Monday, May 10
New pictures and further allegations deepen the mire for Bush and Rumsfeld
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington, The, 10 May 2004

Shocking new pictures of US soldiers using dogs against naked Iraqi prisoners emerged yesterday - along with compelling fresh evidence that the mistreatment and abuse were a widespread practice, extending beyond the jail of Abu Ghraib.

On the day the Pentagon announced the first court martial of one of the seven US military police personnel so far charged in the scandal, The New Yorker magazine published a photograph of a naked prisoner cowering in terror in front of a pair of German shepherd dogs held on leashes by their handlers, who are in full combat gear.

The author of the article, Seymour Hersh, says they are part of a series that shows the dogs snarling at the Iraqi and straining at their leashes, and then the same prisoner with at least one wound and his leg covered in blood, apparently the result of a bite.

But even these chilling pictures may not be the end. The Pentagon now has other photos and videos in its possession, showing acts of rape and the desecration of a dead body, which it plans to show to various Congressmen shortly. That alone makes it likely they will become public knowledge. [...more]
Rangel Introduces Impeachment Articles Against Rumsfeld
by Ethan Wallison, Roll Call, 7 May, 2004

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), a lead critic of the Bush administration's policy in Iraq, introduced eight articles of impeachment Thursday against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld amid Congressional outrage over the Pentagon's handling of charges of prison abuse by U.S. soldiers.

"I think that this rises to the point that it's a high crime and misdemeanor if he disappointed the president, kept information from the Congress and kept this information from the American people," Rangel said on the House floor.

Among the prospective charges against Rumsfeld included in the Rangel's impeachment measure are that the Defense chief "contributed to an atmosphere of lawlessness" that permitted the abuses to take place, and "abdicated his role" in allowing such a breakdown in discipline.

The articles also charge that Rumsfeld "urged and oversaw" the removal of Saddam Hussein under a "false premise" - namely, that the United States was under threat of "imminent" attack from weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq's dictator was in league with al Qaeda in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The latter allegations have been a matter of semantic argument for more than a year between Democrats and the GOP, which has contended that neither Rumsfeld nor the Bush administration had used either premise in their arguments for Hussein's ouster. [...more]

By Jan Disley, The Mirror, 8 May, 2004

A SOLDIER has produced damning proof that British troopers took "trophy" photos of Iraqi prisoners being abused.

Soldier D photographed a colleague in the Queen's Lancashire Regiment snapping a bound captive with bloodied teeth in the back of an armoured personnel carrier.

Soldier with camera, top right, takes photograph of beaten Iraqi suspect

The squaddie told the Mirror: "There are no rules out there. I saw the man dragged into the vehicle beaten up, kicked and punched. It lasted about a minute.

"I took the picture as I opened the doors of the vehicle and could see dirt on his shirt and blood on his teeth."

Claiming that soldiers took photos and video footage to look tough and prove to friends what had happened, he added: "You'd come back from Iraq and people wouldn't know what you've been through.

"If you had pictures you could show them. While we were out there we were told to get rid of all of them. But if they'd done a proper search they'd have found CDs and all sorts of things.

"There was one CD going round our room with about 500 shots on it. Some were before and after pictures of beatings."

Three other soldiers have told the Mirror of torture by rogue members of the QLR. One, Soldier C, is giving Military Police full details, including names and ranks.

Soldier D, who is still serving in the QLR but is too frightened to be named or go to Military Police, photographed the battered prisoner while serving in Basra in the second half of last year.
Torture, the CIA and the Press
Who Let the Dogs Out?

"O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!"

Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene I.

Finally, a period of re-evaluation.

Too bad it took a war crimes scandal to bring it about, and that the entire Iraqi misadventure was a criminal fraud to being with.

But here we are, with calls from Congress for the resignation of the once popular, infallible Donald Rumsfeld, and the absence of that permanent, arrogant smirk from George Bush's face, as he disingenuously apologizes to the hitherto demonic Arab world. We are even engaged, it seems, in that most un-American activity: self-criticism.

This window of moment will not last for long, for even as we examine our policies and policy-makers, US Army snipers are peering out of minarets, picking off civilians on the bloody streets of Fallujah and Najaf, and a dozen other anonymous outposts in Iraq. So while the opportunity presents itself, let's be quick about this, and ask the overarching question: How did we get from 9/11 to Abu Ghoryab?

From a Picture of Pride to a Symbol of Abuse in Iraq
By JAMES DAO, The New York Times, 7 May, 2004

PORT ASHBY, W.Va., May 6 — For weeks, the Mineral County courthouse has proudly displayed the photographs of local soldiers stationed in Iraq along the stairway at its front entrance. "We're hometown proud," the banner said.

