Did the US torture children by placing ants on their bodies? (photo: wizardhat on Flickr)

In the midst of the ongoing orgy of adulation for Seal Team Six killing Osama Bin Laden and the former Vice President appearing on television to advocate a return to waterboarding as official US torture policy, there has been little attention to the fact that Pakistan took several wives and children of Bin Laden into custody after the US raid of the compound. The US now seeks access to these family members. Did the US intend to torture these children with insects as they did Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s children, if the helicopter on which they would have flown had not been destroyed?

Here is Reuters reporting on the children in the immediate aftermath of the raid:

A senior Pakistani intelligence official said one of Osama bin Laden’s daughters had seen her father being shot dead by U.S. forces, and was one of about 10 relatives of the al Qaeda leader in custody pending interrogation.

The official, who declined to be identified, said the daughter, aged 12 or 13, was one of the people who had confirmed that the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks had been killed by U.S. commandos in a raid early on Monday.

The relatives — one of bin Laden’s wives and up to eight children — will be interrogated and then probably turned over to their countries of origin, and not the United States, in accordance with Pakistani law, he said.

The article notes that these family members were left behind because the US had to destroy one of the helicopters used in the raid.  The US now wants these family members (note that now more than one wife is mentioned, although there is only one in the initial Reuters report):

National security adviser Thom­as E. Donilon said Pakistan remains a critical partner in battling al-Qaeda, despite new strains in the relationship a week after the raid in Abbottabad. But he acknowledged that Pakistani officials have not granted Americans access to important information gathered since the raid or allowed interviews with bin Laden family members now in Pakistan’s custody.

“We’ve asked for access, obviously, to those folks,” Donilon said on ABC’s “This Week,” one of four television news shows he visited Sunday.

A Pakistani intelligence official said Sunday that his government needed permission from the wives’ home countries before Pakistan could allow U.S. officials to question them. One of the wives is from Yemen; the official said he did not know the other wives’ nationalities.

Note how the US handled KSM’s sons:

Two young sons of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks, are being used by the CIA to force their father to talk.

Yousef al-Khalid, nine, and his brother, Abed al-Khalid, seven, were taken into custody in Pakistan last September when intelligence officers raided a flat in Karachi where their father had been hiding.

/snip/

“His sons are important to him. The promise of their release and their return to Pakistan may be the psychological lever we need to break him.”

Yup, trying to “break” KSM consisted of, in addition to waterboarding him 183 times and telling him that if the US were attacked, “We’re going to kill your children“.

In addition, the US may have used insects to torture KSM’s children and other children:

At a military tribunal in 2007, the father of a Guantanamo detainee alleged that Pakistani guards had confessed that American interrogators used ants to coerce the children of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed into revealing their father’s whereabouts.

The statement was made by Ali Khan, the father of detainee Majid Khan, who gave a detailed account of his son’s interrogation at the hands of American guards in Pakistan. In his statement, Khan asserted that one of his sons was held at the same place as the young children of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

“The Pakistani guards told my son that the boys were kept in a separate area upstairs and were denied food and water by other guards,” the statement read. “They were also mentally tortured by having ants or other creatures put on their legs to scare them and get them to say where their father was hiding.

Also lost somewhere in the maze of being held by Pakistan or the US are one or more of Aafia Siddiqui’s children.

No matter the crimes of the parents, detaining and torturing children is a crime that can only hasten the decline of our country into complete lawlessness. Where is the outcry against such base behavior? What does the US plan to do with Bin Laden’s children if access is granted? What would the US have done with these children if the helicopter on which they would have flown had not been destroyed?