|26/5/05||FBI Files Show Guantanamo Detainees Reported Desecration of Koran Beginning in 2002|
Thursday, May 26th, 2005
One prisoner interviewed in August 2002, said that guards had flushed the Koran in the toilet. Others reported the Koran being kicked, withheld as punishment and thrown on the floor. On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union released these newly declassified documents. [includes rush transcript]
Newly declassified documents released by the FBI reveal detainee claims of Koran desecration by US guards at Guantanamo as early as 2002. The documents were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and include numerous summaries of FBI interviews with prisoners.
One prisoner interviewed in August 2002, said that guards had flushed the Koran in the toilet. Others reported the Koran being kicked, withheld as punishment and thrown on the floor.
AMY GOODMAN: This is White House spokesperson Scott McClellan last week.
AMY GOODMAN: White House spokesperson Scott McClellan at a news conference last week. Since then, media outlets and human rights groups have revealed scores of allegations of abuse of the Koran by U.S. interrogators and others. McClellan has now retreated on claims that Newsweek’s retracted story cost lives in Afghanistan. This is from a White House news conference on Monday.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Scott McClellan, White House press spokesperson. Joined now by Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Welcome to Democracy Now!
DONNA LIEBERMAN: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. We’re going to talk about the Newsweek controversy in a minute and talk about which lies actually took lives over the last few years. But can you talk about the latest documents that have just been declassified from the F.B.I.?
DONNA LIEBERMAN: Yeah. The ACLU is getting thousands of pages every couple of weeks from the F.B.I., and the most recent batch of documents includes a couple — several documents which are F.B.I. interviews with detainees, in which they accuse their jailers of beatings and a whole range of violence against them and of abusing the Koran. Included in those documents are complaints of throwing the Koran on the floor, withholding it, kicking it, and also flushing it down the toilet.
AMY GOODMAN: These documents have just come out.
DONNA LIEBERMAN: These have just come out. The government releases them to us and to the press at the same time.
AMY GOODMAN: And who are the detainees who are saying this? Are these released detainees?
DONNA LIEBERMAN: No. These — when you read the documents, it’s revealing, because if you remember when in the old days when people would ask for their F.B.I. files, and there are huge blank spots on the papers, well, it’s just like that. And literally, there are pages with just everything whited out and just a couple of sentences. And these are documents created by the F.B.I. They’re internal memos on the interviews with the detainees while they are in custody, and they’re revealing.
AMY GOODMAN: And who did they say was doing the desecration of the Koran?
DONNA LIEBERMAN: Well, the desecration was done by the guards. We don’t have names. Those are all blanked out. We don’t have the names of the detainees who are making the complaints, but the internal F.B.I. memos document time and time again that there are complaints of physical violence, which is beyond comprehension and of abuse, religious abuse, and the kicking or flushing down the toilet of the Koran is just part of it. There are allegations – there are complaints here of the use of female guards by the United States to sexually abuse and harass the detainees, as well, using their sexuality and what they believe to be the Muslim views of sexuality and bodies to humiliate and intimidate and make it impossible for people to practice their religion, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, these are F.B.I. documents?
DONNA LIEBERMAN: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Are there others from other agencies?
DONNA LIEBERMAN: Oh, absolutely. We have – our Freedom of Information Act request, which has been going on for years now, and which the government has resisted every way it possibly can. We have to go to court in order to get an order for the government to comply. We have gone after the documents of the Department of Defense, the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. The F.B.I. is the only agency that has fully complied thus far. And the C.I.A. is resisting big-time. In fact, the case is on in court today. We have asked for, in addition to written verbal documents, we have asked for pictures and videos, and the C.I.A. — you will like this — claims that it can’t release photographs because that would violate the Geneva Conventions, because it would compromise the privacy of the detainees.
AMY GOODMAN: And that’s in court today?
DONNA LIEBERMAN: That’s in court today. Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: Donna Lieberman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, New York chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union. When we come back, we’ll continue to talk about the Newsweek controversy, and talk about what this means for journalism today. Who’s telling lies? When were they told? And when do the lies take lives? Stay with us.