YATA (Afghanistan edition)

Mother Jones Magazine summarizes the state of play regarding various torture allegations in Afghanistan. In addition to allegations of brutalization (“they rammed a stick up my rectum”), there's the usual two forms of coverup: ship people out, punish only the small fry.

From Bagram to Abu Ghraib. Hundreds of prisoners have come forward, often reluctantly, offering accounts of harsh interrogation techniques including sexual brutality, beatings, and other methods designed to humiliate and inflict physical pain. At least eight detainees are known to have died in U.S. custody in Afghanistan, and in at least two cases military officials ruled that the deaths were homicides. Many of the incidents were known to U.S. officials long before the Abu Ghraib scandal erupted; yet instead of disciplining those involved, the Pentagon transferred key personnel from Afghanistan to the Iraqi prison.

The lawyers also fault the military and the Pentagon for failing to track responsibility for the abuses up the chain of command. To date, only 10 soldiers have been prosecuted for crimes involving prisoner abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq—none of them above the rank of staff sergeant. “All of the investigations have looked down rather than up,” says Lucas Guttentag, a lawyer at the ACLU. “Our goal is to hold high-level officials accountable for the policies and practices that caused widespread torture, and to hold them accountable for their failure to stop the abuse once it came to light. This is really about who bears ultimate responsibility.”

Outside investigators, meanwhile, have been almost entirely barred from the Afghan detention centers. The International Committee for the Red Cross has had no access to any of them except Bagram, and even there its representatives have not been able to see all parts of the facility. Former prisoners have said the Red Cross never visited detainees being held in the upstairs cells, including Dilawar and Habibullah. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have not been allowed to visit the base at all; neither has the Afghan human rights commission, which has been asking the U.S. military for access to Bagram and other detention centers for a year. “We expected to have a friendly relationship with the coalition forces,” says deputy chair Hakim. “But what the coalition has done, the abuses, overshadows the friendly aspect of the American intervention. I ask you: What is the difference between the Americans and the Soviet forces who occupied Afghanistan?”

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3 Responses to YATA (Afghanistan edition)

  1. Deborah says:

    A query.

    I read your blog every day, but I seemed to have missed the entry that explained what YATA stands for.

  2. Michael says:

    YATA==”Yet Another Torture Allegation”

  3. Apian says:

    The Headline Read: “Army setting limits on POW Interrogations” Date: February 24, 2005

    The Pentagon is implementing new restrictions on detainee interrogations, tying them more closely to the Geneva Conventions…

    In an interrogation manual nearing completion, Thomas Gandy, a senior Army intelligence official said, requirements of the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners “are well integrated into the techniques” permitted to be used by the U.S. military in interrogations.

    “So you’ll see a much closer binding of the Geneva Convention laws of war, those kinds of things, with the techniques of interrogations. That would be one of the major changes,” Gandy said.

    Read Reuter’s article here

    Too little, too late. Why now?

    (CCR War Crimes suit letter now has 14,000 signatures.)

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