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September 29, 2005


Of course, there will be an appeal, a round of briefing, a round of oral argument, post argument briefing, and then finally an appellate decision, followed by certiori, which may be granted. I'm guessing there's no way we see these pictures before the mid-term election next year.

And there's the same tired old s**t from Abizaid:

"When we continue to pick at the wound and show the pictures over and over again it just creates the image -- a false image -- like this is the sort of stuff that is happening anew, and it's not," Abizaid said.

Too damn bad. If you were really concerned with that impression and not engaged in a giant CYA operation, you wouldn't be trying to bury Capt. Ian Fishback and engaging in the non-investigation-investigation of the snuff for porn website.

And can they stop with the "releasing the pictures will aid al-qaeda recruitment" BS as well? Last time I checked they weren't having any trouble recruiting people to kill civilians and U.S. troops in Iraq, with 60 civilians killed today, and Iraq's first female suicide bomber earlier in the week. There will be people willing and able to do this until U.S. troops leave Iraq. In the meantime, all sorts of good terrorist training is going on there in bomb making, hit and run tactics, explosion placement, U.S. doctrine, etc.

I'm sure, however, if we just kill enuff' of them, they'll run out of recruits. It worked for the Israelis, oh wait.

I'd like to say that releasing this material should wait until we're done with whatever war it will have an impact on. However, I think it's more important to not give the Bush administration even more incentives to create a state of endless war.

The Rape Rooms of Freedom?

I've always wanted to see what one looked like.

Kevin Drum flags this from the article

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein said that terrorists "do not need pretexts for their barbarism" and that suppressing the pictures would amount to submitting to blackmail.

"Our nation does not surrender to blackmail, and fear of blackmail is not a legally sufficient argument to prevent us from performing a statutory command."


Oops: Clever me had meant to link to the opinion (pdf) in the original post, but forgot as I was rushing off to do stuff.

We are never going to see the pictures legitimately. It will get to Bush's new improved SCOTUS and die there.

"horrific abuse".

Horrific exaggeraton, more like. Does anyone really expect anything in those pictures to be "horrific"?

It's this ongoing hysterical exaggeration which makes people suspect that your objective here lies in areas other than the professed.

Horrific exaggeraton, more like. Does anyone really expect anything in those pictures to be "horrific"?

Well, we'll see when they get published. That's the point, innit?

[Also....there's a principle in drama....the unshown is always more horrible than the show...the imagination supplies more gruesome details than what's actually there. From that standpoint, it was braindead not to release the pictures in the first place]

They'll appeal, I'm sure, to buy time if nothing else. The 2d Circuit is probably the most liberal after the 9th but it all depends on the panel.

"Does anyone really expect anything in those pictures to be "horrific"?"

I dunno. Here's Editor and Publisher summarizing some of the reporting from when Congress saw them:

"What is shown on the photographs and videos from Abu Ghraib prison that the Pentagon has blocked from release? One clue: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress last year, after viewing a large cache of unreleased images, "I mean, I looked at them last night, and they're hard to believe." They show acts "that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhumane," he added.

A Republican Senator suggested the same day they contained scenes of "rape and murder." Rumsfeld then commented, "If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse." (...)

This is how CNN reported it on May 8, 2004, in a typical account that day:

"U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld revealed Friday that videos and 'a lot more pictures' exist of the abuse of Iraqis held at Abu Ghraib prison.

"'If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse,' Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee. 'I mean, I looked at them last night, and they're hard to believe.'

"The embattled defense secretary fielded sharp and skeptical questions from lawmakers as he testified about the growing prisoner abuse scandal. A military report about that abuse describes detainees being threatened, sodomized with a chemical light and forced into sexually humiliating poses.

"Charges have been brought against seven service members, and investigations into events at the prison continue.

"Military investigators have looked into -- or are continuing to investigate -- 35 cases of alleged abuse or deaths of prisoners in detention facilities in the Central Command theater, according to Army Secretary Les Brownlee. Two of those cases were deemed homicides, he said.

"'The American public needs to understand we're talking about rape and murder here. We're not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience,' Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told reporters after Rumsfeld testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. 'We're talking about rape and murder -- and some very serious charges.'

"A report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba on the abuse at the prison outside Baghdad says videotapes and photographs show naked detainees, and that groups of men were forced to masturbate while being photographed and videotaped. Taguba also found evidence of a 'male MP guard having sex with a female detainee.'

"Rumsfeld told Congress the unrevealed photos and videos contain acts 'that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman.'"

