Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Iraq: Rape, Murder & cover-up

"AN Iraqi army doctor told today of his horror at coming upon a dead teenager "naked with her legs spread" after the alleged murder of her family by a group of US soldiers.

Testifying on the first day of a US military hearing to decide whether there is enough evidence to court martial four of the soldiers, the doctor described how he was called to the 14-year-old's home in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad.

It has been alleged that on March 12 five US soldiers left their post and headed to the nearby home of a Iraqi.

The young girl was allegedly raped and killed, along with her family, and the house set on fire.

The doctor said the girl's upper torso and her head were burned and she had a single bullet under her left eye.

Her five-year-old sister was found in an adjacent room, where a bullet had blown the back of her head out.

The girls' father and mother had also been shot dead.

The mother was riddled with bullets in her chest and abdomen. The doctor told the prosecutors that he was ill for weeks after witnessing the crime scene.

Reporters were barred from the hearing during the testimony, and the medic's name was not released, but a recording of his testimony was made available.

Two other Iraqis also testified but the media was not allowed to listen.

The "Article 32" hearing began overnight behind closed doors, to allow Iraqi witnesses to testify without the risk of being identified in their community, where there is strong anti-American sentiment.

Military lawyers ordered that the identity of the witnesses be protected, for fear that they could face threats from insurgents for collaborating with the US troops, despite their testimony against the accused servicemen.

Sergeant Paul Cortez, Specialist James Barker, Private Jesse Spielman and Private Bryan Howard could face the death penalty if found guilty of taking part in the attack.

A fifth suspect, Steven Green was discharged from the army because of a "personality disorder" and will be tried separately in the United States in a civilian federal court."

G.I.'s Investigated in Slayings of 4 and Rape in Iraq

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Abu Ghraib prison, Iraq: Torture #2 - starring unnamed CIA officers, plus Charles Graner & Sabrina Harman

"A Briton released from Guantánamo alleged that, as in Abu Ghraib, sexual humiliation was identified by US officials as a way of breaking Muslim detainees. In Iraq it was the simulation of oral sex, forced masturbation and human pyramids, withpeople kept naked for long spells.

Abuse allegations against the US have now surfaced in Iraq, Guantánamo, Bagram, in Afghanistan, and even in Gambia, where a British businessman told the Guardian he was threatened with rape and beatings while being questioned by US agents.

Part of the interrogating team at Abu Ghraib was from the CIA. There are clues from that organisation's history that it has found ill-treating detainees to be useful in the past. Two CIA interrogation manuals surfaced in 1997 after the Baltimore Sun obtained them under freedom of information laws. Reading them in the context of the pictures from Iraq and accounts from Guantánamo suggests that the advice they contain is still being applied.

One, dating from 1983, was written for use in Honduras. Entitled "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual", it states: "The purpose of all coercive techniques is to induce psychological regression in the subject by bringing a superior outside force to bear on his will to resist. Regression is basically a loss of autonomy."

Sgt Frederick says detainees at Abu Ghraib were kept in isolation for up to three days in windowless rooms. According to the CIA manual, "a person's sense of identity depends upon the continuity in his surroundings, habits, appearance, relations with others ... Detention should be planned to enhance ... feelings of being cut off from anything known and reassuring."

The US denies it uses torture. While the pulling of fingernails may be out, coercion and psychological stress are permitted, according to the CIA manual. How to put such advice into practice is up to intelligence officers.

The 1983 CIA manual draws heavily from the 1963 "Kubark manual", named after the codeword the CIA gave itself. It explains what the US military may have hoped to gain by sexually humiliating prisoners. "The effectiveness of most of the non-coercive techniques depends upon their unsettling effect. The interrogation situation is in itself disturbing to most people encountering it for the first time. The aim is to enhance this effect, to disrupt radically familiar emotional and psychological associations ... When this aim is achieved, resistance is seriously impaired. There is an interval ... of suspended animation, a kind of psychological shock or paralysis. It is caused by a traumatic or sub-traumatic experience which explodes, as it were, the world that is familiar to the subject as well as his image of himself within that world. At this moment the source is farlikelier to comply."

