The U.S. military has denied giving photos of Saddam Hussein in captivity to the popular British tabloid that published them -- contradicting the newspaper's version of events.
Senior military officials told CNN Friday it was not a sanctioned release, and they are investigating to determine whether an American individual or someone else with access to Saddam at that time. [...] In Baghdad, Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, director of the Combined Press Information Center, said: "This was not an official release and we are aggressively investigating to find out what happened and why it happened."
The Pentagon issued a statement as well. "These photos were taken in clear violation of DoD (Department of Defense) directives and possibly Geneva Convention guidelines for the humane treatment of detained individuals," it said....
Because the US government is so very very concerned about not violating the Geneva Conventions.
Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.
The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.
Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.
"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"
At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.
"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.
Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time....
Somehow, deliberately murdering an innocent man would seem to be a more egregious violation of the Geneva Conventions than showing a deposed dictator in his undies. To be sure, the Conventions aren't a patchwork; administration assertions to the contrary, you can't pick and choose which ones you choose to obey. Nonetheless, the administration is demonstrating a touchingly public concern over the publication of Saddam's photos, while trying desperately to keep all mention of what little investigation there has been of prisoner abuses swept under the rug. The Times article about the Army's report lists an incredible catalog of abuses, caused primarily, so it would seem, by unclear orders, the excessive youth of the people put in charge, and lack of training.
Here's a fun little slightly related thing: the army's recent 15 month enlistment program will, ideally, ensure that they have a larger number of people available. Most of those people will be young. Because 15 months really isn't long enough to get a handle on things, especially when you're doing a fair amount of moving around, most of those people will be lightly trained -- not deliberately, but because the priority is getting them out in the field, and taking six months to get them solidly trained is not a reasonable use of a 15 month enlistment. (Never mind that almost nobody will server just 15 months; see previous day's entry on that.) Ideally, you'd be able to keep the short-termers here, and send out people with more training, but that's the precise opposite of what the military really needs right now. They need cannon fodder, pure and simple. Thus, a 15-month enlistment pretty much ensures that this sort of situation will repeat with some regularity.
So get used to seeing this sort of thing reported.
At least ... one hopes we will see this sort of thing reported when it occurs. Given the administration's desire to hide all information about anything anytime anywhere, and its appalling success rate, we're likely not to see much more about this published in the next few years.Posted by iain at May 20, 2005 11:59 AM