Torture May Have Been Ordered
And Worse Than Shown
News24.com - South Africa
WASHINGTON - Abuse of Iraqi prisoners that sparked worldwide condemnation may have been ordered by US military intelligence to extract information from the captives, and was possibly more cruel than officially acknowledged, The New Yorker magazine and Britain's daily Guardian reported on Saturday.
Seymour Hersh, investigative reporter for The New Yorker, said that Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick, one of six US military policemen accused of humiliating Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Gharib prison outside Baghdad, wrote home in January that he had "questioned some of the things" he saw inside the prison, but that "the answer I got was, 'This is how military intelligence wants it done'."
According to his letter quoted by Hersh, military intelligence officers had congratulated Frederick and other soldiers on the "great job" done with prisoners because "they were now getting positive results and information".
The Guardian newspaper said it had reviewed a journal Frederick began keeping in January after an investigation was launched into the alleged abuse of prisoners.
"The journals... detail the conditions of the prisoners, apparent torture and the death of one inmate after interrogation," the newspaper said.
According to Frederick's journal quoted in the Guardian, "prisoners were forced to live in damp cool cells" and those placed in isolation cells were left there with "little or no clothes, no toilet or running water, no ventilation or window for as much as three days."
Frederick writes in his journal that he tried to raise the issue with his superior who told him: "Don't worry about it".'
He said that soldiers were told to stress out prisoners as much as possible to get information and on one occasion in November soldiers "stressed out (an inmate) so bad that the man passed away".
Fredericks writes that the man's body was packed in ice for 24 hours before medics "came in and put his body on a stretcher, placed a fake IV in his arm and took him away".
The prison scandal broke out on Wednesday, after CBS's "60 Minutes II" programme broadcast a picture showing a prisoner standing on a box with a hood over his head and wires attached to his hands.
Other pictures showed nude prisoners lying on each other and simulating sex acts as smiling US troops pointed and laughed.
Six US military police were charged in March with conspiracy, dereliction of duty, cruelty, maltreatment, assault and indecent acts against up to 20 prisoners at the jail last November and December. They may face a court martial.
But Gary Myers, a civilian defence attorney who represents Frederick, said his client and the other soldiers were only carrying out orders that came from their superiors.
"Do you really think a group of kids from rural Virginia decided to do this on their own? Decided that the best way to embarrass Arabs and make them talk was to have them walk around nude?" Myers is quoted as asking.
Notes From Soldier Who
Helped Run Torture Prison
Excerpts from writings of accused soldier
who helped run Baghdad prison
From Information Clearing House
After an investigation into problems at a Baghdad prison run by the U.S. military began, Maryland-based soldier Ivan "Chip" Frederick wrote an account of how the prison he helped run treated inmates. The writings were given to The Associated Press on Thursday by the soldier's uncle:
"I questioned some of the things that I saw ... such things as leaving inmates in their cell with no clothes or in females' underpants, handcuffing them to the door of their cell. I questioned this and the answer I got was, 'This is how military intelligence (MI) wants it done.' MI didn't want any of the inmates talking to each other. This is what happened when they were caught talking.''
"Prisoners were forced to live in damp, cool cells. MI has also instructed us to place a prisoner in an isolation cell with little or no clothes, no toilet or running water, no ventilation or window for as much as three days.''
"Prisoners have a mosque at the facility but are not allowed the privilege to go to it. Prisoners do not have a minister at the facility.''
"I have had training dealing with convicted felons of the U.S. I have never had any training dealing with POWs, civilian internees or detained persons.''
"Brigade should have had rules and regulations and the Geneva Convention in the establishment from the beginning.''
"A prisoner with a clearly visible mental condition was shot with nonlethal rounds for standing near the fence singing.''
Frederick also wrote e-mails to his sister, Marian, including one on Dec. 18:
"It is very interesting to watch them interrogate these people. I have made some really close friends. They usually don't allow others to watch them interrogate, but since they like the way I run the prison, they make an exception. ... We have had a very high rate with our style of getting them to break. They usually end up breaking within hours.''
