How Donald Rumsfeld Micromanaged Torture | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: DENY X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

How Donald Rumsfeld Micromanaged Torture

When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld boasted, as he did frequently, of his unrelenting focus on the war on terror, his audience would have been startled, maybe even shocked, to discover the activities that Rumsfeld found it necessary to supervise in minute detail. Close command and control of far away events from the Pentagon were not limited to the targeting of bombs and missiles. Thanks to breakthroughs in communications, the interrogation and torture of prisoners could be monitored on a real time basis also.

The first prisoner to experience such attention from Rumsfeld’s office, or the first that we know about, was an American citizen, John Walker Lindh, a young man from California whose fascination with Islam had led him to enlist in the Taliban. Shortly thereafter, he and several hundred others surrendered to the Northern Alliance warlord Abdu Rashid Dostum in return for a promise of safe passage. Dostum broke the deal, herding the prisoners into a ruined fortress near Mazar-e-Sharif. Lindh managed to survive, though wounded, and eventually fell into the hands of the CIA and Special Forces, who proceeded to interrogate him.

According to documents later unearthed by Richard Serrano of the Los Angeles Times, a Special Forces intelligence officer was informed by a Navy Admiral monitoring events in Mazar-e-Sharif that “the Secretary of Defense’s Counsel (lawyer William Haynes) has authorized him to ‘take the gloves off’ and ask whatever he wanted.” In the course of the questioning Lindh, who had a bullet in his leg, was stripped naked, blindfolded, handcuffed, and bound to a stretcher with duct tape. In a practice that would become more familiar at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq 18 months later, smiling soldiers posed for pictures next to the naked prisoner. A navy medic later testified that he had been told by the lead military interrogator that “sleep deprivation, cold and hunger might be employed” during Lindh’s interrogations. Meanwhile, his responses to the questioning, which ultimately went on for days, were relayed back to Washington, according to the documents disclosed to Serrano, every hour, hour after hour. Someone very important clearly wanted to know all the details.