Guantanamo guards tortured prisoner with music

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The Independent US

A top al-Qa'ida suspect in Guantanamo Bay was stripped, forced to bark like a dog, and subjected to the music of Christina Aguilera, it emerged as debate intensified in the US capital over the future of the detention camp in Cuba.

The latest disclosures come in a prison log of the treatment of Mohammad al-Kahtani, a Saudi citizen whom many US investigators believe was the missing "20th hijacker" of 11 September 2001. The document, extracts of which appear in the new issue of Time magazine, covers a 50 day spell in 2002-03 - a period when additional interrogation techniques were approved by Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary.

They included a "sissy slap" with an inflated latex glove, ordering Mr Kahtani to "bark to elevate his social status up to that of a dog," and rejecting a request that he be allowed to pray. On other occasions, water was poured on his head and Aguilera music was played to keep him awake in midnight sessions.

Mr Kahtani was questioned in a room decorated with pictures of 11 September victims. He was made to urinate in his underpants, and at other times to wear pictures of scantily clad women around his neck. At one point, according to the log, he asked to commit suicide.

A Pentagon official was quoted by the magazine as saying that the log was "the kind of document that was never meant to leave Gitmo."

It is also a document that will only intensify foreign criticism of the prison at the US base, recently described by Amnesty International as a "Gulag of our times".

The former US president Jimmy Carter has urged it to be closed, and senior Democratic lawmakers have called it a "recruiting tool" for international terrorism.

So sensitive has the issue become that a report in Newsweek magazine last month claiming that a Koran had been flushed down a lavatory at the base led to anti-American riots in Pakistan in which dozens of people were killed.

Newsweek later retracted that specific report, but a Pentagon investigation has acknowledged other instances in which the holy book of Islam was desecrated by guards and interrogators at the camp.

The White House appears split on the question. But Duncan Hunter, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said that some members of the Bush administration favoured closing the camp. "They're divided," Mr Hunter said. "Some members of the White House have come to the conclusion that the legend is different than the fact."

But Vice-President Dick Cheney said in an interview to be shown today that there was "no plan to close" the prison, and Mr Rumsfeld insisted that information extracted from prisoners had saved American lives.