Monday, March 24, 2008

Race to Hell: Make Sure This Happens

We continue now from Race to Hell: Principle, Not Politics quoting from Exposure: The woman behind the camera at Abu Ghraib:

The next morning, after nearly thirty hours in the shower, the corpse was removed from the tier disguised as a sick prisoner: draped with a blanket, taped to an I.V., and rolled away on a gurney. Hydrue Joyner was reminded of the Hollywood farce "Weekend at Bernie's," in which two corporate climbers treat their murdered boss as a puppet, pretending he's alive to avoid suspicion in his death. "I was thinking to myself, Un-freaking-believable. But this came from on high," Joyner said of the charade with the I.V. "I took it as they didn't want any of the prisoners thinking we were in there killing folks." Joyner referred to the dead man as Bernie, but Army investigators soon identified him as a suspected insurgent named Manadel al-Jamadi. He was alleged to have provided explosives for the bombing that blew up the Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad a week before his arrest, and he had died while under interrogation by a C.I.A. agent. Within the week that followed, an autopsy concluded that Jamadi had succumbed to "blunt force injuries" and "compromised respiration"; and his death was classified as a homicide.

Jamadi's C.I.A. interrogator has never been charged with a crime. But Sabrina Harman was. As a result of the pictures she took and appeared in at Abu Ghraib, she was convicted by court-martial, in May of 2005, of conspiracy to maltreat prisoners, dereliction of duty, and maltreatment, and sentenced to six months in prison, a reduction in rank, and a bad-conduct discharge. Megan Ambuhl, Javal Davis, Chip Frederick, Charles Graner, and Jeremy Sivits were among the handful of other soldiers who, on account of the photographs, were also sentenced to punishments ranging from a reduction in rank and a loss of pay to ten years in prison. The only person ranked above staff sergeant to face a court-martial was cleared of criminal wrongdoing. No one has ever been charged for abuses at the prison that were not photographed. Originally, Harman's charges included several counts pertaining to her pictures of Jamadi, but these were never brought to trial. The pictures constituted the first public evidence that the man had been killed during an interrogation at Abu Ghraib, and Harman said, "They tried to charge me with destruction of government property, which I don't understand. And then maltreatment for taking the photos of a dead guy. But he's dead. I don't know how that's maltreatment. And then altering evidence for removing the bandage from his eye to take a photo of it and then I placed it back. When he died, they cleaned him all up and then stuck the bandages on. So it's not really altering evidence. They had already done that for me. But in order to make the charges stick they were going to have to bring in the photos, which they didn't want, because obviously they covered up a murder and that would just make them look bad. So they dropped all the charges pertaining to the guy in the shower."

The picture that gets painted here is one of soldiers who were basically good kids but who showed some bad judgment in following the orders of their superiors -- and they got punished for that.

It should be noted, though, that these were not all clear-cut orders they were following; the real criminals worked behind the scenes, manipulating, causing the troops to believe that certain things had to happen, but themselves carefully remaining in the shadows. These MP's were taken shameless advantage of.

But, of course, that has been the m.o. of the Bush Administration all along, hasn't it?

From Col. Janis Karpinski, the Former Head of Abu Ghraib, Admits She Broke the Geneva Conventions But Says the Blame "Goes All the Way to The Top", October 26, 2005:

COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: Well, there were only -- interrogation operations were only taking place -- at prisons under my control, interrogations were only being conducted at Abu Ghraib, and they were only being conducted in interrogation facilities built specifically for interrogations at Abu Ghraib. There was what they called "Interrogation Facility Wood" and "Interrogation Facility Steel." The pictures, although they were -- when they were released, it was widely reported that this was during interrogation operations. In fact, it was not during interrogation operations. These pictures were being staged and set up at the direction of contract interrogators, civilian contract interrogators, for the use in future interrogations.

AMY GOODMAN: Contract interrogators. What companies?

COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: There are several. Several of the contractors that were in some of the pictures were with Titan Corporation. There has been sworn statements saying they came from "OGA," other government agencies, and CACI. I can only say that some of the --


COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: That's right, and I can only say that the ones that I saw in the photographs were identified as being from Titan Corporation. Now, they were -- my experience with Titan Corporation was that they were providing translators, and again, in some of the information that's been released in the ACLU documents, we know that some of the translators were given the opportunity to become interrogators without any training whatsoever in interrogation operations.

Farming out this military job to untrained "contractors" meant a government contract -- and thus money -- for someone, didn't it?

COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: [snip] The sergeant that I spoke to said that their records had been seized by the investigators, and they started a new log to account for prisoners, make sure that their meals were on time, those kind of things, and he pointed out a memo that was posted on a column just outside of their small administrative office. And the memorandum was signed by the Secretary of Defense, and --

AMY GOODMAN: By Donald Rumsfeld.

COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: By Donald Rumsfeld. And said -- it discussed interrogation techniques that were authorized. It was one page. It talked about stress positions, noise and light discipline, the use of music, disrupting sleep patterns, those kind of techniques. But there was a handwritten note out to the side. And this was a copy. It was a photocopy of the original, I would imagine. But it was unusual that an interrogation memorandum would be posted inside of a detention cell block, because interrogations were not conducted in the cell block.

AMY GOODMAN: This was the command of Donald Rumsfeld himself?


AMY GOODMAN: Talking about the techniques?

COL. JANIS KARPINSKI: The techniques that were allowed. And there was a note -- handwritten note out to the side of where the list of tactics, interrogation tactics were. It said, "Make sure this happens." And it seemed to be in the same handwriting as the signature. That's what I could say about the memorandum.

But so far, the only people who have been held accountable are a few low-ranking personnel and some designated scapegoats. Nothing has happened to those in Washington, whose orders were to "make sure this happens."


Aurora said...

Yankee, this is pretty shocking. But I have a slightly different take on it to you. I don't know who might have written that note, if there was a note (we only have her word for it) But supposing there was a note, I would guess that whoever wrote it also knew that the Abu Graibh scandal was going to blow up later over it as well.
I have more opinions on this but won't go into that here.

Yankee Doodle said...

In and of itself, the handwritten comment is flimsy enough evidence to be completely inconsequential.

There are, however, other details:

1) Bush's continual defense of enhanced interrogation;
2) Cheney's remark about "a dunk in the water" being a "no-brainer";
3) Colin Powell's disagreement with the Administration over the handling of "detainees";
4) The Bush Administration's seeking of new laws and new interpretations for existing laws to justify what our dear leader is going to do anyway, especially in the context of interrogations;
5) The appearance of the general connected to the system at Guantanamo at Abu Ghraib, immediately after which the abuses began.

There is a preponderance of evidence indicating that every violation of human rights and every breach of international law comes straight from the top.

I spent eight long years watching this with the Clinton Administration, and I know what I am seeing.

Bush needs to be impeached and criminally prosecuted for a variety of offenses; this is only one.

Pelosi -- presumably no friend of the Republicans -- has taken impeachment off the table. The only explanation is that there is dirt on her, too -- just like Waxman promised the hearings into the Sibel Edmonds case, failed to deliver, and then we found his smiling face on the website of the Turkish Coalition of America, a front for organized crime.

There are sewers that are cleaner than Washington, DC.