Friday, May 20, 2005

Documents Confirm Prisoner Torture in Afghanistan

The New York Times is reporting on serious abuses against prisoners in Afghanistan's Bagram prison, some so severe that they led to death. The paper’s information comes from internal military documents and the Pentagon acknowledges that seven soldiers have been brought up on charges with twenty others under investigation.
"What we have learned through the course of all these investigations is that there were people who clearly violated anyone's standard for humane treatment," said the Pentagon's chief spokesman, Larry Di Rita. "We're finding some cases that were not close calls."

Yet the Bagram file includes ample testimony that harsh treatment by some interrogators was routine and that guards could strike shackled detainees with virtual impunity. Prisoners considered important or troublesome were also handcuffed and chained to the ceilings and doors of their cells, sometimes for long periods, an action Army prosecutors recently classified as criminal assault.

That’s just a small excerpt from The Times’ story. You’ll need to read the full piece to understand how serious and pervasive these abuses were.

This is a matter that the U.S. Congress must address. There will undoubtedly be those who will retort with "well, THEY behead their prisoners,” as if our only moral obligation is to be slightly less vicious than our enemy. The Muslim terrorists are capable of unfathomable evil. But that should in no way change who we are. And what we are is a strong people who have fundamental beliefs in goodness and justice. We do not sink to the level of torture. That is not who we are.

This report coupled with the Abu Ghraib incident is incredibly disturbing. I don't think there is a systematic pattern of prisoner torture, but there is definitely a pattern of poor training and horrendous supervision. The Pentagon may be doing its job to investigate and punish this behavior. But they are clearly not doing their job of preventing it in the first place. The Bagram incidents recorded in the report happened around the same time as Abu Ghraib. But the fact they happened at all proves Abu Ghraib was not the isolated event that the Pentagon claimed it to be.

Since these absues, has the Pentagon put in to place the kinds of forceful regulations and deep layers of supervision that are needed to ensure prisoner torture stops for good? A Congressional investigation is needed to find out as soon as possible.

The Moderate Voice has much more on this.


At 12:01 AM, Blogger Sean said...

first, these are all allegations from over a year ago. the question is, have things changed since then.

when we hype these things, and give them a level of importance they do not deserve, it sends the wrong message. it sends the message that this is the norm. You can try to explain it away all you want to, but the reality is the enemy will use anything they can to effect America's image.

Maybe I am naive, but I dont think it is the norm. I am not so quick to jump and condemn without complete facts. What was the prisoner doing?
BTW- i love how some people care about prisoiners in every country but the US.

At 12:50 AM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...


All I ask is that there be a full investigation by Congress. The fact that Abu Ghraib was not an isolated incident raises enough questions that a Congressional investigation is quite appropriate. I don't think this kind if thing is the norm, either. All I want is to ensure that the Pentagon has put the right policies in place to make sure it never becomes the norm.


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