Monday, December 27, 2004

This letter appeared in the New York Times today. I cite in full:
An Israeli Interrogator, and a Tale of Torture
To the Editor:
In your excerpts from an interview with a former Israeli interrogator, Michael Koubi ("Psychology and Sometimes a Slap: The Man Who Made Prisoners Talk," Week in Review, Dec. 12), you wrote: "Despite Palestinian accusations to the contrary, Mr. Koubi said Israeli interrogators use only 'very low levels' of physical coercion."
But every credible Israeli, international and Palestinian human rights organization that has investigated the situation has reached the same conclusion: interrogation procedures used by Israel from 1987 to 1993 (during which time Mr. Koubi boasts he conducted such questioning) constituted torture.
Far more than just "two slaps" or putting a "cover on a his head to scare him," these methods of torture included forcing prisoners to sit on low chairs, their legs bent below the chair and their hooded heads thrust forward, or tying them to a pipe to force them to remain standing, sometimes on tiptoe or with arms stretched up behind them, for long periods.
These types of torture were often accompanied by sleep deprivation and exposure to temperature extremes. Prisoners were violently shaken (at least one prisoner died from being shaken) and threatened with death or the rape of members of their family. Reports of severe beatings were common, including on the genitals and other sensitive areas.
While originally justified on the grounds of finding "ticking bombs," the use of such methods of torture became routine. Trying to paint Israeli interrogation practices as merely an intellectual game is clearly a denial of the facts. And allowing Mr. Koubi to paint himself as a hero is a further violation of the rights of those whom he tortured.
William F. SchulzExecutive DirectorAmnesty International U.S.A.New York, Dec. 20, 2004