culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Friday, May 07, 2004
Deafness is a virtue to a liar. All future torture briefings for the Bush administration must now be
closed captioned for the hearing impaired:
The International Committee of the Red Cross regularly complained to senior United States officials in Iraq and in Washington over the last several months about prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, a spokesman for the group said on Thursday.

The spokesman, Roland Huguenin, said, "Our reports to the U.S. administration contained many aspects which have now been reported with clear descriptions of the treatment of prisoners."

Mr. Huguenin, who spoke by telephone from London, said the reports were based on the Red Cross's interviews with prisoners and "were very extensive and detailed."

"We knew everything that was going on," he said.


He said one thing that Red Cross officials did not know was that guards were taking photos of what was occurring.

Other human rights groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Human Rights First, said this week that they had complained to the administration about reports of prisoner abuse and humiliation. Officials with the groups said they took personal appeals to L. Paul Bremer III, head of the occupation authority in Iraq, and Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, but that their appeals often seemed to fall on deaf ears.
If it ain't on Fox News, it don't exist for these folks.

Here are the allegations from the Red Cross report that were so difficult for administration officials like Condoleeza Rice to imagine without photographs provided by the torturers. Reported by the Wall Street Journal:

Methods of Ill-Treatment

• Hooding, used to prevent people from seeing and to disorient them, and also to prevent them from breathing freely. One or sometimes two bags, sometimes with an elastic blindfold over the eyes which, when slipped down, further impeded proper breathing. Hooding was sometimes used in conjunction with beatings thus increasing anxiety as to when blows would come. The practice of hooding also allowed the interrogators to remain anonymous and thus to act with impunity. Hooding could last for periods from a few hours to up to two to four consecutive days, during which hoods were lifted only for drinking, eating or going to the toilets
• Handcuffing with flexi-cuffs, which were sometimes made so tight and used for such extended periods that they caused skin lesions and long-term aftereffects on the hands (nerve damage), as observed by the ICRC
• Beating with hard objects (including pistols and rifles), slapping, punching, kicking with knees or feet on various parts of the body (legs, sides, lower back, groin)
• Pressing the face into the ground with boots
• Threats (of ill-treatment, reprisals against family members, imminent executive or transfer to Guantanamo)
• Being stripped naked for several days while held in solitary confinement in an empty and completely dark cell that included a latrine
• Being paraded naked outside cells in front of other persons deprived of their liberty and guards, sometimes hooded or with women's underwear over the head
• Acts of humiliation such as being made to stand naked against the wall of the cell with arms raised or with women's underwear over the head for prolonged periods, while being laughed at by guards, including female guards, and sometimes photographed in this position
• Being attached repeatedly over several days, for several hours each time, with handcuffs to the bars of their cell door in humiliating (i.e. naked or in underwear) and/or uncomfortable position causing physical pain
• Exposure while hooded to loud noise or music, prolonged exposure while hooded to the sun over several hours, including during the hottest time of the day when temperatures could reach 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher
• Being forced to remain for prolonged periods in stress positions such as squatting or standing with or without the arms lifted

These methods of physical and psychological coercion were used by the military intelligence in a systematic way to gain confessions and extract information or other forms of cooperation from persons who had been arrested in connection with suspected security offences or deemed to have an "intelligence value."
Every bit as sickening as the behavior itself are the cavalier frat-house excuses made for it by the vast right-wing sycophantic choir.

All the religious values that Bush supposedly embodies are revealed (again) to be a hollow mask.

"In a systematic way" describes the physical and psychological coercion, but not the lax way the prison was staffed and supervised, the random way the prisoners were rounded up, and certainly not the capricious and ideological way the decision to go to war was made in the first place.

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