Loss of Privacy

Keeping you informed on recent losses to privacy and civil rights worldwide.

Browsing Posts tagged torture

A Guardian and BBC Arabic exposé reveals that the United States armed and trained Iraqi death squads who then ran torture centers. The United States is largely ignoring this story.

AMY GOODMAN: What most surprised you by this investigation, Maggie, by what you found?

MAGGIE O’KANE: I think the most surprising thing was the scale and the organization of the—of the torture, that it was sort of so well organized, that there were these platforms, that there were hundreds of people being lifted all of the time.

And the other thing that surprised me about it is that somehow in the kind of fog of war, that we never, as journalists, never really seem to reach the—to report it in a way that people could really understand what was happening there. There were reports. It was called “The Way of the Commandos.” There were reports that torture was going on, but somehow it never penetrated, or it was never sort of acknowledged that that’s the way the war was being conducted.

And I think one of the things, the great things, that I have learned from this is that we’re very—we’re very easy with words like “human intelligence,” “counterinsurgency,” and that we don’t really understand that this is about systematic and brutal torture that has repercussions among the civilian population.

And also that there was one man whose history goes back through so many of America’s wars. And I think it’s indicative of a very dysfunctional, brutal time, that I hope this film will be a legacy that actually says, if you want to go to war, this is what war means. It means 14-year-old boys being hung up and tortured. It means men being turned on spits. And that’s called “counterinsurgency.” So I just feel it’s important that this information comes out, and I’m shocked, in a way, that we want to forget it.

AMY GOODMAN: And as we wrap up, I wanted to turn to Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private who has admitted to leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. I want to ask about the chilling effect his case has had among soldiers who may otherwise speak out against abuses. Let’s go to just an excerpt of a leaked audio recording of Bradley Manning, first time we hear him speaking in his own words in custody. This is from his hearing last month. Listen very carefully.

BRADLEY MANNING: I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the CIDNE-I and CIDNE-A tables, this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general, as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Everyone should remember that it wasn’t just personal communications that Manning exposed. That is what the media in the United States latched on to. Within these documents were documents of torture and how they’d be denied as well as CISPA/SOPA in the UK, where government officials admitted that they were going to abuse it, ruin innovation, and eliminate competition.

MAGGIE O’KANE: … Really, this would not be coming out, if it hadn’t been for Bradley Manning. This information, the basic information, has been very key.

And I’ll tell you something else that’s very, very chilling. We spent maybe six months trying to track down young American soldiers who served in Samarra. Many of them knew what was going on there. In the end, we found one guy, called Neil Smith, in Detroit, who was 21 when he was there, who spoke out.

He spoke out because, he said, “I’m a born-again—I’m born-again Christian.” But many were too frightened because of what happened to Bradley Manning.

This is clearly the intention of the United States government. They want people to be too frightened to report the abuses that the United States are routinely performing. Manning and Julian Assange are being labeled as traitors instead of looking at what the Wikileaks documents say and actually going after the torturers that are supported by the United States. The government doesn’t like being caught lying. Manning and Assange exposed that and, under the current system, those are the people that are considered guilty, not those whose crimes were exposed.

Is it any wonder why the United States is hated throughout the Middle East?

You can watch James Steele: America’s mystery man in Iraq below, at the Guardian’s webite or on YouTube.

James Steele: America’s mystery man in Iraq – Full Documentary from W911, also on Twitter on Vimeo.

James Steele: America’s mystery man in Iraq – Full Documentary
Published [on YouTube] on Mar 8, 2013 by The Guardian

Source The Guardian, Wednesday 6 March 2013

See also CounterPunch: How Bush Used PR to Conceal Massive Ethnic Cleansing in Baghdad – The Myth of the Surge.

Another additional source with lots of information and research:
The Guardian’s Death Squad Documentary May Shock and Disturb, But the Truth is Far Worse:

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It’s worth noting that the article in the Guardian has been universally ignored in the US media presumably because its revelations suggest that the civilian leadership (Bush, Rumsfeld and Co.) may be guilty of war crimes.
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From El Salvador to Iraq: Washington’s man behind brutal police squads

In 2004, with the war in Iraq going from bad to worse, the US drafted in a veteran of Central America’s dirty wars to help set up a new force to fight the insurgency. The result: secret detention centres, torture and a spiral into sectarian carnage.
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COMPLETE ARTICLE.

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Private First Class Bradley Manning, the American soldier accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified and confidential military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, took the stand in a military court today to make his first public statements since his arrest in 2010.

Manning appeared confident and animated at a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade in Maryland as he described the mental breakdowns and extreme depression he suffered during his first year in detention, from cells in Iraq and Kuwait to the Marine base at Quantico in Virginia. Within weeks of his arrest, Manning said, he became convinced he was going to die in custody.

“I was just a mess. I was really starting to fall apart,” the 24-year-old former Army intelligence analyst said. Manning said he didn’t remember an incident while in Kuwait where he bashed his head into a wall or another where he fashioned a noose out of a bed sheet as his civilian attorney, David Coombs, said he had, but Manning did say he felt he was “going to die… [in] an animal cage.”*

Bradley Manning, the solider accused of ‘wikileaking’ classified documents finally spoke publicly about his treatment while being detained. Cenk Uygur, John Iadarola (Host, TYT University), and Mark Thompson (TV Host) discuss the demeaning, maddening, and depressing treatment Manning says he received.

