Saturday, May 29, 2004

A collection of Prison Tales

The Texas Pre-cursor

The Abu Ghraib prison scandal has become a watershed event in the Iraq war, but President Bush has experience handling the political fallout from prison abuses — experience gained in a situation that occurred while he was governor of Texas.

It might now be just a historical footnote, except the lawyer who represented two of the prison guards accused of attacking the inmates, Guy Womack, is now representing Spc. Charles Graner, the prison guard accused of mistreating prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Womack says he'll be taking the lessons of Brazoria County into the courtroom with him in Iraq. “There are quite a few parallels between the two cases,” he said. “Of course, the first one that jumps out at me is that in both cases the only people who were identified to be prosecuted were the junior-most people." In Texas, he argued that the guards acted lawfully — and he says in Iraq he'll argue that the guards thought they were following lawful orders. “Of course, if the cases are so parallel, the defense should be somewhat parallel as well."


And here’s what Gov. Bush said in a local TV interview back in 1997: "I think ‘appalling’ is the right way to describe the treatment of those prisoners." And in 1997, Bush emphasized the power of the images. "There's no question that the videotape, though, shows that we didn't act strong enough, the videotape is clearly an indictment of the process," said the governor. "I think in retrospect, had I known the videotape existed, and I'm confident had other state officials known the videotape existed, we would have pushed for harsher action, quicker action."

You see what the true issue is, of course. Not the behavior, but the irrefutable documentation of the behavior. Memo to self: Carry digital camera at all times.

more at link.

Gitmo lends its expertise

WASHINGTON, May 28 — Interrogation experts from the American detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, were sent to Iraq last fall and played a major role in training American military intelligence teams at Abu Ghraib prison there, senior military officials said Friday.

The teams from Guantánamo Bay, which had operated there under directives allowing broad latitude in questioning "enemy combatants," played a central role at Abu Ghraib through December, the officials said, a time when the worst abuses of prisoners were taking place. Prisoners captured in Iraq, unlike those sent from Afghanistan to Guantánamo, were to be protected by the Geneva Conventions.

The teams were sent to Iraq for 90-day tours at the urging of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, then the head of detention operations at Guantánamo. General Miller was sent to Iraq last summer to recommend improvements in the intelligence gathering and detention operations there, a defense official said.

The involvement of the Guantánamo teams has not previously been disclosed, and military officials said it would be addressed in a major report on suspected abuses by military intelligence specialists that is being completed by Maj. Gen. George W. Fay.

More at link.

Makes you wonder what kinds of pictures could be taken at Guantanamo, doesn't it?

Juxtapose with preceding story

Here's an update on the Chaplain Yee story: link.

Here's a name that may ring a bell:

The decision to jail Yee was made by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, then commander of Guantanamo's detention camp. He oversaw the espionage investigations of all four men. He has since been transferred to Iraq, where he is now engulfed in the controversy involving prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.
I quote the following (altho' you should read the entire story) because it represents an unusual event...

Bob Barr, a Republican and former Georgia congressman, sees the Yee case as part of a disturbing trend in the handling of terrorism-related cases. He cites some cases brought by U.S. prosecutors against groups accused of laundering funds for terrorists. The cases got headlines but collapsed, Barr says.

"What we're seeing in Guantanamo, and perhaps in this case, is what happens when you've removed any judicial oversight over what the government is doing," says Barr, who has criticized the administration's policy of detaining some terrorism suspects indefinitely without charging them.

... the unusual event? Agreeing with Bob Barr on anything

Tin-foil hat time: here's a theory. What if Chaplain Yee had images on his computer of the same kind of behavior that we've all now seen taking place at Abu Ghraib, only the pictures were taken at Gitmo? What if a religious person (I presume a chaplain would be religious) was moved by his faith to attempt to blow the whistle on abominable behavior, and got caught? The images from Abu Ghraib certainly qualify as pornography in anyone's estimation, and 'downloading porn' was one of the only things the government ultimately charged Yee with.

Inquiring minds want to know: what was the nature of the 'pornography' the government was accusing Yee of 'downloading'? Could it possibly have been pictures of naked prisoners treated to sexual humilation american-style? Is there anyone in the media brave enough to ask the question?

Finally, a gutsy columnist

Last, this from Jane Wallace Claymore of the WV Gazette, writing on the importance of understanding history and the humanities:

Another example? Lynndie England, being set up by Secretary of Offense Rumsfeld. Those pictures were posed for purposes of blackmailing the Iraqi captives (90 percent of whom are estimated by the Pentagon to be “innocent,” i.e., rounded up in the general chaos that is Iraq these days.) In the mercifully few generally available photos published in the mainstream American press, as culturally blind as it is, we were treated to blurred-out genitals of the male captives. The idiot American media are as much afraid of a little weenie as Janet Jackson’s breast, but it published the faces of the men! Hey, folks, meet your future terrorists! This is the gravest insult of all back in Iraq, or all of Islam.

I particularly like her last paragraph (minus the PS):

Abu Ghraib should be bulldozed forthwith. Rumsfeld, he with the lack of conquest planning, and Powell, with the lack of guts, should both resign. The Shrubhead should be impeached for being the lying or credulous, but certainly incompetent, bag of treason he is.
You go, girl.


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