But in the last few days, one photograph was taken down, that of Pfc. Lynndie R. England, whose face has become famous for a painfully different reason.

Private England is perhaps the most prominently displayed person in a series of photographs taken in the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad that show members of the 372nd Military Police Company abusing prisoners.

In one image, Private England is clenching a cigarette between her teeth while giving a thumbs-up in front of naked Iraqi prisoners. In another that became public on Thursday, she is holding a leash attached to a naked prisoner's neck.

The photographs have left her family and friends aghast and searching for answers. They are convinced that she would never have thought up anything so cruel on her own and that she must have been following orders. [...more]
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH, 10 May, 2004

American soldiers brutalized Iraqis. How far up does the responsibility go?

In the era of Saddam Hussein, Abu Ghraib, twenty miles west of Baghdad, was one of the world’s most notorious prisons, with torture, weekly executions, and vile living conditions. As many as fifty thousand men and women—no accurate count is possible—were jammed into Abu Ghraib at one time, in twelve-by-twelve-foot cells that were little more than human holding pits.

In the looting that followed the regime’s collapse, last April, the huge prison complex, by then deserted, was stripped of everything that could be removed, including doors, windows, and bricks. The coalition authorities had the floors tiled, cells cleaned and repaired, and toilets, showers, and a new medical center added. Abu Ghraib was now a U.S. military prison. Most of the prisoners, however—by the fall there were several thousand, including women and teen-agers—were civilians, many of whom had been picked up in random military sweeps and at highway checkpoints. They fell into three loosely defined categories: common criminals; security detainees suspected of “crimes against the coalition”; and a small number of suspected “high-value” leaders of the insurgency against the coalition forces. [...more]

The photographs—several of which were broadcast on CBS’s “60 Minutes 2” last week—show leering G.I.s taunting naked Iraqi prisoners who are forced to assume humiliating poses.

Six suspects—Staff Sergeant Ivan L. Frederick II, known as Chip, who was the senior enlisted man; Specialist Charles A. Graner; Sergeant Javal Davis; Specialist Megan Ambuhl; Specialist Sabrina Harman; and Private Jeremy Sivits—are now facing prosecution in Iraq, on charges that include conspiracy, dereliction of duty, cruelty toward prisoners, maltreatment, assault, and indecent acts. A seventh suspect, Private Lynndie England, was reassigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, after becoming pregnant. [...more]

... There is another photograph of a cluster of naked prisoners, again piled in a pyramid. Near them stands Graner, smiling, his arms crossed; a woman soldier stands in front of him, bending over, and she, too, is smiling. Then, there is another cluster of hooded bodies, with a female soldier standing in front, taking photographs. Yet another photograph shows a kneeling, naked, unhooded male prisoner, head momentarily turned away from the camera, posed to make it appear that he is performing oral sex on another male prisoner, who is naked and hooded.

Such dehumanization is unacceptable in any culture, but it is especially so in the Arab world. Homosexual acts are against Islamic law and it is humiliating for men to be naked in front of other men, Bernard Haykel, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at New York University, explained. “Being put on top of each other and forced to masturbate, being naked in front of each other—it’s all a form of torture,” Haykel said.

Two Iraqi faces that do appear in the photographs are those of dead men. There is the battered face of prisoner No. 153399, and the bloodied body of another prisoner, wrapped in cellophane and packed in ice. There is a photograph of an empty room, splattered with blood.

The abuses became public because of the outrage of Specialist Joseph M. Darby, an M.P. whose role emerged during the Article 32 hearing against Chip Frederick. ...

... Myers, who was one of the military defense attorneys in the My Lai prosecutions of the nineteen-seventies, told me that his client’s defense will be that he was carrying out the orders of his superiors and, in particular, the directions of military intelligence. He said, “Do you really think a group of kids from rural Virginia decided to do this on their own? Decided that the best way to embarrass Arabs and make them talk was to have them walk around nude?”

In letters and e-mails to family members, Frederick repeatedly noted that the military-intelligence teams, which included C.I.A. officers and linguists and interrogation specialists from private defense contractors, were the dominant force inside Abu Ghraib. In a letter written in January, he said:

I questioned some of the things that I saw . . . such things as leaving inmates in their cell with no clothes or in female underpants, handcuffing them to the door of their cell—and the answer I got was, “This is how military intelligence (MI) wants it done.” . . . . MI has also instructed us to place a prisoner in an isolation cell with little or no clothes, no toilet or running water, no ventilation or window, for as much as three days.

