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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #81 - 4 msgs

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Today's Topics:

   1. in case you missed it: "Abuse at Abu Ghraib, the Psychodynamics of
       Occupation" with a short addendum. (
   2. A year from 'Mission Accomplished'-Patrick Cockburn (
   3. U.S.-funded Iraqi newspaper staff quits (ppg)


Message: 1
Date: Mon, 03 May 2004 10:36:25 +0200
From: "" <>
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: in case you missed it: "Abuse at Abu Ghraib, the Psychodynamics of
 Occupation" with a short addendum.

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

        Abuse at Abu Ghraib, the Psychodynamics of Occupation

        Stephen Soldz

May 2, 2004 "ICH" -- This week, CBS' 60 Minutes II published the now
infamous pictures of abuse and torture by US soldiers at the Abu Ghraib
detention facility in Iraq (some of the pictures can be viewed on the
New Yorker web site at

Seymour Hersh has documented in the May 10, 2004 New Yorker (Torture at
Abu Ghraib:
tm <> ) that the
abuse shown in these photos was just the tip of the iceberg. A 53-page
Pentagon report completed in February listed some of the abuse:

"Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on
detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with
a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape;
allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who
was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing
a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using
military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats
of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee."

Other evidence in Hersh's piece indicates that in at least one instance,
a prisoner was tortured to death under interrogation, then his injuries
were disguised and body disposed of. Other deaths have also been
referred to.

As Hersh documents, the Pentagon was well aware of the abuses at Abu
ct <>

An internal report by the Army's chief law-enforcement officer last
November documented that the Military Police (MPs) guarding the prison
faced tension between their responsibility to maintain an orderly prison
and the involvement of the same MPs in softening up prisoners for
interrogation. Yet, no action was taken.

One of the six military defendants in this case has emphasized the lack
of any training or guidance in how to treat the prisoners, and the
absence of any orientation to responsibilities under the Geneva
Convention. While it is easy to dismiss this complaint as an attempt to
avoid responsibility for reprehensible actions, the complaint does raise
an important issue. The MPs were not provided any orientation or
guidance because protecting Iraqi detainees was simply not of interest
to anyone in charge. Further, no doubt the attitude, common among prison
guards, was that the detainees must have done something bad to be
detained there. So protecting their rights or their bodies was not
important and protecting their spirit was a hindrance to the important
task of extracting intelligence about resistance activities.

While the emerging official documentation of Pentagon awareness is
useful, it's important to keep in mind that the conditions in Abu Ghraib
and the other US detention facilities have not been a secret from anyone
who wanted to know. There have been dozens, if not hundreds of accounts
of former detainees describing the abuses. The international press has
repeatedly published articles on this. Of course, the abuse has seldom
been reported with any prominence in the American press, but this is not
surprising, as the U.S. press has until quite recently been primarily a
mouthpiece for official claims.

Thus, for example, on July 23, 2003, Amnesty International published
Iraq: Memorandum on concerns relating to law and order, which warned of
"allegations of torture or ill-treatment" for those in US detention,
including at Abu Ghraib. As stated there "the organization has received
a number of reports of torture or ill-treatment by Coalition Forces not
confined to criminal suspects. Reported methods include prolonged sleep
deprivation; prolonged restraint in painful positions, sometimes
combined with exposure to loud music; prolonged hooding; and exposure to
bright lights. Such treatment would amount to 'torture or inhuman
treatment' prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention and by
international human rights law. Amnesty International's concerns with
regard to allegations of inhuman treatment immediately after arrest and
in detention camps run by the US military have been raised in its letter
to Ambassador Paul Bremer of 26 June 2003. Regrettably, testimonies from
recently released detainees held at Camp Cropper and Abu Ghraib Prison
do not suggest that conditions of detention have improved."

That report further states "Amnesty International has received a number
of reports of cases of detainees who have died in custody, mostly as a
result of shooting by members of the Coalition Forces. Other cases of
deaths in custody where ill-treatment may have caused or contributed to
death have been reported." This report contains several case studies of
abuse and torture of detainees. Saudi Arabian national Abdallah Khudhran
al-Shamran, for example, "alleged that he was subjected to beatings and
electric shocks."

