Sunday, June 18, 2006

New Details on Prisoner Abuse in Iraq

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. special operations forces fed some Iraqi detainees only bread and water for up to 17 days, used unapproved interrogation practices such as sleep deprivation and loud music and stripped at least one prisoner, according to a Pentagon report on incidents dating to 2003 and 2004.

The report, with many portions blacked out, concludes that the detainees' treatment was wrong but not illegal and reflected inadequate resources and lack of oversight and proper guidance more than deliberate abuse. No military personnel were punished as a result of the investigation.

Released to the American Civil Liberties Union on Friday, the details of the report were was part of more than 1,000 pages of documents, including two major reports - one by Army Brig. Gen. Richard Formica on specials operations forces in Iraq and one by Brig. Gen. Charles Jacoby, on Afghanistan detainees.

While some of the incidents have been reported previously and reviewed by members of Congress, this was the first time the documents were released publicly. Specific names and locations, including the identities of the military units, were blacked out.

The report comes as the military is grappling with new allegations of war crimes in an increasingly unpopular conflict in Iraq. And they could hamper the Bush administration's election-year effort to turn public opinion around with upbeat reports about the progress of the new government in Baghdad

Sunday, June 11, 2006


As the U.S. military completes its investigation of the alleged murder of 24 Iraqi civilians at the hands of U.S. Marines last November in Haditha, the next phase likely will be some form of court martial against Marines implicated in the case.

If that happens, President George W. Bush has made clear that he expects justice to be meted out to any Marine found guilty of a war crime against Iraqi civilians. But, as we anticipated in an earlier article, virtually no U.S. media attention has focused on the Nuremberg principles and Bush's culpability in the crime.

In this guest essay, Peter Dyer reviews the principles of international law that were set by U.S. and other allied jurists after World War II, rules against aggressive war that were meant to apply to the architects of illegal conflicts as well as to the grunts on the ground:

George W. Bush -- in his first public comment on the alleged massacre of 24 civilians by U.S. Marines in Haditha, Iraq, last November -- said: “If, in fact, these allegations are true, the Marine Corps will work hard to make sure that ... those who violated the law -- if indeed they did -- will be punished.”

Now that President Bush has resolved publicly that those who committed war crimes will be punished, the subject of U.S. war crimes may begin to move closer to its deserved prominent place in the American public discourse. If this happens, more Americans are likely to realize that the man who spoke of punishing war criminals has himself violated the law and should be accordingly punished.

In fact, according to the Nuremberg Charter, a document which the U.S. had a major role in drafting, those who initiate a war of aggression quite literally bear individual criminal responsibility, not only for waging unprovoked war, but for the war crimes which inevitably flow from aggression.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Read it and weep (or scream):
Washington -- The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of the Geneva Convention that bans "humiliating and degrading treatment," according to military officials, a step that would mark a potentially permanent shift away from strict adherence to international human rights standards.

The decision culminates a lengthy debate within the Department of Defense, but will not become final until the Pentagon makes new guidelines public, a step that has been delayed.

However, the State Department fiercely opposes the military's decision to exclude Geneva Convention protections and has been pushing for the Pentagon and White House to reconsider, Defense officials acknowledged.