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[casi] Iraqi detainees report 'inhumane' treatment. Human rightsgroups question U.S. tactics

Bush (and the US) seems to have a specialty in making enemies. The US is
still paying for the 1953 decision to depose the Iranian government.
Aside from the horror for people now, if these crimes are not addressed
now, the US -- and the world -- may well be paying the price 50 years
from now. So what ever happened to "vision"?

--------- Begin forwarded message ----------

Subject: Iraqi detainees report 'inhumane' treatment. Human rights groups
question U.S. tactics
Date: Wed, 30 Jul 2003 15:31:35 -0400
Message-ID: <>

Iraqi detainees report 'inhumane' treatment
Human rights groups question U.S. tactics

Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

2003 San Francisco Chronicle


Baghdad -- Former Iraqi air force Brig. Gen. Sabah
Saleh, his wife and their four children were sleeping
on the ground floor of their Baghdad house at about 2:
30 a.m. July 14 when loud explosions tore through the
front door and blew the ground-floor windows to pieces.
As helicopters hovered overhead, American soldiers
stormed inside, shouting.

Saleh's wife, Mayda, recalls with horror what happened

The soldiers rounded up five family members, including
the general, and handcuffed them. Seventeen-year-old
Ahmed fled upstairs, and the Americans pursued him with
a hail of gunfire. A couple of minutes later, they
dragged Ahmed downstairs, bleeding heavily. When Gen.
Saleh protested, the soldiers beat and kicked him. Then
they hustled the general and Ahmed out the door in
handcuffs after freeing the rest.

>From the Americans' point of view, the arrest of Gen.
Saleh, an engineer and Baath Party member who was in
charge of security at all Iraqi air force bases, was
just another step in the campaign to root out remnants
of Saddam Hussein's regime and stifle guerrilla
attacks. But an increasing number of Iraqis and
international human-rights organizations are
questioning the U.S. arrest tactics and treatment of
Iraqi captives.

According to rights groups, none of several thousand
detainees being held at 18 U.S. military jails
throughout Iraq has been allowed to see a lawyer or
meet with relatives, and none has yet been charged with
a crime or brought to trial. They have essentially
fallen into a black hole.

A week of requests by a Chronicle reporter to the U.S.
military and civilian officials for information about
detainees brought no response, except a remark by one
military press aide who said in private, "It's a
controversial issue, you know, and I don't expect
anyone is going to want to talk."

The Saleh family made repeated visits to American
military units and Iraqi police stations in Baghdad but
were told no information was available on their
detained relatives.

Finally, on Sunday came word that both Gen. Saleh and
Ahmed were being held at Camp Cropper, a large U.S.
prison at the Baghdad airport.

'INHUMANE' CONDITIONS A recent report by Amnesty
International, based on interviews with detainees who
were later freed, raised concerns about excessive force
by U.S. troops, "inhumane" conditions suffered by
American detainees and the failure to provide
information on prisoners to their families.

"What we see is a complete lack of transparency and
accountability," said Joanna Oyediran, a British lawyer
who is an Amnesty representative in Iraq.

Oyediran said U.S. officials had told her that about
3,000 Iraqis are being held, including 400 prisoners of
war (among them 34 of the 55 on America's most-wanted
list), and 400 accused of participating in guerrilla
attacks on U. S. troops after the war. The rest are a
mix of people suspected of common crimes and those
imprisoned for membership in the Baath Party. She said
the American officials could give no exact breakdown of
the final category.

About 1.5 million Iraqis -- almost 10 percent of the
adult population -- belonged to the Baath Party before
the war. Although American officials say that only the
Baath leadership faces arrest, U.S. military press
releases routinely announce the detention of scores of
people for being Baath Party members. It is not known
how many are still being held.

According to the Amnesty report, freed detainees
complained of conditions at the two detention centers
in Baghdad -- Camp Cropper and Abu Ghraib prison, a
huge complex that held political prisoners under
Hussein's regime. Tactics reportedly included prolonged
sleep deprivation, restraint in painful positions, loud
music and bright lights, and the use of tight hoods
over prisoners' heads.

Amnesty has said U.S. occupation authorities maintain
that detainees are treated humanely and that reports of
abuses will be investigated.

On Saturday, the Pentagon announced that four military
police from an Army Reserve unit based in Pennsylvania
have been accused of punching, kicking and breaking the
bones of prisoners at Camp Bucca near Umm Qasr in
southern Iraq.

VIOLENT ARRESTS The Saleh home bears witness to the
violence of the arrests there. When a Chronicle
reporter visited recently, there were dozens of bullet
holes on the second-floor landing of the stairwell,
indicating the fire of soldiers shooting at Ahmed as he
fled upstairs. Only one bullet mark was visible on the
ground floor, and it appeared to be from a bullet fired
from below that ricocheted off the wall.

The stairway and upstairs bedroom were smeared with
bloodstains, which Mayda Saleh tearfully said was her
son's blood. On both floors, cabinets and dressers were
smashed, and windows, beds and even picture frames were

In a similar raid nearby on June 26, American troops
shot and killed a 13- year-old boy, Muhammad al-
Kubaisi, who neighbors said was standing on a rooftop
watching the raid.

Interviews with Iraqis in recent weeks turned up dozens
of allegations of abuses committed during arrests or

Even well-respected Iraqis have complained of their

Dr. Jamad al-Karboli, president of the Iraqi Red
Crescent Society, spent four hours in detention two
weeks ago when he left work shortly after the 11 p. m.

Al-Karboli said he was forced to sit at a roadblock
with his hands tied behind his back, denied water and
prohibited from using his American-supplied cell phone,
which was one of those given to U.S. government
officials and leaders of humanitarian organizations. He
said he saw soldiers confiscate large sums of cash from
several detainees.