As one other example from this report, Khreisan Khalis Aballey reported
that while detained "he was made to stand or kneel facing a wall for
seven-and-a-half days, hooded, and handcuffed tightly with plastic
strips. At the same time a bright light was placed next to his hood and
distorted music was playing the whole time. During all this period he
was deprived of sleep (though he may have been unconscious for some
periods). He reported that at one time a US soldier stamped on his foot
and as a result one of his toenails was torn off. The prolonged kneeling
made his knees bloody, so he mostly stood; when, after seven-and-a-half
days he was told he was to be released and told he could sit, he said
that his leg was the size of a football."

This July 23rd, 2003 report was not Amnesty International's first
complaint about the conditions of US detainees in Iraq. For example, the
June 30, 2003 BBC News had this story: U.S. condemned over Iraq rights,
which reported that Amnesty International warned that "conditions of
detention Iraqis are held under... may amount to cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment, banned by international law."

As another instance, in the July 22nd issue of the British newspaper the
Independent, veteran middle east journalist Robert Fisk published The
ugly truth of America's Camp Cropper, a story to shame us all (available
91.htm). <>
In this article, Fisk tells the story of Qais Mohamed al-Salman, an
engineer and Iraqi exile who returned after Saddam was overthrown to
help his country. He was lucky; he was only abused and had a label of
"suspected assassin" pinned on his clothes. As Fisk reports, based on
what he considers to be an impeccable Western source: "only 'selected'
prisoners are beaten during interrogation" there. Eventually, Qais
al-Salman was released, but his mother had already given him up for dead
as the Americans never notified the families of those they detained.

As a final example, the Iraqi blogger "Riverbend", in her blog Baghdad
Burning, included in her March 29, 2004 entry: Tales from Abu Ghraib...,
the story of a young woman, M., who had recently been released in mid
January from Abu Ghraib, after being arrested with her mother and four
brothers. While in detention, she herself was beaten and she witnessed
several other beatings, including that of her mother, and "the rape of a
male prisoner by one of the jailors." Riverbend concludes the heart
wrenching tale with "By the end of her tale, M. was crying silently and
my mother and Umm Hassen were hastily wiping away tears. All I could do
was repeat, 'I'm so sorry... I'm really sorry...' and a lot of other
useless words. She shook her head and waved away my words of sympathy,
'It's ok- really- I'm one of the lucky ones... all they did was beat
me'" (italics added).

These stories are among the many I have included on my web page: Iraq
Occupation and Resistance Report over the last year of Iraqi occupation.
If I, a single individual maintaining a web page in my spare time, was
well aware of the abuses being reported in the US prisons in Iraq, the
only way the top generals, Pentagon officials, senior Administration
policy-makers such as the President and Vice-President, and U.S.
reporters could be ignorant of them is if they willfully chose to be
ignorant. Much more likely, they were aware but considered these abuses
- like the ones documented among detainees in Afghanistan, and those
reported by the few released detainees from Guantanamo - to be the
inevitable costs of war and occupation, especially, as is the case in
Iraq, when that occupation now is opposed by the majority of the occupied.

Under conditions of occupation, the occupier is faced with the task of
attempting to win the support of the occupied population when possible
and of instilling fear and a sense of hopelessness when winning them
over is not possible. Further, the occupation must be justified to the
soldiers of the occupying power, who may have reservations about the
role they are expected to play. Humiliation of the occupied is an
important element in both of these tasks. The occupying army learns to
view the occupied as inferior, as not as "civilized" as the occupiers
view themselves. Thus, Hersh quotes the testimony of Specialist Mathew
Wisdom, an M.P. at Abu Ghraib as he described one of the scenes of
coerced sex between detainees depicted in the photographs: "I saw SSG
Frederick walking towards me, and he said, 'Look what these animals do
when you leave them alone for two seconds'" (italics added). In case we
are tempted to dismiss this as simply the aberration of a sick
individual, consider the comments of a senior British officer in Iraq to
a reporter from the British Daily Telegraph on April 12, 2004 (available
at: British commanders condemn US military tactics:

about the attitude of the U.S. military toward the Iraqi populace: "They
don't see the Iraqi people the way we see them. They view them as
untermenschen. They are not concerned about the Iraqi loss of life in
the way the British are." (Of course, recent revelations of torture of
detainees at British hands raise questions as to the degree of concern
the British have for Iraqi life. And the over 100,000 Iraqis killed in
the British occupation earlier in the century make clear that Iraqi life
was cheap when Britain was the dominant colonial power. See Hussein
Askary: Lessons To Be Learned: Iraqi Resistance to British Occupation 80
Years Ago)