'Absolutely Irrelevant Torture'
By Diane Harvey
The following is a quote from David D. Perlmutter, a historian of war and media at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge:
"The torture pictures are absolutely irrelevant," said Perlmutter, the author of "Visions of War: Picturing Warfare from the Stone Age to the Cyberage."
"Americans care about American soldiers, and only journalistic and political and academic elites fret about pictures of collateral damage," he said. "... If you start talking to the public, you'll find people sympathizing with the soldiers."
Dr. Perlmutter has not personally signed the Geneva Conventions, of course. Apparently he has never even heard of them. His wonderful indifference to torture, when applied to other people, merely indicates a spectacular degree of personal callousness. One cannot imagine he would remain so entirely unmoved by human suffering if he found his own body at the receiving end of the electrodes.
His very strange idea is that supporting our soldiers must mean remaining indifferent to anything that individuals might conceivably perpetrate, however monstrous. According to this bizarre logic, he wouldn't be disturbed if his closest colleagues were discovered to be serial murderers. We won't suppose they actually are. But still, one does wonder just how he managed to become a vociferous exponent of the rights of torturers.
In any case, he makes it very clear that he believes he is speaking for Americans when he casually dismisses the reality of the most repugnant of acts, vigorously repudiated by every civilized nation and person on earth. According to Dr. Perlmutter, the American public does not give a damn about its own soldiers indulging in psychopathic behavior. He states that only the "elites" bother about such unimportant "collateral damage" as criminally humiliated, ravaged and murdered human beings. He is a self-appointed spokesman for the concept that even the most despicable crime somehow becomes excusable if the person who does it is wearing your team uniform. But it is not very wise to naively trumpet being the proud possessor of such a markedly underdeveloped moral sense. By doing so, he only reveals that no redeeming spirit of reason has ever so much as breathed on the savage ego of Dr. Perlmutter.
Aggressively promoting the unrepentant sentiments of sadism, Dr. Perlmutter presumes that the average American has kicked over all traces of civilization, and the totality of Judeo-Christian and all other moral history. His words more than imply that Americans care nothing at all for the basic message of any religion or spiritual practice. The picture he presents is of a nation of individuals with no relation to God whatsoever, or even to common human standards of acceptable behavior. Such an astonishing distortion tells us a great deal about Dr. Perlmutter, but nothing about us. One must conclude that he believes we all must accept extremes of savagery only because he himself enthusiastically embraces these qualities. Perhaps Dr. Perlmutter has reincarnated in our time and place directly from the rigors of the Cretaceous, and has not had time yet to discover an ethically viable mindset for the 21st Century. Or perhaps he is just what he appears to be: an ardent, sincerely vicious throwback, willfully recapitulating some long-lost geological moment between crawling out of the sea and putting on a necktie.
A reasonable response to the rapacious brutality of Dr. Perlmutter's remarks might be a pang of compassion for his humiliating evolutionary predicament. After all, the lack of even a rudimentary conscience in this day and age is a stunning deficiency to boast about in public. But at least in this sorry spectacle we are presented with yet another excellent reminder of what the human race is up against- everywhere on Earth, without exception. The belligerent bellows that serve as the news of our times arise from a multitude of outwardly warring psyches. But the only differences among them are found in the superficialities of costumes, social position, and language. The passionately backward are all kindred spirits under the skin, no matter what their origin, sense of identity, or species of belief system. They are all thriving on the same intoxicating fumes of ancient hatred and separatism, emanating from identical antediluvian miasmas. The task of the long-suffering conscious element in humanity is clear: to resolutely drain the primordial psychological swamps wherever they are found. The worst aspects of the human subconscious have to be dredged up into the light of day, where they can undergo the merciful process of mummification in the open air. Because the terrifying alternative is that these absolutely irrelevant embodiments of the lowest forms of human life might otherwise eventually succeed in reducing our entire world to the utter desolation of their natural habitat.
* * *
Original MSNBC article of April 30, 2004,