Thursday, May 06, 2004The Torture Never Stops
By now, I'm almost numb to this stuff.
U.S. soldiers who detained an elderly Iraqi woman last year placed a harness on her, made her crawl on all fours and rode her like a donkey, Prime Minister Tony Blair's personal human rights envoy to Iraq said Wednesday.
The envoy, legislator Ann Clwyd, said she had investigated the claims of the woman in her 70s and believed they were true.
It's not that I don't care... I do. That's part of the problem.
Other photographs show wounded men and corpses. In one, a dead man is lying in the back of a truck, his shirt, face and left arm covered in blood. His right arm is missing. Another photograph shows a body, gray and decomposing. A young soldier is leaning over the corpse, smiling broadly and giving the "thumbs-up" sign.
It's one of those times when just not giving a shit would be really helpful... I wish I could be as dismissive of all this as some.
Two Iraqi prisoners were murdered by Americans and 23 other deaths are being investigated in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States revealed on Tuesday as the Bush administration tried to contain growing outrage over the abuse of Iraqi detainees.
But in a small way, I feel responsible for all of this... as if, because I can't stop it, this somehow reflects badly on me, too. And there's only so much a person can absorb.
6. (S) I find that the intentional abuse of detainees by military police personnel included the following acts:
a. (S) Punching, slapping, and kicking detainees; jumping on their naked feet;
b. (S) Videotaping and photographing naked male and female detainees;
c. (S) Forcibly arranging detainees in various sexually explicit positions for photographing;
d. (S) Forcing detainees to remove their clothing and keeping them naked for several days at a time;
e. (S) Forcing naked male detainees to wear women's underwear;
f. (S) Forcing groups of male detainees to masturbate themselves while being photographed and videotaped;
g. (S) Arranging naked male detainees in a pile and then jumping on them;
h. (S) Positioning a naked detainee on a MRE Box, with a sandbag on his head, and attaching wires to his fingers, toes, and penis to simulate electric torture;
i. (S) Writing "I am a Rapest" (sic) on the leg of a detainee alleged to have forcibly raped a 15-year old fellow detainee, and then photographing him naked;
j. (S) Placing a dog chain or strap around a naked detainee's neck and having a female Soldier pose for a picture;
k. (S) A male MP guard having sex with a female detainee;
l. (S) Using military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten detainees, and in at least one case biting and severely injuring a detainee;
m. (S) Taking photographs of dead Iraqi detainees.
The worst thing is, on some level it is making me care less. Our fatality rates remain high for the beginning of May, but as it becomes more and more obvious that our troops were more broadly complicit in torture than any of us would like to believe -- even if it was only a tiny minority of soldiers at a small number of facilities -- I am forced to admit that I'm having trouble looking at those deaths in the same way.
8. (U) In addition, several detainees also described the following acts of abuse, which under the circumstances, I find credible based on the clarity of their statements and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses (ANNEX 26):
a. (U) Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees;
b. (U) Threatening detainees with a charged 9mm pistol;
c. (U) Pouring cold water on naked detainees;
d. (U) Beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair;
e. (U) Threatening male detainees with rape;
f. (U) Allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell;
g. (U) Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick.
h. (U) Using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.
But then again, at this point I'm having trouble feeling that way about anything at all. Like I said, I'm almost numb.
The various detention facilities operated by the 800th MP Brigade have routinely held persons brought to them by Other Government Agencies (OGAs) without accounting for them, knowing their identities, or even the reason for their detention. The Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center (JIDC) at Abu Ghraib called these detainees "ghost detainees."
On at least one occasion, the 320th MP Battalion at Abu Ghraib held a handful of "ghost detainees" (6-8) for OGAs that they moved around within the facility to hide them from a visiting International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) survey team. This maneuver was deceptive, contrary to Army Doctrine, and in violation of international law. (Findings and Recommendations, Part II, No. 33)
How much more are we going to find? How much worse does it get? And will any of our leaders take responsibility? How can this kind of thing happen, and not elicit anything but cowardly, defensive rationalization from those who presided over it? How can we, the Americans who were against this war, shore up our own humanity and sense of justice against barbaric violence done in our names, but against our will? And what has America come to when we have to sit and argue about what exactly constitutes "torture," so we can figure out whether the United States has been engaging in it? (And what the fuck is wrong with these prison guards, anyway? What kind of mind comes up with this shit? And who the fuck let 'em into the military?)
A couple of nights ago on the "Daily Show," Janeane Garofalo said that at this point, she'd consider a vote for Bush to be a character flaw. Me, I'd call it a moral failing.
Update: Worse and worse.
HERSH: This kind of stuff was much more widespread. I can tell you just from the phone calls I've had in the last 24 hours, even more, there are other photos out there. There are many more photos even inside that unit. There are videotapes of stuff that you wouldn't want to mention on national television that was done. There was a lot of problems.
There was a special women's section. There were young boys in there. There were things done to young boys that were videotaped. It's much worse.