Monday, November 09, 2009

His work ethic




Today the US military announced: "Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq – Two U.S. Army pilots were killed when a helicopter experienced a hard landing in Salah ad Din Province, Nov.8. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website [. . .]The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incident is under investigation." And they announced: "AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq – A Marine attached to Multi National Force – West died as the result of a non-combat related incident here Nov. 8. The name of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. [. . .] The incident is under investigation." The announcements bring the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4362.
In other reported violence . . .
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which left one person wounded, a Mosul explosion ("thermal charge") which left ten people injured, and a Falluja roadside bombing which wounded four people.
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 person shot dead in Mosul today and Hadi Laiybi ("Sadrist leader") was shot dead "on his doorstep" in Mosul last night.
Back in July, Robert Fisk (Independent of London) wrote, "I first heard about Baha Mousa from his family. He was working as a hotel receptionist in Basra when British troops surrounded the building and arrested seven men. They were taken to a British barracks, hooded and beaten. Two days later, as his weeping father recalled for me, Mousa was dead. His family was given $3,000 in compensation and rejected a further $5,000. What they wanted was justice. His father had been appointed a police officer by the British authorities themselves. He was wearing two pistols on his hips. He was 'our man', and we killed his son." There is an ongoing inquiry into Baha's death taking place in England. We last noted it in the October 6th snapshot.
The Right Honorable Sir William Gage brought today's proceedings to order, Today we are going to start the second half of the evidence in Module 2, which as I think I said before we broke off two weeks ago, we very much hoped would be complete by the time we come to our break at Christmas, the last day of which I think is 18 December. Just one other matter I want to mention. Today we have two witnesses giving evidence, the second of which is Mr. Reader. He will give evidence by videolink from Manchsester as I think you now all know." It seemed rather business as usual; however, later testimony made it a dramatic day for the inquiry. That was especially true of the second witness, Garry Reader. But not just him.
Gerald Elias: Mr Aspinall, I am not going to dwell on this at any stage, although I will come back to it very briefly, but it is right to say, isn't it, that in the months and years that followed the events that this Inquiry is concerned with, you were not at all times as helpful as you might have been.
Gareth Aspinall: Can you please elaborate more on that?
Gerald Elias: Well from time to time you told lies, didn't you, in the past, when asked questions about these events?
Gareth Aspinall: No, I have told no lies whatsoever. If there's anything that have been missed out on my statements it's purely because I have not been able to remember.
Gerald Elias: Is that true?
Gareth Aspinall: Yes, that's true.
Uh, actually it wasn't. As Aspinall would admit later, he gave false statements early on. He was worried, he said, what might happen to them. Punishment for Baha's deaht? No, future promotions, that sort of thing. "At that point," he declared, "I wasn't worried and I don't think any of the other lads was worried about being blamed. We had nothing to be worried about on that bit. What we was worried about was our own positions, as I have just said, and our futures within the army of telling the truth on what happened. [. . .] We talked about it. We was worried. We was worried what would happen if we told the truth. As I've said, that's why we stalled." He would cite Cpl Donald Payne -- being intimidated by him -- as one reason they did not supply the facts at the start of the investigation into Baha's death. Dropping back to the September 19, 2006 snapshot:
From the Bully Boy to another war war criminal -- in England, Corporal Donald Payne pleaded guilty "to inhumanely treating civilians detained in Iraq between Sept 13 and Sept 16 2003 in Basra, Iraq" (Telegraph of London). The Guardian notes that Payne ("one of seven British troops who went on trial today facing charges linked to the death of an Iraqi civilian") was pleading guilty to chrages that "relate to the death of Baha Musa, 26, an Iraqi civilian in Basra". Jeremey Lovell (Reuters) reports that Musa is said to have had "93 injuries on his body, including a broken nose and ribs" and that "another detainee was so badly beaten that he nearly died of kidney failure."
The first witness, Gareth Aspinall, described seeing Payne abusing the prisoners.
Gareth Aspinall: When I walked in there [interrogation], I remember seeing a number of detainees stood up and receiving punches off Mr Payne to the lower back area.
Gerald Elias: The number of detainees, were they hooded?
Gareth Aspinall: I can't remember.
Gerald Elias: Were they plasticuffed?
Gareth Aspinall: I can't 100 per cent say for certain, but I believe they would have been. But I can't remember if they was.
Gerald Elias: If you said, as you did in your statement of 10 October, that they were hooded, that would have been the position, would it?
Gareth Aspinall: Sorry, what? What do you mean?
Gerald Elias: If you said it on 10 October in your statement --
Gareth Aspinall: Yes.
Gerald Elias: -- that when you went into the TDF all the detainees were hooded, that would have been true?
Gareth Aspinall: Yes, if that's what I said in my statement at the time.
This continues with more descriptions of the beating.
Gerald Elias: Did there appear to be any reason for Mr Payne to be doing this?
Gareth Aspinall: No. He just seemed very angry.
Gerald Elias: He seemed angry? What gave you the impression he was angry?

