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