May 18, 2005

'Too widespread and systemic to be dismissed.'

The abuse of prisoners by US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq appears to be more widespread than has been believed.

A new set of files obtained from the US Army by the Amercian Civil Liberties Union contains numerous new allegations of abuse, including reports that an Iraqi prisoner who was seriously injured during a beating had to drop his claims of abuse in order to get out of US custody. The documents were released by court order after the government stonewalled a year-old Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense, and Veterans for Peace.

According to ACLU executive director Anthony Romero, abuse and torture of people by US troops is 'too widespread and systemic to be dismissed as the rogue actions of a few misguided individuals.'

In one file released today, an Iraqi detainee claimed that Americans in civilian clothing beat him in the head and stomach, dislocated his arms, "stepped on [his] nose until it [broke]," stuck an unloaded pistol in his mouth and fired the trigger, choked him with a rope and beat his leg with a baseball bat. Medical reports corroborated the detainee?s account, stating that the detainee had a broken nose, fractured leg, and scars on his stomach. In addition, soldiers confirmed that Task Force 20 interrogators wearing civilian clothing had interrogated the detainee. However, after initially reporting the abuse, the detainee said that he was forced by an American soldier to sign a statement denouncing the claims or else be kept in detention indefinitely. He agreed.

An investigator who reviewed the signed statement concluded that "[t]his statement, alone, is a prima facie indication of threats." However, despite the medical report and testimony from other soldiers, the criminal file was ultimately closed on the grounds that the investigation had "failed to prove or disprove" the offenses.

Another file released today reports that U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan posed for photographs of mock executions with hooded and bound detainees, and that some of these photographs were intentionally destroyed after the Abu Ghraib scandal to avoid "another public outrage."

The file concerns an investigation into the discovery of a CD during an office clean-up in Afghanistan in July 2004. The CD contained digital images of what appeared to be abuse and maltreatment of detainees in and around Fire Base Tycze in southern Afghanistan. The pictures showed uniformed soldiers pointing pistols and M-4 rifles at the heads and backs of bound and hooded detainees, and other abuses such as holding a detainee?s head against the wall of a cage. One sergeant stated that he had also seen pictures on Army computers of detainees being kicked, hit or inhumanely treated while in U.S. custody. An Army Specialist and team leader with four soldiers assigned under him admitted that similar photographs had been destroyed after images of torture at Abu Ghraib prison were leaked to the media.

The ACLU has urged Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to appoint a special counsel to investigate the abuse and torture of detainees and, if needed, prosecute civilians for their involvement in the torture of detainees. According to the ACLU's Romero, 'The American public deserves to know which high-level government officials are ultimately responsible for the torture conducted in our name.'


Posted by Magpie at May 18, 2005 12:26 PM | Human Rights | Technorati links |

Oh yeah, Gonzales is going to agree to that! Not.

Gonzalez owes his entire climb to Bush, and he is going to stay bought. Requesting decent behavior out of liars, torturers, theives and crooks is just so ... nelly.

I don't know what we need to do with them aside from file civil suit after civil suit against them.

Posted by: Scorpio at May 19, 2005 08:30 AM