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Thursday, January 22, 2004

Arar, CCR sues Ashcroft, others

Today, CCR will file a constitutional and human rights case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York challenging the decision by federal officials to send Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, to Syria for interrogation and alleged torture. The claims in the lawsuit include violations of Mr. Arar's right to due process under the U.S. Constitution, his right to choose a country of removal other than one in which he would be tortured as guaranteed under the Torture Victims Protection Act, and his rights under international law.

Said Michael Ratner, President of CCR's Board of Directors, "Maher Arar's case is not an isolated one. He is but one of many victims of the Administration's acknowledged 'policy' of 'extraordinary rendition.' This case presents the first legal challenge to this policy in an attempt to end the practice of shipping persons suspected of terrorism to other countries for interrogation under torture in order to bypass international and domestic law."

In February 2006, Judge David Trager of the Eastern District of New York will dismiss his case on the grounds that the courts cannot interfere with national security or foreign relations matters. Better commentary and details can be found on Obsidian Wings.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

US Army inquiry into conditions at Abu Ghraib launched

ICRC allegations of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib have been circulating internally for some time. After photographs of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib are passed up the chain of command, the US Army launches an internal investigation into the affair. These photographs will become public in three month's time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Rumsfeld: first notified about Abu Ghraib

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will tell reporters in May 2004 that today is the first time that allegations of guards sexually humiliating and abusing inmates at Abu Ghraib surfaced and reached him.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Incident: Reuters staff detained, abused

Today, it will be reported that three Iraqi journalists will be detained by US military and taken to a prison near Fallujah. Their names are Salem Ureibi (Reuters camera operator since 1991), Ahmad Mohammed al-Badrani (freelance Reuters video since 2003), and Sattar Jabar al-Badrani (driver).

It will be claimed that the following things occurred while the journalists were detained:

  • They were hooded.
  • They were subjected to load music and forced to dance around to it.
  • They were forced to lie on the ground and wiggle their backsides to the music.
  • They were deprived of sleep. This was denied by a report from the military.
  • They were forced to do press-ups and "ups and downs" (stand from crouching position and then crouch repeatedly) (c.f. Dec 2002, Incident: Abu Kenami dies.
  • Salem was threatened with rape and the rape of their wives.
  • They were slapped, hit with torches.
  • Ahmad was forced to insert his finger into his anus and then lick it.
  • Sattar was forced to insert his finger into his anus and then lick it, insert his finger into his nose during questioning.
  • Ahmad was forced to lick and chew upon a shoe.
  • All three were badged with the letter "C", which caused all soldiers who saw the badges to yell at them or slap them.
There are several claims that US forces knew that the men were journalists, yet did not act accordingly.

First, when US forces first approached the men, Ureibi shouted "Reuters, Reuters, journalist, journalist".

Second, Soldiers found their camera equipment and press badges in their car during a search.

Finally, Bureau Chief Andrew Marshall will observe that "the bulk of their mistreatment -- including their humiliating interrogations and the mental and physical torment of the first night which all agreed was the worst part of their ordeal -- occurred several hours AFTER I had informed the 82nd Airborne Division that they were Reuters staff. I have e-mail proof of this."

A report into the incident by US military conducted before the Abu Ghraib scandal becomes public will deny all accusations that the men were abused. The investigation will not include interviews with the three journalists. It will be reported that on 17 May 2004, Reuters will receive a letter from Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez dated 05 March 2004 stating that he is confident that the investigation into the incident was "thorough and objective".

Global Managing Editor for Reuters, David Schlesinger, will request that the military's findings be reviewed in light of the Abu Ghraib scandal. Of particular concern to Reuters is the fact that the investigation relied upon the sworn oath of the soldiers alone, and did not interview the journalists (c.f. other internal investigations where victims and key witnesses were not interviewed: March 2005, Rape investigation, 07 October 2003, Incident: alleged sexual assault). The investigation will never be reopened.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Memo: Memorandum for Record (Jassim case)

Today, a Memorandum for Record (page 1198 onward) relating to the inquiry into Salah Jassim's jaw breaking incident will be sent. In it, it will be noted that (these are direct quotes):
  • The atmosphere in the detainee holding room was tense, emotional, and encouraged the guards to engage in abusive, out of control behavior.
  • The MI personnel were abusive to detainees and these personnel set the example for inexperienced guards.
  • There is evidence that suggests the 311th MI personnel and/or translators engaged in physical torture of detainees.
It is noted that no court-martials or punishments have resulted from this investigation.

This document forms part of the documentation released by various US Government Departments in response to an FOIA court order. If you are grateful for having received this information, consider supporting the organisations in the side-bar on the right.