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In the face of the Obama administration's refusal to release a reported 2,000 more photographs of detainee abuse - in spite of being ordered by a federal court to do so - torture opponents in fifteen (15) U.S. cities held visible protests to demand that the government make the photos public. These protests called for prosecution of those who ordered, legally justified, and carried out torture in US detention and secret prisons during the Bush years.
In San Francisco, protesters rallied outside the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals courthouse to call for prosecution, impeachment, and disbarment of "Torture Judge" Jay Bybee. Bybee's 2003 lifetime appointment to the federal bench was his reward from George Bush for Bybee's work as head of the Office of Legal Counsel. There, Bybee issued the 2002 torture memo which authorized torture including waterboarding, walling, sleep deprivation and other horrific techniques.
On May 28, National Day of Resistance to U.S. Torture, the San Francisco Bay Area World Can’t Wait chapter, along with members of the San Francisco National Lawyers Guild’s Committee Against Torture, Code Pink, the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, and National Accountability Network gathered at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. This protest added to the National Day’s demands our call to publicly repudiate the lifetime appointment of Torture Judge Jay Bybee to the federal bench.
About thirty people rallied outside the court, raising the demand to disbar and prosecute Bybee for codifying specific torture tactics and for giving high Bush administration officials immunity protections from both civil and criminal suit. San Francisco’s was one of six (6) protests on this National Day focused on Bybee – protests were going on also in Pasadena, Anchorage, Honolulu, Fresno, and Portland, Oregon.
A super-sized banner reading “Torture is a War Crime! Release the Torture Photos! Prosecute the War Criminals!” lined one corner of the courthouse in downtown San Francisco. The “Bush and Bybee Museum of Torture” was nearby – an exhibit which included the fourteen torture methods Bybee authorized in an August 2002 memo: sleep deprivation, stress positions, waterboarding, forced nudity, cramped confinement in a dark space, water dousing, wall standing, walling, facial slaps, abdominal slaps, insects placed in a confinement box, facial holds, attention grasps, and dietary manipulation. Read more.
A federal judge ordered the United States on Monday to publicly reveal unclassified versions of its allegations and evidence justifying the continued imprisonment of more than 100 detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay.
The Justice Department had been filing unclassified versions of its legal documents under seal, so that they could only be seen by judges, attorneys and government officials. Attorneys for the detainees were able to share the documents with their clients and witnesses who would agree to rules restricting the information's disclosure.
Department officials said the practice was necessary to protect national security after they discovered that some unclassified records mistakenly contained some classified information. The department had said the documents were only sealed temporarily while they could be more carefully reviewed for classified information.
Attorneys for the detainees said the secrecy made it harder for them to prepare for upcoming hearings and that some witnesses would not agree to the court's secrecy rules. The Associated Press, The New York Times and USA Today had joined the fight, arguing that the government was keeping valuable information from the public that has a right to monitor the legal process.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan sided with the detainees' attorneys and the media, saying the public has a right to access the records. Read More.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney is usually very careful at choosing his words.
Perhaps not so today. In a speech Monday at the National Press Club, continuing along familiar themes of terrorism, Guantanamo and his hatred for The New York Times, Cheney spoke defensively of the administration’s practice of water-boarding detainees.
“I don’t believe we tortured,” Cheney remarked, noting that the interrogation techniques approved by the Bush administration were vetted by White House lawyers. They didn’t cross a “red line,” he said.
And then he delivered the whopper: “There were three people who were water-boarded…. It was well-done.”
The former vice president also made an odd comment about detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay.
He framed their detention as a choice between two options: either we imprison them, or we kill them.
“We need Guantanamo… If we didn’t have it, we’d need to (invent) it,” Cheney remarked. “If you don’t have a place to hold these people, the only other option is to kill them.”
“We don’t operate that way,” he added.
The Democratic Party power structure's least favorite ex-President is speaking out of school again. Jimmy Carter has some strong words about President Obama's decision to fight the release of thousands of photos that reportedly show further US abuse and torture of prisoners and has weighed in on the debate over prosecuting former Bush administration officials for torture. In an interview to be broadcast tonight on CNN, Carter says this about Obama's position on the release of new torture photos: Read more.
