More possible evidence that the Bush administration used torture to get information about Iraq?
Back in 2004, the Associated Press reported on the plight of several Guantanamo detainees who had previously been held by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Among them was one Iraqi:
The Iraqi, Arkan Mohammed Ghafil al Karim, says he deserted from Saddam Hussein’s army and was later imprisoned and tortured by the Taliban for two years. He says he was brought to Guantanamo in 2002 so that the American military could learn about Iraq’s army ahead of the invasion of that country.
The notion that US interrogators hoped to extract from al-Karim information on Saddam’s army is backed up by the British journalist Andy Worthington, who has compiled an extensive record of Guantanamo detainees. In a blog post last month, Worthington wrote:
From my extensive research into the stories of the Guantánamo prisoners, I recall only that one particular prisoner, an Iraqi named Arkan al-Karim, mentioned being questioned about Iraq. Released in January this year, al-Karim had been imprisoned by the Taliban before being handed over to US forces by Northern Alliance troops, and had been forced to endure the most outrageous barrage of false allegations in Guantánamo, but when he spoke to the review board that finally cleared him for release, he made a point of explaining, “The reason they [the US] brought me to Cuba is not because I did something. They brought me from Taliban prison to get information from me about the Iraqi army before the United States went to Iraq.”
Worthington told TPMmuckraker that the information came from transcripts of al-Karim’s combatant status review, which he has examined.
There’s no direct evidence that al-Karim was tortured. But given what we know about interrogation techniques at Guantanamo, it certainly can’t be ruled out. And if nothing else, al-Karim’s clear belief that he was brought to Gitmo in 2002 to give information about Iraq suggests just how focused on Saddam’s regime interrogators were during that period.
It’s also worth noting that looking for information about the Iraqi army is not the same as looking for information about Saddam’s links to al Qaeda, since such information presumably had a military use, rather than just a political one. But nor is it the same as looking for information that could thwart another terror attack, which is how torture defenders prefer to portray what the program did.