Following an ABC News investigation last night that showed a Royal Sheikh from the United Arab Emirates mercilessly torturing a man with whips, electric cattle prods and wooden planks with protruding nails, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is being urged to initiate and carry out an investigation into the sadistic torture tape.
The co-chairman of the House Human Rights Commission, Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), said in a letter to Clinton that the tape "shocks the conscience" and demanded she "express the outrage of our nation regarding these acts, and call for an end to the impunity that has provided Sheikh Issa the freedom and license to carry out such heinous acts without the fear of legal reprisal or consequences."
McGovern, who repeatedly referred to ABC News' investigation on Nightline and was interviewed for the initial story, said the existence of the torture tape requires the U.S. to take action.
In his letter to Clinton, he requests she investigate whether a Department of Homeland Security official stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi, who was reportedly shown the torture tape by the Houston businessman who smuggled it out of the UAE, brought the tape to the attention of higher-ranking officials and "what action these higher-ranking officers then undertook, if any."
McGovern also requests that a temporary hold be placed on U.S. expenditures of "funds, training, sales or transfers of equipment or technology, including nuclear" to the UAE until an investigation is completed, since the UAE Ministry of Interior – led by one of the Sheikh's brother's – reviewed the allegations and found "all rules, policies and procedures were followed correctly by the Police Department."
The 45 minute-long tape also shows a man in a UAE police uniform tying the victim's arms and legs, and later holding him down as the Sheikh pours salt on the man's wounds and then drives over him with his Mercedes SUV.
The victim, a grain dealer, was apparently tortured over a missing load of grain worth about $5000.
State Department Briefing and the Torture Tape
In a State Department briefing today, a spokesman told reporters the agency had seen the tape but could not recall whether Clinton discussed it when she met with the UAE foreign minister.
"The government is aware of our concerns…through our Human Rights Report," the spokesman said, referring to the 2008 report.
The State Department spokesman said he didn't know if the U.S. had asked the UAE government to look into the incident and dodged numerous further questions about the tape.
Kirit Radia contributed to this report.