The military-intelligence officers have “encouraged and told us, ‘Great job,’ they were now getting positive results and information,” Frederick wrote. “CID has been present when the military working dogs were used to intimidate prisoners at MI’s request.” At one point, Frederick told his family, he pulled aside his superior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Phillabaum, the commander of the 320th M.P. Battalion, and asked about the mistreatment of prisoners. “His reply was ‘Don’t worry about it.’”

Sunday, May 9
Image by image, confession by confession, the horror emerges
Until their publication shocked the world, these pictures were dismissed by the Pentagon as the work of 'six morons who lost the war'.

Now the White House says it is as shocked as anyone about what they reveal, and that a few bad apples have poisoned the reputation of a nation. But yesterday the first evidence emerged of systematic abuse of Iraqis. In this special report, we follow the trail from 9/11, the detention camps of Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay to the shame of Abu Ghraib

By Raymond Whitaker and Rupert Cornwell, The, 09 May 2004

As the Abu Ghraib scandal engulfed Washington last week, with the media full of pictures of grinning US military police next to naked Iraqi detainees, Jim Miklaszewski of NBC News called a contact in the Pentagon with a query about the six soldiers facing charges for the abuse. "You mean the six morons who lost the war?" the official said. From this side of the Atlantic the official's response might seem a little blinkered. What about all the questions and doubts that already existed - about the exaggerations and lies which took us into war, about the bungled aftermath of a supremely successful military campaign, and about the cost in money and lives of suppressing a growing insurgency against the supposed liberators of the country? He spoke, however, for many Americans, almost certainly including President George Bush and his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

The obscene antics of Private Lynndie England and her boyfriend (by whom she is now pregnant), Specialist Charles Graner, who appear most often in the photographs, have crystallised half-suppressed doubts in the US about what is going on in Iraq. After a slow start, the unfolding tale of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners has swept everything else off the radar screen in Washington. Gradually the full appalling implications are being grasped by an administration that hitherto has never been concerned for anyone's opinion other than its own. A president already facing a tough re-election fight this autumn now realises he has a potentially career-ending disaster on his hands.

As late as Wednesday, as his handlers pushed him into belated damage control by giving interviews to Arab-language TV networks, Mr Bush still didn't get it. To be sure, he declared his "abhorrence" - but then seemed to lecture his questioners on their failure to understand the special godliness of America, which a few individuals had so heinously betrayed. An apology? No way.
Rush: MPs Just 'Blowing Off Steam'
Dick Meyer, May 6, 2004

There is one proud and satisfied place where the pictures and accounts of the abuse endured by some prisoners at Abu Ghraib cause no consternation and no outrage: Rush Limbaugh's America, pop. 20 million.

Here's Rush's take, from his Website:

"I'm sorry, folks. I'm sorry. Somebody has to provide a little levity here. This is not as serious as everybody is making it out to be. My gosh, we're all wringing our hands here. We act like, 'Okay let's just die,' you know? 'Let's just give up. What can we do to make these people feel better? Let's just pull out of there, and let's just go. Let's just become a neutral country. Let's just do that.' I mean, it's ridiculous. It's outrageous what's happening here, and it's not -- and it's not because I'm out of touch; it's because I am in touch, folks, that I can understand. This is a pure, media-generated story. I'm not saying it didn't happen; I'm [not] saying the pictures aren't there, but this is being given more life than the Waco invasion got. This is being given more life than almost -- it's almost become an Oklahoma City-type thing. One more Bush sound bite, and the president continued explaining how real democracy works here."

Here's Rush's sociological evaluation of what really happened at Abu Ghraib, as quoted in a piece in The New Republic on Limbaughism:

"This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation, and we're going to ruin people's lives over it, and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You [ever] heard of need to blow some steam off?"

Now, don't you feel like a dopey dittohead for letting a little outbreak of prisoner sadism bug you? These were just boys and girls blowing off steam during a stressful situation. Let's not make an international incident out of it, for crying out loud.

In Rush's world, this is essentially geopolitical spilled milk:

"I don't understand what we're so worried about. These are the people that are trying to kill us. What do we care what is the most humiliating thing in the world for them? There's also this business of them all wearing hoods and how that’s also very humiliating. You can see more guys wearing hoods at a [Sen.] Robert Byrd birthday party 40 years ago than we've seen in these prisoner photos."


