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Abu Ghraib: Tortured ... over car theft

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 04:55 am
For all those of you who insisted, when news of the Abu Ghraib abuses broke, on pondering philosophically about the necessity to use unconventional methods in the face of Al-Qaeda terrorists eager to blow up major cities - or all those who asserted, unhesitantly, that the boundaries simply had to be shifted to deal with "terrorists" - the following titbit from today's news (translated from the Dutch Volkskrant):

Quote:
Hussein Mutar ended up in the punitive prison of Abu Ghraib near Baghdad in late 2003 for car theft. There he was, he says, forced by American soldiers to masturbate, in a piramid of naked bodies. [..] 'I could not believe that this could happen. I wanted to end my life, because I could not stop them in any way. They tortured us as if it were a theater show.'

Mutars video-recorded testimony was shown this week during the session of the court martial against the American soldier Charles Graner (36). [..] During the process a video was shown of [such] a forced group masturbation as well as a photo of a female prisoner who was forced to bare her breasts. [..]

The Syrian Ameen Al-Sheikh, who ended up in Abu Ghraib in October 2003, spoke in his video testimony of a leading role for Graner. He forced him to eat pork and drink alcohol, which is forbidden by his religious conviction, the Syrian told. He had to curse Allah and praise Jesus. Al-Sheikh: 'That Graner is causing his country and his people damage. [..].'

The assumption made by many conservatives here that the abused inmates of Abu G. were "terrorists" was only ever that - an assumption. In reality, there were all kinds of prisoners there who fell victim to the sick practices. As was already known back then.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 05:35 am
Soldiers Testify on Orders to Soften Prisoners in Iraq
By KATE ZERNIKE

Published: January 13, 2005


ORT HOOD, Tex., Jan. 12 - Interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq gave the military police orders to "soften up" or give harsh treatment to detainees in the weeks leading up to the night that a group of soldiers put naked and hooded prisoners in sexually humiliating positions and photographed them, several soldiers and a detainee testified in a military court here on Wednesday.

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The orders included instructions to leave detainees naked, to twist their arms in extreme positions behind their necks, and to apply pain to sensitive parts of the body, the soldiers testified. They said the treatment became more aggressive as the weeks wore on, so much so that on one occasion the military police refused to carry it out.

The testimony about orders formed the backbone of the defense as lawyers for Specialist Charles A. Graner Jr., the Army reservist accused of being the ringleader of the prison abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, began presenting their case in his court-martial here on Wednesday.

Specialist Graner's lawyers have consistently argued that he believed he was acting under legal orders - a viable defense under military law, even if the orders were in fact illegal - when he put the prisoners in the positions seen in the photographs.

But on Wednesday, all but one of the nine witnesses called by the defense ended up, under cross-examination, undercutting part of Specialist Graner's case, telling how he beat detainees and threw pepper in their eyes, and was repeatedly reprimanded for refusing to follow what one military superior called "simple basic instructions."

Master Sgt. Brian Lipinski, who had been one of Specialist Graner's superiors in the 372nd Military Police Company, an Army Reserve unit based in Maryland, testified that in November 2003, two weeks after the photographs were taken, a report given to Specialist Graner noted that a military intelligence officer "says you are doing a good job."

But under questioning from the prosecution, Master Sergeant Lipinski explained that the report was written because of an incident in which he and another officer had discovered blood on the wall in the area of the prison where Specialist Graner worked, and a detainee bleeding from four head and neck wounds.

Specialist Graner first said the detainee had tripped, but then admitted that he had slammed the detainee's head against the wall. So while the report started with praise, it quickly moved on to tell Specialist Graner that he needed to handle his stress and learn to follow orders.

"He kept pushing the envelope," Master Sergeant Lipinski said. "The uniform, the hair, the standards, just simple instructions, simple basic instructions." He also acknowledged under questioning from the prosecution that Specialist Graner had refused repeated orders to stay away from Pfc. Lynndie R. England, his girlfriend at the time and the woman seen holding a leash around the neck of a naked Iraqi detainee in one Abu Ghraib picture.

The prosecution has argued that there is no evidence that any interrogators gave the soldiers orders, direct or implicit, to carry out the things seen in the photographs - naked detainees forced to masturbate, simulate oral sex, and stack into a human pyramid - and that any soldier would know not to beat detainees in the way that has repeatedly been described here and in other official accounts.

Two other soldiers who testified for the defense on Wednesday said they had repeatedly been told, in oral instructions and in signs posted around the prison, not to take photographs of the detainees.

