Den 20. november 2001 banket to herrer på døren til Mohamedou Ould Slahis hus i Mauritania. De var fra landets etterretningstjeneste og hadde noen spørsmål de ville stille han.
“Ta bilen, for vi håper du er tilbake hjemme senere i dag”, sa den ene betjenten til Slahi, som stod ved døren sammen med sin mor og tante. Slahi kom aldri tilbake og det var siste gangen han fikk se sin mor.
Hva som så skjedde er noe Slahi beskriver som sin “world tour” – i regi av forskjellige amerikanske etterretningstjenester.
Først en ukes avhør i Mauritania, hvor han så ble sent til Jordan for å oppleve 8 måneder med knallharde avhør og tortur som ble bestemt av CIA. Deretter blir han med lenker på armer og bein med bind for øynene flydd til Afghanistan, hvor han går gjennom uker med samme brutale tortur, før han blir flydd til sin endestasjon – Guantánamo Bay.
Siden Slahi kun var 31 år ble han gitt en bleie for alle flyturene – amerikanske myndigheter tror tydligvis at muslimer ikke er bleietrent, så dette ble og en del av hverdagen for Slahi og de andre fangene i Guantánamo. Som fangevokterne sa: “Your bathroom is with you.”
CIA tvang fanger til å bruke bleier for å forårsake ydmykelse og fremkalle en følelse av hjelpeløshet. “Lært hjelpeløshet” brukes for å tvinge fangen til samarbeid i form av tilståelser, hvorav mange senere viser seg å være falske -Funn fra rapporten Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency ‘s Detention and
Interrogation Program (PDF)
Siden den tid har moren til Slahi dødd, og han sitter forsatt fengslet i Guantánamo. Der har han opplevd tortur i form av ekstrem kulde eller varme over lengre tid, seksuelle overgrep, simulert kidnapping og drukning, tvunget til å stå i smertefulle stresstillinger i lange perioder og bruk av konstant støy for å nekte han søvn.
Dette er noe av den systematiske torturen Slahi har opplevd, og alt er godkjent på høyeste hold i USA.
Etter måneder med tortur skjedde det som ofte skjer – han svarer det de ønsker å høre i håp om å slippe mer tortur. Hans oppførsel er i tråd med vitenskapelig litteratur på området – tortur gir falske svar.
De som tror på tvangsavhør har en tendens til å tro at folk vil “fortelle sannheten” som et resultat, men mye tyder på at folk vil faktisk fortelle de som utfører tortur hva de tror de vil høre så torturen stopper. Dette har vært nevnt som en fare av kommentatorer fra den spanske inkvisisjonen, gjennom Moskvaprosessene og frem til i dag. –Dr David Harper.
I 13 år har Slahi sittet fengslet i Guantánamo, men alle anklager i hans sak har i hovedsak kollapset.
Tilstrekkelige bevis har aldri dukket opp i denne saken, og Slahi som nå er 44 år har aldri blitt stilt for retten. James Robertson var USAs føderale dommer som i 2010 gjennomgikk lovligheten av Slahis forvaring. Han fant ingen bevis for skyld og beordret Slahis frigivelse.
Fire dager senere anket amerikanske myndigheter avgjørelsen, og saken har siden da blitt flyttet til en føderal tingrett hvor den fortsatt er til vurdering. Verken Slahi, hans familie eller advokater vet om han noengang slipper ut fra Guantánamo.
I lengre perioder har Slahi sittet i isolasjon, og der har han skrevet en dagbok som etter en lang juridisk drakamp nå har blitt publisert. Boken er delvis sensurert, men forfatter, journalist og menneskerettighetsaktivist Larry Siems har redigert innholdet så det er lesbart etter sensurmyndighetenes inntreden.
Siems som har lest alle tilgjengelige dokumenter omkring saken sier han er ikke i tvil om at hva Slahi skriver er genuint.
Slahis dagbok kan verifiseres – behandlingen av han har vært gjennom flere høringer hvor dokumentene har blitt offentliggjort. I tillegg finnes det nå en solid bunke rapporter som forteller om systematisk bruk av tortur og grov mishandling av fangene i Guantánamo.
Forsker Anders Romarheim ved Institutt for forsvarsstudier, sier til Aftenposten at Guantánamo er det stedlige symbolet på noen av de mørkeste kapitlene i krigen mot terror. “Det er liten grunn til å tro at de som ble tatt til fange, vil hate USA noe mindre når de slipper ut enn hva de gjorde på vei inn”, sier han.
Her kommer noen utdrag fra Slahis dagbok som er hentet fra Spiegels artikkel om saken. Det er den første rapporten fra en fange som fortsatt sitter fengslet i militærbasen som er en skamplett av en annen dimensjon for USA – men det er og historien om en person som blir utsatt for systematisk tortur i årevis uten å miste sin humor, livsstyrke eller evnen til tilgivelse for de som utførte torturen.