Why'd Obama switch on detainee photos? Maliki went ballistic
By Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers
President Barack Obama reversed his decision to release detainee abuse photos from Iraq and Afghanistan after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki warned that Iraq would erupt into violence and that Iraqis would demand that U.S. troops withdraw from Iraq a year earlier than planned, two U.S. military officers, a senior defense official and a State Department official have told McClatchy.
In the days leading up to a May 28 deadline to release the photos in response to an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit, U.S. officials, led by Christopher Hill, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told Maliki that the administration was preparing to release photos of suspected detainee abuse taken from 2003 to 2006.
When U.S. officials told Maliki, "he went pale in the face," said a U.S. military official, who along with others requested anonymity because of the matter's sensitivity.
The official said Maliki warned that releasing the photos would lead to more violence that could delay the scheduled U.S. withdrawal from cities by June 30 and that Iraqis wouldn't make a distinction between old and new photos. The public outrage and increase in violence could lead Iraqis to demand a referendum on the security agreement and refuse to permit U.S. forces to stay until the end of 2011. Read more.
GRANNIES SAY: LET'S GET BARACK - BACK ON TRACK
by Joan Wile
Everybody's talking about Sonia Sotomayor. The country's abuzz about the torture memos. About Cheney, Pelosi, Swine flu, and GM and Chrysler's bankruptcies.
All well and good -- these are important matters.
But, where is the outrage about the continuing, even escalating, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? These are the most urgent issues of our time, and they've slipped into the dustbin of newsworthy topics.
Except for the peace grandmothers. We seem to be the only organized group actively and currently protesting the wars. Why is that, I wonder? I guess we are the wise ones, after all. Why haven't many others, those probably far more enlightened than we, seen the growing catastrophe if we don't get out of these hell holes and get out soon, no, not soon, NOW.
Navy Vet Honored, Foiled Israeli Attack
By Ray McGovern
What’s the difference between murder and massacre?
The answer is Terry Halbardier, whose bravery and ingenuity as a 23-year-old Navy seaman spelled the difference between the murder of 34 of the USS Liberty crew and the intended massacre of all 294.
The date was June 8, 1967; and for the families of the 34 murdered and for the Liberty’s survivors and their families, it is a “date which will live in infamy” — like the date of an earlier surprise attack on the U.S. Navy.
The few, the proud, the poor, the desperate, the criminal, the old, the young, the brainwashed, and the autistic.
It might be terrible times for so many companies suffering through a global economic meltdown, but in the war zone, there seems to be no recession in sight. In fact, with "Obama's war" in the expanding Afghanistan/Pakistan theater of operations revving up, there's likely to be money to the horizon, bases to build, and ever more troops to supply. As it happens, the management of KBR, formerly a part of Halliburton and the main builder and supplier of American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, is feeling in the pink.
KBR is, of course, little short of notorious. The darling of the neocons and Dick Cheney's baby -- in his pre-Vice Presidential days he was the CEO of its then-parent corporation, Halliburton -- it was one of the prime winners of the Bush administration's privatization sweepstakes. Think of it as the Blackwater of construction companies. But somehow, despite hatfuls of charges against the company for a laundry list of alleged misdeeds as well as for war profiteering, it recently announced that revenues in the first quarter of 2009 were actually up 27% -- to a hefty $3.2 billion. Moreover, according to the Financial Times, "KBR's backlog of projects grew 8% last year and sales rose 33%. KBR has $1 [billion] in cash, no debt, and is looking for acquisitions." Its stock is doing swimmingly; it's managing to make the transfer from Republican to Democratic Washington; and its CEO William Utt states confidently, "We know we can withstand any length of this crisis -- or depth."
Journalist Pratap Chatterjee knows KBR intimately. He's checked out its military dining halls, spent time with some of its 50,000 workers, and interviewed its officials. He's also written a remarkable book on KBR and its former parent, Halliburton's Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War. Now he follows both companies into a strangely cleansed future of oil and war. Tom
Is Halliburton Forgiven and Forgotten?
Or How to Stay Out of Sight While Profiting From the War in Iraq
By Pratap Chatterjee
The Houstonian Hotel is an elegant, secluded resort set on an 18-acre wooded oasis in the heart of downtown Houston. Two weeks ago, David Lesar, CEO of the once notorious energy services corporation Halliburton, spoke to some 100 shareholders and members of senior management gathered there at the company's annual meeting. All was remarkably staid as they celebrated Halliburton's $4 billion in operating profits in 2008, a striking 22% return at a time when many companies are announcing record losses. Analysts remain bullish on Halliburton's stock, reflecting a more general view that any company in the oil business is likely to have a profitable future in store.
