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US tortures Afghan, presumed innocent, to death

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 08:00 am
This made me as furious as I haven't been at the American government since ... sometime in the 80s. I'm close to declaring the US the enemy now.

Mind you, these are not some Afghan interrogaters hired by the Americans to torture by proxy; these were Americans who did this, thinking they were following instructions.

Quote:
Chained, tortured and left to die in cell

Tim Golden
Saturday May 21, 2005
The Guardian

Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him. The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention centre in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2am to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base.

When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummelled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they had finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

Several hours later an emergency room doctor saw Dilawar. By then he was dead. It would be months before army investigators learned a final horrific detail: most of the interrogators had believed Dilawar was an innocent man who drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.


The story of Dilawar's death - and that of another detainee, Habibullah, who died there six days earlier in December 2002 - emerge from a 2,000-page confidential file of the army's criminal investigation into the case, a copy of which has been obtained by the New York Times.

The Bagram file depicts young, poorly trained soldiers in repeated incidents of abuse. The harsh treatment, which has resulted in criminal charges against seven soldiers, went well beyond the two deaths.

In some instances, testimony shows, it was directed or carried out by interrogators to extract information. In others, it was punishment meted out by military police guards.

Sometimes, the torment seems to have been driven by little more than boredom or cruelty, or both.

In sworn statements to army investigators, soldiers describe one female interrogator stepping on the neck of one prostrate detainee and kicking another in the genitals. They tell of a shackled prisoner being forced to roll back and forth on the floor of a cell, kissing the boots of his two interrogators as he went. Yet another prisoner is made to pick plastic bottle caps out of a drum mixed with excrement and water as part of a strategy to soften him up for questioning.

Some of the mistreatment was quite obvious, the file suggests. Senior officers frequently toured the detention centre, and several of them acknowledged seeing prisoners chained up for punishment or to deprive them of sleep. [..]

Once in Afghanistan, members of the 377th found the usual rules did not seem to apply. The peroneal strike - a potentially disabling blow to the side of the leg, just above the knee - quickly became a basic weapon of their arsenal. They said they were never told it was not part of army doctrine.

The detainee known as Person Under Control No. 412 was a portly, well-groomed Afghan named Habibullah. Some American officials identified him as "Mullah" Habibullah, a brother of a former Taliban commander from the southern Afghan province of Oruzgan. [..]

On his second day, December 1, the prisoner was "uncooperative" again, this time with Specialist Willie V Brand. The guard, who has since been charged with assault and other crimes, told investigators he had delivered three peroneal strikes in response. The next day, Specialist Brand said, he had to knee the prisoner again. Other blows followed.

By December 3, Habibullah's reputation for defiance seemed to make him an open target. One MP said he had given him five peroneal strikes for being "noncompliant and combative." Another gave him three or four more for being "combative and noncompliant." [..]

When Sgt. James P Boland saw Habibullah on December 3, he was in one of the isolation cells, tethered to the ceiling by two sets of handcuffs and a chain around his waist. His body was slumped forward, held up by the chains.

His death was attributed to a blood clot, probably caused by the severe injuries to his legs, which travelled to his heart and blocked the blood flow to his lungs.

· This is an edited version of a report that appeared in yesterday's New York Times
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 08:09 am
More relevant / perplexing bits and pieces below.

This story makes me feel physically sick. No wonder the US government went to bed with Karimov's regime in Uzbekistan for so long; they do the same things.

Quote:
Report implicates top brass in Bagram scandal

Julian Borger in Washington
Saturday May 21, 2005
The Guardian

A leaked report on a military investigation into two killings of detainees at a US prison in Afghanistan has produced new evidence of connivance of senior officers in systematic prisoner abuse.

The investigation shows the military intelligence officers in charge of the detention centre at Bagram airport were redeployed to Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq in 2003, while still under investigation for the deaths of two detainees months earlier. Despite military prosecutors' recommendations, the officers involved have yet to be charged. [..]

Dilawar was a taxi driver who appears to have driven past a US military base soon after a rocket attack. Habibullah was handed over to the US by an Afghan warlord, and was identified as the brother of a Taliban commander. Both men were seized in late 2002, interrogated, beaten and killed in a hangar used for holding detainees who were being vetted for dispatch to Guantánamo Bay.

The two were chained to the ceilings of their cells for days at a time and beaten on the legs. They had been subjected to a blow known as the "common peroneal strike", aimed at a point just below the knee and intended to disable. Coroners in the Habibullah case said his legs "had basically been pulpified" and looked as though they had been run over by a bus. [..]

Sergeant James Leahy told investigators that after February 2002 directive from Mr Bush that the Geneva convention did not apply to al-Qaida or Taliban fighters, interrogators believed they "could deviate slightly from the rules". [..]

"The White House always put forward, that Abu Ghraib was an exception, just some rotten apples," he said. "But US personnel in Afghanistan were involved in killings and torture of prisoners well before the Iraq war even started.

