The Chair and the Eye-Bolt
According to public testimony, Guantánamo interrogation rooms are often fitted with a chair next to an eye-bolt on the floor. Herewith a set of testimonies about the uses of this equipment.
From Testimonies of FBI Agents
(FBI044) From [REDACTED] (IR)(FBI) | Sent Monday August 2 2004 2 40 PM | To (INSD) (FBI) | Subject RE GTMO | I was situated in the observation booth in between two interview rooms, observing an interview which included at least one FBI SA, and possibly a colleague of his from one of the other agencies with investigative personnel assigned there at the time The booth was quite crowded because there were several individuals present who were observing an “interview” in the room on the other side of the booth In that room, the detainee was seated in a chair and was secured in the same method as I’d seen for all of the other detainees, shackled at his feet so that he could not leave the room However, there wasn’t much talking going on, because the lights had been turned off and a strobe light was flickering on and off, and loud rock music was being played I estimate that this went on for 30 to 60 minutes I was told by quite a few FBI personnel that tactics such as this were quite common there at the time This was the only such event that I observed directly (DOJFBI 002036 or DOJFBI 2942).
(FBI108) From: [REDACTED] (IP)(FBI) | Sent: Friday, July 09, 2004 5:19PM | To: [REDACTED] (INSD)(FBI) | […] | Subject: GTMO Detainee Treatment | I was TDY in Guantanamo from February 10 to March 27, 2003. While there, I heard through the usual rumor mill (other agents, military counterparts) about a technique used by military interrogators which was not allowed to be used by Agents. The technique was to leave a detainee shackled in an interrogation room for an extended period of time, twelve hours or more, and either turn the air conditioner to its lowest possible temperature or off. Supposedly, the detainees were not removed from the rooms even to relieve themselves. This was only used for the difficult detainees who would not cooperate. | One day while I was in one of the interrogation buildings, I was in one of the observation rooms which looked into two interrogation rooms. I was in this room because the detainee I was interviewing was in one of the interrogation room [sic] observed from this room. Laying [sic] on the floor of the other interrogation room was a detainee. I believe this detainee was subject to the above mentioned extended stay in the interrogation room. | The detainee did not appeared distressed. The detainee may possibly have been asleep. He was dressed in the normal detainee jumpsuit. His leg shackles were attached to the I-bolt in the center of the interrogation room floor as per SOP [= Standard Operating Procedure]. I do not recall if the detainee was or was not wearing handcuffs. I do not recall observing any furniture in the room on which the detainee could sit. The detainee did not appear to have soiled himself and I did not observe any fluid around the detainee. | I do not know how long the detainee was in the room prior to my viewing him or how long he remained there after I saw him. I do not know what the temperature of the interrogation room was or if the air conditioning was on or off […] My full bureau name is: [REDACTED] | Position: Special Agent (Responses, Part III, 181).1
(FBI113) From [REDACTED] (KX)(FBI) | Sent: Tuesday, July 13, 2004 9:28 AM | To: [REDACTED] (INSD) (FBI) | Subject: GTMO | I worked at GTMO from June through August of 2002. During that period I observed one incident in an interrogation room which was contrary to Bureau interview policy / guidelines. I observed a detainee in a darkened interrogation room shackled to the bolt on the floor in a kneeling position. The room was completely dark and there was a flashing strobe light placed in front of the detainee and a stereo was playing loud music in the room. I observed a male interrogator outside the room during the time frame that I observed this activity. The interrogator was wearing a BDU uniform with no unit patches or name tags on the uniform so I have no idea what agency he worked for; however, I never observed any FBI personel [sic] involved in this interrogation that I described (Responses, Part IV, 212).2
(FBI114) From [REDACTED] (SE)(FBI) | Sent: Sunday, July 11, 2004 3:29 PM | To: [REDACTED] (INSD) (FBI) | Subject: GTMO | I am responding via e-mail because I was aware of a practice of interrogating detainees which I did not feel was appropriate. During my short TDY at GTMO in July 2002, I took part in some discussions about a practice which had been utilized in which the detainee would be placed in the interview room approximately 6-8 hours prior to the scheduled interview. The air conditioning in the room would be turned down to as low as 55 degrees. It was common practice to have the detainees restricted from movement with handcuffs, legcuffs, and a chain bolted to the floor, which would prevent them from moving around the room, which in this case would prevent them from adjusting the air conditioning temperature. | My interview team did not participate in this practice, but I vaguely recall seeing detainees in rooms by themselves in conditions which I believed included uncomfortably cold environments. There were occasions when our interview team would show up for an interview and the temperature in the room was uncomfortably cold. However, the detainee was rarely in the room for any length of time before the interview and we would immediately turn the air conditioning temperature to a comfortable level. I brought the topic up to the Marine Corps JAG assigned to us and they actually began to discourage this practice, not necessarily because of my efforts, but others that agreed with my veiws [sic] as well (Responses, Part IV, 213).3
1. CSHRA NOTE: Handwritten annotation on the margin overriding earlier assessment of this statement as a positive determination of abuse: "Environment down | doesn't seem excessive given DoD policy".
