers for Mr. Marri, who have challenged his imprisonment in court, sought access to any tapes or other records of his interrogations, but in 2006 a federal judge in South Carolina said the government did not have to produce any tapes. That decision is being appealed.

Jonathan Hafetz, one of the lawyers, said Mr. Marri had heard guards describe “a cabinet full of tapes” showing his interrogations, but had never had independent confirmation that such tapes existed. Mr. Marri has alleged that earlier in his imprisonment he was deprived of sleep, isolated and exposed to prolonged cold.

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