The military later screened some of the images for lawmakers, who said they showed, among other things, attack dogs snarling at cowed prisoners, Iraqi women forced to expose their breasts, and naked prisoners forced to have sex with each other.

In the same period, reporter Seymour Hersh, who helped uncover the scandal, said in a speech before an ACLU convention: "Some of the worse that happened that you don't know about, ok? Videos, there are women there. Some of you may have read they were passing letters, communications out to their men ... . The women were passing messages saying 'Please come and kill me, because of what's happened.'

"Basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys/children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. The worst about all of them is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror it's going to come out."

Judge Hellerstein said today that publication of the photographs will help to answer questions not only about the unlawful conduct of American soldiers, but about “the command structure that failed to exercise discipline over the troops, and the persons in that command structure whose failures in exercising supervision may make them culpable along with the soldiers who were court-martialed for perpetrating the wrongs.” "

Sounds horrific to me.

Can someone please explain for my addled brain what the rest of you are taking for granted.

What exactly is the danger caused to people by releasing these pictures? How will these cause the average insurgent in Iraq to be angrier than he already is?

McDuff: I posted some of it earlier. General Myers, from the NYT:

""The situation on the ground in Iraq is dynamic and dangerous," General Myers said, with 70 insurgent attacks daily. He also said there was evidence that the Taliban, though still weak, was gaining ground because of popular discontent in Afghanistan. General Myers cited the violence that erupted in some Muslim countries in May after Newsweek published an item, later retracted, saying that a Koran had been thrown in a toilet in the United States detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. He also said the images could fuel terrorist disinformation campaigns. "It is probable that Al Qaeda and other groups will seize upon these images and videos as grist for their propaganda mill, which will result in, besides violent attacks, increased terrorist recruitment, continued financial support and exacerbation of tensions between Iraqi and Afghani populaces and U.S. and coalition forces," he said.""

He also said the images could fuel terrorist disinformation campaigns.
I know this makes me anti-American and "On The Terrorists' Side" for asking this, but why is it "disinformation" if it's the truth?

McDuff: I suppose that will have to remain his little secret, since it makes no sense whatsoever.

I think these photos should be revealed.

If the military has been covering up I want this mask ripped off, and I'm an Iraq war supporter. I don't want our democracy to be represented by thugs who abuse prisoners in an indiscriminate and gratuitous fashion, seemingly to humiliate and degrade. This is disgraceful and it shames everyone involved in this effort.

Absolutely, get it out! If it creates short term mayhem on the arab street so be it. At least in the long run those people will feel that the U.S. did the right thing, and held its military up to the highest standards.

I'm not being naive here. I'm not at all saying that torture in all circumstances should be outlawed. If for example a terrorist has knowledge of the location of a device that is primed to explode in a downtown location and slaughter hundreds, then I think every means must be used to extract information in order to evacuate the citizenry.

However this type of arbitrary and unfocused thuggery directed at Iraqi detainees is inexcusable, and I think all those who co-operated in this cover-up need to take the heat also.

When you presume to be the harbinger of freedom and democracy, and you are touting "civilized" values, you better be sure you don't descend to this level.

To the esteemed military and civilian leaders: If you don't wanna do the time, don't do the crime.

Aidan, one problem is that outside of a scripted drama, you really wouldn't know that this particular guy has the exact information that you need to save the mall from exploding. Pretty much anyone might, at pretty much any moment. So you basically end up torturing everyone.

So how do you deal with the ticking time bomb? The would-be torturer takes a complete and total risk, confident that if he gets the information that saves the mall, he'll be a hero, but that if he tortures someone needlessly, he'll spend years in jail. That's a pretty good incentive to filter well.

I'd bet the pictures actually are horrific, which is why the Army has fought so hard to keep from revealing them.

And just for good measure, I'm going to repeat my comment about a logical fallacy that often crops up when this topic is discussed.

I saw a car pulled over on I-95 for speeding yesterday. It would be idiotic to say that every car that speeds on I-95 gets pulled over.

It is not the opponents of torture who are being naive about the ticking time bomb.

The hypothetical assumes that:
1) an attack is imminent
2) the suspect is actually a terrorist
3) he has the information needed to stop this attack or warn people of it in time to evacuate
4) he will give this information if we torture him--although, the more imminent the attack, the less time he has to hold out before confessing, the easier to just give us false information & delay us until the bomb goes off.
5) he will not give us this information if we do not torture him.

This is extremely, extremely implausible. And knowing in advance that this is true is not only implausible, but actually quite literally impossible. You'd have to be psychic to know what the ticking bomb hypo assumes.