To view the Iraqis as animals, or as subhuman, as untermenschen, makes
it easier to dominate them, to break down their doors in the middle of
the night, to imprison them without charges and without notifying their
families, and to use torture and "torture lite" (to use that apt term of
Ira Chernus: U.S. "Torture Lite Led to Saddam Capture) in order to break
their spirit as an aid to interrogation. If, further, one can get the
occupied to view themselves as inferior to the occupiers, the occupation
may eventually be seen as acceptable, as natural, even as beneficial.
This was the psychology of colonialism and it is the unconscious logic
dominating the Iraqi occupation.

Of course, the occupiers usually begin more benevolently. The occupied
are more akin to children, who need to be "educated", to the standards
of "Christian civilization" in the old days, to "Western democracy" in
the present world. Trouble arises when this projected image - with all
its accompanying fantasy of being welcomed with open arms by the
"children" eager to be educated - collides with the unfortunate reality
that the occupied are really adults from a different culture, with their
own traditions, wishes, and dreams. Then the occupation gets ugly. If
the children are so ungrateful as not to welcome the education the
invaders so graciously provide, it's surely a sign of their inferiority.
Only animals or untermenschen would be so crass as to refuse the kind
offer of civilization. Well, they're not worthy of us any way, so it
doesn't much matter how we teat them.

If one thing became clear in the 20th century, it is that ordinary
people are capable of the most horrendous acts. As both psychoanalysts
and social psychologists have pointed out, the capacity to do evil
resides in us all. Certain circumstances are more likely to encourage
the expression of this universal capacity. These circumstances include
being one of a group, being able to attribute responsibility to others
or to lofty goals, being in an environment experienced as alien and
dangerous, and being in an overall climate in which there is little or
no accountability. All of these circumstances are present to a great
degree among the occupying army in Iraq.

We have known for a long time that absolute power corrupts. Therefore,
those who create an environment in which occupying soldiers - Americans
- have absolute power with virtually no limits and no accountability,
bear the ultimate responsibility for the horrors that occurred at Abu
Ghraib, and that continue to occur on a daily basis throughout occupied

If President Bush, the senior US generals, and all the other
commentators filling the airwaves with pious outrage are not directly
lying, it is solely because of that marvelous human ability, identified
by psychoanalysts and novelists, to know and not know something at the
same time. As the soldiers caught in those horrifying photos are
crucified in the press and in the courts, let's not pretend that its
because of their personal weaknesses that these horrors occurred. Let's
not protect ourselves by pretending that it's only the evil that resides
in a few bad soldiers that allows such barbarities to occur. Such
pretense is but a defense, in both the legal and the psychoanalytic
meanings of that term. Rather, let's remember that it's a direct
consequence of the logic of occupation and it is the planners and
organizers of that occupation who bear primary responsibility. Further,
each and every one of us who has not done our best to know what was
being done by our country in a foreign country, who has let ignorance,
hopelessness, and the desire for a normal life interfere with the
citizens' responsibility to know, and to act to change that which is bad
in our country's behavior, bears our own responsibility. These
atrocities were truly committed in our name. They are our atrocities.

So what should be done? Of course, the overall goal must be to end the
occupation, to bring the soldiers home and allow the Iraqis to determine
their own fate. They may not make the decisions we would make, but
that's what adults do, they make their own decisions. And the occupation
will end. The recent CNN/USA Today poll of Iraqi attitudes demonstrated
strong opposition to occupation before the recent uprising. All accounts
indicate that, over the last three weeks, Iraqi sentiment has moved
decisively against the occupation. The release of these photographs will
be the final straw. No claims to moral authority or legitimacy with
Iraqis will survive. All that will remain is brute force, and brute
force is a weak weapon against modern nationalism. Thus, the US will
either withdraw soon, without further loss of life, or it will be thrown
out after massive conflict, suffering, and death. But it will leave.

