Judge: Rumsfeld sanctioned torture in Gitmo

A top US official has for the first time publicly admitted that a suspect, incarcerated at the Guantanamo Bay prison was tortured.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Susan J Crawford, a judge tasked with deciding on whether Guantanamo detainees should be brought to trial, told the newspaper that she decided against prosecuting Saudi national Mohammed al-Qahtani because his interrogation met the legal definition of torture.

Crawford said that the harsh techniques used against al-Qahtani were approved by the then defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

“A lot of this happened on his watch,” she said.

The paper quoted the judge as saying that al-Qahtani, who allegedly planned to participate in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US but was denied entry into the country, was subjected to prolonged isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and exposure to cold that placed him in a “life threatening condition.”

“The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent,” said Crawford, a former inspector general of the Pentagon.

“You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for and coercive. Clearly coercive,” she added.

The report came out amid growing certainty that President-elect Barack Obama will issue an executive order to close the notorious prison camp as one of his first moves.

Obama is under huge pressure from human rights groups to close Guantanamo, but has also conceded that closing it is quite complicated and will take some time.