Monday, April 11, 2011

US Military Holds and Abuses & Tortures Terror Suspects in Secret Jails in Afghanistan for Weeks Without Charge

Anyway when it comes to the treatment of prisoners by the US in Afghanistan not that much has changed since Obama took office.
There are still numerous complaints that POWs (referred to by American authorities and the Mainstream Media as "detainees") are still being abused, tortured and denied their basic rights as POWs or as captured Enemy Combatants.

One of the main issues over the treatment of "detainees" has been the narrow definition of "torture" which is often used by US officials during the Bush presidency and now used by the Obama administration. This narrow definition of torture which only includes techniques such as water-boarding has also creped its way into the Mainstream media in the USA. The media should know better and if they do they don't seem to care .
It is also a matter of the media being reluctant to deal in some detail with some of the more subtle forms and techniques of torture.
The US media along with those in authority are rather dismissive of the use of techniques such as sleep deprivation as opposed to water-boarding
or the use of electric shock or beating the crap out of a prisoner.
We could conclude that this is part of the American mentality of seeing everything in black and white terms and the inability to deal with subtler forms of torture. All of these techniques when used are not used to get actionable intel but rather to control inmates, to terrorize them and to send a message to other insurgents, rebels , dissidents etc. not to mess with the American military forces.

When US officials and the Mainstream Media refer to torture they point to techniques which are obvious cases of torture such as "water boarding" but appear dismissive of other practices which are according to international law deemed as torture techniques such as sleep deprivation, sensory overload, sensory deprivation, solitary confinement ,intimidation, threats ,sexual abuse, sodomy, insults or denying prisoners their right to pray or carry out other religious observances such as reading their Holy Texts ie the Qur'an.

What is overlooked is that a combination of various techniques over a period of time amounts to abuse and or torture.
Once again we see the Americans playing word-games as it were when it comes to torture and abuse of so called "detainees".

Terror Suspects Held Weeks in Secret AP Exclusive: US military holds terror suspects in secret jails for weeks without charge By KIMBERLY DOZIER AP Intelligence Writer April 09, 2011

"AP" -- KABUL, Afghanistan April 8, 2011 --- Black sites," the secret network of jails that grew up after the Sept. 11 attacks, are gone. But suspected terrorists are still being held under hazy circumstances with uncertain rights in secret, military-run jails across Afghanistan, where they can be interrogated for weeks without charge, according to U.S. officials who revealed details of the top-secret network to The Associated Press.

The Pentagon has previously denied operating secret jails in Afghanistan, although human rights groups and former detainees have described the facilities. U.S. military and other government officials confirmed that the detention centers exist but described them as temporary holding pens whose primary purpose is to gather intelligence.

The Pentagon also has said that detainees only stay in temporary detention sites for 14 days, unless they are extended under extraordinary circumstances. But U.S. officials told the AP that detainees can be held at the temporary jails for up to nine weeks, depending on the value of information they produce. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the program is classified.

The most secretive of roughly 20 temporary sites is run by the military's elite counterterrorism unit, the Joint Special Operations Command, at Bagram Air Base. It's responsible for questioning high-value targets, the detainees suspected of top roles in the Taliban, al-Qaida or other militant groups.

The site's location, a short drive from a well-known public detention center, has been alleged for more than a year.

The secrecy under which the U.S. runs that jail and about 20 others is noteworthy because of President Barack Obama's criticism of the old network of secret CIA prisons where interrogators sometimes used the harshest available methods, including the simulated drowning known as waterboarding.

Human rights advocates say the severest of the Bush-era interrogation methods are gone, but the conditions at the new interrogation sites still raise questions. Obama pledged when he took office that the United States would not torture anyone, but former detainees describe harsh treatment that some human rights groups claim borders on inhumane.

More than a dozen former detainees claimed they were menaced and held for weeks at the Joint Special Operations Command site last year, forced to strip naked, then kept in solitary confinement in windowless, often cold cells with lights on 24 hours a day, according to Daphne Eviatar of the group Human Rights First, which interviewed them in Afghanistan.

