Sunday, July 23, 2006

Human Rights Watch: Bush Administration Lied About Torture; it's widespread, endemic, and goes right up the chain of command

In a 53-page report, “No Blood, No Foul: Soldiers’ Accounts of Detainee Abuse in Iraq,” US soldiers reveal that contrary to previous statements by the Bush administration, detainees were routinely beaten, put in stressful positions, deprived of sleep and exposed to hot and cold extremes. Human Rights Watch bases its report on interviews, memoranda and sworn statements.

The report, consists of first-hand accounts by U.S. military personnel and provide details of detainee abuses that are at odds with previous statements by the Bush administration. The official program of torture took place at " off-limits facility at Baghdad airport and at other detention centers throughout Iraq." Soldier accounts allege that abusive techniques "...were authorized by the military chain of command". This directly contradicts various Pentagon statements and cover stories. It directly refutes the "few bad apples" defense.

The report is consistent with widely reported efforts by the Bush Justice Department to find legal justification for torture even as various administration officials were denying that it had taken place or that it was widespread.

Soldiers were told that the Geneva Conventions did not apply, and that interrogators could use abusive techniques to get detainees to talk. These accounts rebut U.S. government claims that torture and abuse in Iraq was unauthorized and exceptional – on the contrary, it was condoned and commonly used.”

—John Sifton, the author of the report and the senior researcher on terrorism and counterterrorism at Human Rights Watch.

From the report:
Many of the crimes detailed in this report are violations of international humanitarian law, U.S. military law, and U.S. federal criminal law. The U.S. government’s failure to properly investigate these violations is an affront to the victims of the abuses, and a violation of U.S. obligations under the Geneva Conventions, which obligate states to prosecute serious violations of the conventions’ provisions (“grave breaches”).

The accounts in this report are further evidence that detainee abuse was an established and apparently authorized part of detention and interrogation processes in Iraq for much of 2003-2005. The cases also show that U.S. military personnel have faced systemic obstacles to reporting or exposing abuses, that the U.S. military in numerous cases has not taken adequate measures to stop reported abuses. The report also shows that the U.S. military has often failed to properly investigate and prosecute perpetrators, including officers who allowed abuses to occur on their watch.

Conclusions, No Blood, No Foul, Soldiers’ Accounts of Detainee Abuse in Iraq, Human Rights Watch

Serious abuses are associated with a special task forces —Task Force 20, Task Force 121, Task Force 6-26, and Task Force 145 — which was stationed at an off-limits detention center at the Baghdad airport, called Camp Nama. Other incidents referred to include facilities near Mosul airport, and a base near al-Qaim, on the Syrian border.

George Bush has repeatedly insisted, "We do not torture." Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has repeatedly claimed that the United States does not engage in "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. And CIA Director Porter Goss affirms that his agency "does not do torture. Torture does not work." But no one believes the BUsh administration on this issue and for good reason.

—John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience

Dean goes on to point out that the Bush administration had coaxed the Justice Department into re-defining torture out of existence. Meanwhile, the Economist disounted Bushco's absurd claims that if the President authorized it, it is legal —and his equally absurd claim that the US is not bound to the Geneva Conventions.

Since then, of course, the Supreme Court dealt the Bush rationale a death blow. By a vote of 5-3 SCOTUS, in 'Hamdan v. Rumsfeld', ruled that Bush overstepped his authority when he ordered military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees. The administration had claimed that the detainees were not entitled to Geneva protections because they were not prisoners of war. This is, of course, another inconsitency in Bush's position. We are told we are at war, yet "prisoners" taken in that war are not "prisoners of war". If they are not, then we are not at war.

In the majority opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens forcefully rejected the Bush argument, writing:

Congress has not issued the executive a 'blank check,"' [adding:] "Indeed, Congress has denied the president the legislative authority to create military commissions of the kind at issue here.
Bush had claimed that the US was not bound by Geneva at all. Clearly —that is not the case. The US is, in fact, bound to International Law as well as U.S. "...laws prohibiting torture and other ill-treatment of any person in custody in all circumstances." Human Rights Watch states that the
"...prohibition[s] apply to the United States during times of peace, armed conflict, or a state of emergency. Any person, whether a U.S. national or a non-citizen, is protected. It is irrelevant whether the detainee is determined to be a prisoner-of-war, a protected person, or a so-called “security detainee” or “unlawful combatant.”
In other words, prohibitions against torture and ill-treatment of prisoners are absolute despite Bush's various efforts to re-define torture and to make legal, after the fact, the crimes that he's already committed.