Først noen ord fra Erling Borgen:
Norge har valgt å se bort. Statsministre, politikere, militære ledere og andre offiserer har valgt tausheten når rapportene om tortur kom fra Guantanamoleiren. Norske soldater i Afghanistan har vært med på krigsoperasjoner der fanger har endt på Guantanamo. Jeg har aldri hørt at norske offiserer har tatt avstand fra Guantanamobasen. Norges to siste statsministre Bondevik og Stoltenberg, har vært tause om Guantanamo under sine møter med Bush og Obama i Det hvite hus. Minst 12 av CIAs hemmelige fangefly, som har fraktet torturofre til Guantanamo, har enten landet på norske flyplasser eller fløyet over norsk territorium. Ikke et eneste av flyene har vært inspisert av norske myndigheter. Helt fra de første fangene kom til Guantanamo og ble sparket ut av flyene for ti år siden og fram til 2006/2007 hadde Aker/Kværner over 700 ansatte på Guantanamo.
I was just wishing to pass out so I didn’t have to suffer, and that was really the main reason for my hunger strike; I knew people like these don’t get impressed by hunger strikes. Of course they didn’t want me to die, but they understand there are many steps before one dies. “You’re not gonna die, we’re gonna feed you up your ass,” said ____________.
I have never felt as violated in myself as I had since the DoD team started to torture me to get me admit to things I haven’t done. (…)
Humiliation, sexual harassment, fear and starvation was the order of the day until around 10 p.m. Interrogators made sure that I had no clue about the time, but nobody is perfect; their watches always revealed it. I would be using this mistake later, when they put me in dark isolation.
“I’m gonna send you to your cell now, and tomorrow you’ll experience even worse,” said _______ after consulting with ____ colleagues. I was happy to be relieved; I just wanted to have a break and be left alone. I was so worn out, and only God knew how I looked. But _______ lied to me; ____ just organized a psychological trick to hurt me more. I was far from being relieved. The D.O.C., which was fully cooperating when it came to torture, sent another escort team. As soon as I reached the doorstep __________________________ I fell face down, my legs refused to carry me, and every inch in my body was conspiring against me. The guards failed to make me stand up, so they had to drag me on the tips of my toes.
The Boat Trip
Suddenly a commando team consisting of three soldiers and a German shepherd broke into our interrogation room. Everything happened quicker than you could think about it. __________ punched me violently, which made me fall face down on the floor.
“Motherfucker, I told you, you’re gone!” said _____. His partner kept punching me everywhere, mainly on my face and my ribs. He, too, was masked from head to toe; he punched me the whole time without saying a word, because he didn’t want to be recognized. The third man was not masked; he stayed at the door holding the dog’s collar, ready to release it on me.
“Who told you to do that? You’re hurting the detainee!” screamed _______, who was no less terrified than I was. _____ was the leader of the assailing guards, and he was executing _________________ orders. As to me, I couldn’t digest the situation. My first thought was, They mistook me for somebody else. My second thought was to try to recognize my environment by looking around while one of the guards was squeezing my face against the floor. I saw the dog fighting to get loose. I saw _______ standing up, looking helplessly at the guards working on me. “Blindfold the Motherfucker, if he tries to look –“
One of them hit me hard across the face, and quickly put the goggles on my eyes, ear muffs on my ears, and a small bag over my head. I couldn’t tell who did what. They tightened the chains around my ankles and my wrists; afterwards, I started to bleed. All I could hear was _____ cursing, “F-this and F-that!” I didn’t say a word, I was overwhelmingly surprised, I thought they were going to execute me.
Thanks to the beating I wasn’t able to stand, so _____ and the other guard dragged me out with my toes tracing the way and threw me in a truck, which immediately took off. The beating party would go on for the next three or four hours before they turned me over to another team that was going to use different torture techniques.
“Stop praying, Motherfucker, you’re killing people,” _____ said, and punched me hard on my mouth. My mouth and nose started to bleed, and my lips grew so big that I technically could not speak anymore. The colleague of _____ turned out to be one of my guards, ______________________________. _____ and __________ each took a side and started to punch me and smash me against the metal of the truck. One of the guys hit me so hard that my breath stopped and I was choking; I felt like I was breathing through my ribs.
I almost suffocated without their knowledge. I was having a hard time breathing due to the head cover anyway, plus they hit me so many times on my ribs that I stopped breathing for a moment.
Did I pass out? Maybe not; all I know is that I kept noticing _____ several times spraying Ammonia in my nose. The funny thing was that Mr. __ was at the same time my “lifesaver,” as were all the guards I would be dealing with for the next year, or most of them. All of them were allowed to give me medication and first aid.