There were no protestors outside the meeting this year, nor the kind of national media stakeouts commonplace when Lesar addressed the same crew at the posh Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Houston in May 2004. Then, dozens of mounted police faced off against 300 protestors in the streets outside, while a San Francisco group that dubbed itself the Ronald Reagan Home for the Criminally Insane fielded activists in Bush and Cheney masks, offering fake $100 bills to passers-by in a mock protest against war profiteering. And don't forget the 25-foot inflatable pig there to mock shareholders. Local TV crews swarmed, a national crew from NBC flew in from New York, and reporters from the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal eagerly scribbled notes.
Now the 25-foot pigs are gone and all is quiet on the western front.
Taguba Said He Saw Video of Male Soldier Sodomizing Female Detainee
Written by Jason Leopold | The Public Record
In 2007, shortly after he was forced into retirement, Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba, made a startling admission. During the course of his investigation into the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib Taguba said he saw “a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee.”
Taguba told New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh that he saw other graphic photos and videos as well, including one depicting the “sexual humiliation of a father with his son, who were both detainees.”
The video, as well as photographs Taguba said he saw of U.S. soldiers allegedly raping and torturing Iraqi prisoners, remains in the possession of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID).
Taguba noted in his voluminous report on the abuses at Abu Ghraib that the photographs and rape video were being withheld by the CID because of their e “extremely sensitive nature” and the Army's ongoing criminal probe.
Taguba's report on the widespread abuse of prisoners did say, however, that he found credible a report that a soldier had sodomized “a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick.”
The video and photographs Taguba described to Hersh were "not made public in any of the subsequent court proceedings, nor has there been any public government mention of it.” Read more.
Americans need to be afraid, very afraid. If President Barack Obama has his way, the country will soon be at serious risk of terrorist attacks coordinated by Muslim men held in maximum security prisons from where no-one has ever escaped.
These inmates possess superhuman strength and cunning. Even in solitary confinement, they might recruit fellow inmates to the cause of al Qaeda and incite riots. They might succeed where the worst of the worst American criminals failed - break out and disappear, seamlessly blending into the community. Next thing you know — a mushroom cloud.
Such scenarios come to mind when one follows the debate over Obama’s plan to close the infamous detention center at Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. naval base on the eastern tip of Cuba, and move some of the inmates to prisons in the United States.
This has prompted expressions of dismay both from the political right and from Obama’s fellow Democrats in Congress, and the language used in the debate has taken on a surreal quality. Phrases like “releasing dangerous terrorists into our neighborhoods” and “relocating terrorists to American communities” convey the impression that Guantanamo detainees will wander the streets, shopping for sandals and guns.
“To … bring the worst of the worst terrorists inside the United States would be the cause for great danger and regret in the years to come,” according to former Vice President Dick Cheney. “We have to make sure that streets and neighborhoods don’t think that they’re going to be the repository of Guantanamo prisoners,” warned Barbara Mikulski, a Democratic Senator.
A group of Republican congressmen drafted a “Keep terrorists out of America Act” early in May. America, for the purposes of the act, means American prisons.
It is ironic that politicians in the U.S., which holds more people behind bars than any other country, profess to have so little faith in a system that costs billions to run and includes high-security “supermax” institutions where dangerous inmates spend all but four hours a week in their cell. Read more.
The United States has made a new request for Australia to accept a group of detainees from Guantanamo Bay for resettlement, a government spokeswoman said on Saturday.
The request is the first by President Barack Obama's administration, which plans to close down the detention camp in Cuba within the next year.
Media reports have said the request involves a group of Uighurs from China's largely Muslim western province of Xinjiang. Beijing has reportedly been pressing Washington to return them to China, but U.S. officials have expressed concerns about their likely treatment there. Read more.
The Obama Administration told the Supreme Court Friday that 17 Uighur men forcibly brought to Guantanamo Bay by the American military seven years ago are "free to leave" but have no right to come to the United States.
The Uighurs are Muslims from western China, though they allegedly attended training camps in Afghanistan affiliated with the East Turkestan Indpenendence Movement, a group which is considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and denies China's sovereignty over the largely Muslim region of Xinjiang.