2. CSHRA NOTE: Handwritten annotation on the margin overriding earlier assessments of this statement as a positive determination of abuse: "No — consistent w/ DoD policy."
3. CSHRA NOTE: Handwritten annotation on the margin overriding earlier assessments of this statement as a positive determination of abuse: "No — consistent w/ DoD policy."
From Testimonies of Lawyers (Joseph Margulies)
(HS1) GLASS: So here’s how a lawyer meets with his client, when his client is a prisoner at Guantanamo. There’s a little hut, with a metal table. MARGULIES: He’s brought out of the box, and shackled to an I-bolt in the floor, uh, with his back to the door. He is forbidden to face the natural light. GLASS: Joe Margulies of the University of Chicago represents a few detainees at Guantanamo and he says that to understand that thing about the natural light, you have to understand that the detention facilities at Guantanamo were designed to be the perfect interrogation chambers. And so anything the prisoner wants, including sunlight, he’s only going to get with the permission of his interrogators, as a reward for cooperating. And anything can be used that way.
(HS6) On a different day, we chained him to the floor and cut off his clothes while a female MP entered the room. We dripped what we said was menstrual blood on his body. When he spat at us, we smeared this blood on his face. We kissed the cross around our neck and said "This is a gift from Christ for you Muslims." We videotaped the entire episode. There’s no way to confirm that all this happened to Al Dossari. But other prisoners and officials at Guantanamo have described variations of every technique on the list, including the menstrual blood, the Israeli flag, the references to Christianity, the beatings, the sexual humiliation. [Al Dossari is interrogated still, about once a month. During one visit last winter, he asked Colangelo-Bryan, "What can I do to keep myself from going crazy?" A few months later, during a meeting, Al Dossari asked to go to the bathroom. Colangelo-Bryan and the MP stepped outside the hut and waited. After five minutes, Colangelo-Bryan got concerned. He cracked the door open.] COLANGELO-BRYAN: When I opened the door, the first thing I saw was a pool of blood on the floor in front of me. I then looked up and saw a figure – hanging. I yelled to the MPs for help. They then began to cut down the noose around Jumah’s neck. HITT: It wasn’t Al Dossari’s first suicide attempt. COLANGELO-BRYAN: About three weeks later, I was back in Guantanamo. Jumah said to me that he didn’t want to kill himself without an outside witness. His fear was that if he died, and only the military knew, nobody would’ve known what happened.
From Testimonies of Lawyers (H. Candace Gorman)
I knew little about Al Ghizzawi and it seemed plausible to me that he might be the “worst of the worst”—which is what our government claims Guantánamo is holding. However, when I entered the tiny windowless room, I met a frail, bearded, jaundiced man of about 45, wearing a khaki jump suit and flip flops with his feet shackled to a ring on the floor.
From Testimony of a Chaplain
(Y20) Detainees also complained that they were chained to the metal rings in the floors of the trailers where interrogations took place, often for several hours. A translator told me that detainees could be chained in a way that forced them to hunch over, not able to stand up and not able to sit comfortably (Yee 2005, 76).
From Testimony of a Translator
(ES9) The man in shackles was already waiting for us in the interrogation booth, a bare room with a couple of folding chairs and a D ring on the linoleum floor […] The air-conditioning was turned up too high. The captive’s ankle chains had been shortened and attached to the ring so there was no play in his feet, and a short chain connected his handcuffs to the ring as well. The arrangement forced him to hunch over, partially squatting. He appeared to have been there a while (Saar and Novak 2005, 172).
(ES10) “Mo, I can help you if you will only cooperate.” Mohammed spoke, only to say, “Your guards have no respect for Islam. I have no reason to talk to you.” “We need to move past that, Mohammed,” Mike said. “I need you to cooperate with me. Did you know Fareed Mahmoud?” Silence. We played that game for about a half an hour, with Mohammed hunched over in his orange suit, shackled to the floor and staring at the wall (Saar and Novak 2005, 181).
