Sunday, March 19, 2006
"THE REALITY IS, THERE WERE NO RULES THERE"
To no one's surprise the New York Times is reporting today that abuse of prisoners in Iraq did not start with Abu Ghraib and it did not end with Abu Ghraib either.
The following report is from Islam On Line.
Prisoners Abused Before, After Abu Ghraib: Report
CAIRO, March 19, 2006 (IslamOnline.net) – Iraqi detainees were repeatedly abused by an elite US Special Operations force unit before and after the outbreak of the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal, revealed a leading US newspaper Sunday, March 19.
Soldiers of a US military unit known as Task Force 6-26 used to beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces at Camp Nama, a former Iraqi military base near Baghdad, The New York Times said.
"The reality is, there were no rules there," a Pentagon official told the daily.
Located at Baghdad International Airport, the camp was the first stop for many detainees suspected of involving in "insurgency" – a US term describing resistance operations - on their way to the Abu Ghraib prison a few miles away.
Detainees were flown into the camp almost daily by unmarked helicopters, said former task force members on condition of anonymity.
Detainees were kept in what was known as Motel 6, a group of crudely built plywood shacks that reeked of urine and excrement, just beyond the screening rooms, where ousted Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was given medical exam after his capture, the paper said.
Jailers often blared rap music or rock and roll at deafening decibels over a loudspeaker to unnerve their subjects.
The revelation is a grim reminder of the abuses of Iraqi detainees at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison by US jailers.
In February, an Australian television station broadcast new images of Abu Ghraib abuses.
The latest grainy photographs and video images showed prisoners, some bleeding or hooded, bound to beds and doors, sometimes with a smiling American guard beside them.
In a windowless, jet-black garage-size room – known as the Black Room at the camp, detainees were also used by US soldiers for target practice in a game of jailer paintball, according to Defense Department personnel who served with the unit or briefed on its operations.
High-value detainees were questioned in the Black Room, nearly bare but for several 18-inch hooks that jutted from the ceiling.
Pentagon specialists further told the Times that said that prisoners at the camp were barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges.
A March 6 report by Amnesty International said that tens of thousands of detainees have been "arbitrarily" held by US-led forces in Iraq without charge or trial and have been denied the right to challenge their detention.
Human Rights Watch revealed in September of last year that US troops routinely subjected Iraqi detainees to severe beatings and other cruel and inhumane treatment as a "way of sport" or just to "relieve stress."
The US daily cited the abuse of an 18-year-old Iraqi by US soldiers at the camp.
The teen was arrested in early 2004 with his entire family at their home in Baghdad on suspicion of selling cars to members of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, the presumed Al-Qaeda operative in Iraq.
Task force soldiers beat him repeatedly with a rifle butt and punched him in the head and kidneys, said a Defense Department specialist briefed on the incident.
Some complaints of abuses by the unit soldiers were ignored or played down, said the daily.
"It's under control," one unit commander told a Defense Department official who complained about mistreatment at Camp Nama in the spring of 2004.
Task Force 6-26 was a creation of the Pentagon's post-Sept. 11 campaign against terrorism.
Originally known as Task Force 121, it was formed in the summer of 2003, when the military merged two existing Special Operations units, one hunting Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in and around Afghanistan, and the other tracking the toppled Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein.
The task force had a bad record of abusing Iraqi prisoners. At least 11 members have been removed from the unit, according to new figures the Special Operations Command provided in response to questions from the Times.
The US military said earlier this month it plans to shut down the notorious prison and transfer prisoners to other jails in Iraq.
Amnesty International played down the move, saying it was "little more than a new paint job" and a "change of scenery."
Several US dailies revealed that US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former top US commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, gave free reign to US officers in charge of Abu Ghraib to adopt various torture and abuse tactics used at the notorious Guantanamo detention camp.