Florence Aubenas, Guantánamo, and torture
Yesterday I blogged about Florence Aubenas’s release. While clearly the Aubenas story has become a cause célèbre in France, the fact of the matter is that hers is first-hand testimony. Her ordeal, which was brutal, lasted 157 days:
- She was held in a cellar* that was 13′ x 6′, and only 5′ high, along with as many as a dozen other hostages.
- The cellar was totally dark. There was no light in the cellar. There was no window, and the cellar had no ventilation.
- She was bound and blindfolded all the time she was there
- The hostages were not allowed to speak. If they spoke, they were beaten. Ms Aubenas states she was beaten twice for having been accused of speaking.
- Other punishments included having their hands painfully bound behind their back, and the withholding of meals and water.
- (Update, June 16) According to this Bloomberg article, food was an egg sandwich in the morning and chicken at lunch.
- Aubenas said that her captors imposed a daily limit of 80 spoken words and 24 paces to go to the bathroom.
- She realised only towards the end of her captivity that she had been kept in the same basement as Hussein Hanoun al-Saadi, her Iraqi guide.
- Which brings me to my next point: imagine being a woman, held in a cell with men, during your menses. For five months.
- She spent her days sitting cross-legged on her mattress. She ate with her hands bound.
- Several times she was beaten by her guards because she had moved or because they thought that she had whispered to another hostage taken into the basement.
You can hear Ms Aubenas’s own words at France2 news. Allow me to point out that Ms Aubenas is a journalist, not a terrorist, not a criminal.
Compare that to the outrage over Guantánamo, where Mohammed al Qahtani, who is widely believed to be the so-called 20th hijacker, a compatriot of Osama bin Laden and a man who had tried to enter the U.S. in August 2001 to take part in the Sept. 11 attacks, is held. Mr. al Qahtani, held in an air-conditioned cell with ceilings high enough he can stand up and move, gets three square meals a day, is not bound all the time, and is allowed exercise daily. According to Time Mag,
Now the interrogators could use stress strategies like standing for prolonged periods, isolation for as long as 30 days, removal of clothing, forced shaving of facial hair, playing on “individual phobias” (such as dogs) and “mild, non-injurious physical contact such as grabbing, poking in the chest with the finger and light pushing.”
When things got rough, “interrogators poured bottles of water on al-Qahtani’s head when he refused to drink“, and made him listen to Christina Aguilera’s music, or watch a puppet show. When he became dehydrated because of refusing to drink water, he given an IV drip, given an EKG, transferred to a hospital, a CT scan is performed, and hooked up to a heart monitor, which, as Lileks said,
This guy got more medical care than anyone in non-Gitmo Cuba.
With the air-conditioning and regular meals, he’s also enjoying cooler accommodations and better nutrition, too. According to this article, a typical day’s meals provide a Guantánamo inmate with about 2,600 calories.
That’s what Amnesty International’s calling the “gulag of our time”?
Via LGF, Associated Press reports that Palestinian prisoners fabricated a Koran desecration story, by photographing with their cell phones torn pages of a book and emailing them to a reporter (note also the heading, “Militants Display Pictures of Torn Qurans”. Militants? Terrorists!). There’s lots of outrage over alleged Koran mishandling — but no outrage or rioting over the many Korans that are desecrated when mosques, like the one in Kandahar, are bombed.
I want to know who’s rioting over Ms Aubenas’s treatment — after all, if unfounded allegations of Koran desecrations caused street rioting, first-hand testimony of brutal treatment of a woman should cause at least a little stir. What it comes down to is, as Steyn puts it, Quran desecration crock a win for Jihad spin docs. But back to Gitmo and the Amnesty “gulag”, Steyn says,
Well then, these are diminished times for gulags. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, some 15 million to 30 million prisoners died in the Soviet gulags. By comparison, Guantanamo at its peak held 750 prisoners; currently, there are 520; none have died in captivity, and, as I wrote 3-1/2 years ago, it has the distinction of being “a camp where the medical staff outnumber the prisoners.” You’ll get swifter, cleaner and more efficient treatment than most Canadians do under socialized health care. It’s the only gulag in history where the detainees leave in better health and weighing more than when they arrive. This means they’re in much better shape when they get back to their hectic schedule of killing infidels: Of the more than 200 who’ve been released, around 5 percent — that’s to say, 12 — have since been recaptured on the battlefield.
Why would an organization in the human rights business want to trivialize the murder of millions in totalitarian death camps by comparing them with a non-death camp that flatters every aspect of the inmates’ culture? If Gitmo’s a gulag, what words are left for the systemic rape being practiced by the butchers of Darfur? Or is it because they’ve so exhausted the extremes of their vocabulary on Guantanamo that the world’s progressives have so little to say about real horrors like Sudan?
In other news, Australian hostage Douglas Wood was freed in a military operation by Iraqi troops backed by U.S. forces. Thanks to them, Mr. Wood was not decapitated.
I haven’t heard Amnesty International say anything about the decapitations, either.
her kidnappers, who she said vaguely indicated they were members of an unspecified Sunni Muslim ‘religious movement’.
Follow-up post: The Aubenas kidnapping, the Romanian connection, and a whiff of Oil-For-Food, on the kidnapping rackets.