In the meantime, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the levels
of abuse at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities. These must be
based on limiting the corrupting absolute power that naturally adheres
there, as well as on recognizing that institutions usually place
self-protection at the top of their list of priorities. Thus, the world
should not allow this be a matter for the American military alone to
deal with. We must support the call of Amnesty International for an
independent investigation of the conditions at Abu Ghraib and the other
detention facilities. But, we must not stop there. It is vital that all
prisons and detention centers be routinely monitored by independent
observers not bound to speak privately. The International Committee of
the Red Cross (ICRC) does occasionally visit these centers, but they do
not have observers based there and the ICRC policy is only to make their
conclusions known privately to the institution they inspect while not
releasing any report to the public. These horrors make clear that this
level of oversight is no longer sufficient. We need an international
campaign to demand permanent, independent, international observers in
every Iraqi prison and detention center. Further, this is the time to
demand the same for the detention centers in Afghanistan and Guantanamo.
The world outcry over these atrocities creates a moment to have our
message paid attention to and an opportunity to act. Let's not lose the
opportunity to start turning around the barbarities we have come to
accept as normal, or despicable but impossible to challenge.

Stephen Soldz (
<>is psychoanalyst and a faculty
member at the Institute for the Study of Violence of the Boston Graduate
School of Psychoanalysis. He is also a founder of Psychoanalysts for
Peace and Justice (
<> ), and maintains the the Iraq
Occupation and Resistance Report web page ( ).


and again from:

Treatment of Prisoners. In response to my article: Abuse at Abu Ghraib,
the Psychodynamics of Occupation, and the Responsibility of Us All
I have received the following comment from an Iraqi correspondent. Of
course, I can't vouch for the details, but these accounts of treatment
at US hands circulate widely in Iraq: (POSTED: May 2, 2004)

    Thank you for e-mailing your article on the recent revelations on US
    troops'abuse of iraqi POW's. Its really a comprehensive one. I sent
    it to several friends and Iraqi web sites. Iraqis,however were not
    surprised at those horrible photos and data. A few months ago an
    Iraqi newspaper published a letter from an Iraqi woman POW at
    abu-ghraib prison. Disclosing that she and many of her fellow women
    POW's were raped, she appealed to Iraqi resistance to "bomb the
    prison so as to wipe out the disgrace to your honour which is now
    growing in our wombs." We hear a lot of stories about vicious and
    immoral ways of torture and degradation ranging from pouring sweet
    and sticky oil on POW's naked bodies and leaving them overnight in
    rural out-door areas to attract insects of various kinds to forcing
    newly jailed POW"s to stand naked for thirty-six hours and to hear
    very loud noisy music to raping male and female POW's and killing
    others in torture.

------------------------------------------------------------------------ <>: a site gathering daily
information concerning occupied Iraq: news, analysis, documents and
texts of iraqi resistance available in Italian and English.
Any link will be greatly appreciated: you can get our banner or link
coordinates from our homepage. Please let us know about new links, so
that we can recall them in our link-page. <>: finalmente, un sito dove
trovare informazione aggiornata sull'iraq occupato: notizie, analisi,
documenti e testi sulla resistenza in italiano e in inglese, aggiornate
ogni giorno.
Un grazie fin d'ora per ogni link al ns. sito: potrete scaricare il
banner e trovare le coordinate sulla testata della ns. homepage.
Informateci di ogni nuovo link, in modo da poter contraccambiare e
segnalarlo. grazie!


Message: 2
Date: Mon, 3 May 2004 16:54:43 EDT
Subject: A year from 'Mission Accomplished'-Patrick Cockburn

[ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ]

Weekend Edition
May 1 / 3, 2004

A Year from "Mission Accomplished"

An Army in Disgrace, a Policy in Tatters, the Real Prospect of Defeat



Wisps of grey smoke were still rising from the wreckage of four Humvees
caught by the blast of a bomb which had just killed two US soldiers and wounded
another five. It seemed they had been caught in a trap.

