Cold Cell Torture Used in US Prisons

US Admits to “Cold Cell” Torture
By David A. Bardes
June 2011


It ends up that something called “Cold Cell” torture was the most widely used torture
technique used by the United States in the “fight against terrorism”. Government operatives
“praised” hypothermic torture as the most effective of all the techniques they employed.
When the less-redacted, previously released torture documents were made available to the
public, the new revelations revealed how wide spread hypothermic torture was utilized, in
many facilities it was used every night, all night long, and all year round. Apparently,
hypothermic torture produced the largest amount of actionable intelligence, it produced it
“consistently,” and it worked in the shortest amount of time. Water boarding it ends up,
was the least used. The eeriest was something called the “box.” With the “box” a captive
would be folded up and locked into a box the size of a foot locker. No air or light could get
in. After two days of sheer panic in the box, what emerged was a psychological vegetable.
The “enhanced” version entailed inserting a single buzzing insect in the box with the
victim. We adopted the “box” from the Moulin Rouge; it was an effective genocide tool.

The United States finally described cold cell torture they used on Private Manning, the
Army soldier that leaked national secrets to WikiLeaks. The US Military brigs, both in
Charleston and Quantico, have entire wings of temperature controlled hypothermic torture
chambers. At night Private Manning was stripped naked and locked onto a cold metal slab.
The air conditioning units blew 45 degree air into the cell at great speed. Private Manning
curled into the fetal position and shook violently all night long. There was no way to sleep
when the body sustains that level of pain. The constant shivering causes severe pain after
a while. That level of pain lasted all night long. During the day Private Manning was
allowed to dress and sleep, but the nights were reserved for punishing torture.

The danger of cold cell torture occurs if the victim becomes hypothermic, that is the
shivering turns into the rapid reduction of body temperature. Hypothermia can start at
any temperature lower than 71 degrees. Within hours the victim’s body is cooled off until
the brain dies or the heart fails. It is a horribly painful death. If the medical staff does not
catch the temperature reduction in time, the victim falls below the temperature from which
they can be saved. There is only enough time to say your goodbyes. The victim lingers in
agonizing pain for a week before the heart seizes and the brain dies.

The United States had an initial problem with their detainees as many just died from
hypothermia while in the cold cell all night. The guards would find them dead the next
morning. Rules ensued and eventually nurses had to be present to monitor the victim’s
temperatures, but the use of cold cell torture continues inside the United States. It is illegal
outside the United States.

The United States not only uses hypothermic torture chambers in its bases in the US, so
does the sheriff of Charleston County, South Carolina. Sheriff James Cannon, built his jail
in 1994 with a single hypothermic torture chamber located just off the main booking area.
He got the idea from the Charleston Navy Brig down the road. The federal government
showed him how it worked. Both facilities even have identical pod design. The Sheriff uses
the cold cell to “cool off” uncooperative inmates until they are willing to comply. The guards
use it to torture inmates depending on the severity of their crime, or if they just don’t like
the person.

Sheriff Cannon is not the only sheriff that uses cold cell torture in South Carolina. In 2003,
the sheriff in Columbia, South Carolina murdered one of his inmates in his hypothermic
torture chamber. The inmate lingered in pain for a week in the hospital until he died.
Below is an excerpt from my petition to the US Supreme Court. I had done some research
into cold cell torture at other facilities across the country. I repeat it here:

In 2009, California authorities accidentally left an inmate in a cold cell
overnight. Due to excessive air conditioning, Elisha McCoy was found the
next morning with a core body temperature of 93 degrees. After several days
of intensive care, Mr. McCoy survived. In 2006 a not so fortunate Willie
Daniels, who was on psychiatric watch in the jails hospital, died from severe
hypothermia. Guards had removed Mr. Daniels blanket as is customary on
suicide watch. Guard’s thought the inmate was sleeping when in reality, Mr.
Daniels core body temperature dipped to 79 degrees. He died under their
close supervision. In January 2003, guards at the Columbia South Carolina
jail, found inmate Bobby Mott comatose in his cell. His body temperature was
95 degrees. Inmate Bobby Mott had been placed in a cold cell. Mr. Mott
expired a week later in the hospital of complications due to hypothermia as a
result of excessive air conditioning… The Case of Charles Platcher, Illinois:
Mr. Platcher was discovered one morning unconscious in his cell. When they
got him to the hospital his core body temperature was 84 degrees. Mr.
Platcher died of severe hypothermia in the jails air-conditioned cold cell…
The Case of Gul Rahman: Mr. Rahman, an innocent Muslim in Afghanistan, was
confined to the CIA prison “Salt Pit” a notorious dark prison in 2002.
Jailers found Mr.Rahman dead in his cold cell. Mr. Rahman died from
hypothermia the night before. The death sent shock waves through the
intelligence community and changed US policy forever, but the US secretly
destroyed the body, to prevent discovery of hypothermic death. His family
had no body to bury.

