U.S. troops in Iraq often abuse prisoners: report


This is a video of Abu Ghraib, Iraq, torture photos.

From People’s Daily in China:

U.S. troops in Iraq often abuse prisoners: report

The United States has a flagrant record of violating the Geneva Convention in systematically abusing prisoners during the Iraqi War and the War in Afghanistan, says the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2006 issued on Thursday.

A report released in News Night of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), originally provided by the U.S.-based Human Rights First, showed that since August 2002, 98 prisoners had died in American-run prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Among the dead, 34 died of premeditated murder, 11 deaths were suspicious, and 8 to 12 were tortured to death, according to an AFP report on Feb. 21, 2006.

A Human Rights Watch report in July 2006 said torture and other abuses against detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq were authorized and routine.

Detainees were routinely subject to severe beating, painful stress positions, severe sleep deprivation, and exposure to extreme cold and hot temperatures.

Soldiers were told that many abusive techniques were authorized by the military chain of command and Geneva Conventions did not apply to the detainees at their facility.

Detainees at Camp Nama, a U.S. detention center at the Baghdad airport- in violation of international law- not registered with the International Committee of the Red Cross, were regularly stripped naked and subject to beatings.

Some detainees were used for target practice. In May 2006 human rights group Amnesty International condemned the detention of some 14,000 prisoners in Iraq without charge or trial.

On February 15, 2006, Australia’s SBS TV aired more than 10 pictures and video clips taken at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison; the images included: a man’s throat was cut off, left forearm of a man was left with burns and shrapnel wounds, a blood-stained interrogation room, and a seemingly insane man’s body covered with his own feces.

U.S. army’s criminal investigation division gathered materials including 1, 325 photographs and 93 video clips of suspected abuse of detainees, 546 photographs of suspected dead Iraqi detainees, all recorded between Oct. 18 and Dec. 30, 2003, reported the Guardian on Feb. 17, 2006.

Another report carried by the New York Times in December 2006 says a man named Donald Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor, was detained by American soldiers and put into detention center Camp Cropper for 97 days.

The man said American guards arrived at his cell periodically, shackled his hands and feet, blindfolded him and took him to a padded room for interrogation.

When he was returned to his cell, he was fatigued but unable to sleep, for the fluorescent lights were never turned off and at most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor.

He was not allowed to use telephone and denied the right to a lawyer at detention hearings.

The New York Times reported on March 18, 2006 that an elite Special Operations forces unit Task Force 6-26 converted one of Saddam Hussein’s former military bases near Baghdad into a top-secret detention center.

There, American soldiers made one of the former Iraqi government’s torture chambers into their own interrogation cell. They named it the Black Room. In the windowless, jet-black garage-size room, some soldiers beat prisoners with rifle butts.

According to another report by British newspaper The Independent, 460 people were confined in the Guantanamo prison camp, including dozens of adolescent prisoners, with more than 60 under 18 and the youngest only 14.

A young man named Mohammed el-Gharani was allegedly accused of member of al-Qaeda and conspiracy in the 1998 al-Qaeda London terrorist conspiracy when he was only 12. In 2001, he was arrested at the age of 14.

According to a report by the Washington Post, on May 30, 2006, 75 prisoners in Guantanamo went on a hunger strike against U.S. soldiers’ maltreatment.

On June 10, 2006, three prisoners hung themselves with bed sheets and clothing, reported the Associated Press on June 11, 2006.

Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi Al-Utaybi’s family said his organs including the brain, liver, kidney and heart were all taken away when the corpse arrived.

Mani Shaman Turki al-Habardi Al-Utaybi’s cousin said that might be done to conceal the truth behind his brother’s death.

Another Saudi Arabian prisoner’s father thought his son’s death was not suicide but intentional hanging as he found bruises on his son’s body.

The Amnesty International described it as another “indictment” of the worsening U.S. human rights record.

Human rights experts with the United Nations have condemned the United States for long-term arbitrary detention of suspects and abuses of detainees as serious violations of international law and relevant international conventions.

The U.S. Military Commissions Act signed into law on October 17, 2006 allows more severe means be used to interrogate terrorist suspects.

Iraqi civilian tortured: here.

Latin American governments’ criticisms of US government report on human rights in Latin America: here.

11 thoughts on “U.S. troops in Iraq often abuse prisoners: report

  1. Posted by: “Corey” cpmondello@yahoo.com

    Wed Apr 11, 2007 4:23 pm (PST)

    “My Name Used to Be #200343”

    By David Phinney, IPS News. Posted April 7, 2007.

    David Phinney is a journalist and broadcaster based in Washington, DC, whose work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, New York Times and on ABC and PBS. He can be contacted at: phinneydavid@yahoo.com.

    An American former Navy soldier and private contractor imprisoned and tortured in Iraq by the U.S. military and falsely accused of “aiding terrorists” warns that our worst fears about Iraq have come true.

    http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/50191/

    A year ago, Donald Vance learned what its like to be falsely accused by the U.S. military of aiding terrorists. He was held without charge for more than three months in a high-security prison in Iraq, and interrogated daily after sleepless nights without legal counsel or even a phone call to his family.

    On Wednesday, the former private security contractor was honored for his ordeal in Washington and for speaking out against the incident. At a luncheon at the National Press Club, Vance received the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling, an award named in memory of Army helicopter gunner Ron Ridenhour who struggled to bring the horrific mass murders at My Lai to the attention of Congress and the Pentagon during the Vietnam War.

    Vance was joined by former president Jimmy Carter, who won a lifetime achievement award, and journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran of The Washington Post who was recognised for his recent book, “Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone”.

