Sunday, 18 May 2014

Covering Up War Crimes

While the focus on the torture program under President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney remains fixed on the failure to come clean to Congress, it should be noted that those who carried out these terrible deeds spent a decade erasing evidence of their war crimes and destroying the lives of suspects who could testify against them, or to even acknowledge how many black sites were being run or how many people died under torture while in the custody of its operatives, medical professionals and contractors.

As far back as 2006, the United States advocacy group Human Rights First produced a report stating that over 100 suspects died “while in the hands of U.S. officials in the global war on terror.”

That figure did not tell the whole story nor did it speak to the organized and widespread torture that saw an unknown number of prisoners moved through black sites as far afield as Lithuania, Morocco, Poland and Thailand, to name but a few countries that cooperated with the U.S.

One of the critical pieces of the torture strategy was to fold up a site and destroy the evidence of its existence, including video evidence, once its existence had been compromised. But that was not the only reason detainees were flown at a moment’s notice to far-flung, secret facilities. The aim was to transform them into so-called “ghost detainees,” who did not exist on paper.

A primary reason for hiding prisoners was to ensure they would not be available to testify against their torturers. Evidence was often fabricated to keep them in custody, beyond the reach of the media and the Red Cross. Eventually, some were moved to Guantanamo Bay; torture was used there, too.
Missing in the congressional debate about the CIA is the true ugliness of the torture program and the human tragedy it generated.

According to one shocking report, Iraqi General Abed Hamed Mowhoush’s young son was dragged before him while he was being tortured. The general was told they were prepared to kill the boy. The boy was then taken to another room and subjected to a mock execution. He was hit and he bled. An interrogator showed his father the blood and told him, “I have just killed your son.”

Two of Mowhoush’s other sons were being held in custody at that time.

Over several days, Mowhoush was beaten with sledgehammer handles and rubber hoses until his heart gave out. Soldiers involved in his death were given what amounted to a slap on the wrist, and his CIA interrogators walked free.

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, May 18th, 2014.]

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