This appears to be what US intelligence officers at Abu Ghraib have been putting into effect. Specialist Sabrina Harman, one of the accused guards, (the female soldier seen in these pictures) testified that it was her job to keep prisoners awake, including the hooded man placed on a box with wires attached to his fingers, toes and genitals.

According to the New Yorker, she stated: "MI [military intelligence] wanted to get them to talk. It is Graner [a guard] and Frederick's job to do things for MI ... to get these people to talk." The Kubark manual states that "resistance is sapped principally by psychological rather than physical pressures". It also warns that approval from headquarters is needed for "bodily harm" or "medical, chemical or electrical methods"."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Israel in Lebanon: "If You Haven't Left, You're Hezbollah"

"SIDON, Lebanon, Jul 30 (IPS) - The Israeli attack on Qana has taken the biggest toll of the war, but it is only one of countless lethal attacks on civilians in Lebanon.

Large numbers fled the south after Israelis dropped leaflets warning of attacks. Others have been unable to leave, often because they have not found the means. The Israelis have taken that to mean that they are therefore Hezbollah.

Israeli justice minister Haim Ramon announced on Israeli army radio Thursday that "all those in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah."

Justifying the collective punishment of people in southern Lebanon, Ramon added, "In order to prevent casualties among Israeli soldiers battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops move in."

This policy explains the large number of wounded in the hospitals of Sidon in the south..

Wounded people from southern Lebanon narrate countless instances of indiscriminate attacks by the Israeli military.

Thirty-six-year-old Khuder Gazali, an ambulance driver whose arm was blown off by an Israeli rocket, told IPS that his ambulance was hit while trying to rescue civilians whose home had just been bombed.

"Last Sunday people came to us and asked us to go help some people after their home was bombed by the Israelis," he said from his bed in Hamoudi Hospital in Sidon, the largest in southern Lebanon. "We found one of them, without his legs,
lying in a garden, so we tried to take him to the nearest hospital."

On way to the hospital an Israeli Apache helicopter hit his ambulance with a rocket, severely injuring him and the four people in the back of the vehicle, he said.

"So then another ambulance tried to reach us to rescue us, but it too was bombed by an Apache, killing everyone inside it," he said. "Then it was a third ambulance which finally managed to rescue us."

Khuder, who had shrapnel wounds all over his body, said "this is a crime, and I want people in the west to know the Israelis do not differentiate between innocent people and fighters. They are committing acts of evil.. They are attacking civilians, and they are criminals." "

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Abu Ghraib prison, Iraq: Torture #1 - starring Lindy England

"This was Abu Ghraib jail. Everything that had gone wrong with the occupation since the previous heady spring, when Bush had stood on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln beneath a banner proclaiming 'Mission Accomplished', was summed up in the chaos and brutality of the old prison west of Baghdad.

All of the post-invasion problems in Iraq — poor planning, clumsy leadership, strategic confusion, counterproductive tactics, under-manning, heavy-handedness — came together in this horrible place.

As the insurgency grew and the need for 'actionable' local intelligence became more desperate, thousands of Iraqis were rounded up in indiscriminate sweeps and dumped on Abu Ghraib for interrogation. By October 2003 there were almost 7,000 of them — guarded by just 360 Military Police reservists.

Orders were received by these ill-trained jailers that the gloves were to come off. A senior officer from Guantanamo was flown in from Cuba to give advice on softening up prisoners for questioning.

What developed was a policy of institution-alised abuse which brought shame on America, undermined its supposedly benign purpose and vastly strengthened the insurgency by its cruelty and unfairness.

In the first 18 months, 30,000-40,000 Iraqis were locked up in Abu Ghraib for weeks to be frightened, humiliated and sometimes tortured. It was later estimated that 90 per cent of them were of no intelligence value whatsoever."
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Legofestos are re-enacted from source images, in this case the photographs taken by the soldiers involved of abuse and torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.

Dahr Jamail photo gallery
Lindy England