If This Isn't Evil

Thursday, May 26, 2005

If This Isn't Evil

By Anwaar Hussain

Bagram is a historic city 60 kilometers northwest of Kabul, in Afghanistan. Located at the crossroads between East and West of the yore, it has witnessed intense cultural exchanges in the past. Before being sacked by the Sassanian emperor in year 241, Bagram was once the summer capital of the great Kushan Empire of India. In the ruins of the central palace building in Bagram, a treasure trove of rich antiques was found. These ranged from ivory-plated stools of Indian origin, lacquered boxes from Han dynasty era, Greco-Roman glasses from Egypt and Syria, Hellenistic statues in the Pompean style to moldings and silverware of Mediterranean origin.

Today Bagram boasts of only one unique feature. It serves as a torture center for the occupying American forces. Innocent Afghans are tormented here to find out the perpetrators of 9/11 crime…some to death. Their bones are the only antiques that can now be dug out from the graves around Bagram, all other relics having long been looted.

Here in December 2002, life was choked out of a frail, shy, young Afghan through brutal tortures amid his cries of Allah, Allah.

By the time of his last session of pain, Dilawar’s tormentors were convinced of his innocence. They went ahead nevertheless. Major Elizabeth Rouse, the coroner at that time, said: "I've seen similar injuries in an individual run over by a bus.”

Just months afterward, in March 2003, when the spring flower had not yet bloomed on Dilawar’s grave, the supreme commander of the torturers addressed his nation in a State of the Union address. President Bush spoke about the gruesome tortures Saddam Hussein meted out to prisoners in Iraq. He described the use of electric shock, burning with hot irons, acid, and rape. The President concluded: "If this isn't evil, then evil has no meaning."

When the Abu Ghuraib, Guantanamo and Bagram prisoners’ abuse stories exploded in the world media, the President of United States in one of his Global Message radio addresses said;

“The actions depicted in those photographs show the wrongdoing of a few, and do not reflect the character of the more than 200,000 military personnel who have served in Iraq since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

And the First Lady, Mrs. Bush, echoed her illustrious husband’s thoughts in an interview in Egypt by ABC, "Good Morning America" on May 23;

“All of us, everyone -- Americans, Afghanis, Iraqis -- deplore the photographs that we've seen, the reports that we've heard of prisoner abuse. But that is not really what happens all the time and that's not what our troops really do. This is a handful of people, and I think and I believe that many people here understand that.”

That being the official line, General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appearing on ABC's "This Week," said;

"Torture is not one of the methods that we're allowed to use and that we use. I mean, it's just not permitted by international law, and we don't use it…..That is not how the American military acts or should act. It's really a shame that just a handful can besmirch maybe the reputations of hundreds of thousands of our soldiers and sailors, airmen and Marines who've been over there."

Rudolf Hoess, the SS commandant and the death-dealer of Auschwitz, too had said;

"This so-called ill treatment and torture in detention centers, stories of which were spread everywhere among the people, and later by the prisoners who were freed, were not, as some assumed, inflicted methodically, but were excesses committed by individual prison guards, their deputies, and men who laid violent hands on the detainees."

Hoess was executed in 1947 for doing what he did despite his assertions to the contrary. Is it that the tally of dead Dilawars has not yet reached Hoess’s score that the Americans keep ignoring the crimes of their leaders?

In 1975 the United Nations (UN) General Assembly unanimously approved the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Member nations agreed to eliminate torture. Article 3 made clear: "No State may permit or tolerate torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

The states assumed active responsibility to eliminate torture. Exceptional events, situations, or factors would not provide an exception to the prohibition against torture. Article 3 continued: "Exceptional circumstances such as a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency may not be invoked as a justification of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Furthermore, a key provision in Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states:

"Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honor, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity. "

The authoritative commentary to the Fourth Geneva Convention published by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) points out that this article "proclaims the principle of respect for the human person and the inviolable character of the basic rights of individual men and women." It continues:

"The right of respect for the person must be understood in its widest sense: it covers all the rights of the individual, that is, the rights and qualities which are inseparable from the human being by the very fact of his existence and his mental and physical powers; it includes, in particular, the right to physical, moral and intellectual integrity - an essential attribute of the human person."

The law is absolutely clear, categorical and unambiguous.

Enter the American administration’s translation of the law.

Anthony Lewis has a long, devastating article called, "Making Torture Legal”. A passage from it reads;

“Reading through the memoranda written by Bush administration lawyers on how prisoners of the "war on terror" can be treated is a strange experience. The memos read like the advice of a mob lawyer to a mafia don on how to skirt the law and stay out of prison. Avoiding prosecution is literally a theme of the memoranda. Americans who put physical pressure on captives can escape punishment if they can show that they did not have an "intent" to cause "severe physical or mental pain or suffering." And "a defendant could negate a showing of specific intent...by showing that he had acted in good faith that his conduct would not amount to the acts prohibited by the statute."

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, filed a request on Oct. 7, 2003 under the Freedom of Information Act demanding the release of information about detainees held overseas by the United States.

Released after many delaying tactics, below are documents the government did not want the general public to read, including an FBI memo, stating that Defense Department interrogators impersonated FBI agents and used "torture techniques" against a detainee at Guantanamo. Read on;

- FBI documents e-mails of FBI agents witnessing the use of "torture techniques" in Guantanamo (12/20/04);


- E-mails of McCraw inquiry into detainee abuse in Guantanamo (1/5/05);


A careful reading of these documents makes it abundantly clear that these acts of torture and abuse are not just some off the wall case of rogue or poorly trained soldiers who were going against the rules. These acts are part of a pattern of behavior fully condoned by the Bush administration.

The abuse of POWs in Baghdad and Afghanistan, the no man’s land constructed for the Guantanamo “enemy combatants” is nothing new. American warfare has a history of abuse.

The “Winter Soldier Investigation” conducted by the “Vietnam Veterans Against the War” in Detroit in 1971 suggested that the atrocities committed in My Lai were not the only ones of its kind but part of larger history of atrocities committed by American forces in Vietnam. Among the findings read into the Congressional Record were that “we were murdering prisoners, we were turning prisoners over to somebody else to be tortured.” Moreover, “every law of Land Warfare has been violated.”

Not very long back, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation was carried out by the Toledo Blade into the atrocities committed by the “Tiger Force” of the 101st Airborne division in 1967. It has confirmed this general picture of some U.S. armed forces routinely breaking the rules of civilized warfare.

The real lesson of the current American onslaught on a defenseless, but oil rich, people then is that there is no limit to the horrors that the ruling American class will inflict to stay in power and gobble up the fast dwindling world resources. As long as the American nation continues to tolerate these leaders, who make lies seem true and slaughter respectable, mass carnage will continue to be committed in their name.

Last year, when Bush hastily declared mission accomplished, he stated that "Saddam's torture chambers are closed." He did not tell the world that he had already opened his own…the first one at Bagram.

"If this isn't evil, then evil has no meaning." Tell that to Dilawar’s daughter.

Copyrights : Anwaar Hussain
Email : eagleeye@emirates.net.ae

posted by Anwaar Hussain at 12:01 PM


Informant: Martin Greenhut


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