Now, here are some things that are not hypothetical, not implausible, not impossible, but provable facts:

1. Every government in the history of the world that has given itself the power to torture without risk of punishment has used that power for purposes far beyond those that originally justified it; has tortured the innocent as well as the guilty; has tortured out of sheer sadism as well as to save lives. The results have never, ever been good.

2. Torture produces a higher rate of false confessions than other interrogation techniques. The U.S. has enough trouble connecting relevant bits of information and sorting them out from false reports and "noise" as it is. Adding in a lot of false confessions beaten out of people really does not help.

3. Not only does the Army Field interrogation manual say that torture doesn't work, but the CIA's classified interrogation memos--KUBARK and the Honduras memo, I think they're called; memos never meant to be released to the public--say that torture is NOT an effective intelligence gathering technique.

4. "In November 2002, a newly minted CIA case officer in charge of a secret prison just north of Kabul allegedly ordered guards to strip naked an uncooperative young Afghan detainee, chain him to the concrete floor and leave him there overnight without blankets, according to four U.S. government officials aware of the case.

The Afghan guards -- paid by the CIA and working under CIA supervision in an abandoned warehouse code-named the Salt Pit -- dragged their captive around on the concrete floor, bruising and scraping his skin, before putting him in his cell, two of the officials said.

As night fell, so, predictably, did the temperature.

By morning, the Afghan man had frozen to death....

The Afghan detainee had been captured in Pakistan along with a group of other Afghans. His connection to al Qaeda or the value of his intelligence was never established before he died. "He was probably associated with people who were associated with al Qaeda," one U.S. government official said.”

5. “The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, about 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

An interrogator told Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen.

It would be many months before army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Dilawar was an innocent man who had simply driven his taxi past the American base at the wrong time….

One of the coroners later translated the assessment at a pre-trial hearing for Brand, saying the tissue in the young man's legs "had basically been pulpified."

"I've seen similar injuries in an individual run over by a bus," the coroner, Lieutenant Colonel Elizabeth Rouse, added.”

6. “Al-Jamadi died in a prison shower room during about a half-hour of questioning, before interrogators could extract any information, according to the documents, which consist of statements from Army prison guards to investigators with the military and the CIA's Inspector General's office.
One Army guard, Sgt. Jeffery Frost, said the prisoner's arms were stretched behind him in a way he had never before seen. Frost told investigators he was surprised al-Jamadi's arms "didn't pop out of their sockets," according to a summary of his interview.
Frost and other guards had been summoned to reposition al-Jamadi, who an interrogator said was not cooperating. As the guards released the shackles and lowered al-Jamadi, blood gushed from his mouth "as if a faucet had been turned on," according to the interview summary.
The military pathologist who ruled the case a homicide found several broken ribs and concluded al-Jamadi died from pressure to the chest and difficulty breathing.”
7. “< a href=""> When Sergeant James Boland saw Habibullah on Dec. 3, the prisoner was in one of the isolation cells, tethered to the ceiling by two sets of handcuffs and a chain around his waist. His body was slumped forward, held up by the chains.

When Boland returned to the cell about 20 minutes later, he said, Habibullah was not moving and had no pulse.

Finally, the prisoner was unchained and laid out on the floor of his cell.

Habibullah died on Dec. 3. His autopsy showed bruises or scrapes on his chest, arms, head and neck. There were deep bruises on his calves, knees and thighs. His left calf had been marked by what appeared to have been the sole of a boot.

His death was attributed to a blood clot, probably caused by the severe injuries to his legs, which traveled to his heart and blocked the blood flow to his lungs.

8. ”Malik Kenami died while in detention in Mosul, Iraq. The investigation speculates that Kenami may have suffered a heart attack. On the day he died, Kenami had been "punished with ups and downs several times…and ha[d] his hands flex cuffed behind his back." He was also hooded, with "a sandbag placed over [his] head." "Ups and downs" are "a correctional technique of having a detainee stand up and then sit-down rapidly, always keeping them in constant motion." The file states that "[t]he cause of Abu Malik Kenami’s death will never be known because an autopsy was never performed on him." Kenami’s corpse was stored in a "reefer van" for five days before it was turned over to a local mortician.”

