The Road to Abu Ghraib
June 9, 2004 9:57 PM   Subscribe

Human Rights Watch Report: The Road to Abu Ghraib
Introduction, A Policy To Evade International Law:
Circumventing the Geneva Conventions, Undermining the Rules Against Torture, Renditions, “Disappearances” and so on and so on...
See also Human rights group finds Abu Ghraib cover-up
posted by y2karl (20 comments total)
This is lovely, too: Detainees' Medical Files Shared

Military interrogators at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been given access to the medical records of individual prisoners, a breach of patient confidentiality that ethicists describe as a violation of international medical standards designed to protect captives from inhumane treatment.

The files, which contain individual medical histories and other personal information about prisoners, have been made available to interrogators despite continued objections from the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Post. After discovering the practice in mid-2003, the Red Cross refused to send medical monitoring teams to the facility for more than six months, sources said.

posted by y2karl at 9:58 PM on June 9, 2004

From the you-can't-make-this-stuff-up file:

Reversing itself, the Army said Tuesday that a G.I. was discharged partly because of a head injury he suffered while posing as an uncooperative detainee during a training exercise at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The Army had previously said Specialist Sean Baker's medical discharge in April was unrelated to the injury he received last year at the detention center, where the United States holds suspected terrorists.

Mr. Baker, 37, a former member of the 438th Military Police Company, said he played the role of an uncooperative prisoner and was beaten so badly by four American soldiers that he suffered a traumatic brain injury and seizures. He said the soldiers only stopped beating him when they realized he might be American.

Bruce Simpson, Mr. Baker's lawyer, said his client is considering a lawsuit.

posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:26 PM on June 9, 2004

for those who haven't heard it - joe wilson has everything right about everything that is wrong with don rumsfeld and the bush administration. required listening.
posted by specialk420 at 10:45 PM on June 9, 2004

A Policy To Evade International Law: link is not working.
posted by kenaman at 2:54 AM on June 10, 2004

A Policy To Evade International Law--well, it was a click away but still... my bad.
posted by y2karl at 6:16 AM on June 10, 2004

Facing Defeat?

But officials acknowledge that the charges could well be difficult to bring and that none of Padilla’s admissions to interrogators—including an apparent confession that he met with top Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah and agreed to undertake a terror mission—would ever be admissible in court.

Even more significant, administration officials now concede that the principal claim they have been making about Padilla ever since his detention—that he was dispatched to the United States for the specific purpose of setting off a radiological “dirty bomb”—has turned out to be wrong and most likely can never be used against him in court...

Lawyers within the Justice Department are now bracing for defeat in both the enemy-combatant and Guantanamo cases, both of which are expected to be decided before the Supreme Court ends its term at the end of the month, according to one conservative and politically well-connected lawyer. ''They are 99 percent certain they are going to lose,” said the lawyer, who asked not to be identified. “It’s a very sobering realization''.

posted by y2karl at 6:22 AM on June 10, 2004

If you can steal a US Presidential election then you can damn well do anything you want and get away with it. Trickle down theory demands that all the "little people" be pissed upon.

Just shut up! [credits to O'Really]
Don't you know we're mourning for a saint this week? :-)
posted by nofundy at 6:33 AM on June 10, 2004

Okay, here's my question: what do Republicans make of all this? I tend to hear only of Democrats being upset about the prison scandal(s). But it's hard for me to imagine that all Republicans believe such treatment of prisoners is justifiable. So, are there any Republicans publicly upset?
posted by josephtate at 6:50 AM on June 10, 2004

imagine bush, cheney, ashcroft, and thier congressional lap dogs all tethered naked, being dragged through town behind a gasoline tanker truck, huddled together, cowering, covered with spittle, vomitus and rotten fruit, while patriotic, freedom loving americans fling garbage and sneer, pointing at thier miniscule cocks! it's the stuff of dreams!
posted by quonsar at 7:43 AM on June 10, 2004

Physician, Turn Thyself In

According to press reports, military doctors and nurses who examined prisoners at Abu Ghraib treated swollen genitals, prescribed painkillers, stitched wounds, and recorded evidence of the abuses going on around them. Under international law — as well as the standards of common decency — these medical professionals had a duty to tell those in power what they saw.

Instead, too often, they returned the victims of torture to the custody of their victimizers. Rather than putting a stop to torture, they tacitly abetted it, by patching up victims and staying silent.

An American in The Hague?

Even if no smoking gun is ever found to directly link American officials to the crimes, however, they could still find themselves in serious jeopardy under international law. Under the doctrine of command responsibility, officials can be held accountable for war crimes committed by their subordinates even if they did not order them — so long as they had control over the perpetrators, had reason to know about the crimes, and did not stop them or punish the criminals...

Of course, despite all the incriminating evidence, there is little possibility that any foreign or domestic judge will ever haul top members of the current administration into court. The question of guilt or innocence will most likely remain a political one.