Roger Brokaw, a retired military interrogator who was at Abu Ghraib, said that he had asked the military police to stop putting hoods and handcuffs on detainees as they escorted them to interrogations. "The M.P.'s wouldn't do it," he said. "They said, no, we have to show them who's boss."

He added, "From my conversations with the M.P.'s, they assumed that all the Iraqis were terrorists and needed discipline."

Mr. Brokaw told prosecutors in response to their cross-examination that no interrogator would have condoned pyramids, forced masturbation or nudity, and that he thought harsh treatments did not work........


Full story here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/13/national/13abuse.html?oref=login
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 05:37 am
BOOK REVIEW
Atrocities in Plain Sight
By ANDREW SULLIVAN

Published: January 13, 2005


N scandals, chronology can be everything. The facts you find out first, the images that are initially imprinted on your consciousness, the details that then follow: these make the difference between a culture-changing tipping point and a weatherable media flurry. With the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, the photographs, which have become iconic, created the context and the meaning of what took place. We think we know the contours of that story: a few soldiers on the night shift violated established military rules and subjected prisoners to humiliating abuse and terror. Chaos in the line of command, an overstretched military, a bewildering insurgency: all contributed to incidents that were alien to the values of the United States and its military. The scandal was an aberration. It was appalling. Responsibility was taken. Reports were issued. Hearings continue.



But the photographs lied. They told us a shard of the truth. In retrospect, they deflected us away from what was really going on, and what is still going on. The problem is not a co-ordinated cover-up. Nor is it a lack of information. The official government and Red Cross reports on prisoner torture and abuse, compiled in two separate volumes, ''The Abu Ghraib Investigations,'' by a former Newsweek editor, Steven Strasser, and ''Torture and Terror,'' by a New York Review of Books contributor, Mark Danner, are almost numbingly exhaustive in their cataloging of specific mistakes, incidents and responsibilities. Danner's document-dump runs to almost 600 pages of print, the bulk of it in small type. The American Civil Liberties Union has also successfully engineered the release of what may eventually amount to hundreds of thousands of internal government documents detailing the events.



That tells you something important at the start. Whatever happened was exposed in a free society; the military itself began the first inquiries. You can now read, in these pages, previously secret memorandums from sources as high as the attorney general all the way down to prisoner testimony to the International Committee of the Red Cross. I confess to finding this transparency both comforting and chilling, like the photographs that kick-started the public's awareness of the affair. Comforting because only a country that is still free would allow such airing of blood-soaked laundry. Chilling because the crimes committed strike so deeply at the core of what a free country is supposed to mean. The scandal of Abu Ghraib is therefore a sign of both freedom's endurance in America and also, in certain dark corners, its demise.



The documents themselves tell the story. In this, Danner's book is by far the better of the two. He begins with passionate essays that originally appeared in The New York Review of Books, but very soon leaves the stage and lets the documents speak for themselves. His book contains the two reports Strasser publishes, but many more as well. If you read it in the order Danner provides, you can see exactly how this horror came about - and why it's still going on. As Danner observes, this is a scandal with almost everything in plain sight.



The critical enabling decision was the president's insistence that prisoners in the war on terror be deemed ''unlawful combatants'' rather than prisoners of war. The arguments are theoretically sound ones - members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban are not party to the Geneva Convention and their own conduct violates many of its basic demands. But even at the beginning, President Bush clearly feared the consequences of so broad an exemption for cruel and inhumane treatment. So he also insisted that although prisoners were not legally eligible for humane treatment, they should be granted it anyway. The message sent was: these prisoners are beneath decent treatment, but we should still provide it. That's a strangely nuanced signal to be giving the military during wartime.............


Full review here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/13/books/review/books-sullivan.html
0 Replies
 
CoastalRat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 07:48 am
Yeah, I guess he is kinda regretting being a car thief now. Something tells me his experience may very well have been much worse had he been caught while Saddam was still in charge.

And just so I am not misunderstood here, I am not supporting what went on at Abu Ghraib, but had he not stolen the car, he would not have been in that place to begin with. So I think I will hold back the tears for him. I just have a hard time feeling sorry for a car thief.

