Sunday, May 02, 2004

Up the chain

Here is evidence that the torture of Iraqi prisoners (as previously suggested) may well proceed to the highest levels of the chain of command:

Radio personality Joe Ryan, who posts an online diary from Iraq and has been involved with prisoner interrogation, has discussed at length some of the other people interrogating prisoners at Abu Graib. In his April 13 entry, he named someone of particular interest:
"Wild" Bill Armstrong is one of our interrogators. He and I are both in the Force Protection section. Bill is married with five kids and a devout Christian, father, and husband. He arrived here two weeks before I did. Bill knows interrogation and reporting doctrine better than anyone here. Of course it was his career in the army and now he teaches at the school house in Arizona when he is not over here playing in the sand. I see Bill and know there are some incredible people in America. Here is a man who has already served in the military for 22 years, has a bunch of children, good job, and decides that he is needed over here so heads over to contribute. Politically, Bill makes Rush Limbaugh look like a flaming liberal by comparison. He is also leaving here after his R&R and will become the division cage site lead out in Fallujah.

The "school house in Arizona" is almost certainly Fort Huachuca, whose prisoner-interrogation course was described a year ago in ArmyLINK News:
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. (Army News Service, Feb. 24, 2003) -- A new course at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center began last month to train soldiers how to extract intelligence from Al Qaeda detainees.

The Intelligence Support to Counter Terrorism course began Jan. 27 to specifically train the next rotation of National Guard and Army Reserve military intelligence soldiers heading to Guantanamo.

The course resulted from a visit to Guantanamo Bay a few months ago by Brig. Gen. John Custer, U.S. Army Intelligence Center and Fort Huachuca acting commander. He returned from the detainee facility there convinced that the military intelligence soldiers on the ground needed to be better equipped to gather information.

After briefing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on the limited training the intel soldiers had to obtain critical information from Al Qaeda, the Intelligence Center devised a new course to help support the global war on terrorism.

This, of course, raises an immediate question: How much does Rumsfeld know about the interrogation program put into place at Abu Ghraib? How much planning went into this program? And did he ever brief the president?

Amnesty International today called for a thorough and independent investigation of the Abu Ghraib atrocities, observing that this is not an isolated case:
Amnesty International has received frequent reports of torture or other ill-treatment by Coalition Forces during the past year. Detainees have reported being routinely subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment during arrest and detention. Many have told Amnesty International that they were tortured and ill-treated by US and UK troops during interrogation. Methods often reported include prolonged sleep deprivation; beatings; prolonged restraint in painful positions, sometimes combined with exposure to loud music; prolonged hooding; and exposure to bright lights. Virtually none of the allegations of torture or ill-treatment has been adequately investigated by the authorities.

Human Rights Watch today demanded the same:
The promised U.S. investigation into the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners should not stop with the lower-level soldiers who were immediately involved, Human Rights Watch said today. The United States should also investigate the superiors of these soldiers to see whether they ordered or knowingly tolerated these abuses.

Indeed, this investigation should include every level of the chain of command. Anything less will constitute a cover-up.

[Many thanks to Joel S. for the Ryan/Huachuca tip.]

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