Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Why is Rolling Stone covering Abu Ghraib, but not the New York Times? 

Rolling Stone has an article entitled "The Secret File of Abu Ghraib," referring to the 106 "annexes" of the Taguba Report. Many members of Congress have seen these files, and the pictures and video that goes along with them, yet have decided, at the behest of the Pentagon and the Administration, to not hold any more hearings on the subject. Less you forget what, specifically, we're talking about here, I'm going to excerpt the part of the article that simply lists some of the 94 documented abuses. But don't worry, I'm sure it's all the work of a few bad apples. This is a longer excerpt than I normally would use, but I didn't feel I could cut any more of it out.
In one sworn statement, Kasim Mehaddi Hilas, detainee number 151108, said he witnessed a translator referred to only as Abu Hamid raping a teenage boy. "I saw Abu Hamid, who was wearing the military uniform, putting his dick in the little kid's ass," Hilas testified. "The kid was hurting very bad." A female soldier took pictures of the rape, Hilas said.

During the Muslim holy period of Ramadan, Hilas saw Spc. Charles Graner Jr. and an unnamed "helper" tie a detainee to a bed around midnight. "They . . . inserted the phosphoric light in his ass, and he was yelling for God's help," the prisoner testified. Again, the same female soldier photographed the torture.

Another prisoner, Abd Alwhab Youss, was punished after guards accused him of plotting to attack an MP with a broken toothbrush. Guards took Youss into a closed room, poured cold water on him, pushed his head into urine and beat him with a broom. Then the guards "pressed my ass with a broom and spit on it," Youss said.

Mohanded Juma, detainee number 152307, testified that on his first day at Tier 1A, the west wing of the Hard Site where prisoners were brought for interrogation, he was stripped and left naked in his cell for six days. Graner, the guard in charge of the tier, entered Juma's cell at 2 a.m., cuffed his hands and feet, and took him to the shower room, where a female interrogator questioned him. After she left, Graner and another man threw pepper in Juma's face, beat him with a chair until it broke and choked him until he thought he was going to die. The assault lasted for half an hour. "They got tired from beating me," Juma told investigators. "They took a little break, and then they started kicking me very hard with their feet until I passed out." In another instance, Graner and a fellow guard reportedly beat a detainee until his nose split open.


The sworn statement of Amjed Isail Waleed, detainee number 151365, is especially graphic. On his first day at the Hard Site, he told investigators, guards "put me in a dark room and started hitting me in the head and stomach and legs." Then, one day in November, five soldiers took him into a room, put a bag over his head and started beating him. "I could see their feet, only, from under the bag. . . . Some of the things they did was make me sit down like a dog, and they would hold the string from the bag, and they made me bark like a dog, and they were laughing at me." A soldier slammed Waleed's head against the wall, causing the bag to fall off. "One of the police was telling me to crawl, in Arabic," he testified, "so I crawled on my stomach, and the police were spitting on me when I was crawling and hitting me on my back, my head and my feet. It kept going on until their shift ended at four o'clock in the morning. The same thing would happen in the following days."

Finally, after several beatings so severe that he lost consciousness, Waleed was forced to lay on the ground. "One of the police was pissing on me and laughing at me," the prisoner said. He was placed in a dark room and beaten with a broom. "And one of the police, he put a part of his stick that he always carries inside my ass, and I felt it going inside me about two centimeters, approximately. And I started screaming, and he pulled it out and he washed it with water inside the room. And the two American girls that were there when they were beating me, they were hitting me with a ball made of sponge on my dick. And when I was tied up in my room, one of the girls, with blond hair, she is white, she was playing with my dick. I saw inside this facility a lot of punishment just like what they did to me and more. And they were taking pictures of me during all these instances."


Al-Yasseri and the other prisoners arrived at the Hard Site with empty sandbags over their heads to prevent them from seeing where they were and their hands bound behind their backs with plastic handcuffs. The guards threw the men against the walls until they collapsed on the floor in what England called a "dog pile." Some of the MPs took turns running across the room and leaping on top of the men. "A couple of the detainees kind of made an 'ah' sound, as if this hurt them or caused them some type of pain," Spc. Jeremy Sivits testified in a sworn statement. While the Iraqis were on the floor, England and Sgt. Javal Davis stomped on their fingers and feet. Sivits was certain that the men felt pain this time because he heard them scream.

So did Sgt. Shannon Snider, who was working in an office on the top tier. Drawn by the cries of pain, Snider leaned over the railing and in a fury yelled down to Davis to stop abusing the prisoners. Davis stepped away from the men, and Snider left.


After Snider had gone, the MPs pulled the prisoners to their feet one by one and removed their handcuffs. Graner, who had learned a few key phrases in Arabic, ordered the detainees to strip. As one prisoner took off his clothes, Graner cradled the man's head in one arm and smashed his fist into the naked and hooded man's temple. "Damn, that hurt!" Graner complained, waving his hand in the air. The prisoner went limp, and someone removed his hood. "I walked over to see if the detainee was still alive," Sivits testified. "I could tell that the detainee was unconscious, because his eyes were closed and he was not moving, but I could see his chest rise and fall, so I knew he was still alive."

According to [Pvt. Lynndie] England, Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick made an X on another prisoner's chest with his finger and said, "Watch this." Then the six-foot-tall Fredericks punched the man in the chest. The hooded prisoner lurched backward and fell to his knees. He gasped for air. "Frederick said he thought he put the detainee in cardiac arrest," Sivits later told investigators. England was asked why she thought Frederick assaulted the man. "I guess just because he wanted to hit him," she said.

Eventually, all seven Iraqis were standing naked and hooded, and the MPs got out their cameras. A few pictures had been taken earlier in the evening, but now the abuse turned into a photo-op. Men taught to be ashamed of appearing naked in front of other men were forced to assume a series of humiliating and bizarre poses. Graner had them climb on top of each other to form a human pyramid, and the MPs took turns taking each other's picture standing behind the men. In one photo, Graner and England smile and give the thumbs-up sign behind the men, who are naked except for the green sandbags covering their heads. The Iraqis were made to crawl across the floor on their hands and knees while the guards rode on their backs. Two were posed as if performing oral sex on each other, and others were lined up against the wall and forced to masturbate while England pointed at their genitals and leered. And all the while, the Americans were laughing, cracking jokes and taking pictures.
No reason to investigate this, no.
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