Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 19, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

ABU GHRAIB ROUNDUP....This is getting worse and worse, and it doesn't look like it's going to let up anytime soon. Here's the latest:

  • An ABC News source claims that the Army is still covering up abuse at Abu Ghraib:

    Dozens of soldiers other than the seven military police reservists who have been charged were involved in the abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, and there is an effort under way in the Army to hide it, a key witness in the investigation told ABCNEWS.

    "There's definitely a cover-up," the witness, Sgt. Samuel Provance, said. "People are either telling themselves or being told to be quiet."

  • The Denver Post reports that "brutal interrogation techniques" are being investigated in connection with five POW deaths in Iraq:

    The deaths include the killing in November of a high-level Iraqi general who was shoved into a sleeping bag and suffocated, according to the Pentagon report. The documents contradict an earlier Defense Department statement that said the general died "of natural causes" during an interrogation. Pentagon officials declined to comment on the new disclosure.

    Another Iraqi military officer, records show, was asphyxiated after being gagged, his hands tied to the top of his cell door. Another detainee died "while undergoing stress technique interrogation," involving smothering and "chest compressions," according to the documents.

  • Three journalists say they were abused in custody:

    Two of the three Reuters staff said they had been forced to insert a finger into their anuses and then lick it, and were forced to put shoes in their mouths, particularly humiliating in Arab culture.

    All three said they were forced to make demeaning gestures as soldiers laughed, taunted them and took photographs. They said they did not want to give details publicly earlier because of the degrading nature of the abuse.

  • The Wall Street Journal reports that the Army has known about the abuses at Abu Ghraib since at least last November but did nothing about them:

    Senior U.S. military officials in Iraq, including two advisers to the top commander there, reviewed a strongly worded Red Cross report detailing the abuse of prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison last November -- but the Army did not launch an investigation into the abuses until two months later.

    ....The late November events show that top military commanders were alerted to the abuses by the Red Cross earlier than they so far have publicly acknowledged. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld testified before the Senate recently that officials at the Pentagon learned of the abuses after a soldier alerted them in mid-January. The Defense Department then launched an internal investigation.

    ....Gen. Karpinski and another officer who attended some meetings in Iraq about the report also said that instead of focusing on the abuses being reported, some military intelligence officers argued that they needed to limit the Red Cross's future access to cell blocks where interrogations were taking place. The officers worried that agency officials didn't have appropriate security clearances and that their presence could disrupt efforts to put pressure on prisoners by placing them in complete isolation.

  • The Los Angeles Times reports that at least one senior officer refused to testify at an Abu Ghraib hearing because of fears that his testimony could leave him open to criminal charges:

    Three key witnesses, including a senior officer in charge of interrogations, refused to testify during a secret hearing against an alleged ringleader of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal on the grounds that they might incriminate themselves.

    ....Eugene R. Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, said no soldier is allowed to invoke his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination unless he knows his testimony would leave him open to criminal charges.

    "You can't assert it unless you have a belief that there is some criminal exposure," he said. "That's why people do it."

To summarize: the Army knew about this back in November and didn't try to stop it; there are many more than just seven people involved; some of them are at a senior level; and the abuses may have caused at least five deaths.

Oh, and there are more pictures.

I'm sure I've missed a few things. I'll try to catch up later.

Kevin Drum 12:19 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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