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Bush Borrows Communist Torture Tactics

Bush Borrows Communist Torture Tactics

By Sherwood Ross

Commander-in-chief George W. Bush’s Pentagon has borrowed Red Chinese torture techniques employed against American prisoners during the Korean War to use on suspects captured in the Middle East.

Bush may claim “we do not torture” yet the New York Times (July 2) headline reports otherwise: “China Inspired/Interrogations/At Guantanamo.”

There is now, the Times reports, “vivid evidence of the way Communist interrogation methods that the United States long described as torture became the basis for interrogations both by the military at Guantanamo and by the Central Intelligence Agency.” (Translation: when they did it, we called it “torture.”)

That evidence is in the form of a chart carried by Pentagon trainers to Guantanamo prison, Cuba, in Dec., 2002, outlining the use of “sleep deprivation,” “prolonged constraint” and “exposure,” etc.
Seems this chart was copied word for word from a 1957 Air Force study of Red Chinese techniquesused during the Korean War to coerce confessions from captured GIs! And some of its methods, the Times said, have been used on men arrested in the Middle East. One tactic was to deny prisoners their sleep.

As McClatchy News Service’s Warren Strobel reported last month, retired Lt. Col. Diane Beaver, a military lawyer, appeared to confirm U.S. officials at Afghanistan’s Bagram prison used “sleep deprivation on detainees” even before then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the technique.

(“Sleep deprivation,” by the way, was used by the Soviet KGB under dictator Joseph Stalin. Only in Moscow’s Lubyanka prison it was known bluntly as “the conveyor belt” as exhausted captives got mauled by one handler after another.)

To torment GIs captured in Korea, the Chinese Reds used “complete solitary confinement,” “complete isolation,” “barren environment,” “restricted movement,” “monotonous food,” and so on---tactics the Bush military has widely adopted against Arab and Muslim captives.

Confined to solitary (“complete isolation” as the Chinese called it) by itself is a maddening experience, even for hardened criminals. It’s particularly devastating for those that are innocent, as so many captives are, when no charges are brought against them, when they have been arrested and dumped half way around the world away from family and friends, when they are not allowed to receive visits or mail, when they are denied due process of law and lawyers, and when they are entombed alive in a tiny cubicle (“restricted movement”) with a slab bed, toilet, and sink, and only a vertical sliver of a window about six inches wide and 18 inches high to admit light.

According to Amnesty International(AI), prisoner Lakhdar Boumediene, was not captured on any battlefield but seized in Bosnia, flown to Guantanamo, and never charged with a crime. Although ordered released by the Bosnian Supreme Court in 2002, Bush has now kept him in Gitmo for seven years. His experience is commonplace. Boumediene appears to be one of the many the U.S. McClatchy News Service reports “were arrested on the basis of flimsy or fabricated evidence.” The Bush motto might well be, “Torture first, trial later.”

The photographs accompanying this column show Amnesty International's Zeke Johnson ( ) at a replica Guantanamo cell the human rights group exhibited recently at Miami’s Bayfront Park as part of its anti-torture campaign Johnson says prisoners are confined in such cells 22 hours a day.

Despite Bush’s denials, the International Red Cross has concluded U.S. methods are “tantamount to torture.” And it gets worse: by some accounts, hundreds of Muslim prisoners have perished in Bush jails.

Holding tens of thousands of captives, many, if not most, illegally, and some concealed in secret dungeons hidden from Red Cross scrutiny, George Bush has shamed America with the title of “the world’s jailer.” And just when enlightened humanity thought communist totalitarianism was dying out, President Bush revives its tortures. If Bush is what America stands for, we have to ask: “Has America gone nuts?”


The author formerly reported for the Chicago Daily News and wire services. Reach him at

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