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Thread: Death By Torture: US Media Ignores Hard Evidence

  1. #1
    Partridge Guest

    Death By Torture: US Media Ignores Hard Evidence

    The Proof is in the Military's Own Autopsy Reports
    Peter Phillips (Project Censored) - Counterpunch


    Military autopsy reports provide indisputable proof that detainees are being tortured to death while in US military custody. Yet the US corporate media are covering it with the seriousness of a garage sale for the local Baptist Church.
    A recent American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posting of one of forty-four US military autopsy reports reads as follows:

    "Final Autopsy Report: DOD 003164, (Detainee) Died as a result of asphyxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) due to strangulation as evidenced by the recently fractured hyoid bone in the neck and soft tissue hemorrhage extending downward to the level of the right thyroid cartilage. Autopsy revealed bone fracture, rib fractures, contusions in mid abdomen, back and buttocks extending to the left flank, abrasions, lateral buttocks. Contusions, back of legs and knees; abrasions on knees, left fingers and encircling to left wrist. Lacerations and superficial cuts, right 4th and 5th fingers. Also, blunt force injuries, predominately recent contusions (bruises) on the torso and lower extremities. Abrasions on left wrist are consistent with use of restraints. No evidence of defense injuries or natural disease. Manner of death is homicide. Whitehorse Detainment Facility, Nasiriyah, Iraq."
    The ACLU website further reveals how: "a 27-year-old Iraqi male died while being interrogated by Navy Seals on April 5, 2004, in Mosul, Iraq. During his confinement he was hooded, flex-cuffed, sleep deprived and subjected to hot and cold environmental conditions, including the use of cold water on his body and hood. The exact cause of death was "undetermined" although the autopsy stated that hypothermia may have contributed to his death.

    Another Iraqi detainee died on January 9, 2004, in Al Asad, Iraq, while being interrogated. He was standing, shackled to the top of a doorframe with a gag in his mouth, at the time he died. The cause of death was asphyxia and blunt force injuries.

    So read several of the 44 US military autopsy reports on the ACLU website -evidence of extensive abuse of US detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan 2002 through 2004. Anthony Romero, Executive Director of ACLU stated, "There is no question that US interrogations have resulted in deaths." ACLU attorney Amrit Sing adds, "These documents present irrefutable evidence that US operatives tortured detainees to death during interrogations."

    Additionally, ACLU reports that in April 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld authorized the use of "environmental manipulation" as an interrogation technique in Guantánamo Bay. In September 2003, Lt. Gen. Sanchez also authorized this technique for use in Iraq. So responsibility for these human atrocities goes directly to the highest levels of power.

    A press release on these deaths by torture was issued by the ACLU on October 25, 2005 and was immediately picked up by Associated Press and United Press International wire services, making the story available to US corporate media nationwide. A thorough check of Nexus-Lexus and Proquest electronic data bases, using the keywords ACLU and autopsy, showed that at least 95percent of the daily papers in the US didn't bother to pick up the story. The Los Angeles Times covered the story on page A-4 with a 635-word report headlined "Autopsies Support Abuse Allegations." Fewer than a dozen other daily newspapers including: Bangor Daily News, Maine, page 8; Telegraph-Herald, Dubuque Iowa, page 6; Charleston Gazette, page 5; Advocate, Baton Rouge, page 11; and a half dozen others actually covered the story. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Seattle Times buried the story inside general Iraq news articles. USA Today posted the story on their website. MSNBC posted the story to their website, but apparently did not consider it newsworthy enough to air on television.

    "The Randi Rhodes Show," on Air America Radio, covered the story. AP/UPI news releases and direct quotes from the ACLU website appeared widely on internet sites and on various news-based listservs around the world, including Common Dreams, Truthout, New Standard, Science Daily, and numerous others.

    What little attention the news of the US torturing prisoners to death did get has completely disappeared as context for the torture stories now appearing in corporate media. A Nexus-Lexus search November 30, 2005 of the major papers in the US using the word torture turned up over 1,000 stories in the last 30 days. None of these included the ACLU report as supporting documentation on the issue.

    How can the American public understand the gravity of the torture that is currently being committed in our name when the issue is being reported with no reference to the extent to which these crimes against humanity have gone? Has the internet become the only source of real news for mainstream Americans while the corporate media only tells us what they want us to know?

    Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and Director of Project Censored a media research organization. www.project.censored.org

    ACLU source documents online at: http://action.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/102405/

  2. #2
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    Peter Phillips is great.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG


  3. #3
    Partridge Guest
    Guantanamo is just an aside
    Al-Ahram Weekly (Egypt)


    A conference on torture and ill-treatment of detainees highlighted the human cost of the war on terror. Tamam Ahmed Jama reports from London
    The largest group of former detainees of the "war on terror" came together for a London conference on torture and other ill-treatment of detainees. The conference ran from 19-21 November and was organised by Amnesty International and Reprieve, another UK-based human rights organisation. Over the course of the three-day gathering, former detainees, including many previously held at Guantanamo Bay, talked about their experiences of ill- treatment while in detention.

    Secretary-General of Amnesty International Irene Khan was amongst the speakers present. Commenting on the accounts of former detainees Khan said, "their stories are just one tiny element of the terrible human suffering that the war on terror is creating." She warned that "Guantanamo is only the tip of the iceberg. Torture and ill-treatment are increasingly legitimised by the war on terror."