The Existentialist Cowboy


Doctorboogaloo said...

The chain of command starts at the top. The very top. With a few men who wear blue business suits... and the occasional flight jacket.

Even William Buckley thinks resignation is in order. Impeachment has a nicer ring, though.

Unknown said...

Seymour Hersh, as I recall, reported that the Abu Ghraib tortures were done within the context of Rumsfelds Office of Special Plans or, as I call it, the "Einzatzgruppen". Hersh says Bush "signed off" on torture. It was policy. Interestingly, Bushies defended the practice of torture tasking Gonzales to find ways to make it legal even as they denied they were doing it.

Of course, the tortures were done upon Bush's personal order. A clue can be found in Bush's State of the Union Address of 2003.

All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way -- they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies. (Applause.)

—George W. Bush, Boasting of Torture and Summary Executions

Unknown said...

It was in the same address that Bush told one of his biggest windys:

Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them -- despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents, and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

It all turned out to have been a hoax, cherry picked intelligence, bullshit. It was a fabricated pretext for war.

Since then, Bush's body count has exceeded that of Saddam. Nothing is gained, much is lost. Similarly, Bush's veto of stem cell research will not save a single cell from destruction. Again, NOTHING is gain but much is lost.

No longer a callow teen, I can say with some authority that these are the very worst years ever for the United States.

We live in an intolerable tyranny.

SadButTrue said...

It used to be the despots put in power as US surrogates that led the world in human rights abuses. The Shah of Iran, Augusto Pinochet, Saddam Hussein and the like. Now under Bush America itself leads the world in outrageous behavior. Still an astonishing 37% of Americans approve of this master criminal. I am bewildered. On what basis? When trying to list everything Bush has accomplished in 5½ years, all I can think of is;

1) he kept his State of the Union promise, and America has not been overrrun by man/animal hybrids, and
2) Condi's shoes match her purse.

Not really that much in the grand scheme of things. The worst years ever indeed.

I'm in the wrong country. If 37% of Americans are that gullible I could make a fortune there working as a flim-flam man. Except that the Republican Party seems to have all the best flim-flamming territory pretty well sewn up.

Vive42 said...

dont you angry progressive types ever get tired of bush bashing? instead of hating him you should learn to twist his words and policies so that he seems like a member of the silent progressive majority or whatever they're calling it. trust me, the american public will never know what hit them.

im trying to be in the other part of the progressive camp. hope is the new rage, or something. now, if i could only find some visionary progressive optimists.

Sebastien Parmentier said...

Any ideas, vive42?

Fuzzflash said...

sadbuttrue, you observe,
"2) Condi's shoes match her purse."
You've been dropping in again on Princess Sparkle Pony, havn't you?

Anonymous said...

This totally vindicates Brig. General Janis Karpinski's statements about Rumsfeld personally approving the introduction of harsher conditions of detention in Iraq:

"It was a memorandum signed by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, authorizing a short list, maybe 6 or 8 techniques: use of dogs; stress positions; loud music; deprivation of food; keeping the lights on, those kinds of things. And then a handwritten message over to the side that appeared to be the same handwriting as the signature, and that signature was Secretary Rumsfeld's. And it said, "Make sure this happens," with two exclamation points. And that was the only thing that they had. Everything else had been confiscated."

Unknown said...

No, vive42, we don't! In fact, we haven't bashed him enough. He's still in office where he can murder folk with impunity.

Unknown said...

Thanks Vierotchka. Great link. In fact, I will use some excerpts from for an update on this article that I will add today.

SadButTrue said...

Fuzzflash: LOL! Hairdo Alert System!?!

On a more serious note, this long-overdue report is only telling us what we have already known for a long time. When the White House fog machine is saying, "The Geneva Convention is quaint" and they're issuing signing statements that say they CAN torture if Bushie wants to, what reasonable person would believe that they have not in fact authorized torture? But I'm just amplifying what Len already said, "efforts by the Bush Justice Department to find legal justification for torture even as various administration officials were denying that it had taken place."

One other point bears mention. "Dean goes on to point out that the Bush administration had coaxed the Justice Department into literally re-defining torture away. To me this use of the ontological argument, familiar to philosophy students from its use in 'proofs' of the existence of God, illustrates the theocratic nature of their thinking process.

