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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

More baseless accusations?

posted by Jazz at 1/25/2005 09:53:00 AM


Last week, in a post titled, "Carnival of the not feeling so terribly liberated", we talked about Iraqi bloggers making some accusations against U.S. and Iraqi troops engaging in some awful behavior. These charges included things such as: soldiers stealing money from Iraqis while questioning them at roadblocks or raiding their homes, sexual abuse and sodomy of people being questioned, and other terrible activities.

At the time, even I took pains to point out that some of it sounded very difficult to believe, but that the point of interest was the fact that this perception exists among those we are claiming to "liberate." Perceptions, in the battle for public opinion and support, are often more important than reality.

We received some negative comments and a number of fairly harsh e-mails about it. In fact, one Bushie blog even posted a challenge for somebody to "take this on" because it was obviously all liberal propaganda. Well, as with so many of these stories, a bit of time passes and journalists get busy digging, and what do they find? (I will warn you ahead of time that some of this gets awfully graphic and unsettling. If you are easily disturbed, you may want to just skip ahead past the quoted text.

Army Closed Many Abuse Cases Early

Army personnel have admitted to beating or threatening to kill Iraqi detainees and stealing money from Iraqi civilians but have not been charged with criminal conduct, according to newly released Army documents. The newly released reports detail allegations similar to those that surrounded the documented abuse at Abu Ghraib -- such as beatings with rifle butts, prolonged hooding, sodomy, electric shocks, stressful shackling, and the repeated withholding of clothing and food -- but they also encompass alleged offenses at military prisons and checkpoints elsewhere in Iraq.

A January 2004 probe, for example, found that nine soldiers in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment based at Fort Carson, Colo., and deployed in Iraq "were possibly involved in a criminal conspiracy to rob Iraqi citizens of currency" at traffic-control points. Two members of the unit affirmed the plan in sworn statements and named its participants.

Another detainee said he was whisked off a Baghdad street by two U.S. soldiers, blindfolded and taken to an unknown location, where he was beaten by wooden sticks, sodomized and given electric shocks during an interrogation session. He was also one of three detainees who said in separate cases that he was forced to drink urine.

"They made me take a picture with the captain giving me a hundred-dollar bill," the detainee said. "They then threatened to show the picture to the Iraqis and say I was working with them."

Medical examinations corroborated the injuries to the detainee's wrists and noted injuries to his anus. Military lawyers ruled that the "investigation did not further diminish the integrity or credibility of [the] allegation," according to a report dated Aug. 5, but they closed the case.

Only a handful of the 54 investigations of alleged detainee abuse and other illicit activities detailed in the documents led to recommended penalties as severe as a court-martial or discharge from military service. Most led to administrative fines or simply withered because investigators could not find victims or evidence.

The documents, which date from mid-2003 to mid-2004 and were obtained by five nongovernmental organizations through a joint lawsuit, suggest that the pursuit of military justice in Iraq has been hampered by the investigators' closure of many cases without reaching a determination of likely innocence or guilt.
You know, even though I don't want to think things like this are common, even a small number of incidents like this which the Army is actually documenting is more than enough to give the citizens of Iraq a very solid impression of exactly who they are dealing with. And yet Bush and Rummy have the nerve to act surprised that there is a large, armed resistance to the occupation, and keep insisting that it's a handful of dead end Saddam loyalists. The propaganda machine is working overtime here, friends.

It will come as no surprise that Tbogg has done a much more thorough job of tearing this story apart, comparing statements by Bush at his inaugural gala to the realities on the ground. It's too long and well written to spoil it by snipping out sections, so I leave you to read it in its entirety.

Laura, at War and Piece, has more on this.