When the soldiers smashed their way into an old brick house in the Waziriya
district of Baghdad last week, they were raiding what they had been told was an
insurgent bomb factory, only for it to erupt as they came through the door.
The reaction of local people, as soon as the surviving American soldiers had
departed, was to start a spontaneous street party.

A small boy climbed on top of a blackened and smouldering Humvee and
triumphantly waved a white flag with an Islamic slogan hastily written on it. Some
other young men were showing with fascinated pride a blood--soaked US uniform.
Another group had found an abandoned military helmet, and had derisively placed
it on the head of an elderly carthorse.

A year after President George Bush famously declared "major combat" in Iraq
over, how is it that so many Iraqis now have such a visceral hatred of
Americans? One reason is that the photographs of brutality and humiliation of Iraqi
detainees by British and American troops, which have so shocked the rest of the
world and angered Arab countries, have come as little surprise to Iraqis. For
months it has been clear to them that the occupation is very brutal; for weeks
they have been watching pictures of the dead and injured in Fallujah on
al--Jazeera satellite television which CNN did not broadcast.

Iraqis, who are cynical about their rulers, may also suspect that real as
well as simulated torture is going on in Abu Ghraib prison, where US intelligence
calls the shots. They may suspect that, as under Saddam Hussein, the
humiliation and ill--treatment were quite deliberately inflicted to soften up
prisoners before they were interrogated. More graphic pictures of real torture are
said to have been taken as well those shown on US television last week.

Saddam should not have been a hard act to follow. Iraqis knew that he had
ruined their lives through his disastrous wars against Iran and Kuwait, and were
glad to be rid of him. Even the supposed beneficiaries of his rule, the Sunni
Arabs of cities such as Tikrit and Fallujah, could not see why they were so
much poorer than the people of other oil states such as Kuwait and Abu Dhabi.

Watching the dancing, jeering crowd in Waziriya was Nada Abdullah Aboud, a
middle--aged woman, dressed in black. She had a reason for hating Americans,
though she claimed she did not do so. "I do feel sorry for the young soldiers,
though they killed my son," she said quietly. "They came such a long distance to
die here." It turned out that her son, Saad Mohammed, had been the translator
for a senior Italian diplomat working for the ruling Coalition Provisional
Authority. She said: "My son was driving with the Italian ambassador last
September near Tikrit when an American soldier fired at the car and shot him through
the heart."

Saad Mohammed was one of a large but unknown number of Iraqis shot down by US
troops over the past year. There seems to have been no rational reason why he
had been killed. But the high toll of Iraqi civilians shot down after
ambushes or at checkpoints has given Iraqis the sense that, at bottom, American
soldiers regard them as an inferior people whose lives are not worth very much.

Iraqis make very plain what they think about the occupation in private
conversation, but Paul Bremer, the US viceroy in Iraq, and the US military command,
shut away in their headquarters in Saddam's old Republican Palace, had no idea
of the growing hostility towards them until April. Then, when they started
the sieges of Fallujah and Najaf, they discovered that aside from the Kurdish
minority, Iraqis had turned decisively against the occupation.

Another simple reason for disillusionment with the US is simply the
Americans' failure to restore normal life. Iraqis in Baghdad continually say that Iraq
recovered more quickly from the damage inflicted by the first Gulf War under
Saddam in 1991 than it did after the second war in 2003.

Baghdad is a city on edge. Shopkeepers keep their stock at home in case there
is another outbreak of looting. The police are back on the streets and there
is less casual crime than last year, but it is still more dangerous than it
was under the old regime.

Abu Amir, a shopkeeper in the middle--class Jadriyah district of the capital,
said: "Under Saddam I sometimes did not make money in my store, but I could
go home in the evening without worrying if my son had got back safely. Now
there is looting everywhere. If you walk in the streets maybe you will be shot by
the Americans or by criminal gangs fighting each other."