Sebastien Parmentier said...


2) Condi's shoes match her purse.

You forgot to mention that she's also pretty good at air guitar diplomacy.

Fuzzflash said...

Yes Vierotchka, Karrpinski will made an excellent witness at a war crimes tribunal should justice come to pass. She was made a patsy and scapegoated by the "Chain of Command" written about by Sy Hersh in The New Yorker after Abu Grahaib broke. She bears little ongoing affection for Cambone and G."Jerry" Boykin who are the direct link to the WHIG bunker. Hell hath no fury like a patriot spurned and having heard her interviewed in depth and at lenght by an old pro, I believe that Janis will be far more lethal as a witness than as a one star general.

Anonymous said...

This is off topic but I believe it's important material. There is a new op-ed coming out tomorrow by Mike Mejia about FBI translator Sibel Edmonds. You can read it first here.

Ms Edmonds outlines the connections between the Turkish mafia, al Qaeda, the FBI and senior US politicians.

This is an absolutely eye-opening read as some brief quotes will make clear:

According to Ms Edmonds a network of Turkish spies, operating often through cultural groups, "were involved in espionage, bribery, illegal lobbying, drug trafficking and the infiltration of U.S nuclear research labs."

..."So we have Turkish nationals at the Embassy and NGOs stealing U.S. secrets for sale to the highest bidder, re-selling arms meant for Turkey, bringing in drugs from Europe, and pouring money into bribes and lobbying activities."

..."some arms sales meant for Turkey and Israel were actually meant for resale to countries like China and India- and perhaps even to international terrorists- using fake end-user certificates. So we have Turkish nationals at the Embassy and NGOs stealing U.S. secrets for sale to the highest bidder, re-selling arms meant for Turkey, bringing in drugs from Europe, and pouring money into bribes and lobbying activities."

..."the Turkish mafia was partnered with Osama Bin Laden’s al Qaeda network in the drug trade- meaning Turkey’s secular establishment was more connected to al Qaeda- pre/9-11- than were the Islamists in Turkey."

..." This also means that the aforementioned Turkish organizations, and certain Turkish diplomats, were indeed under FBI investigation. And all this put together means that people like Dennis Hastert probably were- and perhaps still are- on the payroll of Turkish ‘deep state’ interests."

..."Edmonds hinted at key roles played by some powerful unelected officials-important Neoconservatives like Marc Grossman of the State Department, and Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, formerly of the Defense Department."

This is important stuff. I encourage people to review Ms Edmonds claims.

Anonymous said...

sorry about the double quote in there...

Anonymous said...

This crap needs to end. I honestly feel it will just get worse and worse, especially if we go into Iran, North Korea, etc... Leaders in Washington right now do not care about others liberties, rights, or safety. They feel people are better off in war instead of not in war. I do not get this backwards thinking.

We need to start showing in every TV footage of Iraq, pictures of what is going on across the globe. Let people see it, just like in Vietnam.

And reimplement the draft! Yes, reimplement the draft. Only way I feel the people of the US will stand up and stop this crap.

Jennie said...

These connections are scary, Damien, but not unbelievable. Thanks for giving us that link. It certainly enlightened me about some connections I would not have thought about.

Sometimes I wonder if the US isn't also being run by some form of a mafia state, too. Although, this mafia maybe is made up of corrupt corporate entities.

Sebastien Parmentier said...

It IS a mafia state, Jen.

How does a mafia operate? A mafia creates insecurity, then racket folks out of it. Period.
Just like spammers that jack your computer to flash "your computer in infected!! Your computer is infected!! The solution: buy my anti-virus protection", the Bush administration purposely does the wrong political choices in order to create security problems, that the Bushies claim to be the only ones able to solve them and protect us against them.

Yes, the United States operates just like a mafia. Domestically, the Bush administration uses fear to get us -through Congress (... well, it used to represent us... now, it's just Congress)- to pass laws that's going to make the "families" richer; while Rove is hired to engineer new fear when an election points its nose in the calendary.

Toward the world, the US operates just like a mafia as well. Al Qaeda does not exist. If it did Osama Bin Laden would have been captured long ago. But the "al qaeda" thing is just a ghost of an enemy that the US simply needs in order to "defend" the world from, thus gaining the status of ultimate protector and therefore continuing to attract foreign investors by claiming that it is because of the US military that the world's marketplaces go round and continue racking dollars.