Eviatar said her monitoring group does not believe the JSOC facility is using the full range of Bush-era interrogation techniques, but she said there's a disturbing pattern of using fear and humiliation to soften up the suspects before interrogation.

Many of those interviewed said "they were forced to strip naked in front of other detainees, which is very humiliating for them," Eviatar said. "The forced nudity seems to be part of a pattern to make detainees feel disempowered."

The detainees also reported that their interrogators told them they could be held indefinitely, the group said.

Special Operations Command spokesman Col. Tim Nye denies the allegations, insisting the detainees are treated in accordance with U.S. detention laws, rewritten since the Bush era to prohibit the harshest interrogation techniques. "All detainees are treated humanely in compliance with all U.S. and international laws, including Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions," Nye wrote in an e-mail.

U.S. officials in Afghanistan add that the top commander there, Gen. David Petraeus, insisted on opening the Joint Special Operations Command site to inspection by Afghan officials and the International Red Cross last summer. The International Red Cross has not responded to an AP inquiry about whether it had been allowed to visit the site.

Petraeus wanted to force more openness on the JSOC, a secretive organization that runs special missions units within the military to perform highly classified activities, according to a senior official briefed on the program, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss classified matters.

The official said part of Petraeus' logic was to ensure transparency to international monitoring bodies so the interrogations could continue because they are yielding intelligence that has helped quadruple special operations missions against militant targets.

When suspected insurgents or terrorists are first captured, they are interrogated in the field to determine their status in the insurgent hierarchy and their usefulness in terms of local, tactical military intelligence, officials said.

Detainees then can be held up to 14 days in a temporary facility before being either released or transferred to a public detention facility called Parwan that is jointly run by the United States and Afghanistan. The Parwan jail abuts the sprawling U.S. base at Bagram, north of Kabul, which also houses the secret "temporary" jail.

Ordinary Taliban foot soldiers often provide useful information about how insurgent networks work, who runs them and who pays the bills, said Vice Adm. Robert Harward, who runs detention operations in Afghanistan.

But if detainees can provide unusually valuable information on the location of a bomb-building factory or are willing to identify the local Taliban commander, their interrogators can ask to keep them longer.

After the first two weeks, the first extension is for three weeks, for reasons including "producing good tactical intel" to "too sick to move," according to a U.S. official familiar with the procedure. The next possible extension is for an additional month, adding up to a total of roughly nine weeks in temporary detention before battlefield interrogators have to appeal to the executive, either the defense secretary or the president himself, for another extension.

The military has never pushed for that for any detainee, according to a former senior intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss classified matters.

It's unclear how many detainees are being held at the temporary facilities at any one time. Detention spokesperson Capt. Pamela Kunze says the number is classified, but it represents only a small fraction of the total number of detainees.

If evidence against the detainees proves solid, they are transferred to Parwan for eventual prosecution in Afghan courts.

Last year, only 1,300 suspects out of 6,600 arrested across Afghanistan ended up at the Parwan detention facility, according to Harward.

There are currently some 1,900 detainees being held at Parwan, which has a capacity of 2,600. Parwan will gradually be handed over to Afghan control. The status of the temporary facilities likely would be negotiated as part of a future security agreement, transitioning power to the government of Afghanistan.

FAIR accuses Rachel Maddow of being a bit flippant about attacking Libyan News agency as if some journalists are legitimate targets while others are not.
But the US military appear to believe any journalists that disagrees with the actions of the United States is therefore a legitimate target as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan especially with the US deadly attacks on Al Jazeera.

Rachel Maddow Interviews Col. Jack Jacobs , March 31, 2011.