A curious achievement of the US over the past year has been to revive Iraqi
nationalism in Iraq. This had been largely discredited by Saddam. But Fallujah
and the pursuit of Muqtada al--Sadr, the radical Shia cleric, has meant that
nationalism is once more respectable.

The extraordinary political weakness of the US in Iraq became evident as
never before last week. Despite having an overwhelming military force available to
take Fallujah and Najaf, the US did not dare do so. It had become evident
even in Washington that to crush the resistance in either city -- not a difficult
task against a few thousand lightly armed gunmen -- would spread rather than
end the rebellion.

Even so, it was extraordinary to see Jassim Mohammed Saleh, a general in
Saddam's Republican Guard -- disbanded like so much else in Iraq last May -- being
driven into Fallujah on Friday in full uniform past cheering crowds. The old
Iraqi flag, now dropped by the US--appointed Iraqi Governing Council, was
being waved from his car window.

It is a measure of how far the Governing Council is out of touch with
ordinary Iraqi opinion that they should have voted to change the flag in the first
place. Mohammed, an engineer trying to patch up a broken sewage pipe in Baghdad,
still had time to express his fury at the change. "Of course the occupation
is a disaster," he said. "We understand the Governing Council are American
agents. But a man has to be the worst of collaborators to change his country's

On 30 June the US will be handing over very little to Iraqis. Security
remains firmly in US hands; so does control of money. One of the biggest US mistakes
was not to hold elections earlier, something British and US officials admit
in private could have been done. This would have produced a legitimate Iraqi
authority to which Iraqi security forces could have given real loyalty. Dr
Mahmoud Othman, a member of the Governing Council, says: "Iraqis are never going to
fight other Iraqis under the orders of an American." This was amply borne out
when half of the US--trained security forces deserted or mutinied in early

The tide is going out for the US in Iraq. They were not able to use their
military strength against Fallujah and Najaf. They have very little political
support outside Kurdistan. They can no longer win. It may be one of the most
extraordinary defeats in history.


Message: 3
From: "ppg" <>
To: <>
Subject: U.S.-funded Iraqi newspaper staff quits
Date: Mon, 3 May 2004 19:36:48 -0400


Editor-in-chief of U.S.-funded Iraqi newspaper quits, complaining of
American control
By Lee Keath, Associated Press, 5/3/2004

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) The head of a U.S.-funded Iraqi newspaper quit and said
Monday he was taking almost his entire staff with him because of American
interference in the publication.

On a front-page editorial of the Al-Sabah newspaper, editor-in-chief Ismail
Zayer said he and his staff were ''celebrating the end of a nightmare we
have suffered from for months ... We want independence. They (the Americans)

Al-Sabah was set up by U.S. officials with funding from the Pentagon soon
after the fall of Saddam Hussein last year. Since its first issue in July,
many Iraqis have considered it the mouthpiece of the U.S.-led coalition,
along with the U.S.-funded television station Al-Iraqiya.

Zayer said almost the entire staff left the paper along with him and that
they were launching a new paper called Al-Sabah Al-Jedid (''The New
Morning''), which would begin publishing Tuesday.

Zayer had sought to break Al-Sabah away from the Iraqi Media Network, which
groups the paper, Al-Iraqiya and a number of radio station and is run by
Harris Inc., a Florida-based communications company that won a $96 million
Pentagon contract in January to develop the media.

''We informed (Zayer) that the paper would remain part of the IMN,'' said
Tom Hausman of Harris' corporate communications. ''He made the decision to

Hausman said Al-Sabah would continue publishing on Tuesday with a new staff.

''We had a project to create a free media in Iraq,'' Zayer said of the
founding of Al-Sabah. ''They are trying to control us. We are being

Zayer accused Harris of interfering in the paper's workings, including
trying to stop some of its advertising and speaking to reporters about

Among the ads that he said Harris tried to prevent was advertisement from a
new political organization called ''the Iraqi Republican Group.'' The ad ran
in Monday's issue the last put together by Zayer's staff.

The ad complained of the ''griefs of occupation'' and called on Iraqi elite
to rally ''to preserve our nation from destruction.''

Zayer said he was told by Harris that the ad was ''too political.''

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