(ES30) Mo had heard a lot about these trips [= round-trip flights from Guantanamo to Afghanistan to pick up captured terrorist suspects of high enough interest to send to Guantanamo], and he said they were extremely intense. “Every single aspect of the mission is meant to intimidate the detainees,” he told me. “Even the linguists are supposed to treat the detainees like shit and get them scared out of their minds.” Not long before my arrival, an air force linguist who had gone on one of the missions took photos, which found their way onto television. The bound captives wore dark goggles, headphones, and paper masks like those used by health care workers. During portions of the transfer, they were hooded, and they were laced down to the floor of the C-130 with black straps for the more than twenty hour flight. Some thought they were being sent to their deaths, and nobody disabused them of that notion. They were screamed at constantly during the trip. On the ground in Cuba, they were immediately thrown into interrogation booths for sessions that could last up to two days (Saar and Novak 2005, 117f).
(ES39) The detainee [a young Saudi named Fareek] had already been in the booth, alone and in chains, for an hour; she [female Army interrogator ‘Brooke’] told me to grab some coffee because she’d decided to make him sit for another hour […] “I believe the problem here is that its too easy for him to regain strength when he returns to his cell,” Brooke noted. “We’ve gotta find a way to break that, and I’m thinking that humiliation may be the way to go. I just need to make him feel that he absolutely must cooperate with me and has no other options. I think we should make him feel so fucking dirty that he can’t go back to his cell and spend the night praying. We have to put a barrier between him and his God” | We opened the door to the booth and saw the Saudi, who was wearing ankle shackles and handcuffs with an additional chain connecting all his restraints to the D ring in the floor. The chain was again intentionally made too short, forcing him to hunch over in the thoroughly uncomfortable position that I’d seen quite often by that time. Two MPs were with him. The air-conditioning was turned way up […] Brooke said, “Erik, I’m going to work on making him feel like he can’t pray.” | We returned to the booth. Brooke and I were both in our sanitized (our names were taped over) BDUs. To my surprise, she started to unbutton her top slowly, teasingly, almost like a stripper, revealing a skin-tight brown Army T-shirt stretching over her chest. | Fareek wouldn’t look at her. “What is the matter, Fareek? Don’t you like women?” As she said this, she stood in front of him and tried to make him look at her body. She walked slowly behind him and began rubbing her breasts against his back. “Do you like these big American tits, Fareek?” she said. “I can see that you are starting to get hard. How do you think Allah feels about that?” The detainee was visibly bothered but still didn’t speak. She moved in front of him and took a seat. “What do you think, Fareek?” she said, placing her hands on her breasts. “Don’t you like these big tits?” He glanced, saw what she was doing, and immediately looked away. | “Are you gay? Why do you keep looking at him?” Brooke asked, referring to me. “He thinks I have great tits! Don’t you?” Caught off guard, I just nodded as I kept translating, which had gotten uncomfortable enough for me; I didn’t want to be drawn in further. “This is all your choice, Fareek, we can go on like this all night or you can start to answer my questions,” she said. “Who sent you to flight school?” […] | She [= Adel] had a high-priority uncooperative detainee, she explained, and she wanted to find a way to break him from his reliance on God, his source of strength. He suggested that she tell the Saudi that she was having her period and then touch him. That could make him feel too dirty and ashamed to go before God later, he said, adding that she should have the MPs turn off his water so he couldn’t wash later. | I thought it was odd that a devout Muslim would suggest this treatment for a fellow believer, but Brooke seized Adel’s idea and built on it. She grabbed a red marker and disappeared into the ladies’ room. “Let’s go,” she said when she returned […] We sat across from the detainee […] “How do you [Fareek] think he feels about your being attracted to this infidel American woman?” |As she said this, she stood and moved her chair out of the way. She started unbuttoning her BDU pants. “Fareek, did you know that I’m having my period?” she said. She placed her hands in her pants as she started to circle behind the detainee. “How do you feel about me touching you now?” | Fareek’s spine shot straight as a steel rod. As I translated, he looked at me as if my death was his most profound desire. | Brooke came back around his other side, and he could see that she was beginning to withdraw her hand from her pants. As it became visible, the Saudi saw what looked like red blood on her hand. “Who told you to learn to fly, Fareek?” she demanded. He glared at her with vengeance, refusing to give in. “You fuck,” she hissed, wiping what he believed was menstrual blood on his face […] Fareek was screaming at the top of his lungs, rattling the flimsy trailer, body shaking, beginning to sob. He kept yanking his arms apart, as if he could somehow wrest himself out of his handcuffs. | “How do you like this?” she asked, holding open the palm of her hand to show him her blood. | […] The MPs rushed into the room and Brooke said to the lower-ranking one, “Fix the fucking shackles, leave him lying on the floor, and get the fuck out!” […] Brooke got down to her knees next to him. I followed suit. “It doesn’t have to be this way,” she said. “You have choices, Fareek. Who sent you to flight school?” He began to cry like a baby, sobbing and mumbling in Arabic too indistinct for me to understand. The only thing I picked out was, “You American whore.” |“What do you think your brothers will think of you in the morning when they see an American woman’s menstrual blood on your face?” Brooke said, standing up. “By the way, we’ve shut off the water to your cell for tonight, so the blood will still be there tomorrow,” she tossed out as we left the booth. There was no honor in what we had just done […] There wasn’t enough hot water in all of Cuba to make me feel clean (Saar and Novak 2005, 221-229).
