Monday, March 28, 2005

More from the ACLU

The ACLU has obtained another batch of documents as part of its investigation into torture and abuse of detainees by US forces. This batch is from the Department of Defence, and relates even more tales of abuse and official indifference. In Mosul, a teenage detainee's jaw was smashed. The subsequent investigation found that it was the result of "an intentional act" (most likely direct physical abuse), that claims by guards that the victim simply fell were "neither plausible nor credible", that there was "misconduct on the part of coalition forces" and that guards had not followed their standard operating procedures or proper detention procedures. It also found that detainees "were subject at times to direct physical abuse" and that

There is evidence that suggests... [Military Intelligence] personnel and/or translators engaged in physical torture of the detainees

(My emphasis).

Other cases report brutal beatings, "exercise till exhaustion" (or even death, in one case), soldiers being ordered to "beat the fuck out of" detainees, and endorsement of "pay back" (meaning illegal beatings and abuse) by superior officers. And these are not the allegations of suspected terrorists who "hate America", but the findings of the US Army's own internal investigations.

As with previous cases, though, nothing seems to have been done. In the Mosul case, investigators recommended that the local commander "should be disciplined for allowing abuse of detainees as standard operating procedure". No action was ever taken. I think that shows more than anything how "serious" the US is about punishing torture and abuse.