Tag Archives: Geneva Conventions

Torture Victims Stabbed, Sodomized, Soaked with Urine

Broken Laws, Broken Lives
From: Physicians for Human Rights

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Synopses of the Cases of Former Detainees Profiled

Kamal is in his late forties. He served in the Iraqi Army during the 1980s and later became a businessman and Imam of a local mosque. In September 2003 he was arrested by US forces. At the time of his arrest, he was beaten to the point of losing consciousness. After being brought to Abu Ghraib prison, he was kept naked and isolated in a cold dark room for three weeks, where both during and in between interrogations he was frequently beaten, including being hit on the head and in the jaw with a rifle and stabbed in the cheek with a screwdriver.

He was then placed in isolation in a urine-soaked room for two months. When Kamal was allowed to wear clothes, they were sometimes soaked in water to keep him cold. On approximately ten occasions he was suspended in a stress position, causing numbness that lasted for a month. He was made to believe that his family members were also in prison and that they were being raped and tortured.

He recounted, “[T]hey were telling me, making me hear voices of children and women, and told me they were my children and [wife].”

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.

Youssef is in his early thirties. Unable to find work in his country of origin, he sought employment in Afghanistan. In late 2001 or early 2002, Youssef was detained as he attempted to cross the Afghanistan-Pakistan border without a passport while trying to return home. He was held in a Pakistani prison for two months, where he was often shackled in unsanitary conditions and given little food. During this time, he was interrogated by US personnel and eventually hooded, shackled, and transferred to the US detention facility in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

In Kandahar, Youssef was immediately interrogated and subjected to beatings with sticks and fists as well as kicking, although he did not sustain serious injuries at the time. After that, he was stripped naked.

The first night he was not allowed to sleep, as guards hit the detainees and threw sand at them. While in Kandahar, Youssef endured forced nakedness, intimidation by dogs, hooding, and repeated assaults by being thrown against a wall. He was subjected to electric shock from a generator, feeling “as if my veins were being pulled out.”

Yasser is in his mid-forties and reported that his father was a “simple farmer.” He was raised in a big family, completed secondary school, attended an Islamic university, and eventually became a teacher. In the late 1990s, he changed his career and became a farmer. According to Yasser he was a respected member of the community; people sought his help in resolving social disputes and family problems and considered him a “wise man.” He recalled many accomplishments during this period and describes it as “the best days of our lives.”

Yasser tearfully described that when he reached the top of the steps “the party began…They started to put the [muzzle] of the rifle [and] the wood from the broom into [my anus]. They entered my privates from behind.” He noted that several other soldiers and civilians were present, including an interpreter with “a Lebanese accent.” Yasser estimated that he was penetrated five or six times during this initial sodomy incident and saw blood “all over my feet” through a small hole in the hood covering his eyes.

Yasser recalled that this “party” of abusive behavior continued for approximately five days. In a particularly traumatic experience, which Yasser describes as the “music party,” he was forced to lie on the ground with loudspeakers blasting music into his ears at a very painful volume. He recalled that this lasted “about one day, but you can say two years.”

Legal Prohibitions Against Torture and Ill-Treatment

All of the abusive interrogation techniques and patterns of ill-treatment endured by these eleven men — including beatings and other forms of severe physical and sexual assault, isolation, sleep deprivation, forced nakedness, severe humiliation and degradation, and sensory deprivation, many of which were experienced over long periods of time and often in combination with other prohibited acts — constituted acts of torture as well as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under domestic criminal statutes and international human rights and humanitarian treaties, including the Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions, that were in effect at the time the acts were committed.

Full Report of Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by US Personnel and Its Impact

ACLU Wants Two-Thousand Rape, Torture Photos Released

New photos show rape of detainees by US soldiers

Just as President Barack Obama’s Middle East tour is starting, a scandal is brewing regarding photos of detainees being abused in Iraqi jails. The American Civil Liberties Union is pushing for a federal court appeal on the Obama administration’s decision not to release the pictures which, some reports claim, show sexually explicit acts, including rape.

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Lynndie England – “Rumsfeld knew”

In this interview with England I hear no remorse in her words. Rather she appears narcissistic and sociopathic.

