Rumsfeld 'told officers to take gloves off with Lindh'

John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban, was stripped naked and tied to a stretcher during interrogation after the office of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered intelligence officers to "take the gloves off" when questioning him.

John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban, was stripped naked and tied to a stretcher during interrogation after the office of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered intelligence officers to "take the gloves off" when questioning him.

Mr Rumsfeld's legal counsel instructed the officers to push the limits when questioning Lindh, captured in Afghanistan with Taliban and al-Qa'ida forces in late 2001. The treatment of Lindh appears to foreshadow the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

The details of Lindh's interrogation confirm claims made by his lawyer, Tony West, that when he was captured by Northern Alliance forces and handed to CIA operatives near the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, he asked for a lawyer. Not only was he refused a lawyer and not advised of his rights, but his interrogators were told to get tough to obtain "actionable" intelligence in the pursuit of Osama bin Laden.

Documents seen by the Los Angeles Times, show that when an US Army intelligence officer started to question Lindh he was given instructions that the "Secretary of Defence's counsel has authorised him to 'take the gloves off' and asked whatever he wanted". The documents show that in the early stages, Lindh's responses were cabled to Washington every hour.

Though Lindh initially pleaded not guilty, he later admitted reduced charges and was sentenced to 20 years. He and his lawyers also agreed to drop claims that he had been tortured by US personnel.

A Defence Department spokesperson said the Pentagon "refused to speculate on the exact intent of the statement" from Mr Rumsfeld's office. "Department officials stress that all interrogation policies and procedures demand humane treatment of personnel in their custody," said the spokesperson.

The documents are the latest evidence to emerge revealing the efforts of the Bush administration to sidestep international laws and treaties when dealing with prisoners after the 11 September attacks. Critics say they show the abuses at Abu Ghraib were part of a deliberately pursued and systematic approach for dealing with prisoners without affording them their rights contained within the Geneva Conventions.

A memo this week revealed that in March 2003, administration lawyers concluded that President George Bush had the authority under executive privilege to order any sort of torture or interrogation of prisoners.

Yesterday, Congresswoman Jane Harman of California, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said the views the memo contained were "antithetical to American laws and values". She added: "This memo argues that the President is not bound by criminal laws in the context of his role as Commander-in-Chief during war; that the President may be above the law. This is a concept of executive authority that was discarded at Runnymede in the 13th century and has absolutely no place in our constitutional system."

The Attorney General, John Ashcroft, has refused to provide copies of the internal memos on the questioning of prisoners. "This administration rejects torture," Mr Ashcroft said. "I don't think it's productive, let alone justified."

And despite the international outcry over the prisoner abuse cases, US forces will continue to be responsible for running two Iraqi prisons where "security detainees" are held, after the handover to a "sovereign" Iraqi government.

A senior British official said in London that the US military would continue to be responsible for up to 2,000 "fairly hard-core" prisoners at Abu Ghraib and at another jail in southern Iraq. The exact number of such prisoners, deemed a threat to Iraqi safety and security, is not known because although the Americans let many inmates out of Abu Ghraib, many others have been arrested.

Britain is pressing for Iraqis to help run the top-security prisons, but details are still to be worked out. The US military is also holding Saddam Hussein, and other former regime members inside Iraq. They are to be tried by a special Iraqi tribunal starting in the autumn.

A Jordanian lawyer who claims that he is acting for Saddam says that the former Iraqi leader was also tortured during interrogation.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Technician - 1st Line

£19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London