Saturday, June 12, 2004


Dahr Jamail has this dispatch. You need a cold heart to read it;

He is a well spoken, handsome lawyer, just a year older than I am. He worked as a diplomat who coordinated NGOs and foreign governments in order to bring aid to his country during the sanctions.

He was detained and accused of being a spy for Saddam Hussein, even though he is not even a Baathist.

He was hung from his ankles for hours in Abu Ghraib, until he passed out.

I ask him what else happened to him in there. He pulls up the legs of his trousers to show me two electrical burns on the inside of his knees, and points to two more on his elbows.

And this from a California National Guardsman present during interrorgations in a Samarran police station, north of Baghdad;

Sergeant Greg Ford said he repeatedly had to revive prisoners who had passed out and once saw a soldier stand on the back of a handcuffed detainee's neck and pull his arms until they popped out of their sockets.

ethics.tamucc discusses a recent NY Times editorial;

According to press reports, military doctors and nurses who examined prisoners at Abu Ghraib treated swollen genitals, prescribed painkillers, stitched wounds, and recorded evidence of the abuses going on around them. Under international law — as well as the standards of common decency — these medical professionals had a duty to tell those in power what they saw.

Instead, too often, they returned the victims of torture to the custody of their victimizers. Rather than putting a stop to torture, they tacitly abetted it, by patching up victims and staying silent.

Why do they remain silent? Abbas offers this;

These people, many of whom -- I am ashamed to say -- are Arab-Americans or U.S. residents of an Arab origin -- decided to remain silent and/or participate in this behavior to keep their dream jobs. I sometimes see Titan advertisements calling for people to joing their team. Another company offers $80,000 + other things as a start salary. No degree or good past employment is required; only passing a test in Arabic and English and, of course, a U.S. government background check.

Returning to Seargent Greg Ford, I add this;

Ford said that when he reported the problems last June to his commanding officers, they pressured him to drop his claims.

''Immediately, within the same conversation, the command said, 'Nope, you're delusional, you're crazy, it never happened.' They gave me 30 seconds to withdraw my request for an investigation," Ford said. ''I stood my ground."

Still tempted to dismiss these reports squeeking through as isolated incidents? Here is an extract from SPR May 12 2004;

In December 2003, a guard at a notoriously brutal prison used a German shepherd to attack a 20-year-old prisoner lying on the ground and not resisting. The attack, reported on May 9th by the Los Angeles Times, was not carried out at the now-infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq where Americans were photographed torturing Iraqi prisoners; it occurred in Stockton, California at a juvenile correctional facility. Such abuse runs rampant throughout America's prison system, where prisoners are routinely raped, tortured, beaten and humiliated by guards employing brutality to enforce order.

Thus it is not surprising that two of the alleged ringleaders in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal are both former civilian prison guards. Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick was a guard at Buckingham Correctional Center in Virginia, part of a state prison system where violent abuse of inmates by prison guards is common. Specialist Charles Graner was a guard at Pennsylvania's Greene State Correctional Institute, a notorious death row facility described by an attorney who visited it as "a concentration camp."

I remember something I heard about 26 years ago.

Somebody was describing the shock when footage from concentration camps at the end of WWII was released to the public. Although reports implicating the atrocities had been creeping out to the world for years prior, it was just too difficult to believe that humans could do these things to one another, just to difficult to fathom. Some even dismissed the reports as "enemy" propaganda.

I remember reading about a village whose townspeople were rounded up by allied soldiers and marched through a death camp discovered in the district, in an effort to wake the townspeople from their compliant stupor. But the townspeople just went into shock and couldn't speak about it, some sinking into an even deeper denial.

Some have even intimated that gulag atrocities occurring during WWII were conveniently ignored because Russia at that time was an Allie against Germany along the eastern borders. History to the victor, one might say. Later, many people in other countries became aware of those atrocities, but those things were just too far away to seem real, someone elses nightmare, and when concepts such as liberty and fraternity become entwined with brutality, sometimes people just find it easier to switch off.


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