Nonetheless, legal principles can affect politics. If voters begin to believe that George W. Bush or Donald Rumsfeld is legally responsible for the torture, it could affect the president's chances in November. Yet if American officials are not held legally accountable, the damage abroad could be even more severe. Part of the terrible legacy of Abu Ghraib may be that the United States will find it difficult to prosecute foreign war criminals if it refuses to accept for itself the legal standards it accuses them of breaking.

posted by y2karl at 8:04 AM on June 10, 2004

Interrogator: White House sought info from Abu Ghraib

The head of the interrogation center at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq told an Army investigator in February that he understood some of the information being collected from prisoners there had been requested by "White House staff," according to an account of his statement obtained by the Washington Post.

Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, an Army reservist who took control of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center on Sept. 17, 2003, said a superior military intelligence officer told him the requested information concerned "any anti-coalition issues, foreign fighters, and terrorist issues."

The Army investigator, Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, asked Jordan whether it concerned "sensitive issues," and Jordan said, "Very sensitive. Yes, sir," according to the account, which was provided by a government official.

posted by y2karl at 8:11 AM on June 10, 2004

Bush Was "In The Loop" on torture, reveals memo

"President Bush has claimed that the prison abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib was "disgraceful conduct by a few American troops," and had nothing to do with broader administration policy. But according to a March 2003 Pentagon memo, Bush administration lawyers issued legal justifications for torture, specifically claiming, "President Bush was not bound by either an international treaty prohibiting torture or by a federal anti-torture law." The revelations have now forced the President to backtrack from his previous denials of culpability, with the White House yesterday admitting for the first time that Bush did, in fact, "set broad guidelines "for interrogation in Iraq - a tacit admission that Bush himself "opened the door" to the torture tactics in the first place.

Now, the U.S. Senate is demanding the full Pentagon memo from the Bush administration. But the President has refused, instead dispatching Attorney General John Ashcroft to tell "lawmakers he won't release or discuss" the memo, even if he is cited for contempt of Congress."

posted by troutfishing at 8:58 AM on June 10, 2004

The question of what "the other side" thinks of this is interesting, because for some of us it's nearly impossible to imagine a mindset able to dismiss all this as a meaningless aberration. But some people still obviously can. Josh Marshall argues that we're past the point where there's actually a legitimate debate about what the administration knew, and paraphrases himself thus:
    We're like contestants on Wheel of Fortune with a long phrase spelled out in front of us with maybe one or two letters missing. We know what the letters spell. It's obvious. We just don't have the heart to say it out loud.
posted by soyjoy at 7:21 PM on June 10, 2004

Dismay at legal justifications for torture

Harold Hongju Koh, dean of Yale University's law school and a former US assistant secretary of state, went to Geneva in 2000 to present the first US report on its compliance with the UN 1994 Convention against Torture. He says he told the global gathering the US was "unalterably committed to a world without torture".

This week's revelations that Bush administration lawyers had sought to find legal justifications for torturing terrorist detainees have left him dumbfounded.

"They are blatantly wrong," he says. "It's just erroneous legal analysis. The notion that the president has the constitutional power to permit torture is like saying he has the constitutional power to commit genocide."

Mr Koh is one of the small community of top international lawyers who say they are more shocked than anyone at what their profession has wrought. Scott Horton, past chairman of the international human rights committee of the New York City bar association, says the government lawyers involved in preparing the documents could and should face professional sanctions.

posted by y2karl at 8:49 PM on June 10, 2004

General Granted Latitude At Prison

Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior U.S. military officer in Iraq, borrowed heavily from a list of high-pressure interrogation tactics used at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and approved letting senior officials at a Baghdad jail use military dogs, temperature extremes, reversed sleep patterns, sensory deprivation, and diets of bread and water on detainees whenever they wished, according to newly obtained documents.

The U.S. policy, details of which have not been previously disclosed, was approved in early September, shortly after an Army general sent from Washington completed his inspection of the Abu Ghraib jail and then returned to brief Pentagon officials on his ideas for using military police there to help implement the new high-pressure methods.

The documents obtained by The Washington Post spell out in greater detail than previously known the interrogation tactics Sanchez authorized, and make clear for the first time that, before last October, they could be imposed without first seeking the approval of anyone outside the prison. That gave officers at Abu Ghraib wide latitude in handling detainees.

Yet another nail in the coffin of the ''A Few Bad Apples'' spin.
posted by y2karl at 11:22 AM on June 12, 2004

The Weidenbush Report

A paragraph therefrom:

The Secretary of Defense {Donald Rumsfeld} visited Abu Ghraib on 6 Sep 03. On 7 Sept 03, MG Miller arrived at Abu Ghraib and recommended changes to the interrogation practices. When MG Miller recommended these changes, CIA, Military Intelligence, and Department of Defense knew of this, yet no one informed BG Karpinski or her staff. She was responsible for the overall operation of Abu Ghraib when the changes occurred. She could not adequately prepare her soldiers for a change in policy when she did not know about it. Had she known that sleep deprivation and dogs were authorized in the interrogation process, she would have better prepared her soldiers for that type of work environment. She may also have questioned this change and objected to it as being contrary to the Geneva Convention. I suspect that the latter was the reason she was not informed. Since BG Karpinski was responsible for the MPs at the time of the change, why wasn't she included in the meetings with MG Miller and the 205th MI Bde, or at least provided a list of the new rules of interrogation?

A dissent from within the ranks

Hiding a bad guy named triple X
posted by y2karl at 4:06 PM on June 12, 2004

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