Tortured to death

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I posted this over at DailyKos and it was my first rec-listed diary there.

There was a front-page post the other day on DailyKos about the detainees that have died in US custody since 2002 after being tortured and abused, so I’m following up on that post with more information I’ve found.

In 2005, the ACLU released findings from autopsy reports of detainees held by the US in Afghanistan and Iraq. Twenty one of the autopsies were ruled homicides. Something the ACLU notes that’s interesting (ugh, I hate using that word for this seriously sick finding) is that while at the time CIA abuse was being widely reported in the media, their autopsies revealed a problem with abuse by Navy Seals and military intelligence too.

Some things the report found… and I have to warn you this whole post is graphic:

A detainee at Abu Ghraib Prison, captured by Navy Seal Team number seven, died on November 4, 2003, during an interrogation by Navy Seals and “”OGA.””  A previously released autopsy report, that appears to be of Manadel Al Jamadi, shows that the cause of his death was “”blunt force injury complicated by compromised respiration.””  New documents specifically record the circumstances of death as “”Q by OGA and NSWT died during interrogation.””

A detainee was smothered to death during an interrogation by Military Intelligence on November 26, 2003, in Al Qaim, Iraq.  A previously released autopsy report, that appears to be of General Mowhoush, lists “”asphyxia due to smothering and chest compression”” as the cause of death and cites bruises from the impact with a blunt object.  New documents specifically record the circumstances of death as “”Q by MI, died during interrogation.””

The documents were obtained from the Department of Defense from a Freedom of Information Act request and a judge also ordered that more Abu Ghraib photos should be released, but as of this article the decision was stayed. Are those the ones due to be released this year?

Unsurprisingly, the media in the US completely avoided this at the time it was released. According to Project Censored, a Lexis-Nexis search showed that the AP got the story but only a few newspapers decided it was newsworthy enough to print.

I found some of the stories that were printed so I’ll link them and discuss them here.

The LA Times wrote:

Autopsy reports on 44 prisoners who died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan indicate that 21 were victims of homicide, including eight who appear to have been fatally abused by their captors, the American Civil Liberties Union reported Monday.

[…]

At least 141 prisoners have died in U.S. custody, according to Human Rights First, an advocacy group formerly known as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.

Also, according to this article, we’re right when we say that the troops are getting screwed for this torture policy. Nobody is getting in trouble for this but them.

The Pentagon has launched a series of investigations. But critics lament that no one over the rank of brigadier general has been held accountable.

Here is some information from Human Rights Now:

– At least 69 of the detainees died at locations other than Abu Ghraib

– At least 51 detainees have died in U.S. custody since Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was informed of the abuses at Abu Ghraib on January 16, 2004

They have more information about the troops being scapegoated:

There have been nearly 600 criminal investigations into allegations of detainee abuse; each investigation tends to include more than one U.S. soldier, more than one instance of abuse, and more than one victim. Allegations against 250 Soldiers have been addressed in courts-martial, non-judicial punishments, and other adverse administrative punishments. The highest ranking military member judicially punished in connection with the death of a detainee is Marine Major Clarke Paulus, who was found guilty of maltreatment and dereliction of duty and dismissed from the service.

There have been nearly 600 investigations. Of troops. For a systematic US policy of torture. Shouldn’t they have thought, by, like, case number 100, that maybe this is a problem the higher ups caused? 600 people really all independently tortured? Really? Riiiiight.

USA Today also wrote a story:

“The U.S. military does not tolerate mistreatment of detainees,” said Army spokesman Col. Joseph Curtin. “Past cases have been fully investigated. When there is credible evidence, commanders have the prerogative to prosecute.”

To date, there have been more than 400 investigations of detainee abuse, and more than 230 military personnel have received a court-martial, non-judicial punishment or other administrative action.

Administrative action against lower-level people! That’s definitely the way to end torture. If you’re not trying to end torture but are only faking an attempt to appear ethical of course.

It’s good for the people in charge. Too bad all the troops get fucked.

Hey! Look!

“There is no question that U.S. interrogations have resulted in deaths,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU’s executive director. “High-ranking officials who knew about the torture and sat on their hands and those who created and endorsed these policies must be held accountable.”

Sat on their hands. So they authorized it, when they saw it getting out of hand they did nothing, then when it got leaked they scrambled to blame the troops. While people like Porter Goss were on tv saying torture doesn’t work so why would we use it?