The Consequences of Colonization in Iraq
We Are the Barbarians

By M. JUNAID ALAM, Counterpunch, 28 April, 2004

A significant thing: it is not the head of a civilization that begins to rot first. It is the heart.
-Aimé Césaire

Jaw agape and fangs unsheathed, American colonialism has lashed out with severe brutality against the newly-unified Iraqi resistance, counting on its military might to crush the aspirations of Iraqis who seek to liberate their country from foreign control.

Relying so heavily on the force of arms against a people it claims to liberate, the US has inverted Clausewitz's famous dictum that war is a continuation of politics by other means; our policy now is politics as a continuation of war by other means.

But it so happens that this is a double-edged sword ­ with both edges thrust firmly into the heart of the occupation. For no matter how many Iraqi patriots America kills, ten more will spring forward for each who has fallen; and no matter how many are silenced by American bullets, the viciousness and arrogance with which those bullets were fired will speak loudly and convincingly to thousands of Iraqis who will be inspired to resist.

To illustrate our point it is necessary only to direct our gaze upon that great unfolding tragedy of Fallujah, the epicenter and icon of Iraqi resistance. US forces surrounded and attacked the city on the grounds of pursuing Iraqis who killed and then mutilated the bodies of four American mercenaries. The massive assault was carried out with the usual concern for civilian life: namely, none.

'Precision' weapons such as 2,000 lb. bombs and the massive Specter gunship, armed with four high-powered machine guns, were brought to bear against the town, as were attack helicopters and 60-ton tanks. Our troops employed such life-saving tactics as lobbing 18 tank shells into one house to kill one person and firing helicopter missiles at a rebel wielding a slingshot. (1) One Fallujah resident explained to the press, "As soon as the Americans see a group of people in the streets, they shoot at them, people venture out only if their homes risk being bombarded or if they must carry the dead or wounded to the city's clinics." A young Iraqi member of the US-created Civil Defense Corps saw "heavy bombings" with the town market hit, and "tanks ringing the town." (2) US snipers in the city, perhaps the only precision weapons deployed, have put their uniqueness to good use: shooting through ambulance windshields and killing their drivers. (3) [...more]

Bush's Torturous Logic
Shocked, Shocked, Shocked

By DAVE LINDORFF, Counterpunch, 1-3 May, 2004

George Bush is shocked, shocked that there is torture being used by U.S. forces on Iraqi prisoners of war, in direct violation not only of basic human rights but of the Geneva Convention on Treatment of Prisoners of War of which the United States is not only a signatory, but a founding writer.

So shocked that he had his Pentagon try to get CBS not to show the pictures of the shocking behavior.

The truth is that if the Commander-in-Chief--remember him? He's the guy in charge of the military that was running the Abu Ghraib detention facility in Baghdad--really did feel the "deep disgust" he claims he feels, and that such treatment is "not the way we do things in America," heads would be rolling at very high levels of the military. [...more]

Obviously everyone from General John Abezaid, and probably from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who actually visited the prison), on down knew what was going on, not only in Abu Ghraib, but in the other less publicly known prison camps where captured Iraqi insurgents are taken to be softened up for information. There have been enough reports leaking out about torture not only in Iraq but also in Afghanistan and in Guantanamo, for us to know that torture is not an aberration but rather is the policy.

It is in fact very much "the way we do things," maybe not so much in America (though it certainly goes on routinely in police stations across the nation also), but wherever American soldiers fight the empire's battles. [...more]
Live by the Spin, Die by the Spin
by Christopher Deliso,, 10 May, 2004

What a difference a year makes! The same government that was cashing in from the constant screening of "Saving Private Jessica" last April is one year later reeling from one of the latest release – the equally riveting "Secrets of Abu Ghraib," which is already becoming one of the ugliest photo-documented scandals in American military history.

Last year's PR coup was anchored on the harrowing (and bogus) tales of abuses carried out on the attractive girl-next-door, Private Jessica Lynch. What made the story of abuse and valiant rescue all the more appealing was the barrage of photos that came out soon thereafter: a photogenic, sprightly 19 year-old who somehow defied the odds and survived the assault of those evil Ay-rabs of Iraq. Of course, that there was something fishy about the whole tale was unimportant; what was to be treasured was the feel-good sentiment that, like good old apple pie, Americans could indulge in patriotically.

Yet there is nothing photogenic about the leering faces of Americans indulging in abuse of Iraqis at the prison of Abu Ghraib. There are no feel-good moments, either (unless you're an ignorant hillbilly or depraved apologist for American empire, that is). Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's admission that still more shocking photos and even worse, video are yet to come in the days and weeks ahead means that those who live by the spin may die by it, too.