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She is one of the faces symbolizing the Iraq war. Pictures showing her abusing Iraqi detainees in Abu Graib prison brought her notorious fame throughout the world. In her first interview in three years Lynndie England talks about Abu Ghraib, about Charles Graner, about guilt, her current life – and the role of the Bush administration.

Mrs. England, a year ago you were released from jail after serving 521 days of a three-year sentence. How are you feeling now?

Not great but good.

What does that mean?

(She sighs) Oh, it’s just little things going wrong. I’m just trying to get by. Trying to find a job, trying to find a house. It’s been harder than I expected. I went to a couple of interviews, and I thought they went great. I wrote dozens of applications. Nothing came of it. I put in at Wal-Mart, at Staples. I’d do any job. But I never heard from them.

Do you think your name has anything to do with it?

I am starting to wonder if they realize who I am and they don’t want the publicity. I don’t want to lie. On my resume I have a brief little paragraph about what I did in the army and about being in prison and that I’m still on parole. I want to be totally honest. I have to find a job by September, that’s part of the parole regulations. If you break the rules, then they can bring you back. That would be a big deal because I don’t want to leave my son.

How do you get by? What do you live on?

We just got our taxes back. Thank God. Otherwise, I don’t know. I live in a trailer with my parents. My Dad works for the railway and he tries to help out with bills and my Mom helps me with what she gets.

You live in Ashby, a small town with a population of 1300. How do people treat you now?

They don’t treat me any different. I haven’t met a person yet that’s been negative to me. Not since I got home. Most of them back me up one hundred percent. They say, “What happened to you was wrong.” And some even say they would have done the same thing.

What do they mean by “They would have done the same thing”?

That they would have followed orders, just as I did in Abu Ghraib.

Why did you join the army at the age of 17 and against the express wishes of your mother?

I always wanted to be in the military. My whole life. I just didn’t know what branch – Navy, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Air Force. I just wanted to serve my country and be a patriot, I guess. As a child I mainly grew up on military gung-ho movies so that’s where I got the idea. Old Chuck Norris movies, “Delta Force”, “Rambo”, “Missing in Action”, “Platoon”. Full Interview

Sounding Increasingly, and Disturbingly, Like Bush

In reversing himself and declaring that the US government will not release further photos in its possession of torture being practiced on captives held by the US military and the CIA, President Obama is sounding increasingly like the Bush/Cheney administration before him.

It may well be that, as Obama says, release of those photos could lead to anger in the Islamic world and perhaps to recruitment gains among groups like Al Qaeda that are attacking American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, but this is only true because at the same time, the Obama administration is opposing taking any legal action against the people who authorized and promoted that torture.

If the Obama administration were to open a full-scale legal investigation into torture, with an independent prosecutor assigned to go after anyone who violated the Geneva Conventions and the US Criminal Code outlawing torture and the authorization, condoning or covering-up of torture, quite the opposite would happen: people in the Islamic world would see that this nation was coming to terms with those who abused the law. The horrifying and sickening pictures would be seen as part of the process of exposing and punishing the crime of torture. Full Story

Related Stories:

The Real Photos Show Torture, Abuse, Rape and Every Indecency
The Torture Photos Obama Refuses to Release

CIA Interrogation: ‘Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment’

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Red Cross Described ‘Torture’ at CIA Jails

The International Committee of the Red Cross concluded in a secret report that the Bush administration’s treatment of al-Qaeda captives “constituted torture,” a finding that strongly implied that CIA interrogation methods violated international law, according to newly published excerpts from the long-concealed 2007 document.

The report, an account alleging physical and psychological brutality inside CIA “black site” prisons, also states that some U.S. practices amounted to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” Such maltreatment of detainees is expressly prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.

The findings were based on an investigation by ICRC officials, who were granted exclusive access to the CIA’s “high-value” detainees after they were transferred in 2006 to the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The 14 detainees, who had been kept in isolation in CIA prisons overseas, gave remarkably uniform accounts of abuse that included beatings, sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures and, in some cases, waterboarding, or simulating drowning.

At least five copies of the report were shared with the CIA and top White House officials in 2007 but barred from public release by ICRC guidelines intended to preserve the humanitarian group’s strict policy of neutrality in conflicts. A copy of the report was obtained by Mark Danner, a journalism professor and author who published extensive excerpts in the April 9 edition of the New York Review of Books, released yesterday. He did not say how he obtained the report.