Gareth Aspinall: I don't know. His posture, his -- you can tell when someone looks angry.
Gerald Elias: Was he shouting?

Gareth Aspinall: I think he was, yes.
Gerald Elias: And the punches that he was throwing, describe those to us?
Gareth Aspinall: There was -- they looked like full-on punches where he was bringing his arm back and, basically like a boxer, hitting them in the lower back area.
Gerald Elias: Full-on punches.
Gareth Aspinall: Well, they were quite -- they looked quite hard. I wouldn't like to have received one, put it that way.
He said the victims being beaten "yelled out in pain. Held their side." And he and the others didn't object. He offered an explanation of why.
Gareth Aspinall: Maybe because we felt, you know, what do we do here? What do we do in this situation? You know, was we to turn around, run out of the room and go straight to the ops room and report it to the commanding officer?
Gerald Elias: Well, why not?
Gareth Aspinall: Because we didn't know whether this is what happened in war. We was very young.
He testified that abuse was not limited to Sunday and continued on Monday when they were put in stress position and the punches continued.
Gerald Elias: On this Monday, you did see, didn't you, what I think came to be known as the choir, or the chorus?
Gareth Aspinall: Yes, I did.

Gerald Elias: Tell us what it was.

Gareth Aspinall: It's where the detainees were made to stand up, and Mr Payne, he would go about each individual detainee and he would poke them --

Gerald Elias: You are just dropping your voice a little bit.
Gareth Aspinall: Sorry. He would -- all the detainees would be stood up and he would move about the room poking them, just basically with his finger, and they would -- each and every one of them would scream out in pain. And he'd take turns in doing it to different ones, and he thought -- he developed this and he thought it was funny. The first time I saw it, I'll openly admit I did chuckle, but then as the day progressed and it started to wear me down and I really felt for the detainees. I felt it was a bit out of order that -- it was difficult to watch.
Gerald Elias: You say that Mr Payne would poke with a finger?
Gareth Aspinall: Yes.
Gerald Elias: Which part of the body?
Gareth Aspinall: Round the lower back area.

Gerald Elias: The same area to which he had been punching?
Gareth Aspinall: Yes. Yes.
Gerald Elias: What response would that produce from the detainee?
Gareth Aspinall: They'd scream in pain.
Monday night, he testified, he heard screaming and assumed Payne was doing his usual abuse. Suddenly a stretcher was called for an he saw Baha carried out on it. Payne quickly came outside and instructed, "If anyone asks, he banged his head." The second witness, Garry Reader, also spoke of 'instructions' given. Payne and Rogers told him that "s**t rolls downhill" and that if the truth got it, those under Payne and Rogers would be held responsible.
Gerald Elias: Now, the events of Monday evening, and what we know to be the incident that involved the detainee Baha Mousa, what was the first thing that you knew of something happening in relation to Baha Mousa?
Garry Reader: I entered the TDF via the right room door and seen Mr Baha Mousa standing there with his plasticuffs -- with his sandbag removed. I immediately shouted out, Private Cooper reacted --
Gerald Elias: Private Cooper was already in the room, was he?
Garry Reader: I think he was, yes.
Gerald Elias: Mm-hmm.
Garry Reader: I can't be 100 per cent certain, but immediately following was Corporal Payne. He come from the left doorway. They both grabbed hold of Mr Baha. There was a struggle and they were trying to get him into the central room where I seen both Private Cooper and Private -- Corporal Payne use physical force to get Mr Baha Mousa into the room. Outside of vision, I heard screaming, Baha Mousa, shouting of Corporal Payne and Private Cooper to words of, "Get on the f**king floor, get down, get down". At this point I went outside. I think I spoke to Private Graham --
Gerald Elias: Pausing there for a moment. Before you go outside, one or two aspects of what you described. After you saw Baha Mousa, you say, without plasticuffs and with a hood off his head, you --
Garry Reader: I don't think -- I can't remember if his plasticuffs were on or not, but I know his sandbag was removed from his head.