But the question is did Maddow just mean that the US should jam Libyan governments TV and Radio signals or blowing up their buildings with journalist inside as the US did in Iraq in 2003.
This all seems odd given the contradiction in US past actions as in Rwanda when the Clinton administration refused to jam the signal of the Hutu government controlled radio station which day in and day out encouraged the murder of Tutsis civilians during the Rwandan Genocide which the US showed little concern for . The US government claimed it couldn't jam the signal in Rwanda because this would violate the Freedom of the Press. But others argued in the case of Rwanda one had rather special circumstances in which the media was used to encourage the killings of Tutsis. Rwanda was as it were not an important country in the American Empires strategic geo-politico agenda and so was relegated to the sideline and the US media of course played along . see: Genocide in Rwanda :United Human Rights Council

"Maddow Wonders Why Libyan Journalists Aren't Being Targeted"
04/05/2011 by Jim Naureckas at FAIR

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow had a discussion last week (3/31/11) about the U.S. role in the Libya War with Col. Jack Jacobs, an MSNBC military consultant. Jacobs described the U.S. military's "ability to jam communications that take place between units or among units of Gadhafi‘s army," then referred to the U.S.'s ability to jam electronic transmissions that occur when Gadhafi's army, ground forces try to fire at allied planes. The instant that a radar system is turned on on the ground, we can detect it and in very short order, send a precision-guided munition that follows the radar beam all the way down to its source.

After responding to that with "Wow," Maddow asked:

"One of the things that people have questioned is if the U.S. has this high level of electronic capability, why is Libyan state TV still on the air? Is that not one of the things they would want to shut down?"

Maddow's questions echo similar calls by U.S. journalists during the Iraq invasion for an attack on Iraqi government TV--calls that were heeded when the U.S. destroyed the TV studios with a missile attack on March 25, 2003. As FAIR wrote in a media advisory, "U.S. Media Applaud Bombing of Iraqi TV" (3/27/03):

Prior to the bombing, some even seemed anxious to know why the broadcast facilities hadn't been attacked yet. Fox News Channel's John Gibson wondered (3/24/03):

"Should we take Iraqi TV off the air? Should we put one down the stove pipe there?" Fox's Bill O'Reilly (3/24/03) agreed: "I think they should have taken out the television, the Iraqi television.... Why haven't they taken out the Iraqi television towers?" MSNBC correspondent David Shuster offered: "A lot of questions about why state-run television is allowed to continue broadcasting. After all, the coalition forces know where those broadcast towers are located."

There is a good reason, actually, why Iraqi TV should not have been attacked: Journalists are civilians, even those who enthusiastically support their country's military efforts, and therefore targeting them is a war crime. The idea that journalists reporting in a country the U.S. is at war with deserve protection seems to have been rejected by the Pentagon, however. As FAIR wrote in "IS Killing Part of Pentagon Press Policy?" (4/10/03):

In the Kosovo War, the U.S. attacked the offices of state-owned Radio-Television Serbia, in what Amnesty International called a "direct attack on a civilian object" which "therefore constitutes a war crime." On March 25, the U.S. began airstrikes on government-run Iraqi TV, in what the International Federation of Journalists (Reuters, 3/26/03) suggested might also be a Geneva Convention violation, since it the U.S. was "targeting a television network simply because they don't like the message it gives out."

The Committee to Protect Journalists declined to count the Serbian journalists killed by the United States in its annual list of murdered journalists, a move that FAIR warned at the time would contribute to a sense that "enemy" journalists are fair game (Extra!, 9-10/00). Maddow's question suggests that treating reporters as enemy combatants has indeed become the new normal.
And there is a new petition on line calling for a No-Fly Zone for Afghanistan to prevent the US and NATO from killing more innocent Afghanistani civilians.
The petition accuses US and NATO forces in Afghanistan as being as brutal,merciless and as reckless as Qaddafi's forces in Libya.

"Why a No-Fly Zone is Vital for Afghanistan" at RootsAction Center/

Civilians look up with fear in Afghanistan. Establishment of a No-Fly Zone would deny access to Afghan skies for U.S. and NATO military aircraft now firing missiles and dropping bombs that kill innocent people.

These crimes have been numerous enough to establish a pattern.1 The United States has made clear its intention to continue and escalate this behavior.2 On the first day of March, two U.S. helicopters tracked and killed, one by one, a total of nine young boys gathering firewood.3 The attacks by drones and piloted aircraft are part of a lethal pattern. Just this Tuesday, a raid killed six people.4 On Wednesday, a convoy ran over three civilians, killing one.5 Elsewhere, British soldiers reportedly ran two over and killed two women, shot a man and wounded a child on Wednesday.6

And a large percentage of Iraqis insist the US pull out its troops by the end of the year as previously agreed to by Iraq government and the Obama administration.
But of course the Obama administration is dismissive of such complaints and plans to stay in Iraq beyond 2011 .