9. “Commander's report of inquiry into broken jaw of a high-school boy (such that the boy required his mouth to be wired shut and could eat only through a straw). The victim was told "to say that I've fallen down and no one beat me." The report concluded that the broken jaw was caused either as a result of a blow by a U.S. soldier or a collapse due to "complete muscle failure" from being excessively exercised. It found that "abuse of detainees in some form or other was an acceptable practice and was demonstrated to the inexperienced infantry guards almost as guidance" by 311th Battalion Military Intelligence personnel. Personnel "were striking the detainees," and evidence suggested that the 311th Military Intelligence personnel and/or translators "engaged in physical torture of the detainees." It was recommended that no punitive action be taken against the Commander of the Battalion.

10. Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush was being stubborn with his American captors, and a series of intense beatings and creative interrogation tactics were not enough to break his will. On the morning of Nov. 26, 2003, a U.S. Army interrogator and a military guard grabbed a green sleeping bag, stuffed Mowhoush inside, wrapped him in an electrical cord, laid him on the floor and began to go to work. Again.
It was inside the sleeping bag that the 56-year-old detainee took his last breath through broken ribs, lying on the floor beneath a U.S. soldier in Interrogation Room 6 in the western Iraqi desert. Two days before, a secret CIA-sponsored group of Iraqi paramilitaries, working with Army interrogators, had beaten Mowhoush nearly senseless, using fists, a club and a rubber hose, according to classified documents….
The U.S. military initially told reporters that Mowhoush had been captured during a raid. In reality, he had walked into the Forward Operating Base "Tiger" in Qaim on Nov. 10, 2003, hoping to speak with U.S. commanders to secure the release of his sons, who had been arrested in raids 11 days earlier.

11, Former Baath Party official Nagm Sadoon Hatab was found dead at Camp Whitehorse detention facility near the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah on June 6, 2003.83 The autopsy record said he died from “strangulation.” Military records state that Hatab was asphyxiated when a Marine guard grabbed his throat in an attempt to move him, accidentally breaking a bone that cut off his air supply. Another Marine is charged with kicking Hatab in the chest in the hours before his death - several of his ribs were broken.84 Hatab was also covered with feces and left under the sun for hours.
12. “A former lieutenant colonel in the Iraqi army, Kareem ‘Abd al-Jalil died on January 9, 2004, at Forward Operating Base Rifles near al-Asad where he was being interrogated by Special Forces since January 4. The original death certificate stated that he died of “natural causes… during his sleep.” But pictures taken by ‘Abd al-Jalil’s cousin of his body before burial seem to depict severe bruises on his abdomen as well as marks and cuts on his arms and legs, especially around the wrists. Spiegel TV, a German news organization, interviewed another detainee held with ‘Abd al-Jalil who stated that during interrogation, American soldiers “would kick him [‘Abd al-Jalil] a lot, cuff his hands and place them behind his neck. And they would also cuff his feet, then one of them would hold his feet up while the other pulled down his head. They tossed him on his back and stepped on him. They danced on his belly and poured cold water all over him.”79 A Pentagon memo obtained by the Denver Post and reported by NBC says ‘Abd al-Jalil was held in isolation, his hands tied to a pipe that ran along the ceiling. When he was untied, he attacked his interrogators and later tried to escape. When recaptured, his hands were tied to the top of his cell door and his mouth gagged.80 Five minutes later, a guard noticed ‘Abd al-Jalil dead, hanging by his shackles. After these revelations, the Pentagon released another certificate calling ‘Abd al-Jalil’s death a homicide from “blunt force injuries and asphyxia.”81 The Pentagon also said those who interrogated him included members of an elite special forces unit, some of the most highly trained personnel in the U.S. military.82”
13. Three U.S. soldiers will testify that a former CIA contractor beat an Afghan detainee with a heavy flashlight 10 to 30 times and kicked the man so hard he came off the ground and later begged to be shot, a prosecutor said Friday….

Passaro, 38, faces four counts of assault and assault with a dangerous weapon — the flashlight — on Abdul Wali, 28, who died three days after the alleged attack last June at a U.S. base in the Afghan town of Asadabad.

If convicted, Passaro faces up to 40 years in prison and a $1 million fine.

The prosecutor said 82nd Airborne soldiers will testify that during one interrogation session, Passaro left the room and Wali begged one of the paratroopers guarding him "to please shoot me before the defendant returned."
14. In a case cited by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, an Afghan called Abdul Wahed died in the American Special Forces base at Gereshk in southern Afghanistan in November 2003.

He was tortured by the Afghan commander guarding the base and then handed over to United States forces when close to death, the American military has admitted.

No charges have been brought, and the Afghan commander continues to work with the special forces at the base..”

