Today is SAY NO TO U.S. TORTURE POLICY Day. We made this reminder so you don’t forget. You’re welcome.
RELATED: Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged. At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee. Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube. Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts. Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq. Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph. MORE
RELATED: A former U.S. general said graphic images of rape and torture are among the photos of Iraqi prisoner abuse that President Obama’s administration does not want released. The Telegraph said the photos relate to 400 cases of alleged abuse between 2001 and 2005 at Abu Ghraib and six other prisons. The newspaper said the images in the photos were backed up by statements from Taguba’s report into prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib obtained under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. MORE
RELATED: There are those who argue that U.S. officials who authorized waterboarding and who performed waterboarding should not be held criminally accountable, notwithstanding the fact that the U.S. government prosecuted Japanese military personnel who waterboarded U.S. POWs during World War II. Their reasoning goes as follows: Since the president’s attorneys redefined torture to mean only those actions that threaten death or serious injury to bodily organs, waterboarding did not meet that redefinition. What about rape? It would seem that rape, like waterboarding, would not meet the Bush administration’s redefinition of torture. Rape doesn’t threaten death or serious injury to bodily organs. Should U.S. officials who authorized enhanced interrogation techniques be let off the hook for rapes committed by U.S. officials as part of enhanced interrogations of detainees? That of course begs the question: Were people raped as part of the U.S. government’s enhanced interrogation techniques? Well, think back to the Abu Ghrab photos and videos, which depicted sordid sexual acts being committed by U.S. personnel on Iraqi prisoners. You may have forgotten that there was a particular set of photos and videos that were never released to the public because they depicted acts that were apparently much worse than anything that was shown in the photos that were released. Therefore, U.S. officials decided to keep those particular photos and videos under lock and key. MORE
RELATED: Some of the worst things that happened you don’t know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib … The women were passing messages out saying ‘Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened’ and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It’s going to come out.” MORE
RELATED: President Obama directed his national security adviser and senior Cabinet officials yesterday to examine whether the government keeps too much information secret. In a memo, Obama acknowledged that too many documents have been kept from the public eye for years and affirmed that he remains “committed to operating with an unprecedented level of openness.” Obama asked national security adviser James L. Jones to canvass executive branch officials about their procedures for handling classified information and to make recommendations about better information sharing. Instructions to Jones made specific reference to Bush administration orders that delayed automatic declassification dates, eliminated a presumption of declassification that dated from the Clinton administration and reclassified some information that had been made public. MORE
RELATED: Misconceptions and distortions about torture by former Vice President Cheney and other former Bush administration officials are, if nothing else, impressive for their hubris. In a speech last Thursday, Mr. Cheney asserted that “tough” or “enhanced” interrogation methods were legal, essential, effective, and were not torture. Mr. Cheney is wrong. Waterboarding, exposure to extremes of heat and cold, sexual humiliations and several other cruel and inhuman methods documented to have been used on known or suspected terrorists are forms of torture. My perspective is not theoretical. It is based on nearly 20 years of experience as a physician examining and caring for individuals from all over the world who endured torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment or punishment and studying the health consequences of such trauma. This includes Tibetan monks tortured because of their demands for independence, African students tortured because of calling for democracy, and most recently, former detainees from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Mr. Cheney derides the Obama Administration for using “euphemisms that strive to put an imaginary distance between the American people and the terrorist enemy.” He then goes on to repeatedly invoke the euphemism of “enhanced” interrogations instead of torture. This term infers a seemingly benign and improved means for eliciting information. It is neither. MORE
RELATED: Keith Olbermann’s offer for a donation if Sean Hannity undergoes waterboarding is off the table, the money gone instead to radio host Erich “Mancow” Muller’s charity of choice after Mancow’s disquieting experience with the interrogation technique. Muller said Wednesday he volunteered to be waterboarded last week to prove that the controversial technique isn’t torture. Instead, he said the experience showed he was wrong. “I thought I was going to die,” he said. [...] “I was laughing about this, that it was a stupid radio thing,” Muller told Olbermann. “I thought I could go 30 seconds. I’ll hold my breath. Big deal, they’ll sprinkle water. It is a big deal. It’s torture.”MORE