After 10 to 15 minutes, the truck stopped at the beach, and my escorting team dragged me out of the truck and put me in a high-speed boat. __________________ never gave me a break; they kept hitting me and ________________________ in order to make them stab me. “You’re killing people,” said _____. I believe he was thinking out loud: He knew his was the most cowardly crime in the world, torturing a helpless detainee who completely went into submission and turned himself in. What a brave operation! _____ was trying to convince himself that he was doing the right thing.
Inside the boat, _____ made me drink salt water, I believe it was directly from the ocean. It was so nasty I threw up. They would put any object in my mouth and shout, “Swallow, Motherfucker!”, but I decided inside not to swallow the organ-damaging salt water, which choked me when they kept pouring it in my mouth. “Swallow, you idiot!” I contemplated quickly, and decided for the nasty, damaging water rather than death.
_____ and ____________ escorted me for about three hours in the high-speed boat. The goal of such a trip was, first, to torture the detainee and claim that “the detainee hurt himself during transport,” and second, to make the detainee believe he was being transferred to some far, faraway secret prison. We detainees knew all of that; we had detainees reporting they had been flown around for four hours and found themselves in the same jail where they started. I knew from the beginning that I was going to be transferred to __________________ about a five-minute ride. _______ had a very bad reputation: just hearing the name gave me nausea.
At a Secret Site
Over the next several days, I almost lost my mind. Their recipe for me went like this: I must be kidnapped from ______________ and put in a secret place. I must be made to believe I was on a far, faraway island. I must be informed by _____________ that my mom was captured and put in a special facility.
In the secret place, the physical and psychological suffering must be at their highest extremes. I must not know the difference between day and night. I couldn’t tell a thing about days going by or time passing; my time consisted of a crazy darkness all the time. My diet times were deliberately messed up. I was starved for long periods and then given food but not given time to eat.
“You have three minutes: Eat!” a guard would yell at me, and then after about half a minute he would grab the plate. “You’re done!” And then it was the opposite extreme: I was given too much food and a guard came into my cell and forced me to eat all of it. When I said “I need water” because the food got stuck in my throat, he punished me by making me drink two 25-ounce water bottles.
“I can’t drink,” I said when my abdomen felt as if it was going to explode. But __________ screamed and threatened me, pushing me against the wall and raising his hand to hit me. I figured drinking would be better, and drank until I vomited.
All the guards were masked with Halloween-like masks, and so were the Medics, and the guards were briefed that I was a high-level, smart-beyond-belief terrorist.
“You know who you are?” said ___________ friend. “You’re a terrorist who helped kill 3,000 people!”
“Indeed I am!” I answered. I realized it was futile to discuss my case with a guard, especially when he knew nothing about me. The guards were all very hostile. They cursed, shouted, and constantly put me through rough military-like basic training. “Get up,” “Walk to the bin hole.” “Stop!” “Grab the shit!” “Eat.” “You got two minutes!” “You’re done!” “Give the shit back!” “Drink!” “You better drink the whole water bottle!” “Hurry up!” “Sit down!” “Don’t sit down unless I say it!” “Search the piece of shit!”.
Most of the guards rarely attacked me physically, but ________ hit me once until I fell face-down on the floor, and whenever he and his associate grabbed me they held me very tight and made me run in the heavy chains: “Move!”
No sleep was allowed. In order to enforce this, I was given 25-ounce water bottles at intervals of one to two hours, depending on the mood of the guards, 24 hours a day. The consequences were devastating. I couldn’t close my eyes for 10 minutes because I was sitting most of the time on the bathroom. Later on, after the tension was relieved, I asked one of the guards, “Why the water diet? Why don’t you just make me stay awake by standing up, like in _____________?
“Psychologically it’s devastating to make somebody stay awake on his own, without ordering him,” said _______________. “Believe me, you haven’t seen anything. We have put detainees naked under the shower for days, eating, pissing, and shitting in the shower!” he continued. Other guards told me about other torture methods that I wasn’t really eager to know about.
I was allowed to say three sentences: “Yes, sir!” “Need my interrogator!” and “Need the medics.” Every once in a while the whole guard team stormed my cell, dragged me out, put me facing the wall, and threw out whatever was in my cell, shouting and cursing in order to humiliate me. It wasn’t much: I was deprived from all comfort items that a detainee needs except for a mattress and a small, thin, worn-out blanket. For the first weeks I also had no shower, no laundry, no brushing. I almost developed bugs. I hated my smell.
No sleep. Water diet. Every move behind my door made me stand up in a military-like position with my heart pounding like boiling water. My appetite was non-existent. I was waiting every minute on the next session of torture. I hoped I would die and go to heaven.