Thursday, August 13, 2009

WWB: torture


Where there is war and occupation, there will ALWAYS be torture. ALWAYS. They are destined to go to together, and always have, and always will. If you want to see an end to torture, you must put an end to wars and occupations. Now, you can have torture without wars and occupations, but you will never have wars and occupations without torture.

There have been many, many blog posts written about torture on Daily Kos. They have covered this subject in more depth than I will today, but I wanted to include torture in the serious of WHAT WAR BRINGS because as long as there is war, there will be torture. We cannot end torture without ending war and occupation. Perhaps this man said it better than I can:

There is no morality in war. Morality is the privilege of those judging from the distance. War is only death and destruction. ~ John Cory

Here are some links to Daily Kos blog posts on torture:

Weekly Torture Round-up: Picturegate, MI5, Torturing Doctors

What Matters Isn't the Photos, It's the Torture. (Taguba Speaks)

Torture Autopsy Reveals Death by Enhanced Interrogation

Bagram AFB : America's OTHER Torture Chamber

Eric Holder Meets Asad Jaleel

There are many more. All of these were written in an effort to see accountability for the torture that was done in the last eight years by the US authorities, particularly for the odious men who authorized torture. But torture will not end as long as we have US troops fighting wars and continuing occupations of foreign countries.

By declaring a global ‘war on terror’, Mr. Bush enabled the picking up of suspects from many countries besides Iraq and Afghanistan. Here is one story:

Ex-Detainee Describes His 7 Years at Guantánamo

An aid worker with the Red Crescent, he was originally suspected of being part of a plot to blow up the American and British Embassies in Sarajevo, but charges were dropped. Still, he was sent to Guantánamo and kept there for more than seven years, and was interrogated about his connections to another of the Algerians, Belkacem Bensayah, accused by investigators of being an operative for Al Qaeda in Bosnia. Mr. Bensayah had come to his office at the Red Crescent, and Mr. Boumediene helped Mr. Bensayah’s family, according to The Post. During the 16-night period of interrogation, Mr. Boumediene said that “six or seven” interrogators would take turns questioning him, going from midnight to 5 in the morning, then resuming a few hours later.

The accusations around torture have been going on for awhile. The following is from a Human Rights First report from 2006. It talks about the prisoners who were tortured to death, and how few Americans faced any consequences for their actions.

Detainee Deaths in U.S. Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan

Since August 2002, nearly 100 detainees have died while in the hands of U.S. officials in the global “war on terror.” According to the U.S. military’s own classifications, 34 of these cases are suspected or confirmed homicides; Human Rights First has identified another 11 in which the facts suggest death as a result of physical abuse or harsh conditions of detention. In close to half the deaths Human Rights First surveyed, the cause of death remains officially undetermined or unannounced. Overall, eight people in U.S. custody were tortured to death.

Despite these numbers, four years since the first known death in U.S. custody, only 12 detainee deaths have resulted in punishment of any kind for any U.S. official. Of the 34 homicide cases so far identified by the military, investigators recommended criminal charges in fewer than two thirds, and charges were actually brought (based on decisions made by command) in less than half. While the CIA has been implicated in several deaths, not one CIA agent has faced a criminal charge. Crucially, among the worst cases in this list – those of detainees tortured to death – only half have resulted in punishment; the steepest sentence for anyone involved in a torture-related death: five months in jail.

To this day, there have been no serious repercussions for the higher up officials for the torture done by US troops or the CIA. The troops at Abu Ghraib in April 2004 who engaged in torture faced some consequences. But the officials in their chain of command did not…. And I will never believe that regular army privates would put photos on their computer as desktop backgrounds of any action that they had been forbidden to do.