"The story begins in Afghanistan."


Quote:
US losing battle for hearts and minds with abuses

[..] Once a transit centre for terror suspects bound for Guantánamo Bay, the detention pens now hold those who are accused of much but convicted of nothing. Afghans know virtually nothing about what happens inside.

The Afghan Human Rights Commission has received more than 130 reports of torture and other abuses in the past 18 months, said its deputy chairman, Ahmad Fahim Hakim. Despite numerous requests, its officials have never been allowed in.

[..] It is not just Afghans. According to other reports, the CIA has secretly flown detainees to Bagram from western countries to circumvent human rights laws.

[..] "On the one hand American troops want to inculcate us with democratic values; on the other, they are violating them," said Mr Hakim.

Lynndie England was just an isolated case, right? Just a bad apple?
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 08:14 am
Quote:
This made me as furious as I haven't been at the American government since ... sometime in the 80s. I'm close to declaring the US the enemy now.


One of those odd instances where I'm unhappy to have the company of someone with whom I am fond.
0 Replies
 
kickycan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 08:20 am
My theory is still sound. All governments are liars and murderers.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 08:51 am
Ugh.

This is awful.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 08:53 am
Here is the full NYT article -- I hadn't seen it:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/20/international/asia/20abuse.html?
0 Replies
 
goodfielder
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 09:00 am
Is the US military the new SS? Is the US military the new Gestapo? Bloody hell I hope not but this is really disgusting.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 09:41 am
Damned interesting that some soul had the decency to leak it.

It has been posted in a few threads now.

Many of the right are still moaning that any damned arsehole would DARE allege their soldiers have damaged any Korans - that there is NO evidence of US systematic mistreatment of prisoners.

Aargh - what is it going to take?

Next step, I bet, is people defending this treatment - as they have Gunatanamo.

Kind of like the grounds for the war keep shifting as more and more US propaganda is proven false.

Thing is - I am sure many nations mistreat their prisoners - as do the damned Islamic fanatics - but it behoves those daring to claim to bring goodness and enlightenment to the world to keep their own behaviour clean.

It is the HYPOCRISY which irks me, as well as the cruelty.

And the apparent refusal to supervise and take responsibility for the actions of gangs of young people with too much power, and no apparent brains or compassion.
0 Replies
 
revel
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 09:48 am
don't forget this is only a few bad apples Rolling Eyes
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 09:58 am
Sickening.

Is this getting coverage in the general ( famously left wing) MSM in the U.S.?

We've been getting a lot of coverage of this, and similar cases, in Canada - probably as a result of the Maher Arar situation.
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 10:01 am
Seems less here beth, though surely there is coverage. Often drowned out by all the other diversionary tricks, of course.
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 10:04 am
But let me add that there has really been no good news for the Bush crowd for a while now...just more bad stories piling up. The best they could come up with in the last few weeks was Laura cracking wise about George naively jacking off a horse.
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 10:07 am
The Kitty Kelley book coming out in paperback has probably got the divert/digress/disguise crowd in over-drive.

hmmmmmmmm

Maybe it's time for a little wander over to GOPUSA and freeperville Cool
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 10:08 am
It seems a culture of abuse to me, and while there are probably many bad apples, the culture of abuse flows from the top.
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 10:09 am
So is the Bush still out campaigning for SS reform?
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 10:09 am
I get the vast majority of my news from the NYT and it's there in spades -- an 8-page article I'm having a really hard time getting through. (Read, disgust builds, time out, read...)

#3 in "More News" after Kylie Minogue's surgery on CNN...

#2 in "More Top Stories" after Mary Kay LeTourneau's nuptials on MSNBC

Similar on ABC news homepage.

All of these emphasize Karzai's shock at the "alleged" abuses.

Couldn't find aything on CBS or Fox news homepages.

The main story for all of these is Saddam in his undies. One is tempted to say something like it's a dandy way to take the general abuse of prisoners horror and focus it on something relatively harmless and even humorous. (Much easier for people to say eh, he's fine, it's no big deal, those Geneva Conventions freaks are over-reacting about that than about an innocent taxi driver dying horrifically...)
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 10:09 am
Yeah, I took a look at fox today to see how they were dealing with Sadaam in his undies versus Newsweek.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 10:11 am
ANY Coverage of this report on Fox? ANY?????

I mean - the stuff on systematic abuse and torture has been out thee for some time - I posted huge numbers of links in two threads, at least - but this is a US SELF-report.
0 Replies
 
dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 10:14 am
So what we have is not unlike any college fraternity initiation gala?
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 10:15 am
Couldn't find anything on the Fox site.

Couldn't find anything on the CBS site, though, either. :-? (It's pretty much expected of Fox, more worrisome to me that CBS is such a nervous nelly about it.)
0 Replies
 
 

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