In a brief urging the high court not to hear an appeal from the 17 men, the Justice Department said the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit acted correctly earlier this year when it overturned a district court judge's order that the men be brought to the U.S. for release.
"Petitioners would like the federal courts to order that they be brought to the United States, because they are unwilling to return to their home country. But they have no entitlement to that form of relief," the brief submitted by Solicitor General Elena Kagan said. "As this Court has recognized repeatedly, the decision whether to allow an alied abroad to enter the United States, and if so, under what terms, rests exclusively in the political Branches."
To persuade the justices to reject the case, the Obama Administration cited appropriations legislation passed in both the House and Senate this month seeking to restrict the administration's ability to release or transfer prisoners from Guantanamo to the U.S. The Justice Department's attempt to use the legislation to block legal relief for the Uighurs is notable because White House officials were unhappy with the measures, which could effectively tie President Barack Obama's hands if he were to sign them into law. The House and Senate bills presently await a conference committee expected to convene next week.
The brief says the U.S. Government is actively pursuing diplomatic options to resettle the Uighurs, who officials have said cannot be sent back to China because of that country's record of mistreatment of Uighur dissidents and militants. Read more.
Supreme Court asked to weigh in on detainee photos
By Bill Mears | CNN
The Obama administration is turning to the Supreme Court as it seeks to block public release of photos apparently depicting abuse of suspected terrorists and foreign soldiers in U.S. custody.
Justice Department lawyers late Thursday told a federal appeals court in New York -- the same one on which high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor sits -- to hold off a ruling ordering release of the material, saying they plan to ask the justices to hear their case.
The government said it would proceed "absent intervening legislation" from Congress.
The "motion to recall" comes after President Obama ordered government lawyers this month to object to the court-ordered release of photos depicting the mistreatment of prisoners held in Iraq and Afghanistan, reversing an earlier White House decision. The Pentagon had been set to release hundreds of photos in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU -- which filed the initial lawsuit for disclosure -- has criticized the administration's about-face, saying it "makes a mockery" of Obama's campaign promise of greater transparency and accountability, and damages efforts to hold accountable those responsible for abusing prisoners.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in September that the photos must be released. The president now says doing so "would pose an unacceptable risk of danger to U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq." Sotomayor has served on that court since 1998 but was not involved in that particular appeal....The government has until June 9 to file its initial appeal with the Supreme Court. Read more.
The United Nations has released a new report on accountability for human rights abuses by the United States, focusing mostly on transgressions during the Bush administration's so-called war on terror. In a word, accountability in the U.S. has been "deplorable."
The May 26, 2009, report by Australian law professor Philip Alston, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, does praise the United States for establishing compensation payments for civilians accidentally killed by U.S. forces in the heat of battle. But Alston quickly adds the following: "However, there have been chronic and deplorable accountability failures with respect to policies, practice and conduct that resulted in alleged unlawful killings -- including possible war crimes -- in the United States' international operations."
A summary from the report follows below. But the body of the document doesn't pull any punches either. Read more.
DOJ: Two Former Military Officials Charged with Participating in Scheme to Steal Large Quantities of Fuel from U.S. Army in Iraq
WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment today charging Robert Young, 56, a former captain in the U.S. Army, and Robert Jeffery, 55, a former master chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy, with conspiracy and theft of government property in connection with a scheme to steal large quantities of fuel from the U.S. Army in Iraq, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente for the Eastern District of Virginia.
WASHINGTON – A federal jury that convicted Steven D. Green, a former Ft. Campbell, Ky., soldier of charges arising out of the rape of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and the murder of the girl and her family today said it was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on whether the defendant should be sentenced to death. Because the jury did not unanimously reach a decision on the death penalty, U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell will sentence Green to life without parole, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Candace G. Hill of the Western District of Kentucky announced.
Judge Russell is scheduled to formally sentence Green on September 4, 2009.
Gen. Petraeus: US Violated Geneva Convention, The Court of Law Could Try Terrorists: We Made Mistakes After 9/11: Close Gitmo
Gen. Petraeus joined FOX News and Martha MacCallum today and gave a blockbuster interview, but probably not the one Fox expected. Once again, he called for the responsible closure of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. He also said that mistakes were made after 9/11 and that the Army Field Manual is all that we need to use to interrogate prisoners. In addition, he said that we have to have faith in our judicial system and we should try the Khalid Sheikh Muhammads in a court of law.
