Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Shame, The Horror

Herewith a potent depiction of US national policy during the Bush years entitled Abu Ghraib 37 (2005), by artist Fernando Botero.

US Major General Antonio Taguba, who conducted the official US Army investigation of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal is in the news again. His career came to end when he released his report on the torture of prisoners in Iraq; he was accused by his Pentagon superiors as being "overzealous" in the way he carried out his investigation and reported his findings. Don't you just love the Pentagon?

Now in a preface to "Broken Laws, Broken Lives" a report of medical evidence of torture on 11 former detainees by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), the general has openly accused Bush and his administration of war crimes. (Get the report here.) Their victims deserve compensation and an apology from the US government, he says.

And so does the report, which makes several other recommendations, among them a complete investigation of prisoner abuse at other US detention facilities and punishment of anyone at any level who participated in the torture of prisoners--including the rats in the Pentagon and White House who authorized it and the medical professionals connected with the detention and interrogation of detainees.

Suffice it to say that the poor Iraqis--every single one of whom in this report was guiltless of any crime whatever or any connection with terrorists and who was eventually released--have had their bodies, their minds, their spirits, and their lives totally fucked up courtesy of the United States. Here's a list of the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" that the PHR demands be prohibited in written standards for all US government agencies. Every single one of them has been employed in US detention facilities in the Bush years:

• Stress positions

• Beatings and other forms of physical assault

• Use of extremes of temperature

• Waterboarding or any other form of simulated drowning

• Threats of harm to the detainee, his family, or friends

• Sleep deprivation

• Sensory bombardment through the use of extreme noise and/or light

• Violent shaking

• Religious, cultural, and sexual humiliation, including, but not limited to, forced nakedness

• Prolonged isolation

• Sensory deprivation, including but not limited to hooding and blindfolding

• Use of psychotropic, mind-altering, or other drugs for the purpose of decreasing resistance or gaining information

• Mock execution

• Exploitation of phobias, psychopathology, or physical vulnerability

• Rape and sexual assault

• Electric shocks

• Deprivation of basic necessities and sanitary conditions

And here, for your edification is an acount of one prisoner's experience under US custody. This man's experience was typical:

Amir is in his late twenties and grew up in a Middle Eastern country. He was a salesman before being arrested by US forces in August 2003 in Iraq . After his arrest, he was forced, while shackled, to stand naked for at least five hours. For the next three days, he and other detainees were deprived of sleep and forced to run for long periods, during which time he injured his foot. After Amir notified a soldier of the injury, the soldier threw him against a wall and Amir lost consciousness. Ultimately, he was taken to another location, where he was kept in a small, dark room for almost a month while being subjected to interrogations that involved shackling, blindfolding, and humiliation. Approximately one month later, he was transferred to Abu Ghraib. At first he was not mistreated, but then was subjected to religious and sexual humiliation, hooding, sleep deprivation, restraint for hours while naked, and dousing with cold water. In the most horrific incident Amir recalled experiencing, he was placed in a foul-smelling room and forced to lay face down in urine, while he was hit and kicked on his back and side. Amir was then sodomized with a broomstick and forced to howl like a dog while a soldier urinated on him. After a soldier stepped on his genitals, he fainted. In July 2004, he was transferred to the prison at Camp Bucca , where he reported no abuse. He was returned to Abu Ghraib in November 2004 and released two days later.

Makes ya damn proud to be an American, don't it?

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