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LOCAL News :: Peace & War

New detainee abuse revelations on eve of antiwar demonstration

The Washington Post, Reuters, and ABC News are carrying a story that first appeared on the Washington Post website in which three soldiers allege abuse of detainees in Afganistan and Iraq. Coming on the eve of a mass mobilization of anti-war demonstrators that will bring bus and car-loads from Richmond, Fredericksburg, Norfolk, and other Virginia localities to Washington, the revelations underscore what is wrong with this war and why the US is losing in Iraq.

The allegations were made in a report released on Friday by Human Rights Watch. The military admits that the allegations are credible and require an investigation, according to the Post.

In the report, “Leadership Failure: Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division,? two sergeants and a captain describe beatings and psychological torture that clearly violated Geneva conventions and US Law.

And the incidents were routine: As one sergeant told Human Rights Watch interviewers, "The “Murderous Maniacs? was what they called us at our camp because they knew if they got caught by us and got detained by us before they went to Abu Ghraib then it would be hell to pay.... to 'Fuck a PUC' means to beat him up. We would give them blows to the head, chest, legs, and stomach, pull them down, kick dirt on them. This happened every day."

In another interview an officer--reportedly a captain--suggests that soldiers knew their conduct was a gross violation and that superiors knew and had ordered the conduct: At one detention location in Iraq, soldiers "said that they had pictures that were similar to what happened at Abu Ghraib, and because they were so similar to what happened at Abu Ghraib, the soldiers destroyed the pictures. They burned them. The exact quote was, 'They [the soldiers at Abu Ghraib] were getting in trouble for the same things we were told to do, so we destroyed the pictures.'"

This captain told Human Rights Watch that he tried for 17 months to alert superiors and get guidance from commanders, believing the conduct reflected confusion about policy. He was told to "look the other way" because his efforts could damage his career. That is either indicative of a sick organization or a policy of torture constructed to allow plausible deniability by those higher-ups who ordered it.

And military spokepeople have wasted no time beginning the plausible denials.

According to Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. John Skinner these revelations reveal how humane the occupation has been. "It's a shame," Skinner said, that Human Rights Watch refuses "to convey how seriously the military has investigated all known credible allegations of detainee abuse and how we've looked at all aspects of detention operations under a microscope." As reported in the Post Skinner added that "Humane treatment has always been the standard no matter how much certain organizations want people to believe otherwise."

How does psychological torture and beatings of detainees prove "humane treatment"? Because he *says* it's an exception to the rule? The soldiers on the ground claim the abuse was the rule.

The Bush Administration and the Pentagon have become so perverted that they feign outrage when revelations of torture they do not dispute are not piously followed by praise for their "high" standards. It's pure ego. Pure power trip.

That is why they are losing in Iraq. And absent any real explanation--let alone justification--for the invasion of Iraq, it is also the fact-on-the-ground that constructs many Iraqis understanding of the invasion and the US presence. I do not doubt that many want to vote. But with a military pursuing a policy of torture--a meat grinder that many Iraqis experience daily--I also do not doubt that many Iraqis friendly enough to you and me would rather shove that ballot down an American torturer's throat. Torture is a power trip. And this war is becoming a prolonged crucifiction of innocent people. From that source, the insurgency will certainly grow.

The military commanders and the Bush administration made this situation--not those of the men and women in the field who respect life and liberty as universal human rights. Now the administration must extract itself from this ferrocious and failed policy. It is not our job to praise leaders repeatedly caught in the most disgusting violations of the dignity of our brothers and sisters around the world. It is our responsibility to demand that these criminals and those who gave them their orders are fired and brought to trial. It's our responsibility to globalize direct democracy by actually practicing it. Those are reasons for marching to "Bring Them Home Now."

 
 


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