Abu Ghraib Whitewash

PRISONER ABUSE UPDATE - Abu Ghraib Whitewash; Children among Detainees

A new report by the Army inspector-general contradicts Gen. Antonio Taguba’s report and reports by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Describing the report as a whitewash, the editors of the New York Times write: “The authors of this 300-page whitewash say they found no "systemic" problem - even though there were 94 documented cases of prisoner abuse, including some 40 deaths, 20 of them homicides; even though only four prisons of the 16 they visited had copies of the Geneva conventions; even though Abu Ghraib was a cesspool with one shower for every 50 inmates; even though the military police were improperly involved in interrogations; even though young people plucked from civilian life were sent to guard prisoners - 50,000 of them in all - with no training…Never mind any of that. The report pins most of the blame on those depressingly familiar culprits, a few soldiers who behaved badly (NY Times editorial, 7/24/04).”

One of those “soldiers,” Pfc. Lynndie England, was in court this week for a week-long preliminary hearing. Senior Army criminal investigators testified Tuesday that the inmates who were abused last year at Abu Ghraib prison were of little or no intelligence value to the United States (LA Times 8/4/04). Special Agent Paul Arthur stated that the detainees were “of no military intelligence significance for us,” and that only two out of the entire group had been interrogated (Washington Post 8/5/04).

IRIN news, compiled by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, reported that more than 150 children ranging in age from nine to 18 are held on any given day at one just of the U.S. run detention centers in Iraq (IRIN News 7/15/04). Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker told an ACLU audience that there is videotape showing US troops sodomizing young Iraqi men at Abu Ghraib. Hersh stated, "The boys were sodomised with the cameras rolling, and the worst part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking" (the Independent 7/16/04).

The LA Times reports that CACI International has been awarded a $23 million no-bid contract to continue providing private interrogators to gather intelligence in Iraq. The contract came just as the Interior Department was preparing to cancel the existing contract with Virginia-based CACI, which came under intense scrutiny earlier this year after one of its interrogators was cited for involvement in the abuse of Iraqi captives at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison (LA Times 8/5/04). An Army official stated that CACI was awarded the contract without competitive bidding to avoid any lapse in providing interrogators to question prisoners held at U.S.-run facilities in Iraq (LA Times 8/5/04).

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