Saturday, March 31, 2007

'We were torturing people for no reason'

'We were torturing people for no reason'
Tara McKelvey
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Tony Lagouranis is a 37-year-old bouncer at a bar in Chicago's Humboldt Park. He is also a former torturer.

That was how he was described in an e-mail promoting a panel discussion, "24: Torture Televised," hosted by the Center on Law and Security of the New York University School of Law on March 21. He doesn't shy away from the description.

As a specialist in a military intelligence battalion, Lagouranis interrogated prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Al Asad Airfield and other places in Iraq from January through December 2004.

Coercive techniques, including the use of dogs, waterboarding and prolonged stress positions were employed on the detainees, he says. Prisoners held at Al Asad Airfield, about 110 miles northwest of Baghdad, were shackled and hung from an upright bed frame welded to the wall in a room in an airplane hanger, he told me in a phone interview.

When he was having problems getting information from a detainee, he recalls, other interrogators said, "Chain him up on the bed frame and then he'll talk to you." Lagouranis says he didn't participate directly in hangings from the frames.

The results of the hangings, shacklings and prolonged stress positions - sometimes for hours - were devastating. "You take a healthy guy and you turn him into a cripple, at least for a period of time," Lagouranis told me. "I don't care what Alberto Gonzales says. That's torture."

Lagouranis was on the NYU panel to talk about torture and its role in the Emmy Award-winning television show "24."


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