“The ill-treatment to which they were subjected while held in the CIA program, either singly or in combination, constituted torture,” Danner quoted the report as saying. Full Story

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I recently saw the film Taxi To The Dark Side. It was a very difficult, disturbing film to watch, but an important look at how ‘terrorist suspects’, who are presumed guilty, are tortured by U.S. Soldiers. I urge everyone who cares about this issue to see the film.

“Taxi To The Dark Side” – Trailer

This documentary murder mystery examines the death of an Afghan taxi driver at Bagram Air Base from injuries inflicted by U.S. soldiers. In an unflinching look at the Bush administration’s policy on torture, the filmmaker behind Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room takes us from a village in Afghanistan to Guantanamo and straight to the White House.

Taxi to the Dark Side – Falsely Accused

See Also:

‘The News that Didn’t Make the News’

Secret Prison Interrogation Videos Destroyed

Prison Torture in Afghanistan

Obama Refuses to Reverse Bush Policy on Prisoner’s Right to Trial

Soldier Abuse of Guantanamo Inmates

Prisoners Interrogated, Tortured and Killed

Obama Will Continue Use of Renditions

Prisoners Interrogated, Tortured and Killed

Unredacted documents reveal prisoners tortured to death

The American Civil Liberties Union has released previously classified excerpts of a government report on harsh interrogation techniques used in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. These previously unreported pages detail repeated use of “abusive” behavior, even to the point of prisoner deaths.

The documents, obtained by the ACLU under a Freedom of Information Act request, contain a report by Vice Admiral Albert T. Church, who was tapped to conduct a comprehensive review of Defense Department interrogation operations. Church specifically calls out interrogations at Bagram Air base in Afghanistan as “clearly abusive, and clearly not in keeping with any approved interrogation policy or guidance.”

The two unredacted pages from the Church report may be found here.

The ACLU’s release comes on the same day as a major FOIA document dump by three other leading human rights groups: Documents which reveal the Pentagon ran secret prisons in Bagram and Iraq, that it cooperated with the CIA’s “ghost detention” program and that Defense personnel delayed a prisoner’s release to avoid bad press.

“In both cases, for example, [prisoners] were handcuffed to fixed objects above their heads in order to keep them awake,” reads the document. “Additionally, interrogations in both incidents involved the use of physical violence, including kicking, beating, and the use of “compliance blows” which involved striking the [prisoners] legs with the [interrogators] knees. In both cases, blunt force trauma to the legs was implicated in the deaths. In one case, a pulmonary embolism developed as a consequence of the blunt force trauma, and in the other case pre-existing coronary artery disease was complicated by the blunt force trauma.”

Full Story

Obama to Approve More Secret Prisons & Torture

See Also: Obama Will Continue Use of Renditions

Obama Will Continue Use of Renditions

Obama preserves renditions as counter-terrorism tool

The CIA’s secret prisons are being shuttered. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being a wind-swept naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.

But even while dismantling these programs, President Obama left intact an equally controversial counter-terrorism tool.

Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program might be poised to play an expanded role going forward because it was the main remaining mechanism — aside from Predator missile strikes — for taking suspected terrorists off the street.

The rendition program became a source of embarrassment for the CIA, and a target of international scorn, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures, mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries where they were tortured.

Full Story

Rattansi talks to Christison, former Senior CIA Official
Leon Panetta retracts his testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee and says he doesn’t know about the Bush administration’s involvement in torture and he says kidnapping is okay, after all.

Twelve Myths in Bush’s “War on Terror”

Twelve Myths in Bush’s “War on Terror”

Michael Haas

There are many misconceptions about the “war on terror” now being promoted by President George W. Bush in interviews and “talking points” to his minions. At least twelve need to be cleared up before he leaves office and they become accepted truth:

1. The only way to remove Saddam Hussein from power was by invading Iraq. Prior to the invasion in 2003, there had been several attempted coups in Baghdad. Saddam Hussein’s air force was able to foil those which were most serious. In 1999, the top Saudi Arabia intelligence officer urged the United States to have the Security Council authorize the expansion of the no-fly zones over the north and south to cover the entire country. The idea was rejected by both the Clinton and Bush administrations.