    As hundreds at the luncheon finished their lobster salad, Vance, a two-time George W. Bush voter and Navy veteran, recounted the events of his imprisonment and the grief of his fianc€ ¦é and family. They did not know if he was alive or dead, he said. They were already making inquiries to the U.S. State Department on how to ship his body home.

    He then drew a wider circle around his ordeal to include the countless others who have been held falsely without charge and denied normal legal constitutional protections under law. “My name used to be 200343,” Vance said recalling his prisoner ID. “If they can do this to a former Navy man and an American, what is happening to people in facilities all over the world run by the American government?”

    Vance’s nightmare began last year on Apr. 15 when he and co-worker Nathan Ertel barricaded themselves in a Baghdad office after their employer, an Iraqi private security firm, took away their ID tags. They feared for their lives because they suspected the company was involved in selling unauthorised guns on the black market and other nefarious activity. A U.S. military squad freed them from the red zone in Baghdad after a friend at the U.S. embassy advised him to call for help.

    Once they reached the U.S.-controlled Green Zone, government officials took them inside the embassy, listened to their individual accounts and then sent them to a trailer outside for sleep. Two or three hours later, before the crack of dawn, U.S. military personnel woke them. This time, however, Vance and Ertel, Shield Security’s contract manager, were under arrest. Soldiers bound their wrists with zip ties and covered their eyes with goggles blacked out with duct tape.

    The two were then escorted to a humvee and driven first to possibly Camp Prosperity and then to Camp Cropper, a high-security prison near the Baghdad airport where Saddam Hussein was once kept. Vance says he was denied the usual body armour and helmet while traveling through the perilous Baghdad streets outside the safety of the Green Zone or a U.S. military installation.

    It was not the way the tall 29-year-old with an easy charm and keen mind had expected to be treated. Vance claims that during the months leading up to his arrest, he worked as an unpaid informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Sometimes twice a day, he would share information with an agent in Chicago about the Iraqi-owned Shield Group Security, whose principals and managers appeared to be involved in weapons deals and violence against Iraqi civilians. One company employee regularly bartered alcohol with U.S. military personnel in exchange for ammunition they delivered, Vance said.

    “He called it the bullets for beer programme,” Vance claimed while relating the incident during an interview this week at a cigar bar just walking distance from the White House.

    But his interrogators at Camp Cropper weren’t impressed. Instead, his jailers insisted that Vance and Ertel had been detained and imprisoned because the two worked for Shield Group Security where large caches of weapons have been found — weapons that may have been intended for possible distribution to insurgents and terrorist groups, Vance said.

    In a lawsuit now pending against former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and “other unidentified agents,” Vance and Ertel accuse their U.S. government captors of subjecting them to psychological torture day and night. Lights were kept on in their cell around the clock. They endured solitary confinement. They had only thin plastic mattresses on concrete for sleeping. Meals were of powdered milk and bread or rice and chicken, but interrupted by selective deprivation of food and water. Ceaseless heavy metal and country music screamed in their ears for hours on end, their legal complaint alleges.

    They lived through “conditions of confinement and interrogation tantamount to torture”, says the lawsuit filed in northern Illinois U.S. District Court. “Their interrogators utilised the types of physically and mentally coercive tactics that are supposedly reserved for terrorists and so-called enemy combatants.”

    Rumsfeld is singled out as the key defendant because he played a critical role in establishing a policy of “unlawful detention and torment” that Vance, Ertel and countless others in the “war on terror” have endured, the lawsuit asserts, noting that the former defence secretary and other high-level military commanders acting at his direction developed and authorised a policy that allows government officials unilateral discretion to designate possible enemies of the United States.

    Because the incident and allegations are now in litigation, the Pentagon has no comment, spokesman Army Lieut. Col. Mark Ballesteros said. He referred all inquires to the U.S. Justice Department, which also had no comment for similar reasons.

    But darker allegations are included in the complaint over false imprisonment. Because he worked with the FBI, Vance contends, U.S. government officials in Iraq decided to retaliate against him and Ertel. He believes these officials conspired to jail the two not because they worked for a security company suspected of selling weapons to insurgents, but because they were sharing information with law enforcement agents outside the control of U.S. officials in Baghdad.

    “In other words,” claims the lawsuit, “United States officials in Iraq were concerned and wanted to find out about what intelligence agents in the United States knew about their territory and their operations. The unconstitutional policies that Rumsfeld and other unidentified agents had implemented for ‘enemies’ provided ample cover to detain plaintiffs and interrogate them toward that end.”

    It may take some time to sort out the allegations as the legal process grinds forward, but, in the meantime, Vance is raising new questions about his detention. He still wonders why his jailers didn’t just call the FBI and have him cleared. They had access to his computer and cell phone to determine if his claims were true.

    “When I told them to do that, they just got angry and told me to stop answering questions I wasn’t being asked,” Vance said. “I think they were butting heads with the State Department. I just snitched on the wrong people. I took the bull by the horns and got the horn.”
    And why weren’t managers with the Shield Group held and interrogated?

    Interrogators were certainly interested in these other individuals, according to the lawsuit. They wanted to know about the company’s structure, its political contacts, and its owners — most of whom are related to a long-established Iraqi family who fled Iraq during the years the country was ruled by Saddam Hussein, Vance said.

    More startling even now is that the company has reformed. At the time they left, Shield Security held U.S.-funded contracts with the Iraqi government, Iraqi companies, NGOs and U.S. contractors. As far as Vance knows, the company still does — but under a different name: National Shield Security.

    “I built their web site,” he said. “And they are still being awarded millions of dollars in contracts.”

    Like

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