From Testimonies of the Department of Defense
(SF9) Finding #8: On at least two occasions between February 2002 and February 2003, two detainees were “short shackled” to the eye-bolt on the floor of the interrogation room […] Short shackling is the process by which the detainee’s hand restraints are connected directly to an eyebolt in the floor requiring the detainee to either crouch very low or lay in a fetal position on the floor. (Schmidt and Furlow 2005, 12).
From Testimonies of Interrogators (Former Operations Officer)
I am not aware of short shackling being used in an interrogation. The detainee might be left in the booth for an extended period of time after interrogations awaiting MPs. The short chain was done as a control measure. The chain was close to the floor. The detainee was chained with his wrist close to the floor. The interrogator would ask the MPs to put the detainee in that position. Where I saw that, I can't remember if a chair was in the room. As far as I know, everything was in the boundaries (Declassified Enclosures of The Schmidt-Furlow Report, 846).
From Testimonies of the Prisoners (Rhuhel Ahmed, Asif Iqbal, Shafiq Rasul)
(T88) In the interrogation booths, used after the tent, there was a table in the middle, often screwed to the floor. There was also a chair on which the detainees were ordered to sit and in front of this chair there was a metal hoop screwed into the ground. When they were walked into the interrogation room, they had to sit down and then their leg shackles were in turn attached to this hoop using a huge padlock. This is described as being 'long shackled' (Rasul et al. 2004, paragraph 88).
(T226) After three days I was taken to "the Brown building". I was long shackled and sat in a chair. I was left in a room and strobe lighting was put on and very loud music. It was a dance version of Eminem played repeatedly again and again. I was left in the room with the strobe lighting and loud music for about an hour before I was taken back to my cell. Nobody questioned me (Rasul et al. 2004, paragraph 226).
(T261) "From approximately July 2002 MI5 officers interrogated us without American interrogators or guards present in the room. We were in exactly the same physical circumstances of interrogation as when the Americans interrogated us, sitting on a plastic chair shackled to the floor. We complained to MI5 as well as the Foreign Office about all the things that were being done to us in Guantanamo Bay. You couldn't tell the difference between the MI5 and the Foreign Office. Neither was interested in us other than to get information we didn't have. The last three interrogations Asif did not talk to them at all. When we saw the Foreign Office we were chained in exactly the same way as when we were being interrogated." (Rasul et al. 2004, paragraph 261).
From Testimonies of the Prisoners (Abu Bakr Qasim, Adel Abdulhehim, Ahmed Adil, Akhdar Qasem Basit, Haji Mohammed Ayub)
Ayub, emaciated and worn down from months in solitary confinement, was suspicious. He was taken to a small room and told to sit on a white plastic chair. The chairman of the tribunal entered the room and sat down on a slightly raised, black leather chair in front of Ayub, whose feet were chained to a bolt set into the floor (Hauke Goos, "Escape to Hell: Fleeing China, Landing in Guantanamo,"Spiegel Online, July 14, 2006).
The men had just exchanged their prison garb for jeans, T-shirts and slip-on sneakers but were still in handcuffs as they boarded the plane, where they were shackled to bolts in the floor and surrounded by more than 20 armed soldiers. About 14 hours later, the plane landed in Albania, a poor Balkan nation eager to please Washington (Neil A. Lewis "Freed From Guantánamo but Stranded Far From Home," The New York Times, August 15, 2006).