There was an investigation of a torture and murder in Afghanistan on March 1, 2003.

Nevertheless, I was able to review an internal memorandum from UNAMA officials who visited the detainees days after they were transferred from the American compound into the custody of local police. The memo records the detainees saying that they had been regularly beaten by U.S. interrogators, and that some had been subjected to torture, including electric shocks and immersion in cold water. I also obtained copies of all the testimony given by the detainees to Afghan military prosecutors two months after the Americans transferred them to police custody. Together, these documents detail systematic and grave abuse of the prisoners during the 17 days of their captivity.

Here’s Pat Leahy’s account:

The detainee, Jamal Naseer, died in March 2003, allegedly after weeks of torture by American soldiers. Because the Special Forces unit that reportedly controlled the detention facility failed to report the death, it was never investigated. This incident is very troubling on its own, but, like so many other incidents we have discovered, it points to a much larger problem. The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command received a tip about Naseer’s death earlier this year, but could not investigate the matter due to a lack of information. Christopher Coffey, an Army detective based at Bagram air base, told the L.A. Times:

“We’re trying to figure out who was running the base. We don’t know what unit was there. There are no records. The reporting system is broke across the board. Units are transferred in and out. There are no SOPs [standard operating procedures] … and each unit acts differently.”

Jane Mayer also wrote about some detainees murdered in US custody.

She said:

After September 11th, the Justice Department fashioned secret legal guidelines that appear to indemnify C.I.A. officials who perform aggressive, even violent interrogations outside the United States. Techniques such as waterboarding-the near-drowning of a suspect-have been implicitly authorized by an Administration that feels that such methods may be necessary to win the war on terrorism. (In 2001, Vice-President Dick Cheney, in an interview on “Meet the Press,” said that the government might have to go to “the dark side” in handling terrorist suspects, adding, “It’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal.”) The harsh treatment of Jamadi and other prisoners in C.I.A. custody, however, has inspired an emotional debate in Washington, raising questions about what limits should be placed on agency officials who interrogate foreign terrorist suspects outside U.S. territory.

I would really like to know why all of these things are a surprise now. I mean we knew of vague stories of a few detainees but nothing this extensive and we’re a well-informed community.

This article is seven pages and you should read it. You should really read all of them. I’m not obviously able to re-post enormous sections of all of them and I feel like rephrasing the entirety of what they say amounts to plagiarism. So go read.

Here’s one more from that one:

The C.I.A. has reportedly been implicated in at least four deaths of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq, including that of Jamadi, and has referred eight potentially criminal cases involving abuse and misconduct to the Justice Department. In March, Goss, the C.I.A.’s director, testified before Congress that “we don’t do torture,” and the agency’s press office issued a release stating, “All approved interrogation techniques, both past and present, are lawful and do not constitute torture. . . . C.I.A. policies on interrogation have always followed legal guidance from the Department of Justice. If an individual violates the policy, then he or she will be held accountable.”

So Porter Goss lied to Congress. He lied on tv at least twice in 2005. He had known these things were happening by then.

Some of the Abu Ghraib pictures showed soldiers posing with a dead guy. The thing I find odd is this guy had been interrogated by the CIA, died of “blunt force trauma” and then Army soldiers posed with him.

“Pictures of Abu Ghraib guards Charles Graner and Sabrina Harman posing with al-Jamadi’s dead body, the so-called Ice Man, were among the most notorious of the Abu Ghraib photographs published in April 2004,” Sifton notes. “A CIA officer named Mark Swanner and an interpreter led the team that interrogated al-Jamadi. Nine Navy personnel were also implicated. An autopsy conducted by the U.S. military five days after al-Jamadi’s death found that the cause: “blunt force injuries complicated by compromised respiration.”

What’s also weird is that supposedly CIA doctors were nearby. The whole time. Remember, that’s why waterboarding wasn’t so bad. These doctors AND psychologists were all supposedly nearby, yet all these people died.

There are so many more links provided by Project Censored, and then some of the stories they mention provide information that leads to other links. I could really do this all night, which scares me, because we didn’t know about all of this back then but these stories were posted! Even if a lot of them were on alternative news sites.

I also still think it’s weird and disconcerting that though the AP ran the story on their wire, nobody picked it up. Apparently MSNBC even ran it on their website but didn’t feel the need to discuss it on their 24-hour news.