Martha tried to give him the ticking time bomb scenario to justify torture and he really didn't bite. He did say maybe an Executive Order could be appropriate, but that it really wasn't necessary.Read more.
Cheney's lying about what's in CIA memos, Levin says
By Ed Hornick | CNN
Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says former Vice President Dick Cheney is lying when he claims that classified CIA memos show that enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding worked.
Levin, speaking at the Foreign Policy Association's annual dinner in Washington on Wednesday, said an investigation by his committee into detainee abuse charges over the use of the techniques -- now deemed torture by the Obama administration -- "gives the lie to Mr. Cheney's claims."
The Michigan Democrat told the crowd that the two CIA documents that Cheney wants released "say nothing about numbers of lives saved, nor do the documents connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of abusive techniques."
"I hope that the documents are declassified, so that people can judge for themselves what is fact, and what is fiction," he added.
Justice Department documents released in April showed that Bush administration lawyers authorized the use of techniques such as sleep deprivation, slapping, stress positions and waterboarding, which produces the sensation of drowning. Read more.
Church Blogging #22: “WAR IS FOR POWER AND MONEY”
By Nick Mottern and Nora Freeman
A 78-year-old Army veteran sat in the parish house of the First Baptist Church in White Plains NY at social hour on Sunday, May 24, 2009, Memorial Day weekend, and told me he has come to the conclusion that wars are only about getting power and money.
He was a medic during the Korean War although he was not in combat. Later, after higher education, he worked on the nuclear reactor of the USS Nautilus, the first US nuclear submarine. But while he said Memorial Day brought memories, he is no supporter of war. In fact he thinks mercenaries are being paid to start wars.
He was thankful for the GI benefits that enabled him to go to college, something that he would not otherwise have been able to afford, but he acknowledged that there are other ways the government could have helped him through school.
The Facts Thwart Rehab of Colin Powell
By Ray McGovern
Watching retired Gen. Colin Powell refer to the parable of the Good Samaritan during Sunday’s Memorial Day ceremonies on the Mall in Washington, it struck me that Powell was giving hypocrisy a bad name.
Those familiar with the Good Samaritan story and also with the under-reported behavior of Gen. Powell, comeback kid of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM), know that the two do not mesh.
Powell’s well-documented disregard for those who have borne the brunt of the battle places him in the company of the priest and the Levite – in the Good Samaritan parable – who, seeing the man attacked by robbers on the side of the road, walked right on by.
Sadly, Powell has a long record of placing the wounded and the vulnerable on his list of priorities far below his undying need to get promoted or to promote himself. Powell’s rhetoric, of course, would have us believe otherwise.
Soldier Seeking Asylum: 'I Want to Be Able to Atone'
Elsa Rassbach interviews André Shepherd, a U.S. soldier applying for asylum in Germany
By Elsa Rassbach | Common Dreams
Background: the view from Germany
Berlin, May 26, 2009. Early in June, President Barack Obama will sign into law the supplemental funding of 92 billion U.S. dollars for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan that was approved by the U.S. Congress last week. Then he will depart for a speaking tour and meetings with heads of state in Egypt and in Europe.
On June 5th, he will be coming to visit us here in Germany, making stops at the concentration camp at Buchenwald, at Weimar, and at Dresden, a site also of massive bombings of civilians during World War II. This will be Obama's third visit to Germany in less than a year, and it seems likely that he will once again, as in the previous two visits, make a pitch for more German support for the ongoing "war against terror," particularly in Afghanistan. Though Obama is popular here, the German government has for the most part stonewalled his requests for further direct German involvement in these wars.
The well-known German ambivalence towards the U.S. "war against terror" is now being further tested by a U.S. soldier's application for asylum in Germany. André Shepherd, who was stationed in Germany, refuses to deploy to Iraq. Many U.S. soldiers stationed in Europe who refused service in or support of the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan have been tried in U.S. military courts in Europe and imprisoned in the U.S. military's correctional facility at Mannheim; the most well known are Blake Lemoine (2005) and Agustín Aguayo (2006-2007).
But Shepherd is so far the first to turn to the German government for help: last November he filed a formal application to the German government for asylum. For the moment his case is entirely outside of U.S. jurisdiction.