The main issue is that the USA had no right to invade and occupy Iraq in the first place. Now that they are in Iraq the US seems to believe it has a God given right to occupy Iraq or any other nation and non-Americans have no right to criticize what America does.

So now after having destroyed much of Iraq's infrastructure and having killed somewhere around a million Iraqis and incarcerated abused and tortured tens of thousands of Iraqis most of whom were not terrorists the USA is either unable to see an honorable way out of Iraq or simply has no intention of leaving since Iraq gives the US Empire a base in the middle east from which to launch more attacks on countries the US does not like .

" Al Sadr threatens action if US forces remain in Iraq "Associated Press Apr 9, 2011
BAGHDAD // A powerful anti-American Shiite cleric threatened Saturday to reactivate his feared militia if U.S. soldiers remain in Iraq beyond this year, following an offer by the Obama administration to keep troops on if they are needed.
Eight years to the day after former dictator Saddam Hussein was ousted, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr issued a statement to his followers that stopped just short of calling for violent action against U.S. forces. He accused "the occupation" of inciting panic, corruption and unrest among Iraqis.

His statement was read aloud at a huge protest of tens of thousands in Baghdad's Mawal Square, near al-Sadr's Sadr City stronghold. The cleric is in Iran, where he has been studying religion for the last several years.

"What if the invasion forces will not leave our lands?" al-Sadr said in the statement, which was read at the protest by his aide Salah al-Obeidi. "What if the U.S. forces and others stay in our beloved lands? What if their companies and embassy headquarters will continue to exist with the American flags hoisted on them? Will you be silent? Will you overlook this?"

"No, no America. No, no America," the crowd shouted in reply.

Meanwhile the United Nations is insisting that Iraqi leaders take protesters complaints seriously.

UN: Iraq's leaders must address protest demands by Edith M. Lederer Washington Examiner, April 11, 2011

The U.N. envoy to Iraq urged the country's leaders Friday to address the legitimate demands of protesters for jobs, services and accountability.

Ad Melkert warned that unless the government tackles these demands, Iraq's political and democratic gains so far "may seem hollow to ordinary Iraqis."

He told the U.N. Security Council that "this will be no easy task for the government of Iraq."

Melkert said the unfolding events in the Middle East and persistent calls for change "are of major significance."

"While Iraq has made remarkable strides in its democratic transition in recent years, which included the adoption of a constitution, credible national elections, a broad national partnership government and an opening environment for media and civil society," he said "the people of Iraq are now demanding the dividends that were promised by their leaders."

Protesters who have demonstrated across Iraq since Feb. 25 are voicing "legitimate concerns around better employment opportunities, the delivery of basic services and accountability," he said.

He said "how to create opportunities and respond to the aspirations of young people will be key."

According to the U.N., 78 percent of the Iraqi population is under 35 years old, 43 percent is under 15 years old, "and youth constitute over 50 percent of the total unemployment rate, about one million people," Melkert said. In addition, less than 40 percent of children enroll in secondary school and only 21 percent are enrolled in the final two years of secondary school.

"These statistics paint a picture of a young population with few prospects for the future," he said.

Melkert said Iraqi elected officials are taking the demands seriously "and have shown a renewed determination to act decisively."

He said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered Cabinet ministers to ensure that within 100 days plans are introduced to achieve "tangible progress in the key areas of job creation and service delivery."

"Other initiatives have also been announced, including cuts in defense expenditures and government salaries as well as tackling corruption," Melkert said.

The U.N. met with al-Maliki to discuss how it could support the government's efforts and proposed implementing a list of projects "that could rapidly be expanded and fast tracked to address in particular youth employment, health and nutrition, solid waste management, public distribution of food rations, and access to water," he said.

The U.N. also proposed specific initiatives to support the dialogue between the government and civil society, with an emphasis on promoting human rights, he said.

And so it goes,

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