Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace falsely claimed that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) "didn't talk about torture" at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. In fact, The New York Times reported that the ICRC told the U.S. government in confidential reports that the U.S. military "has intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion 'tantamount to torture' on prisoners" at Guantánamo.
As a guest on the June 5 broadcast of Fox News Sunday, Amnesty International USA executive director William F. Schulz noted that the ICRC "denounced the United States for keeping prisoners in incommunicado, indefinite detention" at Guantánamo. Wallace replied that the ICRC "didn't talk about torture."
While the ICRC has not publicly said that torture has occurred at Guantánamo, it has privately condemned practices at the facility as "tantamount to torture" in a report to the U.S. government. The New York Times reported on November 30, 2004, that the ICRC accused the U.S. military of having "intentionally used psychological and sometimes physical coercion 'tantamount to torture' on prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba." Though the confidential report on the ICRC's June 2004 inspection of Guantánamo, which the ICRC provided to the Pentagon and State Deparment, is not available to the public, the Times obtained a memorandum that summarized its main findings. The report said that interrogators aimed to "break the will" of detainees through "humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, [and] use of forced positions." As the Times reported:
"The construction of such a system, whose stated purpose is the production of intelligence, cannot be considered other than an intentional system of cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and a form of torture," the report said. It said that in addition to the exposure to loud and persistent noise and music and to prolonged cold, detainees were subjected to "some beatings." The report did not say how many of the detainees were subjected to such treatment.
While the ICRC did not publicly confirm or deny the Times report, in keeping with its stated confidentiality policies, the Associated Press noted that "[a] Pentagon spokesman in Washington confirmed Monday that Red Cross officials have 'made their view known' that the indefinite detention of terror suspects at Guantánamo amounts to torture." The ICRC has noted that "The ICRC's lack of public comment on the conditions of detention [at Bagram, Kandahar and Guantánamo] and the treatment of detainees must therefore not be interpreted to mean that it has no concerns."
Wallace has previously noted the allegations contained in the ICRC report. On the December 5, 2004, edition of Fox News Sunday, Wallace asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) about "more stories about alleged mistreatment of prisoners by U.S. forces around the world," including the charges in the ICRC report, noting: "The most serious charge was a report by the International Committee of the Red Cross that alleged treatment of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, was, quote, 'tantamount to torture.' The Pentagon flatly denies this."
From the June 5 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE: Wait, Mr. Schulz, excuse me, you're switching subjects. I asked you whether the ICRC has been allowed access to every place from Abu Ghraib to Guantánamo Bay. And the answer is yes, correct?
SCHULZ: Oh, Chris, I have no idea whether the Red Cross has been given access to the secret detention facilities that the U.S. is maintaining. Have they been given access to the Syrian prisons and the prisons where the United States is rendering prisoners? I have absolutely no idea, and I suggest you don't either. I think we don't know. But what we do know is that in Guantánamo Bay, the Red Cross broke its long tradition of silence and denounced the United States for keeping prisoners in incommunicado, indefinite detention. And here is the --
WALLACE: But they didn't talk about --
SCHULZ: We Americans, including me, they will not like the idea --
WALLACE: They didn't talk about torture, sir.
SCHULZ: Pardon me?
WALLACE: They didn't talk about torture. Let me just ask you a question. When you --
SCHULZ: Chris, we don't know what the Red Cross has said about torture.