Religious Degradation

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

Deborah Pearlstein ties the ends together and gives the big picture:

Newsweek’s missteps in reporting particular allegations of religious degradation initially obscured the broad truth that religious degradation was a tactic expressly approved by the Department of Defense. A memo signed by Rumsfeld in November 2002 listed “removal of clothing” as a permissible interrogation technique, along with “removal of facial hair,” also a technique designed to offend Muslims who wear beards. On December 2, 2002, Rumsfeld authorized interrogation tactics at Guantanamo Bay that included the removal of religious items, forced grooming such as shaving facial hair, and removal of clothing. Indeed, the Defense Department’s own investigation of operations at Guantanamo Bay, conducted by Vice Admiral Albert T. Church, found cases in which a female interrogator “touched and spoke to detainees in a sexually suggestive manner in order to incur stress based on the detainees’ religious beliefs.”

In that context, it is difficult not to take with utmost seriousness the allegations that now abound of U.S. forces denigrating Muslim religious beliefs in the course of U.S. global detention operations.