American soldiers in Iraq are said to have tortured an Iraqi prisoner to death. The website of the German weekly Der Spiegel has reported so. This Sunday the German TV-station RTL will broadcast images and testimonies in the programme Spiegel TV.
According to Der Spiegel the story is about Asad Abdul Kareem Abdul Jaleel. The man was a tribal elder who early this year was apprehended on the street by American soldiers and brought to the military base Al Asad.
A photo on the website of the German weekly shows a heavily mistreated dead man. A fellow inmate says that the man had been tortured for days on end and died five days later. An Iraqi coroner says that the body showed evidence of torture.
A pathologist from the US however wrote in the official death certificate that he had died of natural causes and had died in his sleep. According to him no autopsy was done. Spiegel TV, however, says that photos show an autopsy did take place.
Employees of a forensic institute in Bagdad say that bodies with traces of abuse are regularly brought in there. Iraqi coroners however are not allowed to start any researchy of their own if there is already a death certificate from an American pathologist.
What I'm struck by is the number of replies from right-wingers who say "all countries engage in torture," so the implication is by entension that it's A-OK for the USA to sink to the level of Saddam Hussein, and Pol Pot, and Stalin, and Mao, and Tito, and Amin, and Suharto
Spiegel TV Exclusive (Translated by S.B.)
05/15/04 -- Berlin - The case of Asad Abdul Kareem Abdul Jaleel was pure routine for the American troops. After the 47 year old family father died on the US military base Al Asad west of the town of Khan al Baghdad in US custody on January 9th 2004, an American doctor filled out a death certificate. Apparently without doing an examination, and according to the documents, without performing an autopsy, the pathologist Luis A. Santiago wrote that the man had died in his sleep. The US troops handed the body, including the death certificate, over to the International Red Cross shortly thereafter.
American troops had previously arrested the respected family patriarch on an open road and taken him to the American military base Al Asad west of the town of Khan al Baghdad. Ostensibly there was suspicion that he belonged to the Iraqi resistance. The soldiers are alleged to have put enormous pressure on Asad Abdul Kareem Abdul Jaleel in the base prison. Another prisoner gave Spiegel TV a detailed description of how the 47 year old was tortured in a sadistic manner for five days. The witness says that the soldiers also took photographs of the abuse.
Asad Abdul Kareem Abdul Jaleel died in US detention on January 9th of this year. However, there are grave doubts about the version that claims his death to have been from natural causes. An Iraqi forensic pathologist who took the body over from the US armed forces confirmed to Spiegel TV in Baghdad that he diagnosed definite torture marks on the body of the deceased. In addition, photos of the deceased confirm that contrary to the US documentation, an autopsy had been performed on the man. The scars on the torso indicate that Western doctors did the autopsy.
Deep Dark Bruises on the Entire Body
Even a layman can easily recognize the obvious effects of violence on the pictures of the body: Large, dark bruises that could come from beatings can be seen on both sides of the body. On the wrists and ankles there are bruises, which presumably date back to many days of captivity. There are bruises from beatings or other forms of violent impact on the back. Other lacerations on the upper body point to injuries which can hardly be called "natural".
If the suspicious facts against the US troops turn out to be true, the US torture scandal would take a dramatic turn. If the charges hitherto were about violent abuses of prisoners and humiliating methods of interrogation, the investigation would now have to include failure to give assistance, manslaughter, or even murder. The participating soldiers and their commanding officers could be harshly punished, and the US army in Iraq would be exposed to even more hate and desire for revenge than they already are. Although there are already a number of investigations being carried out about unclarified deaths in Iraq, and also in Afghanistan, - the army insists that in none of the cases can the guilt of the soldiers be proven.
According to the research of Spiegel TV, the case of the family father Jaleel in occupied Iraq is not a rarity. Employees of the Forensic Pathology Institute in Baghdad confirm that among the bodies that the International Red Cross has handed over to them on behalf of the Americans there are always victims of torture. However, the Iraqi pathologists are forbidden to do their own investigation as long as there is an American death certificate - even if the information about the cause of death is obviously false.
The US Army Remains Silent
About five bodies with US Armed Forces death certificates are handed over every week in Baghdad alone, according to the employees of the Institute. The established practice of the Americans is to declare bodies that come from the prison at Abu Ghuraib as victims of grenade attacks on the camp. This was the case with the bodies of 26 detainees last week, even though only some of the bodies showed injuries typical of grenade attacks, the employees said.
Meanwhile in the case of the 47 year old Asad Abdul Kareem Abdul Jaleel, there appears to be an internal investigation of the US troops going on. Witnesses report that they have been questioned by US soldiers about the procedures on the American military base Al Asad. Spiegel TV has been attempting to get a statement from the responsible authorities of the army in Baghdad for several days. Up to now, however, all written as well as oral questions remain unanswered.
Abuse Scandal Focuses on Bush Foundation
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: May 16, 2004
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Iraq prisoner abuse scandal shifted Sunday to the question of whether the Bush administration set up a legal foundation that opened the door for the mistreatment.
Within months of the Sept. 11 attacks, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales reportedly wrote President Bush a memo about the terrorism fight and prisoners' rights under the Geneva Conventions.
``In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions,'' Gonzales wrote, according to the report in Newsweek magazine. Secretary of State Colin Powell ``hit the roof'' when he read the memo, according to the account.
The reasons for importing the techniques, Cannistraro said, were the frustrations at the policy level in Washington that not enough information was being obtained about weapons of mass destruction and the frustration over the lack of information about the resistance in Iraq.
the application of some questioning techniques, which may be called torture...juxtaposed with the information considered vital to saving people