An ugly picture of American methods

Some of the cases we take on make you want to laugh at the government’s audacity (for instance, the one involving a man who was convicted of disorderly conduct for dancing in public). And others just make you want to puke.

Yesterday the national ACLU released information it obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests on Abu Ghraib and other detainee abuse. Recently the government was forced under court order to turn over 100,000 pages of information to the ACLU.

No wonder the government fought the requests. The picture they paint is truly disgusting.

According to one Defense Intelligence Agency document from 2004, Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top Army commander in Iraq at the time of the Abu Ghraib scandal, urged U.S. forces to ‘go to the outer limits’ to extract information from prisoners. (Last year the Army exonerated Sanchez of wrongdoing relating to detainee abuse.)

The documents show that senior government officials were aware of abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan before the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. Cases include assaults, punching, kicking and beatings, mock executions, sexual assault of a female detainee, threatening to kill an Iraqi child to “send a message to other Iraqis,” stripping detainees, beating them and shocking them with a blasting device, throwing rocks at handcuffed Iraqi children, choking detainees with knots of their scarves and interrogations at gunpoint.

It’s clear that while President Bush and other officials assured the world that what occurred at Abu Ghraib was the work of “a few bad apples,” the government knew that abuse was happening in numerous facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of the 62 cases being investigated at the time, at least 26 involved detainee deaths.

The best part is Army spokesman Paul Boyce’s defense. An AP story quotes him as saying “that just over 1 percent of the deployed force has been implicated in allegations of abuse.” There are 133,000 troops in Iraq. When you consider the percentage of those 133,000 troops who even have access to prisoners, it’s even more appalling.

This story seems to be slipping through the cracks, and I urge you to read the information on the national ACLU website about these horrifying tactics and pass it on to others. Thousands of documents have been posted on the website, which has a new search tool that allows people to read for themselves about what’s not being reported in the media. (After all, they do have to reserve a certain number of column inches every day for updates on Brangelina.)

Sara in Philly

6 thoughts on “An ugly picture of American methods

  1. The “ends justify the means” mentality is just sickening.

    I saw a poll done that showed that almost 50% of people who identified themselves as religious in this country say that torture “often or sometimes” is acceptable. For seculars, this was about 35%

    The government has done such a great job scaring people that we’re losing our humanity as a culture.

    We scream to high heaven if terrorists torture our people, but have no problem when we do the same to them. I guess because they “deserve” it somehow.

    Amnesty International just released their report on US mistreatment of prisoners. They found that torture is widespread in all areas.

    It makes me sick that people just shrug off something this major. Rather than accept hard evidence that we’re the bad guys, they willfully choose to ignore the evidence and pretend we’re still doing the right thing.

  2. Yet another example follows –

    So Smith representing a country heavily involved in human rights abuses is threatening to have Germany re-designated on the basis of ? Rumour, prejudice, a.n.other? Let me be clear, this is the type of behaviour that far from leading people to view America as continuing to hold the “high moral” ground, instead leads an increasing amount of people to view Americans (and most especially their politicians) as tyrranical immoral hypocrites.

  3. That’s just amazing. Germany has said it won’t tolerate forced prostitution, is working to eliminate it, and has legal, tested sex workers as a working class.

    So here’s the high-and-mighty-we’re-the-most-moral-country politicians once again sticking their noses in where they don’t belong.

    Nevada has legal prositution. Of course, there’s always a market for illegal whether or not it’s available legally. But how many of the *legal* prostitutes in Nevada were forced into it? I’m guessing not many, if at all. The businesses can’t afford that kind of exposure.

    Does this mean we’ll have to invade Germany to save those people who don’t want or need to be saved? Does it pose a threat to our safety over here?

  4. Even more interesting, Germany has been accepted (up to now) as tier 1 i.e. a country where strong measures are in place against sex / human trafficking, yet in comparison many of the prostitutes working in Britain are either – (a) Drug addicts , (b) Under-age runaways, (c) East European, so in comparison Britain should be more of a target for complaint, of course Britain didn’t refuse to invade Iraq, sorry my European cynicism is showing again.

  5. You or me. NO danger to anyone. Up to me. Probably won’t accomplish much. It’s as good as it can be. It won’t get better. Up to me: no harm but I will try what I can.

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