2. The invasion of Iraq was premised on the high probability that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that could be launched at the United States. In May 1999, presidential candidate Bush intimated — without mentioning WMDs — that he would launch a war on Iraq if elected. Throughout their investigation, United Nations inspectors reported finding no hard evidence that there was anything suspicious at the many locations that American military intelligence identified as possible secret WMD sites in Iraq before the invasion. However, former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O’Neill saw a secret document dated March 5, 2001, entitled “Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq and Foreign Suitors of Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.”

3. Prisoners at Guantánamo were the “worst of the worst” among those detained in Afghanistan in 2001. Of the 774 prisoners detained at Guantánamo, approximately 500 have been released already, at least 70 are eligible for release today, and about 100 are in limbo. Only 60 have been identified as likely to be convicted of an offense. The initial commandant at Guantánamo, General Rick Baccus, flew to Afghanistan to try to stop receiving “Mickey Mouse” prisoners. He was unsuccessful.

4. A special tribunal was needed to try al-Qaeda operatives at Guantánamo. When Bush decided that al-Qaeda terrorists could not be tried under criminal or military law, he tried to set up something new by executive order. After the Supreme Court faulted his new tribunal for violating the constitution, Congress set up a separate tribunal in the Military Commissions Act of 2006. But the violations cited in the first two trials at Guantánamo were found in American criminal statutes, thus negating the rationale for separate tribunals.

5. The legal proceedings at Guantánamo are “war crimes trials.” In the first trial, Salim Ahmed Hamdan was convicted of violating a criminal law, not a war crime. Ali Harnza Ahmad Suliman al-Bahlul, the second person on trial, was convicted of aiding others who committed war crimes principally because he drove them in vehicles. In other words, he did not commit a war crime. Some prisoners at Guantánamo may indeed be tried in court for war crimes, but no such proceeding has yet gone beyond preliminary motions.

6. There is no evidence that George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld are war criminals. In 2006, the Supreme Court in Hamdan v Rumsfeld ruled that the judicial system at Guantánamo violated Article 3, common to the four Geneva Conventions of 1947. A violation of the Geneva Conventions is a war crime. If there is a crime, there must be a criminal, though the Supreme Court ruled on procedures, not guilt. The judicial arrangements at Guantánamo violating the Geneva Conventions were set up under Bush’s executive order and implemented by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.

7. Valuable intelligence was only extracted from terrorists when torture was employed. The FBI obtained useful intelligence from several prisoners through normal interrogation. When the CIA pushed aside the FBI to employ torture, cooperation ceased and phony confessions emerged.

8. Harsh treatment of suspected terrorists and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have crippled al-Qaeda. The National Intelligence Estimate of 2007 states just the opposite — that al-Qaeda has “regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capabilities.” According to a White House press release about that estimate, al-Qaeda’s “intent to attack the U.S. is undiminished, and they continue to adapt and improve their capabilities.”

9. Torture is the worst abuse committed by the Bush Administration in the “war on terror.” Most of those subjected to torture are still alive, though several died. Dr. Steven Miles and others have identified 45 prisoners who were murdered by their American captors from 2002 to 2007. Some others have died through neglect of their medical conditions. Murder is arguably worse than torture.

10. The Geneva Conventions were never applied to prisoners captured in the “war on terror.” General Baccus posted signs informing the first groups of incoming prisoners at Guantánamo that they were only required, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, to disclose their name, rank, and serial number. When the invasion of Afghanistan began, General Tommy Franks ordered that all prisoners should be treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. A few months later, the White House issued countermanding orders to both commanders.

11. Aside from murder and torture, the Bush administration has committed few war crimes. In George W. Bush, War Criminal?, with a Foreword by Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz, 269 war crimes are identified in four categories — 175 that deal with mistreatment of prisoners, 52 with the occupation of Iraq, 36 with the misconduct of war, and 6 with the launching of unjustified aggression. The number would be astronomic if based on the number of perpetrators, victims, and repetitions of the same types of crimes.

12. A presidential pardon would confer impunity on the war criminals of the Bush administration. Presidential pardons are conditional on admission of guilt. Indeed, the main sticking point in Nixon’s acceptance of his pardon by President Gerald Ford was the requirement that he admit guilt for his criminality. A president cannot pardon himself.

As time goes on, Bush will continue to rewrite history. Thus far, journalists have mostly avoided referring to his actions as “war crimes.” In so doing, the journalists are participants in a cover-up.