Sunday, March 22, 2015

Look who's weighing in





June 20, 2003, Amnesty International announced, "The notorious Abu Ghraib Prison, centere of torture and mass executions under Saddam Hussein, is yet again a prison cut off from the outside world."  To what degree may still be unknown because, despite documented proof of the abuses, the US government -- under Bully Boy Bush and under President Barack Obama -- has refused to release the evidence which might illuminate.

That may be changing,  Mark Hensch (The Hill) notes, "The Associated Press reported Saturday that U.S. district judge Alvin Hellerstein made the ruling in New York after more than a decade of litigation. The Defense Department has two months to appeal the decision before potentially making any images public."  RT reminds:

The photographs first received attention in late 2003 by Amnesty International, which provided shocking proof that members of the US Army and the Central Intelligence Agency carried out so-called ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ against detainees in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
The photographs pointed to gross physical and sexual abuse, including torture, rape and murder. The report opened up a debate in the United States as to the definition of torture and if it is applicable in a time of war

In 2004, Seymour Hersh (The New Yorker) reported:

A fifty-three-page report, obtained by The New Yorker, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba and not meant for public release, was completed in late February. Its conclusions about the institutional failures of the Army prison system were devastating. Specifically, Taguba found that between October and December of 2003 there were numerous instances of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib. This systematic and illegal abuse of detainees, Taguba reported, was perpetrated by soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company, and also by members of the American intelligence community. (The 372nd was attached to the 320th M.P. Battalion, which reported to Karpinski’s brigade headquarters.) Taguba’s report listed some of the wrongdoing:

Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.

There was stunning evidence to support the allegations, Taguba added—“detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence.” Photographs and videos taken by the soldiers as the abuses were happening were not included in his report, Taguba said, because of their “extremely sensitive nature.”

Today, Telesur quotes the ACLU's Jameel Jaffer stating, "The Obama administration’s rationale for suppressing the photos is both illegitimate and dangerous … To allow the government to suppress any image that might provoke someone, somewhere, to violence would be to give the government sweeping power to suppress evidence of its own agents' misconduct."

Lynndie England became the poster girl of the crimes.  Despite being convicted in court, the woman -- who is not very bright to begin with, granted -- still thinks she can minimize the torture.  She's not faced the crimes she committed and there are a number of Americans who share her denial.

Photographic proof won't end the lying but it will make it more clear to those in the world with sanity just how desperately deluded those who lie and minimize the crime are.

There are some who oppose the release and may do so for genuine concerns.  But those in the military brass who've fought the release?  They should be ashamed of themselves.  There is nothing in the military code which allows them to cover up or lie.  They apparently either forgot or decided to forsake their officer training.

The honorable thing to do was always to own up to what took place.

Refusing to do so has been ridiculous.

And apparently, there's this thing called 'instant redemption.'

David Petraeus apparently enrolled in that program.  Sharing classified information with his mistress while he led the CIA forced him out of that post and resulted in criminal charges but, in the blink of an eye, he's back as a national security advisor to Barack.

In the blink of an eye from turning over classified information to your sex partner -- not to be a whistle blower and inform the people, but so she'll write a book praising you (apparently Petreaus is so bad in the sack he has to bribe even his mistress) -- to national security advisor.

Barack redeemed him.

So it's only fitting that Barack be the first person bit in the ass by Petraeus.

Liz Sly (Washington Post) interviewed Petreaues in writing and this is what he wrote in response to one of her questions:

Yet despite that history and the legacy it has left, I think Iraq and the coalition forces are making considerable progress against the Islamic State. In fact, I would argue that the foremost threat to Iraq’s long-term stability and the broader regional equilibrium is not the Islamic State; rather, it is Shiite militias, many backed by — and some guided by — Iran.

These militia returned to the streets of Iraq in response to a fatwa by Shia leader Grand Ayatollah Sistani at a moment of extreme danger.  And they prevented the Islamic State from continuing its offensive into Baghdad. Nonetheless, they have, in some cases, cleared not only Sunni extremists but also Sunni civilians and committed atrocities against them.  Thus, they have, to a degree, been both part of Iraq's salvation but also the most serious threat to the all-important effort of once again getting the Sunni Arab population in Iraq to feel that it has a stake in the success of Iraq rather than a stake in its failure.  Longer term, Iranian-backed Shia militia could emerge as the preeminent power in the country, one that is outside the control of the government and instead answerable to Tehran.

I happen to agree with Petraeus' assessment.

But let's all realize that the remarks are a slap to Barack's efforts.

Barack's stupidly agreed as usual to bend over and take anything.  He's not a smart man.

He got it right in June when he said only a political solution could solve Iraq's crises.

But he made that statement and then avoided everything but a political solution.

That's where the focus should have been, on the politics.

The US should have acted -- or tried -- as mediators between the factions.

They did so before under Barack, remember?

Barack didn't like the 2010 election results so he overturned them with The Erbil Agreement -- a US brokered contract that gave Nouri al-Maliki a second term as prime minister (after his State of Law had lost to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya).

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