Just three months ago, veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh broke the Abu Ghraib story in the pages of the New Yorker. The now notorious photos of detainees being forced naked onto human pyramids, leashed like dogs, and forced into various humiliating poses have been circulated across the globe. I doubt that there is a man, woman, or child from the Gobi desert to Tierra Del Fuego who hasnt seen these pictures and felt nauseous in a dozens of different languages.
Army Sergeant Jeremy Sivits, the man responsible for the Rush Limbaugh-proclaimed "letting off of steam" offense of manufacturing a monkey pile of Iraqis, has been sentenced to one year in the slammer and was booted out of the army for that crime.
The military is court-martialing and punishing individual soldiers. The damage done to U.S. image abroad is wide, and will take years to fix, if repair is possible. The German television magazine, "Report Mainz, "has reported charges from the International Red Cross that the United States is holding 107 children in U.S.-administered detention centers, including Abu Ghraib. Red Cross representative Florian Westphal states that, Between January and May of this year (2004), weve registered 107 children, during 19 visits in six different locations.
The Red Cross report reveals testimony of the abuse of these children. U.S. Army Sergeant Samuel Provance told of one incident involving a 16 year old being soaked with water and smeared with cold mud and then returned to his prisoner father. One eye- witness, who was assigned to Abu Ghraib, told of interrogating officers getting their hands on a 15- to 16-year-old girl. She had been stripped half naked before some military police not under the spell of military intelligence stepped in and stopped it. U.S. News and World Report has revealed some 106 annexes to the Red Cross report. The files show prisoner riots; escapes, perhaps with help from Iraqi guards; shootings; corruption; rampant sexual misconduct; beatings; insect-infected food; and daily mortar attacks from nearby Iraqi insurgents. Last May, coalition intelligence officers estimated that between 70 to 90 percent of the Iraqi detainees were arrested "by mistake."
But Hersh, speaking at an ACLU meeting in San Francisco, broke another story that dwarfs these last examples. He says that he has seen videotapes of American occupation soldiers sodomizing Iraqi boys. Hersh also claims that the Bush administration is holding onto the evidence tapes, refusing to release them. But stories have been released, concerning classified screenings of these tapes to U.S. Senators and Members of the House of Representatives. These Members of Congress have been quoted as saying that the scenes on the evidence tapes are horrific indeed.
Hersh says of the rapes: The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling, and the worse part is the soundtracks, of the boys shrieking. And this is your government at war.
Al-Jazeera has also reported that the Bush administration has the tapes. Hersh went on to claim that there has been a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, and higher.
As disturbing as this story is, the worst part is trying to imagine who in the United States Army would do such an act of barbarity. I served on active duty, and I know that, to the average G.I., these acts are inconceivable. We would have shot out of hand anyone we caught committing such an act.
At the ACLU speech, Hersh elaborated further: a series of massive crimes, criminal activity by the president and vice-president, by this administration anyway
This is not the first time that Hersh has uncovered evidence of serious wrongdoing. He broke the story of the Mi Lai massacre back in the sixties, and has investigated the CIA/Howard Hughes connection. During the Watergate scandal, he was a reporter for The New York Times. His reputation and credibility are beyond reproach. Hersh wouldnt reveal something as shocking as this most-recent story without solid evidence.
As we go to press, Report Mainz is quoting Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson that the U.S. military is now imprisoning 58 Iraqis from the ages of 14 to 17. Johnson added that the children are held in Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca for an average of six months.
Arkansas Indymedia has published a report in which a spokesman for the Department of Defense, Lieutenant Colonel Joe Yoswa, confirmed that the U.S. military is holding 58 juveniles. He denies, however, that any are female. But Iraqi television reporter Suhaib Badr-Addin Al-Baz told the German paper Der Spiegel that he had seen hundreds of children, and he has confirmed there were young girls imprisoned. She was beaten I heard her call: they have undressed me. They have poured water over me.'
The report also conforms that children are routinely taken into custody during sweeps made by U.S. patrols. Whole families are arrested in the middle of the night. These families are taken before a committee that decides to release and who to detain. The highest-ranking member of this committee is a colonel.
The official reason being for detaining these kids is for anti-occupation activities. Details were not released.
(other sources for this story include UPI, USA Today, Big News Network, and the rawstory) By Grady Hawkins
The now-infamous prisoner abuse story has been relegated to the back pages, as the election campaigns begin in earnest. The campaigns were kicked off last week with the Democrats' gathering in Boston, Massachusetts, to nominate their standard bearer, Senator John Kerry of that very same state. Just weeks away, the Republicans will descend upon New York City to rally 'round the flag and launch their Lone Star frat boy and alleged commander-in-chief on the rocky road to re-election. There is no evidence that this convention is using the upcoming third anniversary of the 9/11 attacks for political gain or emotional extortion. We all know that Karl Rove would never do such a thing
The hand-over of Iraq's sovereignty has overshadowed the courts martial of the "rough element" and very small number of National Guard evil-doers, the most publicized being the worlds most infamous knocked-up soldier, Private Lynndie England, of somewhere near Hog Waller, West Virginia.
This state is the adopted home of Senator Jay Rockefeller. Home to numerous coal miners daughters, West Virginia is now a late night talk show punch line and public relations nightmare.