From Al Jazeera:
Iraqi recounts Abu Ghraib abuse
Photographs showing the abuse of inmates at Iraq‘s infamous Abu Ghraib prison by US prison guards have shocked the world.
The latest one to be outraged is Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff.
Mullen has voiced his disgust after seeing some of the withheld photographs of the abuse that the administration of Barack Obama, the US president, is seeking to keep classified.
In a leaked memo obtained by the Fox News network, Mullen expressed his anger at the incidents of abuse and said he was “appalled” that someone in an American uniform would behave in such a way.
“We haven’t all absorbed or applied all the lessons of Abu Ghraib,” Mullen said.
But for Mahmood Khalil, an Iraqi television cameraman and former Abu Ghraib inmate, the pictures are more than just disturbing images – they are personal nightmares.
Khalil told Al Jazeera that he was on his way to work when he was stopped at a US checkpoint in 2003, accused of being a terrorist, and led into the notorious prison, where he was held for more than three months.
As Al Jazeera’s Mosab Jasim reports, Khalil said he saw guards deliberately abusing and intimidating prisoners in full view of other inmates.
“[One] detainee was tortured in front of my eyes, only three metres from my cell,” Khalil said.
“[He] was tortured by dogs to confess to a crime he never committed.”
Michael Schwartz, Twenty-First-Century Colonialism in Iraq: here.
A new AP-GfK poll released today shows a majority of Americans opposed to the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The numbers also reveal growing concern that the president will be able to meet his goals, particularly in Iraq: here.
Iraq Censorship Laws Move Ahead: here.
Britain’s torture role must be investigated, say MPs: here.
The case of British businessman Alam Ghafoor provides further evidence of UK government collusion in the torture of British citizens: here.
Concerned MPs have called for a fully independent inquiry into mounting allegations that the British government has colluded in the brutal torture of terror suspects: here.
Amnesty warned yesterday that Iraqi citizens still face torture and executions six years after a US-led invasion force overthrew the Ba’athist regime: here.
U.S. Loses Moral High Ground With Torture
Secrecy Endemic In All Governments
Helen Thomas, Hearst White House columnist
POSTED: 3:47 pm CDT July 22, 2009
UPDATED: 4:36 pm CDT July 22, 2009
WASHINGTON — Secrecy is endemic in all governments. It goes with the turf, especially if their leaders hope to hide illegal or immoral behavior, such as torture of foreign prisoners.
Many Americans heaved a sigh of relief last January when President Barack Obama banned the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Image-wise, it made the administration look more humane than the Bush-Cheney team. But that is not the whole story.
Obama left unaddressed the possibility of torture in secret foreign prisons under our control as in Abu Ghraib in Iraq or Bagram in Afghanistan, not to mention the “black sites” sponsored by our foreign clients in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Thailand and other countries.
“The United States will not torture,” Obama said in his directive. But he has been silent on the question of whether the U.S. would help others do the torturing.
Members of Congress knew a lot about U.S. torture practices. But Republicans loyal to Bush and Democrats, too, played along and kept silent at the horror of it all.
During the Martin Luther King March on Washington in the 1960’s, a rabbi who had been in a German concentration camp said: “The greatest sin of all in the Nazi era was silence.”
Why did no bells ring for the U.S. lawmakers — particularly those privy to the brutality — when briefed on the abusive treatment of the captives.
Did they owe more allegiance to the CIA rather than the honor of our country?
There are hair-raising reports of methods that Americans — including private contractors — have used to coerce information from our prisoners.
They include slamming a prisoner against a wall; denying him sleep and food; waterboarding him under so-called enhanced interrogation; and keeping him in a crate filled with insects.
I remember when President Ronald Reagan, marveling at the courage of American soldiers, used to say: “Where do we get such men?” And I have to ask: “Where did we get such people who would inflict so much pain and ruthlessness on others?”
William Rivers Pitt, a best-selling author who wrote “The Greatest Sedition is Silence,” recently raised the emotional question of whether U.S. adoption of torture has debased the international standards for treatment of prisoners and that our enemies may now feel that they can torture Americans.
Pitt specifically expressed concern about Army Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan last month. American military leaders had warned Bush over and over that U.S. torture of prisoners could boomerang against our troops. But he would not listen.
Obama has blocked publication of pictures of the harsh treatment of prisoners from our two ongoing wars — in Iraq and Afghanistan — but the word still gets around.
Copyright 2009 by Hearst Newspapers.
How many leaders do you think learned about international humanitarian law (IHL) and the Geneva Conventions? As a nation party to the Geneva Conventions, we ALL have a responsibility to understand and respect them… but were you ever taught about them in school?
There’s a petition out– Protect the Vulnerable: Teach the Geneva Conventions– found at http://bit.ly/RCpetition . SIGN THE PETITION if you’re interested in ensuring our future leaders understand the Geneva Conventions and what it means to obey IHL.
Maybe if we all had a better understanding of IHL they wouldn’t have so many articles like this one…
Hi Natalie, thank you for your comment and link, which raise serious issues.
In this particular case of torture under the Bush administration, I think George W. Bush maybe was taught about the Geneva convention, but was too stupid to understand. Cheney and Rumsfeld were not that stupid, but were too immoral to apply what they may have been taught.
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