15 December 2004

More stories of prisoner abuse

Accounts of prisoner abuse keep proliferating, like sand-fleas in the desert. What will the administration's reaction be this time?

Documents Show String of Iraq Abuse Claims

By PAISLEY DODDS, Associated Press Writer

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Newly released U.S. Navy documents portray a series of abuse cases stretching beyond Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison where photos surfaced this year of U.S. troops forcing prisoners — often naked — to pose in humiliating positions.

The files released Tuesday document a crush of abuse allegations, most from the early months of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, including U.S. Marines forcing Iraqi juveniles to kneel while troops discharge a weapon in a mock execution and the use of an electric shock on a prisoner. The approximately 10,000 files include investigation reports from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and witness interviews.

All names have been blacked out in the documents, which were released after a federal court ordered the government to comply with a Freedom of Information Act petition filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights and other organizations.

"This kind of widespread abuse could not have taken place without a leadership failure of the highest order," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero.

The Pentagon says cases of abuse are taken seriously and investigated.

"The fact that these cases have been investigated underscores the point that we've been making, which is when we have credible allegations of abuse we take them seriously and investigate them," said Maj. Michael Shavers, a Pentagon spokesman.

Some of the documents include the alleged executions of Iraqis. The Navy found the allegations to be "unsubstantiated" and closed the investigation. It remains unclear whether any other military branches are investigating.

In one of the reports, a Marine said he and two others were ordered to kill three Iraqis.

"The executions allegedly took place in early April 2003 while the unit was temporarily based at an abandoned Iraqi pharmaceutical factory south of Baghdad," according to the NCIS document, dated June 26, 2003.

The Marine said he was threatened with death if he did not carry out the order. The bodies of the dead Iraqis were allegedly dumped in a hole, the document said.

After the incident was reported, the Marines were interviewed. One, who was interviewed and advised of his rights, retracted his previous statements, saying the executions never took place.

He said he "made up the story to tell his friends ... unlike his colleagues, he didn't have good stories to tell about his deployment to Iraq," the report said. It added that the Marine said he was drunk and made up the story while at a party.

The suspect, whose name along with others allegedly involved was blacked out, was given a polygraph test, "an evaluation of the examination indicated (he) was being truthful in his responses."

Troops have said many of them are trained in ways to trick polygraph examiners. It was unclear whether the Marine was disciplined for the alleged fabrication.

At least 19 prisoner deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan have been investigated by the military; eight were determined to be justified killings of an escaping or dangerously violent prisoner.

Several Marines have been charged in connection with the treatment of a member of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party who died of strangulation after a Marine grabbed him by the neck at a holding facility. Investigators ruled that the death was accidental, but other investigations are pending.

In another of the documents, a Navy corpsman is quoted as saying, "there was a lot of peer pressure to keep one's mouth shut."

In yet another, a Navy investigator describes his Iraq caseload as "exploding" with "high visibility cases."

One case occurred on April 13 in al-Mahmudiya, Iraq, where a witness — whose name has been blacked out — saw a Marine "shock an Iraqi detainee with an electric transformer," holding "wires against the shoulder area of the detainee (who) danced as he was shocked."

Five suspects were involved in the case, according to the documents. One of them was found guilty of assault, cruelty and maltreatment, among other charges, and was sentenced to a year in the brig. A second suspect was found guilty of cruelty and maltreatment, and was sentenced to eight months.

The cases of the three others in the case are pending, according to the documents.

In a case from June 2003, Marines in Adiwaniyah ordered "four juvenile Iraqi looters to kneel beside a shallow fighting hole and a pistol was discharged to conduct a mock execution."

It was unclear from the redacted documents whether anyone was disciplined.


Cosa Nostradamus said...

You know what really bothers me about all this? I'm starting to think that the behavior of our troops in these situations, the orders thereunto pertaining from above, and now the covering and uncovering of it all, over and over, is actually INTENDED to arouse furor in the Arab & Muslim worlds.

It's not enough to demonize them, which is the source of a lot of this behavior by our own troops. No, we have to demonize ourselves in their eyes. We need a real boogeyman for this new "Cold War," one that will actually look and act the part. This is all just motivation for them.

Get ready for it: It's going to be a very long, very unpleasant war.

Karlo said...

Reoccuring stories of electric wires and other cartoonish techniques taken out of some old Inquisition handbook make it harder to believe that these stories all reflect wayward troops having a particularly bad day.

Cosa Nostradamus said...


This is top-down. Gotta be. Especially with the Marines. Especially in garrison. Out in the field, under fire, OK, shit happens. But in a controlled environment, with the whole chain of command right there, as in a prison, no way. Lieutenants, Captains, Majors, Colonels, Generals and all the senior NCOs, they've GOTTA know what's going on, with something this enduring and widespread. They're either ordering the abuse, or encouraging it and tolerating it.

Either that, or there's been a complete breakdown of order and discipline. Which is worse? An out-of-control war machine, or one under unlawful orders from the very top? Scary.

It all comes from this bullshit they're being fed about Iraq doing 9/11. Or Osama doing it, for that matter. That justifies anything. It's raw sectarian, racial and nationalistic hatred, enflamed by the bullshit from Bush. And everything that happens works for Bush. The more hatred, the more violence, the more terrorism, the more fear, the more power and control for Bushco. Wave the bloody shirt, and do ANYTHING you want in revenge.

We're finally into one of those endless cycles of violence Americans used to only wonder at on TV: What's wrong with those Irish/ English/ Palestinians/ Israeli's/ Serbs/ Bosnians/ etc etc etc. It took a generation for Palestinians to recover and strike back after 1948. Smug Americans should mark their calendars: I don't think it will take twenty years for smaller, individual acts of terrorism to start striking US airlines, buses, pizzerias, crowded streets, shopping malls etc, on a daily basis, everywhere. And there's still a chance of more 9/11's.

It's Israelification, and the daily images of American vs. Arab on TV worldwide are becoming indistinguishable from the years of daily images of Israeli vs. Arab. Are we so stupid, or is this deliberate? Is this the only way they can think to maintain the National Security State? By terrorizing other people, and marking ourselves plainly as legitimate targets for terrorist retaliation?

Karlo said...

In the book Multitudes, the authors make the point that war is always the enemy of democracy since it justifies the gradual eroding of democratic values. This idea doesn't go well with the normal pabulum we're fed about "freedom" being constantly won on the battlefield, but I suspect it's much closer to the truth. The most authoritarian states (North Korea, Israel) have put themselves on a constant war footing.