Thursday, February 09, 2006

It’s like a padded cell – on wheels!

Man, remember when the phrase “cartoon protests” applied only to any event Al Sharpton showed up at?

When Democrats in the House International Relations Committee submitted resolutions asking for information about torture policy and extraordinary rendition, Henry Hyde suggested that they should “at least silently confess to themselves that their actions pose real dangers to our country.” The resolutions were of course voted down by the R’s.

An AP story yesterday passed on the Pentagon’s claim that there were only four detainees still hunger striking in Guantanamo. Spokesscum Col. Jeremy Martin, who we’ve seen before defending the torture of forcible feeding and describing hunger striking as an Al Qaeda tactic, claims to have no idea why the drop in numbers – Martin never seems to know what prisoners are thinking, saying or demanding, because that would humanize them – saying, “We haven’t changed anything. Our processes and procedures are the same.” In fact, they are not, as is proven in an actual by god piece of investigative journalism, only 4 years late, in today’s NYT. I won’t quote at length because you need to go read it now. Take your time, I’ll be waiting in the next paragraph.

They have clearly stepped up the level of violence used against hunger-striking prisoners, and deliberately increased the pain involved in forcible feeding, removing throat lozenges, over-feeding to cause diarrhea, and introducing... the Emergency Restraint Chair.

They’ve bought 25 of these puppies, and are clearly using them as punishment, strapping prisoners into them for hours at a time, which goes against the manufacturers’ instructions that “Detainees should not be left in the Emergency Restraint Chair for more than two hours. The Emergency Restraint Chair should never be used as a means of punishment.” The company told the NYT that the Pentagon never asked for instructions in the chairs’ use.

My googling also turned up this site, which has many prisoner-restraint products for sale, and is quite scary.

(Update: Sigh, Slate’s Today’s Papers did the same Google search I did and has a link to the restraint chair company too. I thought I’d be the only blog with a picture of the chair. Actually, the print NYT, which arrived after I wrote the above, has the first picture, although the Times website does not.)

As long as I’m being unoriginal, I’ll hat-tip A Tiny Revolution’s catch on this wonderfully telling sentence from the London Times: “Iran has threatened to defend itself if attacked.”

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