*Read more from Luis Martinez/ABC News.

You can read the details of Manning’s “crazy” behavior at The Guardian.

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From Al Jazeera:

In 2003, it transpired that US intelligence services had tortured detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib with music from Sesame Street.

Human rights researcher Thomas Keenan explains: “Prisoners were forced to put on headphones. They were attached to chairs, headphones were attached to their heads, and they were left alone just with the music for very long periods of time. Sometimes hours, even days on end, listening to repeated loud music.”

“The music was so loud,” says Moazzam Begg, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay and Bagram. “And it was probably some of the worst torture that they faced.”

The BBC reported in March on other music that’s been used as torture at Guantanamo Bay.

Ruhal, who was 19 at the time of his incarceration, says he learnt to cope with the physical beatings he often suffered but was traumatised by being short-shackled to the floor in a crouching position and forced to listen to Eminem’s Kim for hours on end at very high volume.

Strobe lights were shone in his eyes and guards with barking dogs surrounded him.

Reflecting on the practice of ‘music torture’ Ruhal says it’s worse than physical pain because you can’t block it out and you feel that you are losing your mind.

As well as Eminem, songs by AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, Metallica and children’s artists Barney the Dinosaur and Sesame Street were repeatedly played to Ruhal and other detainees at extreme volume as part of a ‘torture playlist’.

This is what the United States subjects its detainees to. They have not been charged of a crime and, often, after years of captivity are released. Is it any wonder that these formally innocent people now turn against the United States and contemplate terrorism?

If you can’t hear the BBC documentary on their site, you can download the mp3.

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Not a lot of people know or care to know about the topic of US soldiers torturing other human beings. Nor do they want to know what happened to them. Made in 2010, None of Us Were Like This Before explores the other side of US torture, the US soldier. I think it’s something worth exploring to try to understand how the torturers (the US soldier) were able to do what they did and how it affected them. It also explores how the Geneva Convention was sidestepped so that the military could achieve its twisted goals. It reminds me a bit of Ordinary Men and is something worth exploring as these men and women have been brought back home with little help to deal with what happened.

It’s worth looking into this story. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with it, but we need to know the story to understand it. We obviously haven’t learned from the past yet, making this story even more important. If every single soldier knew and understood what was happening to them and how they were being manipulated, then, maybe, there would not have been the widespread torture and abuses that have taken place in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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According to Merriam-Webster, a hero is one who shows great courage. Courage is related to heroism because courage is the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Courage is having the will to act upon a wrong, knowing that there could be grave consequences to your person and you could walk away at any time, yet you do it anyway.

As Americans, we are too quick to give people the label of hero when they really aren’t. It’s a form of idol worship and a way to feel better about ourselves. Yet, when we have a genuine hero come along, we tend to vilify them instead of praise them for the courage and fortitude it took to do the right thing. Bradley Manning is, in my opinion, a true hero. He, for sure, is a flawed hero, but what he did, he did at great cost to his own liberty and, as we are now witnessing, his own sanity.

What is happening to Bradley Manning is a reflection of what we, as Americans, have become. There is no doubt that, if guilty of the charges against him, Manning broke the law and there should be consequences, but the fact that politicians, the military, and ordinary Americans are okay with his detention and torture proves that far too many of us enjoy the government being a monster to someone who may have done something wrong rather than investigating the truth.

Although it appears that Manning could be labeled a traitor for releasing state secrets, I would argue that he is a courageous hero because, in releasing the state’s secrets, he has exposed the grave dangers and harm that our leaders have been placing the United States in for many years. How could any human who has access to such information not reveal it to the world?

Right now, it does not matter if Manning is guilty or not. His treatment was, is, and continues to be inhumane. Manning is no traitor. He is a patriot. Look it up. He is far more a patriot than the GOP and teabaggers.

The true facts are that the Wikileaks cables are an embarrassment for the United States government and someone has to be made an example of. It doesn’t matter that their civil rights and human rights are being violated as long as the government portrays him as a dangerous monster. There is no absolute proof of Manning’s guilt yet. There is no proof anyone has been harmed by the release of the cables. What has happened is that the cables show the US government is guilty of many atrocities and has been very good at covering it up, until now.

Others are starting to speak out and condemn the treatment of Bradley Manning. Manning’s father has stepped forward with an interview on PBS, who have also done some great coverage of the events that are unfolding.

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

His clothing is being taken away from him, and he’s being humiliated by having to stand at attention in front of people, male or female, who are fully clothed. This is someone who has not gone to trial or been convicted of anything. It’s shocking enough that I would come out of our silence as a family and say, now then, you have crossed the line. This is wrong.

If you are angry about the treatment of Bradley Manning, don’t just get irate, raise your fists, and make a comment online. Write your senators and congressmen/women. Let your voice be heard. Let America see a true hero and help save Bradley Manning from more torture before he finally loses his sanity.

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