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October 04, 2005

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I think 'officer C' and Capt. Fishback are the same person.

Thank you for this, von.

Where hilzoy leads, von follows.

And good on you both.

Good post, Von.

Perfect and heartbreaking.

I can only hope that Cpt. Fishback and his concerns receive a just and appropriate answer. One is owed to all of us, to the world, but most of all to those who were compelled by their sworn duty to follow orders that were beyond the pale for civilized humanity.

Wonderful, von. Thanks.

This is so heartbreacking and so important. I hope to God that the citizens of this country meet this test.

Wow how despicable is John McCain? Is there anything that could pry his lips from George Bush's anus?

According to Kevin Drum, Bush has threatened to veto McCain's torture amendment. That surprises me. It's more Bush's style to sign it with fanfair while outsourcing the torture.

"That surprises me."

There is a principle involved, about executive discretion as CinC they consider massively important. For some reason.

Kudos von. And Gregory D has been heartbreaking recently.

Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the [torture]-man's two ... years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether"

Sigh.

Excellent, Von.

Amen.

thanks.

Another prisoner was recently sent to Egypt. According to an Amnesty press release from before he was sent,

Sami al-Laithi has been held inGuantánamo Bay without charge or trial for over three and a half years. On 10 May, US authorities determined that he is not an ‘enemy combatant’ through the Combatant tatus Review Tribunal (CSRT)procedure. He remains held at Guantánamo until his transfer is complete.

Sami al-Laithi is confined to a wheelchair as a result of a spinal injury which he says was caused when US officials at the Guantánamo Bay hospital stomped on his back, fracturing two vertebrae. He has said "Once they stomped on my back…An MP threw me on the floor, and they lifted me up and slammed me back down". He has been told that sudden movement could sever his spinal cord and render him paralyzed. He has apparently been denied an operation that could save him from permanent paralysis. Sami al-Laithi has also said that his neck is permanently damaged because it has been repeatedly forced towards his knees by pushing on the back of his head. A prison spokesperson is reported to have attributed his back injury to a degenerative disease.

According to reports, Sami al-Laithi has been sexually abused while in Guantánamo and consistently threatened with return to Egypt. On one occasion a visiting Egyptian delegation are reported to have told him that he would "certainly come back to Egypt" where he was told he would be subjected to military trial. He is currently held at Camp V, a prison block for about 80 detainees who are held for up to 24 hours a day in solitary confinement in a concrete cell approximately four metres by two metres.

Sami al-Laithi is believed to have left Egypt in 1986 to stay with his sister in Pakistan. He has never returned, fearing persecution for his criticism of the Egyptian authorities. He is said to have fled from Pakistan to Afghanistan after two Egyptian officials were sent to find him. In Afghanistan he taught English and Arabic at Kabul University until the US-led invasion of Iraq when he fled back to Pakistan. Shortly after this he is believed to have been seized in Pakistan and subsequently sold to US forces. Soon after this he was transferred to Guantánamo Bay.

On 21 July, Sami al-Laithi's lawyers applied for him to be given at least 30 days' notice of any transfer from Guantánamo and for him to be found a safe
country to go to. This application was turned down on 28 August, when the Judge
found that the lawyers had failed to offer direct evidence that he would be tortured in Egypt. The Judge also cited US authorities’ declarations that it opposes torture and would not send someone to a country where they would be tortured.

I'll have to go looking for that judge's opinion later. Seems way off to me on both the facts and the law.

Well, if the following report quoted by Andrew Sullivan here is accurate, we'll be torturing Iranians sometime in the next three years:

Top-ranking Americans have told equally top-ranking Indians in recent weeks that the US has plans to invade Iran before Bush’s term ends. In 2002, a year before the US invaded Iraq, high-ranking Americans had similarly shared their definitive vision of a post-Saddam Iraq, making it clear that they would change the regime in Baghdad.
On the last day of his stay in New York this month, Singh made public his fears for the safety of nearly four million Indians in the Gulf in the event of diplomacy failing to persuade Iran away from a confrontation with the US and others on the nuclear issue.

So at least we can eventually say we're not biased against Sunnis in our torture. The Equal Opportunity Torture Rooms of Freedom are on the march.

I think 'officer C' and Capt. Fishback are the same person.

I actually thought the same thing when I was putting the piece together, but I can't find any confirmation that this is the case. Do you know of any? I'll gladly update if it can be confirmed.

Where hilzoy leads, von follows

Oh, yes, I don't mean to suggest (by omission in the main piece) that Hilzoy hasn't also been out in front on this issue. She has.

Agreed, von. We can't pursue noble causes by using ignoble means. Rumsfeld needs to retire.

Charles: Rumsfeld needs to retire.

Rumsfeld needs to be prosecuted. George W. Bush needs to be impeached.

Great post, Von. Can you have more than one "category"? Because I'd say this belongs in the Maher Arar category, too.

"Agreed, von. We can't pursue noble causes by using ignoble means. Rumsfeld needs to retire.'

