Posts Tagged ‘iraq’

Taguba Calls on Media to Go after Those Who Authorized Torture

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

In a rare public comment today, Major General Antonio Taguba told the Honolulu  Advertiser:

I hope the media will (go) after those who were intimately responsible for creating this situation while disregarding the rules of law.

Honolulu Advertiser columnist William Cole placed Major General Taguba’s widely quoted Preface to Broken Laws, Broken Lives in the context of the integrity and rigor with which he purusued the investigation of abuse at Abu Ghraib in 2004.

When Taguba testified before the Senate in May 2004, he outlined the standard according to which he conducted his investigation:

As I assembled the investigation team, my specific instructions to my teammates were clear: maintain our objectivity and integrity throughout the course of our mission in what I considered to be a very grave, highly sensitive and serious situation; to be mindful of our personal values and the moral values of our nation; and to maintain the Army values in all of our dealings; and to be complete, thorough and fair in the course of the investigation. Bottom line: We will follow our conscience and do what is morally right.

Taguba concluded that the brutality that shocked the world when it was revealed in the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs was, in fact, “systematic and illegal abuse.”

Thus Major General Taguba’s words in the Preface to Broken Laws, Broken Lives are consistent with the courage, integrity and commitment to the rule of law, which he has now exemplified for years.

In order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. And the healing professions, including physicians and psychologists, became complicit in the willful infliction of harm against those the Hippocratic Oath demands they protect.

After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

Torture and Abuse Second to None

Saturday, June 21st, 2008

In Wendesday’s Reuters article on Broken Laws, Broken Lives, reporter Deborah Charles spoke to one of the medical evaluators and report co-author Allen Keller and to PHR President Len Rubenstein

Dr. Keller is recognized internationally as an expert in the documentation, evaluation and treatment of torture victims. Since 1995, he has directed the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture and has worked with countless refugees and asylum seekers who were victims of torture. Speaking about the seven men evaluated for the report who had been prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Keller said:

As a physician with more than 15 years of experience evaluating and caring for torture victims from all over the world, the torture and abuse these men were subjected to in Abu Ghraib and the resulting trauma are second to none.

Len Rubenstein elaborated:

“Another key finding is that the authorized techniques, many of which themselves amount to torture, begat yet additional forms of torture, proving once again that once torture starts it can’t be contained,” Rubenstein said.

The report gave one example of the case of a man named Amir, who was arrested by U.S. forces in Iraq in August 2003.

Amir said while at Abu Ghraib prison he was placed in a foul-smelling room and forced to lay face down in urine while he was hit and kicked. He was also sodomized with a broomstick and forced to howl like a dog while a soldier urinated on him. After a soldier stepped on his genitals, he fainted.

Rubenstein also emphasized one of the key findings in Broken Laws, Broken Lives. Beyond the immediate “gratuitous cruelty” inflicted on the former detainees, the men have  continued to suffer for years, long after their release from US custody. 

Amir continues to experience physical and psychological symptoms nearly four years after being released, the report said.

Rubenstein said the report showed the extent of the men’s pain and suffering — now and at the time of their detention.

“The pain from the beatings and stress positions, including suspension, combined with feelings of humiliation and shame was so bad it led seven men to consider suicide despite prohibitions in the Muslim religion,” he said

Major General Antonio Taguba Discusses His 2004 Abu Ghraib Investigation

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

News reports and commentaries have been taking special note of Major General Antonio Taguba’s Preface to Broken Laws, Broken Lives. We note on this site that “Maj. General Taguba led the US Army’s official investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and testified before Congress on his findings in May, 2004.” Harry Kreisler interviewed Major General Taguba for the Institute of International Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.

They discuss the relation of the military to the rule of law and the relevance of the Geneva Conventions to the War on Terror. In the discussion, the general analyzes the problems he found at the Abu Ghraib prison and talks about the aftermath of the investigation in Washington and for his career.


Report Author Hashemian on Her Interview with Laith

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

In December 2006, Broken Laws, Broken Lives author Farnoosh Hashemian met a man named Laith.

Laith was arrested in October 2003 and was released from Abu Ghraib in June 2004. During his imprisonment he was subjected to sleep deprivation, electric shocks, different forms of suspension, threats of sexual abuse to himself and family members, and other forms of abuse; the evaluators suspect that he was also subject to sodomy. As a result of his arrest and incarceration, Laith is currently suffering from lasting physical and psychological injuries including major depressive episode, PTSD, and alcohol dependence.

(Broken Laws, Broken Lives, 24)

Broken Laws, Broken Lives Receives AP Coverage

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

From today’s Associated Press:

Medical examinations of former terrorism suspects held by the U.S. military at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, found evidence of torture and other abuse that resulted in serious injuries and mental disorders, according to a human rights group.

For the most extensive medical study of former U.S. detainees published so far, Physicians for Human Rights had doctors and mental health professionals examine 11 former prisoners. The group alleges finding evidence of U.S. torture and war crimes and accuses U.S. military health professionals of allowing the abuse of detainees, denying them medical care and providing confidential medical information to interrogators that they then exploited.

“Some of these men really are, several years later, very severely scarred,” said Barry Rosenfeld, a psychology professor at Fordham University who conducted psychological tests on six of the 11 detainees covered by the study. “It’s a testimony to how bad those conditions were and how personal the abuse was.”

One Iraqi prisoner, identified only as Yasser, reported being subjected to electric shocks three times and being sodomized with a stick. His thumbs bore round scars consistent with shocking, according to the report obtained by The Associated Press. He would not allow a full rectal exam.

In addition to interviewing Dr. Rosenfeld, the AP interviewed Allen Keller, MD, a member of the PHR’s Advisory Council and Director of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture.

“The level of the time, thoroughness and rigor of the exams left me personally without question about the credibility of the individuals,” said Dr. Allen Keller, one of the doctors who conducted the exams, in an interview with the AP. “The findings on the physical and psychological exams were consistent with what they reported.”

Physicians for Human Rights, 2 Arrow Street, Suite 301, Cambridge, MA 02138 | brokenlives[at]phrusa[dot]org | Tel 617.301.4219

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