And this same media is going to prop up Dick Cheney’s comments? And provide excuses and apologia for torturers? And these “newspapers of record” are going to provide op-ed space for Bush administration officials and even write stories about torture but mention enormous bits of information in a single sentence as an afterthought? This is news? Markos posts all the time about these people whining about community and whining about being missed. I won’t miss them if they go away. I haven’t liked using them as sources for years now and I only defer to them for quotes from officials when possible.

This same stupid media who made sure to bash the troops at every opportunity along with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and lots and lots of GOP senators are now going to pretend that it’s a valid idea to not prosecute lawyers who write false legal opinions authorizing torture and the people who planned an executed it because of some “good faith” bullshit excuse? But hey, it’s perfectly fine to charge someone for ethics violations when they’re a DOJ lawyer and they’re following the law. Just not if they do something illegal.

You know what I noticed? You are more likely to get in trouble, or to have gotten in trouble, by the Bush administration, if you followed the law than if you broke it. If you fuck up and you’re terrible and a felon? You get medals. If you’re a soldier and the Bush administration doesn’t want to get in trouble for forcing you to torture, or you’re a DOJ lawyer who thinks lawyers should follow laws and ethics, you’re fucked.

Funny how that works out, right?

Except not.

In a short time in this country, we went from an administration in which the Attorney General approved an extension of an investigation by an independent counsel so he could investigate blow jobs and groping to an administration where the Attorney General involved himself so deeply in politics he fired a bunch of attorneys. And could you ever imagine Alberto Gonzales calling for or EXTENDING an investigation into his own administration in which $40 million was spent? But this was all… just accepted. Just like, yep. Our AG is a political extension of the Republican party. He serves them and not justice. But that’s cool. Nothing to see here, move along.

This is very simple: the law is important. It is the only thing that matters. Politicians, the president, and everyone in public office should follow the law every single day. They should create necessary and proper laws. The media’s SOLE JOB is to call bullshit on politicians. I would be very happy with the media calling out every single Democratic politician every single day if they did the same to Republicans and independents and everyone else. The media’s job is to defend the law and the people over the law when it has gone too far and it is supposed to be in opposition to politicians. This is getting ridiculous. Because of this cowardice our troops are getting fucked over. Lower level people are getting fucked over. Dick Cheney and Bush and Rumsfeld and everyone else aren’t worried because they know the media will help them or the administration will be scared. STOP IT. Stop caring about doing something politically bad. The election was over. You won. Now fucking act. This isn’t a permanent campaign. It’s time to DO SOMETHING. It’s not because I just despise Republicans or something. I couldn’t care less who gets in trouble for torture if they were involved in it. Any member of any party serving in any capacity or retired or anything. Even if it’s Speaker Pelosi or President Obama. While I don’t think they were involved and I think that the story of Pelosi’s being “briefed” is oversold, if by chance they were, that’s fine. A new Speaker and President is fine. Go ahead. I’m not scared.

I want someone to stand up for the law. For the rule of law. And not the Bush administration. Thomas Paine said “In America, law is king.” In not defending the law we’re defending a king.

15 comments

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  1. useful here.

  2. I read some of the comments at the orange this morning… I was chucklilng a little at all the nightowls!

    • Viet71 on May 13, 2009 at 2:46 am

    you lay it out here.

    Just a question:  For whom are you going to vote in 2010?

    A Dem?

    Or are you going to protest, vocally, and not vote?

    And protest the corrupt system?

    Just a question.

  3. join “Bloggers Against Torture” anyway? People keep telling me I should and since this is front paged here I figured I should ask in the comments.

  4. Your comment here:

    I was doing fine with it until I lost a lot of friends who couldn’t deal with it, but that’s another story.

    That is one of the most hurtful things that occurs in life, when something happens that most people CAN’T deal with and just kinda’ leave you hanging, as a result. (I had a similar experience in my life with a bout of an illness and, friends just kinda’ disappeared.  It’s quite painful because you not only have to cope with your own personal circumstances, you must also cope with the kinda’ “betrayal” of friends.)  All in all, one must gather and conserve a great deal of strength.  

    I think you’re much stronger than you think or realize.  And, as I iterated before, I hope that your “health” situation will improve with time.  It seems that you are quite “mobile” and I am so happy about that for you.

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