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When Torture Isn't Good Enough

Booman Tribune

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July 14, 2006

Some of you may recall reports from Iraq which described the egregious tactic of US troops kidnapping the family members of detainees in order to "assist" the interrogation process. At the time we were informed this was a only a limited effort, and that all such family members detained were people who were known to be guilty of aiding the insurgents.

As we know all too well by now, such "official" remarks are often a flat out lie to cover up systematic abuses. Salon's David Benjamin has a story up that reveals the use of kidnapping family members of detainees in Iraq by US forces is the standard operating procedure for many interrogations:

July 14, 2006 | Congress has demanded that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld hand over a raft of documents to Congress that could substantiate allegations that U.S. forces have tried to break terror suspects by kidnapping and mistreating their family members. Rumsfeld has until 5 p.m. Friday to comply.

It now appears that kidnapping, scarcely covered by the media, and absent in the major military investigations of detainee abuse, may have been systematically employed by U.S. troops. Salon has obtained Army documents that show several cases where U.S. forces abducted terror suspectsĺ families. After he was thrown in prison, Cpl. Charles Graner, the alleged ringleader at Abu Ghraib, told investigators the military routinely kidnapped family members to force suspects to turn themselves in.

Yes, there's nothing like the threat of having your daughter or wife raped by American soldiers to loosen one's tongue. Why, I'd say anything they wanted me to say, I'd sign any confession put before me, if my wife or daughter was in the hands of foreign troops who had occupied my country. It might not bear any relation to reality, but at that point I could care less. Protecting my child or wife would be all that I cared about.

And what works with daughters and wives can work equally as well with sons:

(cont.)

In a hearing before Shays' Government Reform subcommittee last February, Provance testified that the Army had retaliated against him. Provance also made the disturbing allegation that interrogators broke an Iraqi general, Hamid Zabar, by imprisoning and abusing his frail 16-year-old son. Waxman was shocked. "Do you think this practice was repeated with other children?" he asked Provance. "I don't see why it would not have been, sir," Provance replied. Zabar's son had been apprehended with his father and held at Abu Ghraib, though the boy hadn't done anything wrong. "He was useless," Provance said about the boy in a phone interview with Salon from Heidelberg, Germany, where he is still in the Army. "He was of no intelligence value."

But, Provance said, interrogators grew frustrated when the boy's father, Zabar, wouldn't talk, despite a 14-hour interrogation. So they stripped Zabar's son naked and doused him with mud and water. They put him in the open back of a truck and drove around in the frigid January night air until the boy began to freeze. Zabar was then made to look at his suffering son.

Naturally, steps have been taken to give the higher ups "plausible deniability."

There is no paper trail that shows that kidnapping or abusing the family of suspects might have been official Department of Justice or Pentagon policy. It is not mentioned in any of the Bush administration interrogation memos that have so far surfaced in the press. In late 2002, commanders at the military prison at Guantßnamo Bay did request authority, during interrogations, for "the use of scenarios designed to convince the detainee that death or severely painful consequence are imminent for him and/or his family."

In a December 2002 memorandum, Rumsfeld rejected a "blanket approval" of that interrogation technique, but did not rule it out completely.

I really don't have much to add. This is despicable, and a deep stain on our nation. Yet, can anyone argue that this step was not inevitable once George Bush declared his "War on Terror?" When you vow to fight the "terrorists" with the "gloves off" this is what happens: you begin to emulate the worst despots and the most criminal regimes on the planet. You view even the most heinous measures as necessary to combat your enemy, even those that were previously considered beyond the pale. You violate every law and standard of decency in pursuit of of an ever more nebulous victory. In short, you become the evil you first meant to oppose.

This is what America stands for in the 21st Century: the torture of innocent children to make their fathers confess. We've fallen a long way in a short time, haven't we?


:: Article nr. 24623 sent on 15-jul-2006 02:49 ECT

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Link: www.boomantribune.com/story/2006/7/14/121036/498



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