    It has recently been revealed that the US has detained more than 83,000 people since the launching of its "war on terror" four years ago. Up to 14,500 of those remain in detention and 108 people are known to have died in US custody.

    There are allegations that the American authorities are holding thousands of people in secret locations around the world, including Eastern Europe.

    The aim of the conference -- which heard testimonies from former detainees and family members from around the world, along with representatives of human rights organisations, lawyers and UN experts -- was to highlight the human cost of the war on terror. Moazzam Begg, a British national who spent three years in Guantanamo Bay, was among the former detainees who participated in the conference. Begg was captured by Pakistani and US agents in Islamabad in early 2002. He was held at different detention centres in Kandahar and Bagram in Afghanistan before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay. He was released -- without charge -- and repatriated to Britain earlier this year.

    "People always ask me how I cope with the difficulties of readjusting to normal life," Begg said. "And I answer life is no longer normal."

    Along with Begg, eight other British former Guantanamo Bay detainees have been repatriated and released without charge. Their release came following extensive diplomatic negotiations between Washington and London. Ten UK residents who are not British citizens remain in Guantanamo Bay. This raises the question of just how many innocent men are languishing in the notorious naval base in legal limbo -- not because there is convincing evidence of their culpability, but because their countries have not lobbied for -- or not in a position -- to demand their repatriation and trial at home, if need be.

    Begg said he felt especially guilty during his encounters with the wives and children of the UK residents he left behind.

    "What do I say to their children when they ask: did you see my father?" he asked. "What can I say to them when they ask me: what had my father done? And what I can say to them when they say: why are you back and my father is not? What does the United States of America say to them? There is nothing to say except that it is unequivocally wrong."

    The Pentagon says 505 people are currently held at Guantanamo Bay. Many of these have been there for four years, without being charged, let alone tried or convicted of a crime. Most of the detainees were captured in Afghanistan following the October 2001 US invasion.

    Though the American authorities have persistently denied any ill-treatment of detainees, former inmates say that they were tortured and saw others being tortured.

    Two hundred detainees at Guantanamo Bay have been on a hunger strike since 11 August in protest against the conditions at the detention centre.

    "Donald Rumsfeld said that prisoners who were on hunger strike were going on a diet," said Clive Stafford Smith, a British human rights lawyer and the legal director of Reprieve. "It is reprehensible for a political figure to make a comment like that."

    Smith represents 40 Guantanamo Bay detainees, to whom he had not been allowed access. Nevertheless, he has obtained written statements from some of his clients. In one such statement, Shaker Aamer, a UK resident Saudi national, said: "I am dying here everyday mentally and physically, this is happening to all of us. We have been ignored, locked up in the middle of the ocean for four years. Rather than humiliate myself, having to beg for water at Camp Echo, I would rather hurry up a process that is going to happen anyway. It is a matter of personal dignity."

    Smith pointed out that the detainees who are on hunger strike do not want to die, but simply want the US to respect their humanity and live up to the principles that it has long espoused -- the principles of decency, democracy and the rule of law.

    There are reports that some of the detainees have lost half their bodyweight as a result of the hunger strike and are in rapid decline. To avoid any political scandal that may ensue, the detainees are not being allowed to die and are being force fed by prison guards. Some are reportedly being kept alive through intravenous feeding and scores have been hospitalised since the start of the hunger strike. There are also reports that medical staff have helped devise coercive interrogation methods, including sleep deprivation.

    In light of the alarming reports of systematic human rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay, UN special rapporteurs on human rights have repeatedly asked for access to the detention centre, but so far to no avail.

    "I am very anxious to visit because of the persistent and credible reports of alleged serious violations of the right to health of detainees," said Paul Hunt, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right of Detainees to Health. "According to reports, there has been an alarming deterioration in the mental health of many of the detainees."

    A team of UN experts was due to visit Guantanamo Bay on 5 December, but their trip has been suspended following the imposition of restrictions which UN experts say will make the whole exercise meaningless. The UN officials say they need unfettered access to the entire facility and private interviews with the detainees for a thorough investigation of the situation at the base. The US authorities are refusing to grant this.

    Calling them "illegal combatants", the American authorities have refused to apply the Geneva Conventions on the Prisoners of War to the people held at the base. This has led to an international outcry.

    "The writ of international human rights does not stop at the gates of Guantanamo Bay," Hunt said. "It is imperative for the integrity of the UN and its human rights mechanisms that Guantanamo Bay and similar facilities elsewhere do not escape international accountability. To those who argue that the detainees are 'bad people', I reply whether they are good or bad, the rule of law extends to them because they are human beings. That is what distinguishes a system of government based on the rule of law from one that is based on the arbitrary exercise of power."

    What is at stake here is the selective application of the law. The US, the self-professed defender of democracy and human rights around the world, is accused of being disdainful of international law, invoking it where it suits its interests and discarding it where it does not. The US has come under increasing international condemnation for showing disregard for human rights in the fight against international terrorism.

    "If my human rights are going to be sacrificed for your greater security, that is not the way that we are going to be secure as a society," Khan said. "This approach is creating greater division, more suspicion, hatred and xenophobia. Fighting terror with terror will make us all much less secure. Terrorism can only be defeated through respect for human rights and human dignity."

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