Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, May 29, 2009 9:43 pm

Another torture roundup

Filed under: I want my country back. — Lex @ 9:43 pm
Tags: , , ,

President Obama recently changed his mind and decided he wouldn’t publicly release photos of abuse of detainees held by the U.S. He gave two bluntly contradictory reasons: 1) that they were just more of the same; and yet 2) they might inflame people in Iraq/Afghanistan against our troops.

Well, here’s what Britain’s Telegraph is reporting:

Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged.

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.

Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

The graphic nature of some of the images may explain the US President’s attempts to block the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan despite an earlier promise to allow them to be published.

Maj Gen Taguba, who retired in January 2007, said he supported the President’s decision, adding: “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.”

If Taguba is telling the truth, then that’s not exactly “more of the same.”

Here’s the thing: Those pictures are going to be made public whether the president wants them to be or not. An appeals court already has ordered the administration to turn them over to the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued for them, on the grounds that there’s no legal basis for withholding them. And there really isn’t; only the grossest judicial activism will keep the Supremes from upholding the appeals court, if they even hear the government’s appeal at all. Better that the administration release them now and get out ahead of the story.

Unfortunately, that’ll be a little difficult inasmuch as Obama has said that everyone involved in the activities depicted in the photos already has been investigated and prosecuted. We’ve seen no evidence that that is true.

Also recently, former vice president Dick Cheney insisted in a speech that the CIA has documents that, if released, would show that interrogation techniques he approved 1) were not torture and 2) saved many innocent lives. (Ex-president Bush said pretty much the same thing in a speech Thursday night.) Now, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., is calling Cheney a liar, saying that Cheney “bore false witness.”:

“I do so as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which recently completed an 18-month investigation into the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody, and produced a 200-page bipartisan report, which gives the lie to Mr. Cheney’s claims,” said Levin [Thursday night]. “I do so because if the abusive interrogation techniques that he champions, the face of which were the pictures of abuse at Abu Ghraib, if they are once more seen as representative of America, our security will be severely set back.” …

Regarding Cheney’s claim that classified documents will prove his case — documents that Levin himself is also privy to — Levin said: “But those classified documents say nothing about the numbers of lives saved, nor do the documents connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of abusive techniques. I hope that the documents are declassified, so that people can judge for themselves what is fact, and what is fiction.”

Hey, Cheney could be telling the truth. We won’t know until the documents are released. Let’s do it.

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