Security

Wikileaks Cables Reveal How U.S. Embassy Sought ‘Talking Points’ To Deny Abuse Of Bahraini Gitmo Detainee

Juma Al Dossary, who spent years in Gitmo.

The Wikileaks whistleblower group recently released a massive data dump of embassy cables from the U.S. Embassy in Manama, Bahrain.

One of the cables, dated October 23, 2005, details how the U.S. Embassy managed its response to several stories that popped up in the Bahraini press of Bahraini citizens being abused or tortured in the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

The cable, titled “ARTICLES ALLEGE SEXUAL HUMILIATION, HUNGER STRIKE, OF BAHRAINI GTMO DETAINEES,” cited itself as a “an action request” being made to U.S. government officials.

First, the cable cites the press reports of a detainee, Juma Al Dossary, who claimed to have been sexually abused by interrogators in the prison camp:

According to the October 20 article, Al Dossary claimed that in September 2002 he was chained to the floor in an interrogation room and had his clothing removed by four military police officers. A female interrogator allegedly stripped naked while standing over the detainee and “smeared her menstrual blood over various parts of his body.” In another incident in mid-2003, Al Dossary claimed he was taken into an interrogation room from which he could see a naked man and woman having sex on a table in an adjoining room. When finished, the man and woman entered the interrogation room and asked Al Dossary to reveal the identities of Arab men in photographs, promising him he could have sex with the woman if he cooperated.

The cable then went on to make an “action request” for “talking points” to relay to the Bahraini public and Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Action request: Embassy has talking points on the hunger strikes, but requests talking points to respond publicly to questions about the treatment of Al Dossary, as well as any points that could be conveyed privately to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in response to the diplomatic note.

In November 2005, shortly after this action request was made, the embassy put out a statement denying that Al Dossary was abused, saying it found “no evidence that substantiates” his claims. In 2007, Dossary was released from Guantanamo Bay with no charges filed against him to resettle in Saudi Arabia (he was featured in a 2006 episode of This American Life than went on to win a Peabody Award). He soon married and received assistance, including a job, car, and cash payments, from the Saudi government.

He later went on to write an op-ed in the Washington Post describing the abuse he alleges occurred while he was at the prison camp. He recalled the film United 93 and a soldier who had been merciful to him while he was at Guantanamo, “I was watching ‘United 93,’ I thought of the soldier who had offered me compassion in Guantanamo. Her words reminded me that we all share common values, and only by holding on to them can we ensure that there is mercy and brotherhood in the world. After more than five years in Guantanamo, I can think of nothing more important.”

Unfortunately, it seems that the U.S. government’s first response was to deny that Dossary was mistreated at all rather than properly investigate the alleged abuses. These cables document how the embassy in Manama coordinated these efforts.