"What can they think of Iraqis if they treat us like
that?" he said. "They are not respecting the dignity of

During his detention, al-Karboli said, a large
Oldsmobile passed by and its occupants strafed the
American position with automatic rifle fire -- hitting
no one -- then sped away.

"What I suffered was very mild compared to what other
Iraqis have gone through. The Americans should not be
surprised when some people get angry," he said.

WAR CONTINUES WITHOUT END Under the Geneva Conventions,
the U.S.-led alliance has wide leeway to detain anyone
it deems to be a security threat and hold them until
after hostilities end. Because President Bush has not
declared an end to the war -- only an end to "major
combat operations in Iraq" -- Gen. Saleh and others may
be held indefinitely.

When and if Saleh is charged with a crime, it is
unclear what court will hear his case.

The American administration has announced the formation
of a Central Criminal Court in Baghdad, which will have
jurisdiction over some of those held in U.S. captivity.
Prospective judges are currently being screened by
American officials.

The recently established Iraqi Governing Council has
also announced the establishment of a judicial
commission that will set up a special court system to
investigate and prosecute former members of Hussein's
government and others who may have been involved in
genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

But both plans have been criticized by some rights
advocates. Any court made up only of Iraqi judges hand-
picked by the Americans or the Governing Council is
"unlikely to produce sound prosecutions or fair trials"
and might dispense only "show trials or victor's
justice," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of
Human Rights Watch.

Roth advocates the creation of an international
tribunal for Iraq that would include judges with
experience in similar trials in Kosovo, Rwanda and
Bosnia. The Bush administration opposes the idea,
seeing it as a stalking- horse for the International
Criminal Court, which was created last year in the
Netherlands despite intense opposition by the

"The Americans need to be careful about being seen as
legitimate among the Iraqi people," said Wamid Nadhmi,
a prominent political science professor at Baghdad
University who took an independent stance from
Hussein's regime during the prewar years.

"If they are seen to be punishing people unjustly, if
they keep jailing people and mistreating them like they
have been doing, it will only make problems worse."

E-mail Robert Collier at

2003 San Francisco Chronicle | Feedback
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By Mano  Singham*

As the furor grows over the continued failure to find  Iraq's supposed
arsenal of weapons mass destruction, there is another twist to  that
story that is not receiving sufficient attention, and that is the fate of
 the Iraqi scientists who were supposedly working on the weapons.

Readers  may recall that during the period prior to the invasion when the
UN weapons  inspectors were in Iraq, trying to find these weapons, the US
government kept  giving the inspectors so-called intelligence 'leads' as
to where to find them,  all of which turned out to be fruitless. This
caused the inspectors to fume  privately that their time was being wasted
by these wild goose  chases.

The US government then shifted its position and insisted that the
weapons would soon be found if Iraqi scientists could be interviewed
without the  presence of intimidating government 'minders', so that the
scientists could  speak more freely. When that was done and did not
produce the sought-for  results, the US demand switched to insisting that
the scientists and their  families be allowed to leave the country and be
given asylum elsewhere so that  they would be truly free of Iraqi
government influence and thus able to speak  their minds. But the weapons
remained elusive.

Now the government of  Saddam Hussein is gone, and these same Iraqi
scientists are in the hands of the  US authorities. They have the most
favorable conditions of all to reveal any damaging information that they
might have since the US government, desperate to  justify its invasion,
would presumably reward any scientist who could point them  to the

What is interesting is that nearly three months after  Bush declared
victory, not only do we not know whether these scientists revealed  any
important information, the scientists themselves are missing and being
kept  in undisclosed locations without contact with even their families.
Their  conditions are even worse than of those prisoners being held in
Guantanamo  Bay.

Jonathan Steele reporting from Baghdad in the Sunday July 20, 2003  issue
of The Observer (London) states that:

"The International Committee  of the Red Cross, with an
internationally recognized mandate to inspect  detention centers around
the world, has been urging the US to clarify the status  of the three
dozen Iraqi scientists and officials it holds. The authorities have
given no details of their whereabouts and, unlike Camp Delta in
Guantanamo Bay,  the place where they are held has not been shown to
journalists. Some detainees are believed to be imprisoned in solitary
cells or in swelteringly
hot tents  near the vast US base at Baghdad airport."

Steele also reports that  around 30 other prominent Iraqis in the 'pack
of cards' (people like the former  Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz) are
being held in similarly secret conditions.

Presumably all these people have been repeatedly questioned  by U.S.
authorities. One has to assume that if even a single one of them had
revealed the existence of actual weapons or their locations or even
merely plans  for weapons, the Bush and Blair governments, increasingly
under siege by their  continued failure to substantiate the major
argument they made for the attack, would have gratefully seized upon the
news and made it

It  could be that these two governments have in fact obtained such
information and  are holding on to it, waiting to reveal it with a
flourish at some auspicious  time. It could also be that, for reasons
unknown,these scientists are refusing  to talk.

But it is most likely that all these scientist captives are  being held
incommunicado because they are saying now what they kept saying all
along, that there are simply no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to
find. To  release them might result in them revealing yet another gaping
hole in the case for war.

It is time to demand answers to the question of why the Iraqi scientists
are being held prisoner. Is their only crime that they cannot say  what
their captors want them to say? Have they become, in essence, political

*Mano Singham is a physicist and educator at Case Western
Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. (CounterPunch, 23 July  2003)


Another thought in the air worth keeping in mind is that a reason why
Saddam's sons were killed could have been so they could not say things in
a trial which would be embarrassing to Bush.

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