Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Winning hearts and minds

I sometimes have real trouble being my usual snarky self. A case in point regards the recent WaPo article describing the beating and torture death of a captured Iraqi general:

Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush was being stubborn with his American captors, and a series of intense beatings and creative interrogation tactics were not enough to break his will. On the morning of Nov. 26, 2003, a U.S. Army interrogator and a military guard grabbed a green sleeping bag, stuffed Mowhoush inside, wrapped him in an electrical cord, laid him on the floor and began to go to work. Again.

It was inside the sleeping bag that the 56-year-old detainee took his last breath through broken ribs, lying on the floor beneath a U.S. soldier in Interrogation Room 6 in the western Iraqi desert. Two days before, a secret CIA-sponsored group of Iraqi paramilitaries, working with Army interrogators, had beaten Mowhoush nearly senseless, using fists, a club and a rubber hose, according to classified documents.
Although Mowhoush's death certificate lists his cause of death as "asphyxia due to smothering and chest compression," the Dec. 2, 2003, autopsy, quoted in classified documents and released with redactions, showed that Mowhoush had "contusions and abrasions with pattern impressions" over much of his body, and six fractured ribs. Investigators believed a "long straight-edge instrument" was used on Mowhoush, as well as an "object like the end of an M-16" rifle.

"Although the investigation indicates the death was directly related to the non-standard interrogation methods employed on 26 NOV, the circumstances surrounding the death are further complicated due to Mowhoush being interrogated and reportedly beaten by members of a Special Forces team and other government agency (OGA) employees two days earlier," said a secret Army memo dated May 10, 2004.
And let me be clear on this, a Baathist general's hideous death doesn't bother me nearly as much as the identity of those who caused it, the futility of their actions and the way it confirms American bestiality to the rest of the world.

Amazingly, the man had voluntarily submitted to US custody:
The U.S. military initially told reporters that Mowhoush had been captured during a raid. In reality, he had walked into the Forward Operating Base "Tiger" in Qaim on Nov. 10, 2003, hoping to speak with U.S. commanders to secure the release of his sons, who had been arrested in raids 11 days earlier.
And yet, gosh, he eventually became uncooperative? I can't imagine why.
And so "the gloves come off". And exactly how did that work out?
"Previous interrogations were non-threatening; Abid [Mowhoush]was being treated very well. Not anymore," the document reads. "The interrogation session lasted several hours and I took the gloves off because Abid refused to play ball."

But the harsher tactics backfired.

In an interrogation that could be witnessed by the entire detainee population, Mowhoush was put into an undescribed "stress position" that caused the other detainees to stand "with heads bowed and solemn looks on their faces," said the document.

"I asked Abid if he was strong enough a leader to put an end to the attacks that I believed he was behind," the document said, quoting an unidentified interrogator. "He did not deny he was behind the attacks as he had denied previously, he simply said because I had humiliated him, he would not be able to stop the attacks.
That is, having lost face before his people he could no longer control them. And so it goes.

But at least we've found one case where the administration is trying to protect, as opposed to out, the CIA:
The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology's standard "Autopsy Examination Report" of Mowhoush's death was manipulated to avoid references to the CIA. In contrast to the other autopsy reports of suspicious detainee deaths released by the Army, Mowhoush's name is redacted and under "Circumstances of Death," the form says: "This Iraqi [redacted] died while in U.S. custody. The details surrounding the circumstances at the time of death are classified."
And so it goes. A "few bad apples" will get prosecuted, but those responsible for this systemic torture will go scot free.

Doesn't it make you proud to be an American? I wonder if Lee Greenwood will be doing a song about this?

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