A mafia indeed, Jen; in all senses of the word.

Anonymous said...

Yep, it IS a mafia state, Jen, as Dante Lee points out. It's a crime culture which has developed in the US following WW2 - under successive GOP administrations, and explosively under Bush 2 - where several social groups fell in with each other. It is predominantly, but not exclusively, Republican.

Loosely speaking, those US groups are: The CIA and other intelligence services; the military industrial complex; the Republican Party leadership; religious Right groups; Big Business; traditional organised crime. They've all grown like topsy, and relatively independantly, until recent times when their interests and methods came heavily into synch and you had Bush 2 (who couldn't get elected fairly, so he stole both elections).

There is no over-arching conspiracy, rather it is a culture of criminality. Think of it as a bazzar full of dubious characters whose interests coincide on occasions.

The CIA/US mafia: drug trafficking, assassinations. (link)
Military/ CIA: Iran-Contra, illegal drugs and arms trafficking.
Diebold/Republican leadership: electoral fraud.
Big Business/Republican leadership: California electricity shut down, Enron, Abrahamoff.
Big Business/Republican leadership/mafia: Savings and Loans fraud.
Military/Republican leadership: Defence expenditure contracts, mercenary services in ME, Carlyle Group.
Religious Right/Republican leadership: Religious Right supplying aircraft for illegal detainee 'renditions' to countries that torture.
Religious Right/Military: a dangerous culture of evangelical Christianity in military colleges.

Heading it all are corrupt guys from the Iran Contra era (Cheney, Rumsfeld), the wealthy(Bush family,key GOP backers) and Neocon advocates(Feith, Perle) who want to see:

- a massive transfer of national wealth to the already wealthy
- the removal of all taxes for the wealthy
- the removal of the middle class in the US as a political force
- the development, instead, of an underpaid, peasant class
- an authoritarian, police state in the US run by fear
- the use of the law as an administrative tool to defeat poltical enemies
- the defeat of ALL public and Congressional oversight.
- the installation of permanent Republican Party government in the US
- a global reach through wars in the Middle East

There are also international connections, because following WW2 there was a fear that communism would take hold in Europe. So the US supported terrorism, the military and Right wing groups in Italy, Greece and Turkey. And they were succesful. Which meant that criminal elements could flourish within those countries. So you get corrupt leaders like Berlusconi in Italy. And the groups and people that Sibel Edmonds talks about in Turkey.

It's all of a piece. But there's no over-arching conspiracy. Rather, it's a culture of criminality.

Sebastien Parmentier said...

Great post, damien. You summed it up well.

Unknown said...

dante, jen, damien

great work! As I've said for years: the GOP is not a political party; it's a crime syndicate.

Lately, it's become a terrorist organization!

An existential choice is forced upon us. Bush told us that we were either for his regime or we were for the "evil doers".

I see a different paradigm: either we are for freedom or we are for Bush. Bush is spoiling for a Constitutional showdown that will force the issue and consolidate his dicatorship beyond the ability of Americans to change short of violent revolution. The success of revolution is by no means guarateed. Lives will be lost; a terrible cost will be exacted. Victory is not cheap but the cost of failure is even more dear: our freedom.

Fuzzflash said...

I like it, damien,dante. Global families of wise guys operating in a culture of criminality and mutual convenience. Len,I hope we get to try an Orange revolution a la Ukraine first, in as much as nobody gets wasted but everybody takes it to the streets. Then Bush will be either forced to back down and step aside, or have his Orcs do their stuff in front of the cameras. Chicago 68 again, that sort of thing ahead of Stasiland Americana.

It all boils down to how much Tom Paine is left in the national tank.

Unknown said...

yep, fuzzflash...I prefer a "velvet" revolution. But I fear Dean is right about Bush. Bush will force the issue and seems to be spoiling for a Constutional showdown. If the court rules in his much the better for Bush. But, if it rules agin' him, he will defy them.

Anonymous said...

If my recollection serves me well, fuzzflash, the Orange revolution was brought on by the dicrepancies between the official electoral results and the exit polls. I'm prepared to be corrected on this (I may be wrong), but I think the 2004 US discrepancies were at least as bad, if not worse, than the Ukraine. You'd think the Orange Revolution train could have at least slowed down for Washington instead of just speeding on through.

Fuzzflash said...

