Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Prosecution, please

A couple weeks ago, I came across this post on Andrew Sullivan's "Daily Dish":
Rape And "Enhanced Interrogation"

One way to look at how the Bush administration redefined torture out of existence, so that it could, er, torture human beings, is to compare their criteria for "enhanced interrogation" with those for rape. Raping someone need not leave any long-term physical scars; it certainly doesn't permanently impair any bodily organ; it has no uniquely graphic dimensions - the comic book pulling-fingernail scenarios the know-nothings in the Bush administration viewed as torture; and although it's cruel, it's hardly unusual. It happens all the time in regular prisons, although usually by other inmates as opposed to guards. It barely differs from the sexual abuse, forced nudity and psychological warfare inflicted on prisoners by Bush-Cheney in explicit terms.

Recall that smearing fake sexual blood on the faces of victims was regarded as brilliant interrogation by the Bushies in Gitmo - and its psychological effects were supposed to be heightened by Muslim sexual sensibilities. And male rape would be particularly effective in destroying male Muslim self-worth and psychological integrity. Rape almost perfectly fits, in other words, every criterion the Bush administration used to define "enhanced interrogation."

So ask yourself: if Abu Zubaydah had been raped 83 times, would we be talking about no legal consequences for his rapist - or the people who monitored and authorized the rape?
I had been reading up on torture-related articles, and I remember thinking that he made a good point in this post. Namely, that rape would seemingly fall within the "it's not torture" boundaries set by Bush and Cheney, and how horrific that fact is. (Though he is wrong in that it doesn't permanently impair any bodily organ; I believe there a girls and women all over Africa who will say otherwise.)

Soon after reading that blog entry, I was pointed to the 2004 Salon article in which Seymour Hersh claims that boys were sodomized at Abu Ghraib. I don't know why I hadn't heard about this before, but it was news to me. It hasn't really been reported on much, just a couple articles in the UK from what I can tell, so it's hard to know the accuracy of his claim.

Now, there's this news about the yet-to-be-released photos from Abu Ghraib, from the Telegraph:

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.


Simply horrific. It gets worse:

Maj Gen Taguba’s internal inquiry into the abuse at Abu Ghraib, included sworn statements by 13 detainees, which, he said in the report, he found “credible based on the clarity of their statements and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses.”
Among the graphic statements, which were later released under US freedom of information laws, is that of Kasim Mehaddi Hilas in which he says: “I saw [name of a translator] ******* a kid, his age would be about 15 to 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [name] who was wearing the military uniform, putting his **** in the little kid’s ***…. and the female soldier was taking pictures.”

The translator was an American Egyptian who is now the subject of a civil court case in the US.

Three detainees, including the alleged victim, refer to the use of a phosphorescent tube in the sexual abuse and another to the use of wire, while the victim also refers to part of a policeman’s “stick” all of which were apparently photographed.

This same article says "The latest photographs relate to 400 cases of alleged abuse between 2001 and 2005 in Abu Ghraib and six other prisons. Mr Obama said the individuals involved had been “identified, and appropriate actions” taken."

We don't know if those latest photos actually include the ones mentioned in this article. But I, for one, would like to know if "appropriate actions" were taken regarding these allegations of rape. Were any actions taken? What would be appropriate punishment? Why do I suspect it's little more than being discharged from the military?

This is so shameful. I want to believe it's not true, but sadly I won't be surprised if it is. Rape has long been used as a "weapon" in war; I just didn't think we would be the ones using it. Investigate, please. The country needs to know the truth about this, and all torture allegations that have surfaced thus far.

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