Oh, and I don't know about the assertion that conservatives here argued that the only prisoners were terrorists. I know I did not. It would have been silly to believe that others were not caught up in the arrests back then. I don't remember anyone here making a claim that only terrorists were arrested, so I think you statement is wrong on that account. I just hate it when you paint us in such a bad light without justification. Of course, I have not checked nor I am sure read all the posts from back then, so I could be wrong about some of the conservatives here. I'm sure you will point me to a post to prove your statement if I am wrong. :wink:
0 Replies
 
willow tl
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 07:57 am
car thief or jay walker...you can't say that this behavior by certain troops is justafiable in any situation...
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 08:00 am
CoastalRat wrote:
Yeah, I guess he is kinda regretting being a car thief now. Something tells me his experience may very well have been much worse had he been caught while Saddam was still in charge.

And just so I am not misunderstood here, I am not supporting what went on at Abu Ghraib, but had he not stolen the car, he would not have been in that place to begin with. So I think I will hold back the tears for him. I just have a hard time feeling sorry for a car thief.


Ah, just kill 'em all.

THAT would solve almost everything - right?

Rolling Eyes
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 08:00 am
They certainly won't be moaning about torture and such trivia then, eh?
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 08:04 am
CoastalRat wrote:
Yeah, I guess he is kinda regretting being a car thief now. Something tells me his experience may very well have been much worse had he been caught while Saddam was still in charge.

Oh, goodie! We're doing better than Saddam Hussein! Yippee!

Let's not set the bar too high, here.

CoastalRat wrote:
And just so I am not misunderstood here, I am not supporting what went on at Abu Ghraib, but had he not stolen the car, he would not have been in that place to begin with. So I think I will hold back the tears for him. I just have a hard time feeling sorry for a car thief.

Sure sounds like you're supporting it.

CoastalRat wrote:
Oh, and I don't know about the assertion that conservatives here argued that the only prisoners were terrorists. I know I did not. It would have been silly to believe that others were not caught up in the arrests back then. I don't remember anyone here making a claim that only terrorists were arrested, so I think you statement is wrong on that account. I just hate it when you paint us in such a bad light without justification. Of course, I have not checked nor I am sure read all the posts from back then, so I could be wrong about some of the conservatives here. I'm sure you will point me to a post to prove your statement if I am wrong. :wink:

I think he referred to all the "well, torture is OK 'cause they're terrorists" comments.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 08:12 am
I wonder if that guy will ever steal another car.
0 Replies
 
willow tl
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 08:17 am
your not even funny anymore with your sarcasm...but i don't expect much from you or the conservatives...and that's exactly what i get...:-(
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 08:19 am
Hmmm - so the next American to steal etc over there gets tortured too? Or you will introduce it in America for such offences?

or - is it only Iraqis who deserve to be tortured, McG?
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 08:22 am
dlowan wrote:
Hmmm - so the next American to steal etc over there gets tortured too? Or you will introduce it in America for such offences?

or - is it only Iraqis who deserve to be tortured, McG?


Uh, oh.... Looks like somone's trying to jump to the extremes!

Way to go!
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 08:24 am
Lol - McG - please look at what you wrote - then answer the question. This is where your "logic" leads.
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 08:26 am
No, I asked a simple question. I endorsed nothing.

How about answering my question?
0 Replies
 
Steppenwolf
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 08:29 am
McGentrix wrote:
I wonder if that guy will ever steal another car.


For the record, this is not a question.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 08:32 am
CoastalRat wrote:
Yeah, I guess he is kinda regretting being a car thief now. Something tells me his experience may very well have been much worse had he been caught while Saddam was still in charge.

Actually, you see where up there I translated:

Quote:
Hussein Mutar ended up in the punitive prison of Abu Ghraib near Baghdad in late 2003 for car theft. There he was, he says, forced by American soldiers to masturbate, in a piramid of naked bodies. [..] 'I could not believe that this could happen. I wanted to end my life, because I could not stop them in any way. They tortured us as if it were a theater show.'


Well, that [..] bit that I left out (because I was afraid of the diversion of rhetorical outrage it would create), read: "'Even Saddam Hussein did not go that far', he declared." Original Dutch text here.

CoastalRat wrote:
And just so I am not misunderstood here, I am not supporting what went on at Abu Ghraib, but had he not stolen the car, he would not have been in that place to begin with. So I think I will hold back the tears for him. I just have a hard time feeling sorry for a car thief.

Yeah, anyone who does anything wrong pretty much deserves anything that others might do wrong in retaliation to him. I'll remember that next time you go on holidays and upon, say, transgressing the speed limit by 10 miles an hour, a cop stops you, beats you to the ground, shackles you, transports you to the police station at gunpoint and fines you $5,000. What do you mean unreasonable reaction? You should just not have sped, now shouldn't you! Hey, no sympathy from me ...