Damien, I have learned the hard way to never doubt a "known" mathematician who is "prepared to be corrected on this". Pardon the applespeak, but, here's the thing. Since the 1940s the Ukranians have had to deal with the Nazi war machine, Joey Stalin, and a Politburo of lesser political pests including the current Kremlin incumbent, Vlad the Him Failure. Ukraine has survived. The people are hip to tyrants and live in a culture where politics and its passionate discussion are as ingrained as its wheat harvest.

Americans, on the other hand, mostly live in political disneyland. MSM World. Like the Jim Carry character in Truman, they sense that something is amiss, but possess neither the wit nor experience to take action.
"You'd think the Orange Revolution train could have at least slowed down for Washington instead of just speeding on through."
The punters missed that train in 2000,2002 and 2004 and copped it sweet like fairground marks. Unfortunately, come November 2006, Jeffersonian Democracy seems destined to board "The Midnight Special". Early-Bird group bookings now available at your nearest, freindly Diebold dealer.

Jennie said...

I thought I was just thinking crazy about the whole US mafia thing. Thanks to Dante and Damien for showing that it's even more real than I imagined.

It seems that as a nation we have become too comfortable. As long as we continue to live comfortably and left alone, we will continue to ignore the warning signs of possible impending doom that may lie on the horizon.

Local discussion recently has centered around the past as communities in our area celebrate 150 years of existence. In several discussions, people have mentioned how we have forgotten what history has taught us, and how easy we are to disregard and dispose of anything old. We seem to be in a disposable society anymore, willing to toss anything away just because it is old, or doesn't quite meet our current expectations or perceived needs.

In this same vein, I feel we have forgotten about our past, as well, including the events of the depression, and the mafia state that communities like Chicago suffered through and overcame.

Did radio stations in 80s overplay Twisted Sister so much that now we don't heed the words "We're not gonna take it!"??

You're right. It will likely take a revolution. And it will take common people, along with the media, and oddly enough, it will take entertainers like country and rock bands that we tune in to daily as we work, to bring the message of change and revolution to the people. It will take influential singers and bands to start the wave of change, but if we can have that message repeated consistently that love is to fight against fear and against war, people may subconsciously change their thoughts and see that impeding doom, and do something.

Any other entertainer have the balls like the Dixie Chicks or Stephen Colbert? We need more of you!!

Jennie said...

Fuzzflash, you are right on with that analogy! We, as a society, are so immune to what's going on around us that we know something is wrong, yet we just don't know what to do. We ignore our history lessons, and if we don't do something, we will look like deer in headlights.

Anonymous said...

There's a great background piece out at Rolling Stone on the necons and their plans for attacking Iran here.

... btw, I liked your feature and comments over at Smirking Chimp, Len.

Unknown said...

thanks, damien. It turned out to have been quite a lark. Clearly, "we" have the better argument. The few attacks were typically vicious AND lame. Over the last several years, I've concluded that the left v right argument is beyond politics. "Those" people are just mean spirited and screwed up.

Anonymous said...

It's triage, Len. The mauvaise foi's are beyond help.

Fuzzflash said...

"Ya can't educate a bad mug. Waste of bloody time." Lesley Norton, circa ,1975. Damien, the RS link was a corker. Superbly written, also updates us on one of the shiftiest con-men on the planet, Ahmed Chalabi. Has your faith in cycling been shaken after today's shocking revelations of drug cheating? I was gonna hunt the archives for your quote where you stated how much you preferred it to futbol, but essentially, I'm too nice a bloke.

Anonymous said...

I just once read an interesting article about cyclists that studied their recovery rates. They are the real deal as far as fitness is concerned. Pity about the drugs thing. And I wouldn't mind if they ran over a few of those intruding roadside fans.

...speaking of murderous impulses, we've had a bout of that here in Australia following Nobel Peace Laureate Betty Williams' statement that she wanted to murder George Bush. The Right wing press has denounced her completely (including many American letter writers). But I managed to sneak a gentle reminder about the Bushmeister at the bottom of here. The final score was 10 for Bush, 1 against. And I was on the right side, as usual. Aaa...ah, that feels good! Cheers mate.

Fuzzflash said...

So you should be chuffed, it's a little ripper. Suggest you print and laminate the 11, to one day savour in your dotage, then pass on to a young family member with bright eyes, a passion for the truth and a potentially lethal quill.