Abu Ghraib Cremation Ovens Controversy

[Recently posted at the Daily Kos – please see questions about (unwarranted?) banning below]

On the holocaust anniversary yesterday, President Obama spoke eloquently about other holocausts in Rwanda and Somalia.  But he steered clear of discussing the human remains and ashes in US run prisons overseas:

there was something about living in cells at Abu Ghraib that never felt right. “We had some kind of incinerator at the end of our building,” Specialist Megan Ambuhl said. “It was this huge circular thing. We just didn’t know what was incinerated in there. It could have been people, for all we knew—bodies.” Sergeant Davis was not in doubt. “It had bones in it,” he said, and he called it the crematorium.

This was reported by award winning journalists in The New Yorker just over a year ago.  But for obvious reasons I've never heard any politician mention it.

Now that it's suddenly appropriate to discuss illegal US torture policy – and in honor of the holocaust anniversary – is it possible we can investigate why our soldiers report that Iraqi detainees were evidently burned in ovens?

Yesterday Obama said, “part of the responsibility for the Holocaust rests with people who accepted the assigned role of bystander.”

I think he means it.  So maybe he was too busy to read The New Yorker during the primaries.  

Rather than be bystanders, let's make sure he sees the article today.


I posted this diary a bit hurriedly at the Daily Kos the other day.   

As I left for a doctor appointment, I thought I really should change the title of the diary to “Will Anyone Investigate Abu Ghraib's Cremation Ovens?” as soon as I return.  But when I returned I had been banned from the Daily Kos for “Conspiracy Theory”.  Participants were insisting the article described an “unused” incinerator, a “Saddam era relic”.  Actually, none of those phrases are contained in the article, but that didn't stop readers from assuming they were, and Hiding my textless tip jar.

 It's fairer to say the article is a bit ambiguous.  It makes it clear that, amid the pervasive stink of death, ghost detainees, torture, and photos of dead, beaten men preserved in ice, the soldiers interviewed didn't know how the incinerator came to contain human remains. (Some diary comments dared to admit this.) 

Maybe it's me.  I've seen Jeffrey Dahmer's neighbor interviewed, musing “Jeffrey was always cooking something stinky, but I never once saw him go grocery shopping.”

I've seen my teen's favorite movie “Sweeney Todd” too many times.  A leading character screams (sings) that the horrible smells coming from Miss Lovett's Meat Pie Shop chimney are evidence of “MURDER!”  Everyone understands this old lady is crazy and wishes she would go away. 

So I just like it when ambiguous horrors get investigated.

Background: I've been posting at the Daily Kos for years, on average once a month, with numerous Recommended and front page diaries, most recently a very popular, productive discussion of legalized Usury – a rarely-discussed problem central to the current economic collapse.  Several knowledgeable finance industry workers participated.  I've also posted material critical of the Kos editor — notably, when he made a policy of redacting Dennis Kucinich's poll numbers from his own primary poll result summaries whenever Kucinich out-polled Hillary Clinton.  Kos ultimately confessed – citing Kucinich's UFO sighting as after-the-fact justification – and at the time one editor made it clear she wished I'd disappear.  But I'm not into conspiracy theories – I just love facts.

I don't have much time now either, but I'm curious whether anyone here knows of an appeals process for banned users at Daily Kos.  I would have been happy to edit or remove the diary – I make a point of making improvements in response to criticism.  I don't think I've had a deleted diary or even a hidden comment there before.



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  1. but here is the problem. What exactly are suggesting? That we cremated bodies? Well if we did, why is that a problem other than the optics? Cremation happens everyday in this country, and in many other countries. Is it a crime?

    Knowing that it happens, and that maybe the very nasty regime we got rid of in Iraq did it too why should this be something we need to look into that desperately?

    The problem with this issue, at least as it is presented here, is there is no back up. It looks like a someone (and I am not accusing you, just pointing out the optics of this) stirring up side issue shit in an effort to make things look even worse than they are. I think that is what lead to your banning.

    Also, was this the whole thing? It seemed longer to me when you posted it over at the Great Orange Satan.  

  2. something to this use of “incineration.”

    Abu Ghraib Prisoners Submerged in Ice-Water

    New Report: Abu Ghraib prisoners packed in ice water-filled garbage cans and sent into shock, military police say

    Sherwood Ross


    March 17, 2008

    Muslim prisoners held in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison were submerged in water-filled garbage cans with ice or put naked under cold showers in near-freezing rooms until they went into shock, Sgt. Javal Davis, who served with the 372nd Military Police Company there, has told a national magazine.

    Davis, from the Roselle, N.J., area, said while stationed at the prison he also saw an incinerator with “bones in it” that he believed to be a crematorium and said some prisoners were starved prior to their interrogation.

    Another soldier that had been stationed at Abu Ghraib, M.P. Sabrina Harman-who gained dubious fame for making a thumbs-up sign posing over the body of a prisoner she believed tortured to death-said the U.S. had imprisoned “women and children” on Tier 1B, including one child was as young as ten. . . .

    And here’s a google page on it:   Google

    And here’s another google page including Saddam Hussein.  It appears Saddam may have had a crematorium at Abu Ghraib.

    Submerging naked persons in ice cold water causing them to go into shock is not torture?

    What I have a feeling is that some of the detainees that were tortured to death may have been “incinerated.”  

  3. email your favorite front pager, apologize profusely, and promise never to do it again.

    Put on your best groveling kneepads and mean it.

  4. I don`t understand the “conspiracy” banning in this case.

    What WAS done with the human remains of any prisoner who died in custody,

    & is there actually a record kept.

    Where are the detainees who were at “Black sites”, now that they are supposedly closed.

    Where are the children who by all accounts were taken, some not to be seen again.

    These questions could go on & on.

    I might understand “conspiracy theory” claims & bannings 5 years ago, but with everything we now know, most of it would have had the same name attached, if some of these, now facts, had been supposed then.

    I`m sorry you were banned on a site big enough to absorb questions of this kind without being banned, but if the facts do come out regarding your question, & reveal that many bodies were disposed of in this fashion, & specifically to cover up the existence of any body, don`t ever expect to get un-banned. You also may have touched on the “ovens” topic, a little too close to the ‘don`t go there’ holocaust.

    I think that you brought up a very serious topic.

    “We Do Not Torture”, ya, right!

    Maybe that place does not deserve you.

    As for the suggestion that you grovel, I imagine that was cynicism.(in my mind)

    I personally don`t do “groveling”.

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