By Chris Caesar
OC Voice Staff Writer
While Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher made repeated assurances that he takes the problem of detainee abuse “very seriously” during an interview with the OC Voice recently, he apparently lacked familiarity with a number of issues associated with the system – including the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to detainees, and a number of widely documented incidents of abuse.
Critics chastised the congressman earlier this month for dismissing mistreatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay – specifically, an incident in which a pair of women’s underwear was placed on a prisoner’s head – as an act of “humiliation” and “frat boy pranks,” not torture. Rohrabacher made the remarks June 6 as a member of the Human Rights subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
While both the humiliation and torturing of prisoners is expressly forbade in the Geneva Conventions, Rohrabacher nevertheless stressed the importance of the distinction.
“The whole point is: what is the definition of torture?” he said. “We’ve had people define torture [so broadly] that it has become meaningless – if you tickle someone with a feather, is that torture? That’s certainly a physical tactic, and by the definitions some people have used for ‘torture,’ it would include tickling someone with a feather.”
While maintaining he “spend[s] a lot of time and effort reading…reports” on the issue, the Congressman still expressed disbelief that over 108 detainees had died in US custody, and that over 25 of the incidents are considered acts of homicide by the Pentagon, according to government data obtained by the Associated Press and recent testimony by Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights hearing on torture. (more…)