Rummy Turns "Responsible" – Whatever That Means

Once Donald Rumsfeld took "full responsibility" for the misdeeds of his troops in the field, one could sense the end approaching. In his perhaps fatal hubris, however, the defense security refuses to countenance the idea of stepping down. Said a top Bush official, decrying Rumsfeld's "destructive arrogance" to Time: "…you have no idea what it's like to deal with the United States of Rumsfeld."

Yet with increasing cries for Rummy's head, a dejected Colin Powell possibly planning to retire come November 2, and devious Dick Cheney remaining as unpopular as ever, one can expect that Karl Rove is now scratching off names on his checklist of potential new fall guys for Bush Regime 2. Dubya's ratings are in the toilet bowl, and if the Iraqi torture scandal worsens – as looks very likely – this willfully stupid little dictator may have to remove even himself from the ticket. [...more]
New pictures and further allegations deepen the mire for Bush and Rumsfeld
By Rupert Cornwell in Washington,,10 May 2004

Shocking new pictures of US soldiers using dogs against naked Iraqi prisoners emerged yesterday - along with compelling fresh evidence that the mistreatment and abuse were a widespread practice, extending beyond the jail of Abu Ghraib.

On the day the Pentagon announced the first court martial of one of the seven US military police personnel so far charged in the scandal, The New Yorker magazine published a photograph of a naked prisoner cowering in terror in front of a pair of German shepherd dogs held on leashes by their handlers, who are in full combat gear.

The author of the article, Seymour Hersh, says they are part of a series that shows the dogs snarling at the Iraqi and straining at their leashes, and then the same prisoner with at least one wound and his leg covered in blood, apparently the result of a bite.

But even these chilling pictures may not be the end. The Pentagon now has other photos and videos in its possession, showing acts of rape and the desecration of a dead body, which it plans to show to various Congressmen shortly. That alone makes it likely they will become public knowledge.

Officials fear that other damning material could be circulating privately, and that could go public at any time. The US command in Baghdad said yesterday that Specialist Jeremy Sivits, of the 372nd Military Police company, would face a court martial on 19 May.


Dehumanization and Scapegoating in Iraq
Forbidden Games

By LUCIA DAILEY, Counterpunch, May 8/9, 2004

One of the main requirements for taking the life of another is to dehumanize and brand them as inferior, evil, stupid; gook, swine, rat, dog, coon, raghead--because the difficulty and psychological pain of killing someone recognizably the same is so great.

Pictures from Iraq showing the dehumanization and sadistic torture of Iraqi prisoners by US and British soldiers have outraged many, and many are wondering how this could happen. [... more]

Much of the verbiage offered by American pundits to a bewildered public claim that such abuses would not happen in a well-run military, because officers would be able to check the more perverse and base impulses of the average Joe and Jane (who suddenly find themselves in the extraordinary and dreadful psychological conditions elicited by war). As if it is better to kill cleanly than torture.

As if killing itself is not the supreme abuse. The grotesque irony of such logic has eluded these analysts, but the psychological problems stemming from turning our young into killing machines--whether "sloppily" or "cleanly," "undisciplined or "disciplined"--will not be eliminated by semantics and wishful thinking. ... [...more]

When I was fifteen my friend and I went to our after-school hangout. At the soda counter two GIs in uniform with nearly shaved heads were sprawled. They looked about eighteen. They struck up a conversation with us and asked if we'd like to see pictures of Viet Nam. One of them pulled two kodak photographs from his shirt pocket and handed them to me. I thought I would see some Vietnamese countryside. The first picture was of a man, Vietnamese, lying on his back on a dirt road in a pale green landscape. A lit cigarette was stuffed in his mouth, painted on him, in blood or something red: WE GOT YOUR ASS. The second picture taken from a different angle showed the entire top of his head missing. I was speechless, weak. My friend and I yelled: "How could you do this?" The soldiers were nervous, laughing, angry: "That's what they do to us."

That day I saw what war does to everyone who comes in contact with it. Boys barely men with blank eyes and faces like masks, full of mockery, anger, horror, fear, cruelty, and the anguish of the mad and barbarous killing our leaders were inflicting on innocent people on the other side of the world. And the fear, anger, and cruelty spread and carried like contagion.

I have sometime wondered what became of those two boys. What of their memories? Are they abusers? Addicts? Dead? Healed? [...more]

The soldiers at Abu Ghraib have said they were following orders to "soften up" prisoners for interrogation by military intelligence. We are rightly shocked by their perverse execution of such orders. If only we were as shocked by the orders themselves, and by the killing of innocent people in an unprovoked war. Then we might demand the removal of those leaders who perpetrated this war, and not be content with a scapegoat offering up of those they sent to do their dirty work.

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