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Deflection: Torture

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posted on Sep, 24 2006 @ 01:01 AM
We've heard a lot lately about torture starting up again at Abu Ghraib now that it's been turned over to the Iraqis. But I've come across this article, which suggests that although it looks as if the Iraqis now do all the torturing in Iraq, the US still has the facilities - and, as I hope to show, the personnel - to keep up the good work.

The US may have handed Abu Ghraib over to the Iraqis and installed people there who are just as vicious as Saddam's guys (in fact, for all we know, they might even be Saddam's guys), but that there are two other prisons in Iraq which the US still runs out of sight (and out of mind) of everyone.

Camp Bucca Theater Internment Facility (TIF),

was named after Ron Bucca, a New York fire marshal and Army Reservist who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

OOPS! That would seem to be a thinly-veiled propaganda effort to link the invasion of Iraq with the attacks of September 11. Naughty, naughty! So if that's the name of the place, what kind of treatment do you think the prisoners get? The source linked seems to think everything's above board, but I don't find it a particularly bias-free spot, because of this -

The first thing the MPs had to do was find a proper spot to set up an EPW camp. To put up a camp, Army planners first scout out a site isolated enough to be able to protect the prisoners and their guards from attack. Free Iraq Forces are also used to help locate a safe place. The FIF is a group of native Iraqis who have joined to help the American and British forces in freeing the Iraqi people.

BZZZZZZZZZZZ! WRONG answer! It might be what you need to believe to make yourself think this is all worthwhile (which might mean you're a 23 percenter), but anyone who can look honestly at the situation in Iraq realises that the Iraqi people have NOT been freed. They've been cast loose into civil war, which really doesn't qualify as an improvement.

And "isolated enough to be able to protect the prisoners and their guards from attack"?

In the deep desert no-one can hear you scream.

No-one who gives a damn, that is.

The Wiki entry makes everything seem pretty hunky-dory, but this Global Security report seems to suggest otherwise -

Daily News (New York) February 08, 2005
Bone-Crushing Abuse At Bucca, Letters Say
In-Depth Coverage

By Brian Kates

NEW ALLEGATIONS OF abuse surfaced yesterday at Camp Bucca, the Army's main lockup for Iraqi prisoners after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.

A group of Muslim clerics told reporters in Baghdad it received letters from detainees charging that American guards broke some prisoners' legs, smashed others' fingers and forced some to sit for hours inside large freezers.

There's a hilarious Washington Post article that attempts to show that Bucca is the nice, cuddly face of Iraqi detention facilites... but it really doesn't ring true. The reporter is doing the rounds with Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, deputy commander of detainee operations in Iraq, and the signs are there of some hasty attempts to make everything look nice. There's a pile of sleeping bags, and Miller checks that all the detainees have one: he also asks whether the detainees are getting bottled water. What comforting attention to detail. Frankly, if they've only just got sleeping bags, what the hell has been going on? Of course, the reporter doesn't ask anything so pointed. And he reports with an apparent poker face the following, which made me lol:

Miller, who ran the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- known as Gitmo -- said Camp Bucca presented a very different set of challenges. "This is a complex business," he said. "Gitmo is different because this population is a relatively small number of terrorists. It's not the same level of evil."

During Miller's visit, commanders showed him an area where workers were constructing large metal cages to replace the tattered tents in the isolation compound for prisoners who had been caught fighting or found with contraband.

Miller walked over to the cages, peered in, shook his head and said finally: "Guys, these don't sing to me. I don't like it. You can't put people in here."

These don't sing to me? Are we really expected to believe that these cages are to be torn down and that this is not a PR exercise for a compliant reporter? Did he, one wonders, ask about the time when several female GIs were involved in a mud-wrestling competition on base/ (Ah, feminism! Women can join the army now! You can be an Army of One AND take your clothes off to mud-wrestle. Endless fun.)

Oh, yeah... as for it not being "the same level of evil"... where are we now with the figures on Gitmo? What percentage have been found to be innocent of any wrongdoing and just released?

And, you know, when I found out that Miller had been in charge of Guantanamo Bay, I remembered that when he had come to take charge of Abu Ghraib, he had, in his own word, come to "Gitmoize" the place. He took charge of Abu Ghraib before it got the reputation for US torture of its inhabitants. This is the guy on whose watch torture at Abu Ghraib really took off, and now he's doing a personal tour of the prisons to which the Abu Ghraib detainees are going?

Our reporter from the Post is either ignorant of this, or unwilling to do even the most basic research. He doesn't even seem to read his own paper, which ran an article quoting Janis Karpinski, who commanded the military prison system in Iraq at the time, and who heard Miller say he was going to "Gitmoize" the place.

Camp Cropper (the other camp mentioned in the first article cited) has, it seems, vanished from the news... which can hardly be a good sign. I did come across a very good article while searching which described one man's visit to Camp Cropper: it's a little off-topic, but the circumstances of his arrest are interesting in terms of the kind of summary "justice" involved in detentions, and in terms of media coverage:

Qais al-Salman is just the sort of guy the US ambassador Paul Bremer and his dead-end assistants need now. He hated Saddam, fled Iraq in 1976, then returned after the "liberation" with a briefcase literally full of plans to help in the restoration of his country's infrastructure and water purification system.

He's an engineer who has worked in Africa, Asia and Europe. He is a Danish citizen. He speaks good English. He even likes America. Or did until 6 June this year.

That day he was travelling in Abu Nawas Street when his car came under American fire. He says he never saw a checkpoint. Bullets hit the tyres and his driver and another passenger ran for their lives. Qais al-Salman stood meekly beside the vehicle. He was carrying his Danish passport, Danish driving licence and medical records.

But let him tell his own story. "A civilian car came up with American soldiers in it. Then more soldiers in military vehicles. I told them I didn't understand what had happened, that I was a scientific researcher. But they made me lie down in the street, tied my arms behind me with plastic-and-steel cuffs and tied up my feet and put me in one of their vehicles."

The next bit of his story carries implications for our own journalistic profession. "After 10 minutes in the vehicle, I was taken out again. There were journalists with cameras. The Americans untied me, then made me lie on the road again. Then, in front of the cameras, they tied my hands and feet all over again and put me back in the vehicle."

He was detained at Camp Cropper for 33 days: after telling his story, a label was pinned on him that read "suspected assassin". He wasn't beaten, however. Only selected prisoners are, it seems.

I personally find it rather disturbing that both the Wikipedia and sites have notices saying that the information therein is out of date. Can no news really be good news, given the track record thus far?


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