War Crimes in Iraq and Gitmo



THANKS TO a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other human
rights groups, thousands of pages of government documents released this
month have confirmed some of the painful truths about the abuse of foreign
detainees by the U.S. military and the CIA -- truths the Bush
administration implacably has refused to acknowledge. Since the publication
of photographs of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in the spring the
administration's whitewashers -- led by Defense Secretary Donald H.
Rumsfeld -- have contended that the crimes were carried out by a few
low-ranking reservists, that they were limited to the night shift during a
few chaotic months at Abu Ghraib in 2003, that they were unrelated to the
interrogation of prisoners and that no torture occurred at the Guantanamo
Bay prison where hundreds of terrorism suspects are held. The new documents
establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false.

Though they represent only part of the record that lies in government
files, the documents show that the abuse of prisoners was already occurring
at Guantanamo in 2002 and continued in Iraq even after the outcry over the
Abu Ghraib photographs. FBI agents reported in internal e-mails and memos
about systematic abuses by military interrogators at the base in Cuba,
including beatings, chokings, prolonged sleep deprivation and humiliations
such as being wrapped in an Israeli flag. "On a couple of occasions I
entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal
position to the floor, with no chair, food or water," an unidentified FBI
agent wrote on Aug. 2, 2004. "Most times they had urinated or defecated on
themselves, and had been left there for 18 to 24 hours or more." Two
defense intelligence officials reported seeing prisoners severely beaten in
Baghdad by members of a special operations unit, Task Force 6-26, in June.
When they protested they were threatened and pictures they took were
confiscated.

Other documents detail abuses by Marines in Iraq, including mock executions
and the torture of detainees by burning and electric shock. Several dozen
detainees have died in U.S. custody. In many cases, Army investigations of
these crimes were shockingly shoddy: Officials lost records, failed to
conduct autopsies after suspicious deaths and allowed evidence to be
contaminated. Soldiers found to have committed war crimes were excused with
noncriminal punishments. The summary of one suspicious death of a detainee
at the Abu Ghraib prison reads: "No crime scene exam was conducted, no
autopsy conducted, no copy of medical file obtained for investigation
because copy machine broken in medical office…

 


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