Excellently succinct, BD: and while you/I, and/or others can (and no doubt will) debate -lengthily - the relative "nobility" of our "cause", the objective "ignobility" of so many of the means that have been employed by this nation's military, in this nation's military actions since 2002 are, to be blunt, nothing less than a hideous national disgrace. It would be interesting, though, to read what you think can (note, "can", not "should be") be done about the culture of abuse that seems to have become, under George W. Bush's Presidency, a hallmark of the US military (and whose chronic excusal has seeming become a cottage industry among most of the President's and the war's supporters).
Here, I will agree with Jesurgislac's assesment: Donald Rumsfeld doesn't need to "resign"; he "needs" to cashiered in disgrace, and, one would hope, prosecuted - for his inexcusable role in enabling torture and abuse as a tolerated (or at least, minimally-punished) action by American miltary personnel.

Sorry: "resign" above should have been "retire": the sentiment remains the same, though.

According to Kevin Drum, Bush has threatened to veto McCain's torture amendment. That surprises me. It's more Bush's style to sign it with fanfair while outsourcing the torture.

It's not surprising because the Bush administration profoundly believes that it has the right to adopt a torture policy, and wants to protect its perogative to do so. This is the only possible conclusion from the long series of events. As shocking as that is as a conclusion, it is the only one that makes sense.

Indeed, the "few bad apples" theory makes sense when you realize that the few bad apples are all the top figures in the Bush administration that have made torture a de facto policy of the US. And if these particular apples are rotten, they rapidly taint the whole barrel.

Again, a top-down model for the source of the rampant prisoner abuse is the only model that makes logical sense. And it further explains why Bush would veto anti-torture provisions sponsored by that raging anti-American John McCain.

Katherine (quoting an article): "This application was turned down on 28 August, when the Judge found that the lawyers had failed to offer direct evidence that he would be tortured in Egypt. The Judge also cited US authorities’ declarations that it opposes torture and would not send someone to a country where they would be tortured."

Wow. I bet I know who the next Supreme Court pick will be - judge 'no direct evidence'.

It would be interesting, though, to read what you think can (note, "can", not "should be") be done about the culture of abuse that seems to have become, under George W. Bush's Presidency, a hallmark of the US military

With eleven investigations into mistreatment of detainees and prisoners, together with McCain's 90-9 amendment, if that doesn't do the trick, I don't know what will, Jay.

God, Charles, it's really impossible to get through to you, isn't it?

von: Fishback is Officer C. From the NYT (long excerpt because it's behind the Times Select wall -- I'm almost at the end of my free trial):

"An Army captain who reported new allegations of detainee abuse in Iraq said Tuesday that Army investigators seemed more concerned about tracking down young soldiers who reported misconduct than in following up the accusations and investigating whether higher-ranking officers knew of the abuses.

The officer, Capt. Ian Fishback, said investigators from the Criminal Investigation Command and the 18th Airborne Corps inspector general had pressed him to divulge the names of two sergeants from his former battalion who also gave accounts of abuse, which were made public in a report last Friday by the group Human Rights Watch.

Captain Fishback, speaking publicly on the matter for first time, said the investigators who have questioned him in the past 10 days seemed to be less interested in individuals he identified in his chain of command who allegedly committed the abuses.

''I'm convinced this is going in a direction that's not consistent with why we came forward,'' Captain Fishback said in a telephone interview from Fort Bragg, N.C., where he is going through Army Special Forces training. ''We came forward because of the larger issue that prisoner abuse is systemic in the Army. I'm concerned this will take a new twist, and they'll try to scapegoat some of the younger soldiers. This is a leadership problem.''

In separate statements to the human rights organization, Captain Fishback and the two sergeants described abuses by soldiers in the 82nd Airborne Division, including beatings of Iraqi prisoners, exposing them to extremes of hot and cold, stacking prisoners in human pyramids, and depriving them of sleep at Camp Mercury, a forward operating base near Falluja. The abuses reportedly took place between September 2003 and April 2004, before and during the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

After fruitlessly trying for 17 months to get his superiors to take action on his complaints, Captain Fishback said, he finally took his concerns this month to aides to two senior Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, John W. Warner of Virginia, the committee chairman, and John McCain of Arizona. When the Army learned he was talking to Senate aides, Captain Fishback said that Army investigators suddenly intensified their interest in his complaints."

With eleven investigations into mistreatment of detainees and prisoners, together with McCain's 90-9 amendment, if that doesn't do the trick, I don't know what will, Jay.

Now, where did I see that kind of defense before?

These so-called ill-treatments and this torturing in concentration camps, stories of which were spread everywhere among the people, and later by the prisoners that were liberated by the occupying armies, were not, as assumed, inflicted methodically, but were excesses committed by individual leaders, subleaders, and men who laid violent hands on internees.
DR. KAUFFMANN: Do you mean you never took cognizance of these matters?
HOESS: If in any way such a case came to be known, then the perpetrator was, of course, immediately relieved of his post or transferred somewhere else. So that, even if he were not punished f or lack of evidence to prove his guilt, even then, he was taken away from the internees and given another position.

Hmmmmm. Maybe just investigating those who are caught and punishing the lowest in rank does not do the trick. Are you sure you cannot come up with something better? Your grandfathers generation seemed to have less problems with assigning responsibilities.

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