Former President George W. Bush on Thursday repeated Dick Cheney's assertion that the administration's enhanced interrogation program, which included controversial techniques such as waterboarding, was legal and garnered valuable information that prevented terrorist attacks.
Bush told a southwestern Michigan audience of nearly 2,500 -- the largest he has addressed in the United States since leaving the White House in January -- that, after the September 11 attacks, "I vowed to take whatever steps that were necessary to protect you."
In his speech, Bush did not specifically refer to the high-profile debate over President Obama's decision to halt the use of harsh interrogation techniques. Bush also didn't mention Cheney, his former vice president, by name.
Instead, he described how he proceeded after the capture of terrorism suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in March 2003.
"The first thing you do is ask what's legal?" Bush said. "What do the lawyers say is possible? I made the decision, within the law, to get information so I can say to myself, 'I've done what it takes to do my duty to protect the American people.' I can tell you that the information we got saved lives." Read more.
The Pentagon on Thursday denied a British newspaper report that photographs of Iraqi prisoner abuse, whose release U.S. President Barack Obama wants to block, include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Daily Telegraph newspaper had shown "an inability to get the facts right".
"That news organization has completely mischaracterized the images," Whitman told reporters. "None of the photos in question depict the images that are described in that article."
Thursday's Telegraph quoted retired U.S. Army Major General Antonio Taguba, who conducted a 2004 investigation into abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, as saying the pictures showed "torture, abuse, rape and every indecency."
The newspaper said at least one picture showed an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.
Others were said to depict sexual assaults with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube. Read more.
US Iraq Casualties rise to 72,239
Compiled by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
US military occupation forces in Iraq under Commander-in-Chief Obama suffered 30 combat casualties in the six days ending May 27, 2009 as the official total rose to at least 72,239. The total includes 34,758 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 37,481 dead and medically evacuated (last reported April 4, 2009) from "non-hostile" causes.*
The actual total is over 100,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 30,000 veterans whose injuries - mainly brain trauma from explosions and PTSD - diagnosed only after they had left Iraq.**
US media divert attention from the actual cost in American life and limb by occasionally reporting only the total killed (4,303 as of May 27) but rarely mentioning the 31,312 wounded in combat. To further minimize public perception of the cost, they cover for the Pentagon by ignoring the 36,624 (as of April 4, 2009))*** military victims of accidents and illness serious enough to require medical air evacuation, although the 4,303 reported deaths include 857 (up one) who died from those same causes, including at least 18 from faulty electrical work by KBR and 177 suicides through 2008.****
* The number of wounded is usually updated on Tuesdays by the Pentagon.
** New York Times, Jan 26, 2009
*** the number of "non combat" injured was reported by the Pentagon.
**** NYTimes, Jan 30, 2009
A Sunday Herald investigation has discovered that coalition forces are holding more than 100 children in jails such as Abu Ghraib. Witnesses claim that the detainees – some as young as 10 – are also being subjected to rape and torture.
It was early last October that Kasim Mehaddi Hilas says he witnessed the rape of a boy prisoner aged about 15 in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. “The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets,” he said in a statement given to investigators probing prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib. “Then, when I heard the screaming I climbed the door … and I saw [the soldier’s name is deleted] who was wearing a military uniform.” Hilas, who was himself threatened with being sexually assaulted in Abu Graib, then describes in horrific detail how the soldier raped “the little kid”.
In another witness statement, passed to the Sunday Herald, former prisoner Thaar Salman Dawod said: “[I saw] two boys naked and they were cuffed together face to face and [a US soldier] was beating them and a group of guards were watching and taking pictures and there was three female soldiers laughing at the prisoners. The prisoners, two of them, were young.”
It’s not certain exactly how many children are being held by coalition forces in Iraq, but a Sunday Herald investigation suggests there are up to 107. Their names are not known, nor is where they are being kept, how long they will be held or what has happened to them during their detention.
Proof of the widespread arrest and detention of children in Iraq by US and UK forces is contained in an internal Unicef report written in June. The report has – surprisingly – not been made public. A key section on child protection, headed “Children in Conflict with the Law or with Coalition Forces”, reads: “In July and August 2003, several meetings were conducted with CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) … and Ministry of Justice to address issues related to juvenile justice and the situation of children detained by the coalition forces … Unicef is working through a variety of channels to try and learn more about conditions for children who are imprisoned or detained, and to ensure that their rights are respected.” Read more.