This map shows the conclusions drawn from Forensic Architecture’s spatial analysis of Salak. See the full investigation here. Source: Forensic Architecture, 2017
Spatial analysis by Forensic Architecture, utilizing satellite imagery, open-source material, and 3D modeling to geolocate the Air Force veteran’s photos, confirms the precise areas visited by Americans. Combined with interview material obtained by Amnesty International, the group’s work indicates Americans — and possibly French military personnel and Israeli contractors — have apparently unrestricted access to Camp Salak, and have regularly been present at, or very near, sites where detainees have been incarcerated or tortured.
Such abuses should come as no surprise to the U.S. government. The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor has long chronicled human rights violations in line with Amnesty International’s findings. In 2007, the State Department’s annual human rights reportnoted that “more than 100 persons were reportedly beaten after members of the Rapid Intervention Brigade arrested them in and around Maroua, in the Far North Province. The victims were detained for several days at Salack [sic], where many of them were stripped naked, blindfolded and beaten, then held in a cell with water on its floor.” In every State Department human rights report since 2010, BIR troops have been cited for assaults, killings, andotheroutragesagainst noncombatants. Last year’s report specifically cited previous investigations by Amnesty International into torture and deaths at Salak.
The United States has a longhistory of supporting and working with foreign forcesaccused of torture, and recent events suggest the practices continue. Just last month, the Associated Press reported that U.S. military interrogators were collaborating with forces from the United Arab Emirates who tortured detainees in Yemen. A video also recently surfaced that appears to show U.S.-allied troops in Syria torturing prisoners.
And from the Philippines to Vietnam to Iraq, Americans have engaged in such acts themselves. Following the 9/11 attacks, the United States began employing methods of torture — including water boarding and stress positions— under the euphemism “enhanced interrogation.” According to the new Amnesty International report, when researchers confronted a representative of Cameroon’s minister of defense with accounts of prisoners being bound, suspended by ropes, and beaten, he claimed the practice was “exploitation approfondie.” Translation: enhanced interrogation.