15. Another death in custody was uncovered in September 2004 by researchers with the Crimes of War project, a non-government organization. The findings were later published in the Los Angeles Times (September 21, 2004). Jamal Naseer, a soldier in the U.S.-backed official Afghan Army, was killed in March 2003 after he and seven other soldiers were mistakenly arrested by U.S. forces and taken to a base in Gardez. Their case was investigated by the United Nations office in Gardez, the office of the Attorney General of the Afghan Army, and the Crimes of War project. The investigations showed that U.S. forces severely beat Naseer and the other soldiers while in custody. Numerous witnesses who saw them at the time (including U.N. representatives) described them as having wounds and heavy bruises. The surviving detainees themselves allege that U.S. forces punched them, kicked them, hung them upside down, and hit them with sticks or cables, among other abuses. Some said they were soaked in cold water and forced to lie in snow, and shocked with electricity on their toes.”

All right. Enough. This is too long. At the same time it doesn’t scratch the surface. That doesn’t cover all the reports of deaths in custody, and it barely begins to discuss the cases of non-fatal torture. Nor have I gone into a single case of rendition, and I know about 20 or so of those, in excruciating detail.

These things actually happened. To innocent people, in many cases. To a person we knew at the time was innocent, in at least one case. They have been reported in the press, and yet even I, who am borderline obsessed with this story, am at a point where I can’t keep these cases straight.

I would guess that a majority of American voters would not recognize a single one of those names above. Maybe Dilawar, maybe Ararbut I doubt it.

I don’t know at what point this will become more interesting to us, and more relevant to us, than this stupid, hypothetical, impossible to actually occur, plausible only to those who have watched too much 24, ticking time bomb scenario. Maybe another round of pictures will do it. Words sure as hell don’t seem to have much effect.

p.s. don't take this personally, Aidan, if more war supporters were like you we'd be in a much different situation, and I originally thought very similar things about the ticking time bomb scenario. It's not you I'm mad at, at all. It's what's happening, and those still defending it.

gah. that's what I get for pasting from word--the quotation marks go all curvy and it screws up the links. if one of the moderators will be kind enough to delete that I'll re-post--until then I won't inflict it on y'all twice in a row.

Done, Katherine. I double-checked them and they all seem to work, although I can't guarantee that they point where you intended them to point.

Sad quotes from an interview with Lynndie England here:

"One of the first things I noticed was that a lot of the prisoners were naked," she said adding that a captain who showed her around initially said such sights were normal.

England described Iraqi detainees as screaming while being tortured in showers. Although nothing could be seen due to the sheets covering the bars, the sounds were easily heard.

"I left. I couldn't take it any more. And I still have nightmares about all the screaming," she said. "Not only them screaming, but soldiers screaming at them; hearing the interrogations going on."

Eventually such instances no longer struck her as unusual. "After going over so many times, it's kind of an everyday thing that happens, I guess," England said.

Covered the bars with sheets? An everday thing that happens?

From what Hersh said -- and the looks on the faces of the Congressmen who have seen the full set, I think "horrific" is a bit mild.

I think these are the ones you can't call a frat prank, unless you belonged to the world's most fucked up frat EVER. You know, the one where you videotaped frat brothers raping women and young boys.

Maybe Rush belonged to that sort of frat, but most Americans don't.

This war has really fucked people up -- the twisted intersection between sex and violence over in Iraq (and here, for that matter) is going to fuck things up for a long time.

And I say that at someone quite comfortable with the more freaky elements of BDSM.

Evening, all. We got some stuff declassified, and this seems the appropriate thread to post it on.

Neither of our clients are currently on hunger strike, but both have been in the past. Both showed us IV scars. Both think the number of strikers is much higher than the figures in the press.

The basic root causes of the strike are (a) an end to disrespect of the Koran, call to prayer, and other religious observance and (b) some kind of hope for due process or at least application of the Geneva Conventions. With regard to the former, we had reports of stomping on the Koran, for example, within the last 2 months, seemingly as a deliberate provocation. With regard to the latter, waiting for the "end" of the "war" -- the government's position on when it has to release them -- strikes the prisoners the same as it strikes any thinking person: a chimera. (The Pres said as much last year).

We were also told that one client's whole cell block was punished, and the client sentenced to solitary, for complaining (respectfully, we're told) to a member of Congress who stopped by to talk about conditions. I'll name the member after we've had a chance to talk to staff.

We got some stuff declassified, and this seems the appropriate thread to post it on.

I meant to say earlier: thanks, CharleyCarp.

Also, re. Miers, to the world at large; is it possible Bush picked her because she's a Bush loyalist who has not given a public legal opinion on how it's okay to torture people?

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