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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Iraqis protest torture by new govt, poor reporting

Today, protests by over 1000 Sunnis against torture and sectarian policies will be briefly mentioned in a Reuters story about a suicide bombing. According to the paragraph, "simulating torture, they [the protestors] dressed up as soldiers and used drills (see use of drills for knee-capping here), wooden clubs and electric wires to act out what they said were the techniques used by government forces against them."

Interestingly, the Reuters report states that "the government has denied similar accusations", despite the fact that the government admitted them 26 days ago at an internationally reported press conference.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Iraqi police using torture

Today, on the heels of a Guardian story about the new Iraqi government's use of torture, the BBC will run a story on a similar topic. The article covers much of the same material as the Guardian article, and notes the potential for the torture to deepen the sectarian divide and civil war. The article quotes Salman al-Faraji, a human right activist, who opines that the torture is widespread and systemic
Most cases are quite similar, the same methods are used," he said. "They torture them, breaking hands and legs. They use electric drills to pierce their bodies and then the killing is carried out at close range."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Australian Federal Police question academic over library books

Today the ABC will report that the AFP questioned PhD researcher 'Abraham' from Monash University. In a move reminiscent of recent US actions, it is alleged that the AFP targeted 'Abraham' because of his Muslim name, and the nature of the books that he was borrowing from the library, which formed part of his research into the role of martyrdom in Islam. 'Abraham', a mainstream Muslim, is quoted as saying
Quite ironic is my study's involved in obviously preventing these actions [terrorism] from occurring.
According to the article, in light of these events Abraham's lecturer Dr David Wright-Neville has since warned his students about the threat posed by the authorities as they undertake their academic work. He stated
It's happened to one and I think that all students, if they're going to be studying this subject, need to be made aware that based on the experience of last week that they might also be targeted by the authorities.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Sunni official alleges firing because of opposition to torture

Today, Adnan al-Dulaimi will be dismissed from his post as head of the Sunni Endowment, the government agency in charge of the upkeep of Sunni mosques and shrines. According to the Guardian, Al-Dulaimi will tell The Associated Press that he was fired for speaking against the new Iraqi government's torture practices against Sunnis. He said
"I think that the reason behind my dismissal is that they want to silence a voice that is speaking against unjustified practices against Sunnis such as arrests, torture in the prisons, and also for my calls to release innocent detainees and to save Iraq from sectarianism, insecurity and divisions."

Bush Administration opposes ban on "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of detainees

This week, it will be reported internationally that the Bush administration has threatened to veto a Senate bill for $442 billion in next year's defense programs if it tries to regulate the Pentagon's treatment of detainees or sets up a commission to investigate operations at US operated military prisons.

The move came after at least 10 Republican Senators called for legislation that would block the US military from engaging in "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" of detainees, including using interrogation methods not authorized by a new Army field manual, nor by the Geneva Conventions.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Defense defies order to release additional Abu Ghraib material

After a Freedom of Information request by NGOs, today was meant to be the day that additional photographs and video of Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse were released. The government had already been given nearly a month's extension, to allow them time to obscure the identity of soldiers and victims in the photographs and video.

At the last moment, the government will file a motion to oppose the release of the photos and videos. They will request a 7(F) exemption from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act to withhold law enforcement-related information in order to protect the physical safety of individuals. The government's motives behind these actions will be met with suspicion.

According to a press release from one of the ACLU, the government will file the full reasons for defying the request in a memorandum and three declarations, which will be under seal with the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York.

Under the government’s proposal, the documents explaining the government’s reasons for withholding the images of abuse will not be available to the public except in redacted form, and the photographs and videos may never be made public.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Poll: Terror suspect rights important

Beginning today, The Pew Research Center will conduct a survey about the importance of various Supreme Court Decisions. Those surveyed were asked to rank court decisions as "very important", "fairly important", "not too important", or "not at all important". 62% of those surveyed will rank court decisions on terror suspect rights as "very important".
Importance of Supreme Court Decisions
Very Less Don't
important important know
% % %
Abortion 63 36 1
Terror suspect rights 62 37 1
Religious displays 55 44 1
Lawsuit award limits 49 49 2
Affirmative action 43 54 3
A breakdown of percentage who viewed suspect rights as "very important" by demographic is below

Rated terror suspect rights as "very important"
Very important (%)
Total 62
Non-White 70
White 59
Conserv Repub 62
Mod/Lib Repub 58
Independent 62
Mod/Cons Dem 67
Liberal Dem 58
White Protestant Evangelical 69
White Protestant Mainline 52
White Catholic 57
Secular 62

Monday, July 04, 2005

Iraq's govt admits security forces use torture

In response to a story in Britain's The Observer (see entry on previous day) detailing allegations of death squads and torture chambers, Iraqi Government spokesperson Laith Kubba will admit that the incidents occur, but deny that the government is responsible for them.
"These things happen. We know that," Laith Kubba told a news briefing ... "It does not happen because the Government approves it or adopts it as policy," he added, saying ministers were worried.
Instead, Kubba will blame a culture of violence in Iraqi society, stretching back to the Hussein regime decades ago, when it enjoyed US support.
"At the end of the day, I'm sorry to say that we are living in a society where the culture now accepts these violations. I'm sorry to say the culture of violence has spread." ... Government spokesman Mr Kubba said the new authorities were training police and troops to respect human rights. "But theory is one thing and practice is another," he said, adding that decades of violence had brutalised Iraqi society.
Mr Kubba did not go into whether or not he included the allegation that US Marines were present during torture incidents as one of the ways in which Iraqi society had been brutalised.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

New Iraqi govt using torture

Today, The Guardian's Observer will run a story giving details of horrific torture allegedly used by the new Iraqi government's forces. Tomorrow, the Iraqi government will respond to the allegations by admitting that the incidents occur, but denying that they are caused by any government policy.

The story refers first to the HRW report The New Iraq? Torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Iraqi custody (blog entry reference), in which it was reported that Iraqi police, jailers and intelligence agents, many of them holding the same jobs they had under Hussein, are "committing systematic torture and other abuses" of detainees. Several of the detainees claim that US Marines were present and observed their torture.

The Observer adds more serious allegations to those of HRW, giving an overview of widespread torture tactics, and detailing some individual cases. It links them to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, and the police commando units that operate from there. The abuses credited to them are summarised below.

The Observer includes the following general tactics:

  • extra-judicial executions
  • a 'ghost' network of detention facilities
  • tortured and executed victims dumped in shallow graves
The Observer includes the following case studies, and notes that it includes "methods resurrected from the time of Saddam". I have provided a link for tactics reminiscent of those more recently employed by the Coalition of the Willing:
  • Hassan an-Ni'ami. His capture by the Ministry of Interior's paramilitary police commandos "Rapid Intrusion" was reported on television. His corpse was found with the following:
  • Corpses of farmers found in shallow graves showed the following evidences:
    • bullet to the head suggesting execution
    • face blackened by strangulation
    • bruises to the forehead
    • evidence of punch in the eye
    • fractured ankle
    • burn marks
    • puncture wounds consistent with the use of a spiked "knuckle-duster"
  • Tahar Mohammed Suleiman al-Mashhadani seized by Ministry of the Interior paramilitary police Rapid Intrusion (part of the "Wolf Brigade"). He was found by his family 20 days later, his corpse tortured almost beyond recognition.
  • 'Zaid', who spoke to the reporters, alleges he was taken by the Ministry of the Interior, and there saw men who had been tortured.
  • 'Abu Ali' claims that he was:
    • beaten on the feet
    • hung by his arms
    • threatened with anal penetration by a bottle