Gerald Elias: I understand, all right. You shouted, Cooper goes to -- to him, is that right, first?
Garry Reader: Yes.
Gerald Elias: Where did Mr Payne come from?
Garry Reader: Come from the left door.
Gerald Elias: Along the passageway?
Garry Reader: Yes.
Gerald Elias: The two of them, you said, I think, forceflly then put Baha Mousa into the middle room?
Garry Reader: That's correct.
Gerald Elias: What do you mean by "forcefully"?
Garry Reader: Dragging him, kicking him and punchin ghim.
Gerald Elias: Which was doing what?
Garry Reader: Both were kicking, punching and dragging.
Gerald Elias: Were you able to see where the kicks or the punches from both landed?
Garry Reader: Various regions of his body, his legs, arms, generally all round his body, really. They weren't specific areas that they were aiming for.
Gerald Elias: He was taken out of your sight, as I understand it, into the middle room?
Garry Reader: That's correct.

Gerald Elias: Had you seen him in the middle room earlier in the day?

Garry Reader: Not that I can recall, no.
Gerald Elias: Once he had gone out of your sight, you heard the shouting that you talked about?
Garry Reader: Yes.
Gerald Elias: Then I gather you went outside.
Garry Reader: Yes.
Gerald Elias: Why did you go outside at that point.

Garry Reader: Didn't want to be there.
Gerald Elias: Because?
Garry Reader: It was wrong.

Gerald Elias: What did you think was wrong?
Garry Reader: The way they was treated.
Gerald Elias: I'm sorry? The way . . .?
Garry Reader: He was treated.
Approximately ten minutes later, he went back inside the building.
Gerald Elias: What happened when you went back in?
Garry Reader: (inaudible) talked to Baha Mousa. I shouted at him, got no response.
Gerald Elias: So you went into the middle room, did you?
Garry Reader: Yes.
Gerald Elias: Where was Baha Mousa when you went into the middle room, in what position?
Garry Reader: Slumped up against the wall with his head down. Sandbag was on his head and his plasticuffs behind his -- his hands were plasticuffed behind his back.
Gerald Elias: Forgive me, it is a little difficult to hear you. Did you say you shouted at him or to him?
Garry Reader: To him.
Gerald Elias: Why did you go in and shout to him?
Garry Reader: To make sure he was all right.
Gerald Elias: Why did you think he might not be all right?
Garry Reader: He had just had a good kicking.
Gerald Elias: You say you got no response?
Garry Reader: No.
Gerald Elias: So what did you do then.
Garry Reader: I noticed he wasn't moving. Took his sandbag off his head and his eyes were rolled back into the back of his head. Immediately lay him down, shouted someone to get me a knife because I couldn't lie him down properly because his hands were behind his back, and started first aid, CPR.
Gerald Elias: Did someone get you a knife?
Garry Reader: Yes, someone got me a knife to cut his plasticuffs.
Gerald Elias: And you cut them, did you?
Garry Reader: Yes.
Gerald Elias: Did you then put him down on the ground?
Garry Reader: Yes.
Gerald Elias: On his back, on his side, or what?
Garry Reader: On his back.
Gerald Elias: What did you do then?
Garry Reader: Immediately started CPR.
Gerald Elias: Were you able to resuscitate him?
Garry Reader: No.
Gerald Elias: I think we know that a medic or medics did come, did they?
Garry Reader: Evenutally a medic come. He took over the repetitions and I took over -- I just continued with the breaths for a while until the stretcher came.
Gerald Elias: Then he was taken away on a stretcher, was he?
Garry Reader: Yes.
Gerald Elias: But in the time that you were working with Baha Mousa, you got no sign, did you, of resuscitation or life?
Garry Reader: No.
RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"

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