Here is the story of two men who were tortured to death in Afghanistan in 2002:

In early December, the unfettered violence finally spilled over into homicide. The first victim was Mullah Habibullah, who was apparently the brother of a Taliban commander from Uruzgan. Stout and well-presented, he was described as “very confident” by the major in charge of the MPs. After kneeing a soldier in the groin during his anal probe [which all prisoners received on arrival], three guards took him to an isolation cell and shackled his wrists to the wire ceiling, and on the following two days, when he was still “uncooperative,” he was given several peroneal strikes by one of the soldiers, whose lawyer later noted that his client was “acting consistently with the standard operating procedure that was in place at the Bagram facility.”

By the fourth day, he was coughing and complaining of chest pains, and his interrogator allowed him to sit on the floor because he was unable to bend his knees to sit down. Despite this, the violence increased the next day, when two MPs gave him nine peroneal strikes while he was handcuffed to the ceiling in one of the isolation cells. When three soldiers came to his cell later in the day and pulled off his hood, he was already dead. A medic told the military investigators, “It looked like he had been dead for a while, and it looked like nobody cared.”

The second victim was a taxi driver named Dilawar, who was brought in the day after the death of Mullah Habibullah. According to his elder brother, he was “a shy man, a very simple man,” who lived a quiet life with his wife, his young daughter and the rest of his family. On the day of his capture, he picked up three passengers and was passing Camp Salerno, a US base, when he was stopped at a checkpoint by soldiers serving under Jan Baz Khan, the nephew of Pacha Khan Zadran, who were looking for the men who had launched a rocket attack on the base earlier that day. Finding a broken walkie-talkie on one of the passengers and an electric stabilizer for a generator in the boot of the car, they delivered the four men to the Americans at Bagram as suspects.

They were among the last men to be implicated by Jan Baz Khan, and Dilawar’s passengers — Parkhudin, a 25-year old farmer, Abdul Rahim, a 27-year old baker, and Zakkim Shah, a 19-year old farmer — were certainly the last three to be sent to Guantánamo on Khan’s advice, because the Americans finally realized that their supposed ally was actually using them for his own ends, and imprisoned him in Bagram in February 2004.

More information about Dilawar can be seen in the movie “Taxi to the Dark Side”. I found it a hard movie to watch. It is, of course, no surprise that someone who is supposed to be an "ally" is really a person with no morals whatsoever. It is no surprise that they would turn in anyone to make a buck or settle a grudge. That too, is part of all occupations: so-called allies who are totally immoral. If they had morals, they would not be cooperating with the occupiers.

Dilawar's picture is above.

Other countries got involved in our torture schemes. Like China, for instance.

Uighur detainees: U.S. helped Chinese interrogate us

U.S. soldiers followed Chinese officials' orders to restrain detainees they said weren't cooperating. One detainee testified that an American told him the harsh treatment he'd received after his interrogation had been at the direction of the Chinese.

In light of what happened to the Uighurs, Mr. Obama’s jokes about them is particularly odious.

And the Brits joined in the torture.

Inquiry launched into deaths of six Iraqi soldiers 'tortured and killed by British troops'

The move follows allegations that a number of Iraqis were tortured and killed by British troops. Six Iraqis were asking the court to order an independent public inquiry into accusations that soldiers may have killed up to 20 captives held after a gun battle in southern Iraq.

It was alleged Iraqi civilians were detained following 'the battle of Danny Boy', a fire fight between British soldiers and Iraqi insurgents near the town of Majar-al-Kabir in Maysan Province on May 14 2004.

I remember back in 2003 and 2004, I was arguing that US troops and British troops should leave Iraq immediately. Time and again, I ran into stupid Americans who argued that we should stay and help out the Iraqi people. Well, we all saw where that lead – to more hideous crimes by the occupation forces, including torture, murder, and various other crimes listed in this series WHAT WAR BRINGS.

It is very difficult for me to be civil to those American idiots who think we should stay in Afghanistan and totally destroy that country too. They are accomplices to torture and murder, and in my opinion, they should be arrested and put on trial.

Stupidity is no excuse.

And, as is always the case, the native government of an occupied country also engages in torture. No surprises here. None. And it is (again) not some rogue element doing this – it is coming from the highest levels of political power, just like it did in the USA.