From Testimonies of the Prisoners (Abdul Al Salam Al Hilal, Abdul Salam Zaeff, Abdullah Al Noaimi, Karam Khamis Sayd Khamsan)
Jennifer described how and where men are imprisoned at Guantánamo. Every father was eager to hear if his son was in Camp Four, at that point the communal camp and the only medium-security camp atGuantánamo. Jennifer explained that she met with her clients only in Camp Echo, where they are held in solitary confinement. What she didn't say is that the men there are chained to the floor during meetings and, because of the construction of the new camp, have more reason than ever to fear that they'll be in Cuba forever (Eliza Griswold, "American Gulag: Prisoners’ Tales from the War on Terror," Harper's Magazine, September 2006).
From Testimonies of the Prisoners (Mohammad Sanghir, Sha Mohammed Alikhel, Abdul Razaq)
Prisoners describe the interrogation room as a small, windowless, air-conditioned, plywood space, lit by fluorescent ceiling tubes. One, two or three Americans ask questions, through a translator if necessary. The only furniture is a wooden table with metal legs and metal chairs. Interviews are recorded on tape and by written note. There is a metal ring fixed to the floor; while they are being interrogated, the prisoners sit in a chair and have their chains fixed to the ring (James Meek, "People the law forgot, Part 1", The Guardian Unlimited, December 3, 2003).
From Testimonies of the Prisoners (Tarek Dergoul)
For one period of about a month last year, he said, guards would take him every day to an interrogation room in chains, seat him, chain him to a ring in the floor and then leave him alone for eight hours at a time. 'The air conditioning would really be blowing - it was freezing, which was incredibly painful on my amputation stumps. Eventually I'd need to urinate and in the end I would try to tilt my chair and go on the floor. They were watching through a one-way mirror. As soon as I wet myself, a woman MP would come in yelling, "Look what you've done! You're disgusting." 'Afterwards he would be taken back to his cell for about three hours. Then the guards would reappear and in Guantanamo slang tell him he was returning to the interrogation room: 'You have a reservation.' The process would begin again. Dergoul also described the use of what was known as the 'short shackle' - steel bonds pulled tight to keep the subject bunched up, while chained to the floor. 'After a while, it was agony. You could hear the guards behind the mirror, making jokes, eating and drinking, knocking on the walls. It was not about trying to get information. It was just about trying to break you.' In their letter to Bush, Rasul and Iqbal also said they endured this procedure (David Rose, "They tied me up like a beast and began kickingme",The Observer, The Guardian Unlimited, May 16, 2004).
From Testimonies of the Prisoners (Mourad Benchellali)
"Then, in January 2002, I was transferred to Guantanamo. I was beaten up on the bus that was taking us to the camp. We were treated differently depending on whether or not we responded to questions. Those who did not `cooperate' were awakened every hour with the aim of preventing them from sleeping at all costs. They might put us in a room with the music very loud broadcast through large speakers or make us endure flashes of light for several hours at a time. Sometimes, they left us handcuffed for hours to a chair or then they turned down the air conditioning. The humiliations were numerous, in particular of a sexual nature. The Americans had prostitutes come into the camp. One of them planted herself in front of a Saudi—they were in the majority at Guantanamo—and smeared her menstrual blood on his face. The searches were constant and humiliating. They tied the Koran above us and took pleasure in batting it around (Azziz Zemouri, "I met Osama Bin Laden," Le Figaro.fr, February 14, 2006).
From Other First-Hand Testimonies
(M1) Many detainees at Guantánamo Bay were regularly subjected to harsh and coercive treatment […] One regular procedure that was described by people who worked at Camp Delta, the main prison facility at the naval base in Cuba, was making uncooperative prisoners strip to their underwear, having them sit in a chair while shackled hand and foot to a bolt in the floor, and forcing them to endure strobe lights and screamingly loud rock and rap music played through two close loudspeakers, while the air-conditioning was turned up to maximum levels, said one military official who witnessed the procedure. The official said that was intended to make the detainees uncomfortable, as they were accustomed to high temperatures both in their native countries and their cells. Such sessions could last up to 14 hours with breaks […] “It fried them,” the official said, who said that anger over the treatment the prisoners endured was the reason for speaking with a reporter. Another person familiar with the procedure who was contacted by The Times said: “They were very wobbly. They came back to their cells and were just completely out of it.” One intelligence official said most of the intense interrogation was focused on a group of detainees known as the “Dirty 30” and believed to be the best potential sources of information (Neil A. Lewis, "Broad Use of Harsh Techniques is Described at Cuba Base", The New York Times, October 17, 2004).