CoastalRat wrote:
Oh, and I don't know about the assertion that conservatives here argued that the only prisoners were terrorists. I know I did not. It would have been silly to believe that others were not caught up in the arrests back then. I don't remember anyone here making a claim that only terrorists were arrested, so I think you statement is wrong on that account. I just hate it when you paint us in such a bad light without justification.

You must be bloody JOKING!

If you don't remember "anyone here" making the claim that the people in Abu G. we were talking about were dangerous terrorists, you have an incredulously selective memory!

I remember all too well, having been perplexed and exasperated by it time and again. Time and again any discussion of Abu Ghraib, whether or not introduced by a formal condemnation of the actual individual violations (just incidents, of course), were immediately reduced by conservatives to theories of how, on the other hand, one has to realise that in a war against terrorism, faced with people who [fill in lurid description of potential evil done by 9/11 type terrorists], we might simply be forced to resort to "unconventional" tactics ...

Some claimed outright that we should assume the Abu G. inmates in question to be of that category - it wouldn't just have been ordinary prisons, the US army would never have done that!; others limited themselves to merely responding to any Abu G. item with eleborate proposals of how, you know, in general we do simply have to ask ourselves this question of what means are legitimate in interrogating terrorists, potential mass murderers. With never a single acknowledgement of the fact that the victims of the abuses were NOT some select group of high-ranking AQ terrorists, were as often as not nothing like the people they conjured up in order to rationalise the application of torture. When the arrestee is a car thief, the whole "well, what else are we to do faced with Al Qaeda terrorists" excuse falls into pieces, no?

It was never more than an assumption, one the majority of conservatives here insisted on making, time and again.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 08:40 am
McGentrix wrote:
I wonder if that guy will ever steal another car.

Perhaps not.

On the other hand, if everyone would react the way you do, Mr. "visibly enjoying the sadistic treatment of prisoners" Graner would not at all be deterred in the future from again piling up random inmates in naked piles and forcing them to masturbate over each other, dragging them naked across the floor on chains, staging mock executions, or any of that kind of thing. Hey - he stopped that guy from doing any more car thefts, he'd echo you - he pretty much provided a service to society!

Personally, I would consider Mr. Graner's practices a greater danger than Mr. Mutar's. Sadistic torture versus theft, and all that. All depends on how one views one's priorities, I s'pose.
0 Replies
 
Ticomaya
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 08:46 am
The practices that went on at Abu Ghraib were wrong. Those that participated are being court martialed right now. What is the purpose of this thread?

I understand the "Even Saddam Hussein did not go that far," comment is convenient for that man to say, but it is well-known that Saddam's henchmen would do far worse.

I'm with CR in that I never for one second assumed that every person in that prison camp was a terrorist. Sure, some conservatives might have suggested that they were, in the course of explaining that these folks were not innocent people dragged off the street (a la Nick Berg). Is the purpose of this thread to say to the few that might have suggested this, "see, you were wrong"?
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 08:46 am
I wonder if Graner will ever stack nude Iraqi's again.

Quote:
Personally, I would consider Mr. Graner's practices a greater danger than Mr. Mutar's. Sadistic torture versus theft, and all that.


I agree.
0 Replies
 
CoastalRat
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Jan, 2005 09:33 am
NIMH: Ok, first, show me the proof where anyone here tried to say that the only people spending time in Abu Ghraib were terrorists. Then I will gladly admit I am wrong and that some people on this forum did indeed believe that every one of them were. I for one was never naive enough to think that others (some probably innocent altogether of anything) were not arrested.

Secondly, I do not speed, thus your insinuation that I do and that I would be pulled over and beaten is bull. But I forgive you for thinking that I would so easily break the law. I guess you thought so because you have no qualms about breaking the law. Oh well. Anyway, where in my post did I say he deserved what he got, or that any law-breaker deserves to be tortured? I did not. What went on was stupid behaviour that nobody should be subject to (it was not all torture, but that is another subject). My point was simply that he would have avoided all of this had he never stolen that car. It was HIS decision that put him in a place that allowed SOME who had authority over him to treat him as they did. So no, I don't feel sorry for him. So sue me.

Finally, if he doesn't think Saddam went that far, then I am sure there are many family members of Iraqi citizens who were arrested by Saddam for much less who could set him straight, but again, that is really not germane to this discussion. So I guess I should not have made that comment.
0 Replies
 
 

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