Iraq government faces claims of prisoner abuse

Allegations of mistreatment have persisted since 2005, when U.S. troops raided an Interior Ministry lockup in a predominantly Shiite area of southeastern Baghdad and found scores of emaciated prisoners. The matter returned to the spotlight after the June 12 assassination of Sunni lawmaker Harith al-Obeidi, an outspoken advocate of prisoner rights.

…… "The cases are as bad as what took place at Abu Ghraib, but it is painful when these things take place in Iraqi prisons," said Sunni lawmaker Salim Abdullah. "We met some of those who were released and saw the scars on their skins. They use different kinds of torture like tying the shoulders and hanging the body, which normally leads to dislocation of the shoulders."

Well, I guess we can comfort ourselves with the knowledge that it is not as bad as it was under Saddam….. but somehow, I don’t find that comforting. And I doubt the torture victims do either, since they have to live with the effects of torture for the rest of their lives.

The Lingering Effects of Torture

Today, in his native Pakistan, the sound of approaching footsteps or the sight of someone in a uniform can trigger bad memories and set off a panic attack. The former teacher and father of five now thinks of himself as a suspicious and lonely person.

"I feel like I am in a big prison and still in isolation. I have lost all my life," he told psychologists working for the non-profit Physicians for Human Rights. They diagnosed him as having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and severe depression.

Newly emerging research on large numbers of torture survivors shows that anecdotal stories like these are common and suggests that "psychological" forms of torture — often thought to be milder than the direct infliction of physical pain — can in fact have serious long-term mental health consequences.

And there is one difference between Saddam and US torture – Saddam did not hold them for so long.

"Now I Will Die": Beaten and Held in Prison Without Charge by the U.S. in Iraq

Clifford Acree, the Marine pilot tortured under Saddam, was freed after 47 days of captivity. Some prisoners at Camp Cropper continue to languish without charges six years after the invasion, and many more at Guantánamo have been held for nearly eight years. Last week The Washington Post reported that inmates at the U.S.-run Bagram in Afghanistan have been protesting their indefinite detention by refusing to leave their cells since at least July 1 for showers or exercise.

Yes, that brings up another issue – it appears the torture and abuse is still going on, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo.

Mr. President, we are still torturing?

The Bagram detention center itself has continued to operate with currently more than 600 prisoners and is being planned to expand its capacity to more than 1,100 as President Obama sends more troops into Afghanistan.

In a continuation of the Bush-Cheney practice of deliberately keeping certain groups of suspects far away from our courts and our laws, as well as hidden from monitoring by international human rights groups, the Obama administration has told a federal court that our prisoners at Bagram, many held for more than six years without charges, have no rights under our laws.

Freed Guantanamo Detainees Claim Post-Obama Mistreatment

Boumediene claims that the abuse and humiliation of prisoners continues in Guantanamo and that detainees there are still harassed and tortured. According to Boumediene, a special guard unit continues to beat prisoners to get them out of their cells, and any official claims that such treatment has stopped are untrue.

The US is trying to destroy the evidence of torture.

Former Guantánamo detainee Binyam Mohamed has launched an urgent legal attempt to prevent the US courts from destroying crucial evidence that he says proves he was abused while being held at the detention camp, the Guardian has learned. The evidence is said to consist of a photograph of Mohamed, a British resident, taken after he was severely beaten by guards at the US navy base in Cuba. The image, now held by the Pentagon, had been put on his cell door, he says.

Yes, it is all pretty depressing. We tortured in the past under the Bush administration, and there is every indication that we are still torturing. But that is what war brings: torture by the combatants, the criminals, the government and military of the occupied country. I have not covered torture by the criminal elements, but I am sure you have heard of it. Where ever there is war and occupation, there will be an out of control criminal element, and one thing you can count on them doing is torture.

If you support the continued occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the bombing of Pakistan, then you support WHAT WAR BRINGS: torture.

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