I gave the US Supreme Court all the evidence they needed to understand everything there
is about cold cell torture, but what I did not know at the time is that the US Supreme Court
was actively covering up the crimes their peers were committing. They had no interest in
declaring it unconstitutional. At the time, the level of cover up was so deep, that it
implicated all nine US Supreme Court justices. There is no secret anymore, everyone
knows about it. It is ironic that it was the federal government that blew their own whistle.

I became aware of Sheriff Cannons cold cell because in April of 2006, he used it to almost
kill me. They took my clothes and locked me in for three days. They lowered my body
temperature down to 88 degrees in 9 hours and I slipped into coma. I fell off the cold slab
and landed on the floor. The guards looked in and my body was blue and I looked dead, so
they called for the nurse. The nurse, Cassandra Goodyear, entered the chamber, could not
detect a heartbeat or respirations and I was unresponsive. She assumed I was dead, she
exited the chamber, ordered the guards to lock the door and not go in for two more days.
They had to have more time to explain my cold body temperature, lest my death be detected
as hypothermia by the coroner. That would be the second hypothermia murdered inmate in
South Carolina. It was spring time, people were at the beach. It was bad enough when the
first inmate was murdered, people were left scratching their heads tying to cogitate dying
from the cold when it was hotter than hell outside. With hypothermia you die a conscious
death first, when you slip into coma, but your body dies from heart failure or brain death,
whichever comes first. They needed my body to have had a heart attack. Death by natural
cause does not even make the local newspaper. I was executed and no one would have ever
known. Do you see why I don’t like hypothermic torture chambers? If this is how screwed
up your local sheriff can get, can you imagine what the professionals are doing with
cold cell torture?

Down the road from where I died is the Charleston Navy Brig. They have entire wings and
rows of specially made individually temperature controlled hypothermic torture chambers.
These are cold cells that can also go really hot. It can swing from 140 degrees to 40 degrees
blowing air in a very short period. I can’t tell you what the heat is like, I just got three days
of the cold. The federal government taught Sheriff Cannon all about cold cells, and showed
it off. When Sheriff Cannon built his new jail in 1994, it had one hypothermic torture
chamber. You can say that I was murdered by my federal government as well, that would
be true too.

In 2008 I filed a federal lawsuit against South Carolina and the sheriff for torture. The
problem was that down the road from the county jail is the Charleston Navy Brig that was
housing two really bad terrorists, Jose Padilla and Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri. Both were
also US citizens and they both had filed federal lawsuits claiming cold cell torture. The
poor federal judges in Charleston had to all of a sudden deal with three lawsuits which
revealed that not only does the United States have torture chambers inside the US, so does
the local sheriff. Their friend and cohort, Sheriff Cannon, was using a cold cell to torture as
well. There was no way the terrorists lawsuits could even have been allowed to proceed as
it would set the precedent from which all those innocent Muslims that we tortured all over
the globe would eat out of the US Treasury for decades.

That means that my lawsuit was caught between two terrorists and national security. My
case could have never been allowed to precede either.

The United States removed the secrecy of entire wings of cold cell torture chambers that
they kept in hiding at their military penal facilities. Then came the Private Manning
admission of torture and explanation of how cold cell torture worked. It was the public
outcry from the cold cell torture of Private Manning that caused the US to stop the torture
and they transferred Private Manning to a normal federal prison.

Somehow, I had become the defacto candle bearer protecting the United States from a
torture lawsuit that would set a bad precedent. I suffered further to support national
security. I did not volunteer for that role. I am a victim.

As a nation we have to stop using cold cell torture chambers. We are killing citizens with
them. Those doors need to be welded shut. The citizens we put in our jails, have to be
provided life support. We cannot withhold life support. The inmates have to be provided
some level allowing their bodies to be able to sleep at night.

Please contact your elected representatives and ask them to make cold cell torture illegal.
Tell them to outlaw cold cell torture. And then call your local county sheriff and demand
proof that his jail does not have any cold cells. Demand to interview the inmates, they will
tell you everything. For those interested in more details on my story, please visit, or by


Read the rest of David Bardes’ story at:



Links and emphasis added.





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