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Rummy's Diaries

Updated: 2017-11-18T19:59:09.051+11:00


personal note


A few people have contacted me wondering where I am. I'm sorry. I must confess that my motives for neglecting my blog are entirely selfish. I can't help but take human rights abuse "personally". The revelation that I am a citizen of a country involved in this, a country for which up to two-thirds of the citizens approve of it, has been the dark night of my soul. I honestly thought that letting everyone know that this was happening was all that was needed, but now I see that the problem runs much deeper than that, and may be fundamental to human nature itself. The size of the problem has overwhelmed me.

I need some time to recoup. I need to find that place again where this knowledge gives me the will to fight, rather than sapping it away in a morass of depression and fatalism. Please give me some more time. I wish to get back to it more than anything, but I am no good to anyone without the right frame of mind. Know that I am doing everything that I can to overcome my limitations.

Short break


Rummy's Diaries will be taking a short break for the next month, but that doesn't mean that nothing's happening. Check out the collaborative project Bloggers Against Torture to see where all the action is, and please feel welcome join in.

Would you like this on your blog?


We're starting a Bloggers Against Torture blogroll alliance here

Next month is Torture Awareness Month. To help NGOs like Amnesty and Human Right First with their campaign, I've created a blogroll called Bloggers Against Torture. To add yourselves to the blogroll, all you need to do is help promote Torture Awareness Month by mentioning it on your blog. You can simply talk about it, you can use the graphic and link above, or you can grab the blogroll script from Bloggers Against Torture for some reciprocal linking goodness.

Latest updates


Happy Easter! As this is when Christians the world over remember that Jesus was tortured to death for their sins, I thought it would be a good time to finally get around to two cases from the US detention facility at Bagram: 11-2002: Habibullah tortured to death (which, despite the title, is actually a fairly uplifting story), and 12-2002: Dilawar tortured to death, which includes a timeline revealing the initial cover-up of the two deaths. For those following pre-Christian traditions in the Northern Hemisphere, Easter and the symbols of the egg and the bunny represent spring and renewal. With that tenuous connection, the following old posts have been updated: 09-2003: Mousa dies in British custody, to add details of how he was murdered, and to note that colonel charged with overseeing the troops who killed him is being promoted. 08-2002: Memo, Bybee: a narrow definition of torture, to note an American Republican Congressperson expressing moral concerns about the memo. 11-2003: Death in custody, Mowhoush, to add details about how he was murdered, and to note that the Chief Warrant Officer escaped the murder charge, and instead a panel of six Army officers convicted him of negligent homicide and negligent dereliction of duty. 04-2002: Benyam Mohammed renditioned, to add the detail that Mohammed's torture (scalpel cuts to the genitalia) led him to falsely confess to being in league with Jose Padilla, whom he'd actually never met. 11-2001: Tipton Three detained, to note that their torture led to them making a false confession, and to provide a link to a doco on their story. 01-2002: Arar, CCR, sues Ashcroft, to note that their case was dismissed. 04-2005: Passaro case, to note that Passaro will be allowed to present evidence that he was following orders when he interrogated an Afghan detainee to death. 12-2005: CPT hostages killed unless detainees freed, which now notes that Tom Fox was murdered, and the rest rescued, and that some American Republicans used the incident to make a political point. 01-2006: Carrol killed unless female Iraqi detainees freed, to note that she was released unharmed, and to observe that some American Republicans continued a recent theme by attacking Carrol's motives and questioned whether she really was kidnapped. The following posts are new: 13 April 2006: Stolen US military flash drives includes torture photographs 14 October 2005: Dossari suicide attempts, with an update noting that he tried again recently, and his lawyers are having difficulty finding out if he's still alive 15 May 2004: Investigations into Afghan detention facilities reveal one murder, four deaths, and eight beaten. 07 September 2002: Abuse at Kandahar Detainee Facility [...]

Stolen US military flash drives include torture photographs


Today MSNBC will report on stolen US military flash drives being sold in a bazaar outside Bagram Airport. Bagram is a site at which US forces have commited numerous tortures and abuses against detainees (see third group of bullet points).
Among the photos of Americans are pictures of individuals who appear to have been tortured and killed, most too graphic to show. NBC News does not know who caused their injuries. The Pentagon would not comment on the photos.
(This entry concerns a current event, and will be updated)

3/4 Baghdad morgue deliveries executions, often tortured first


Today The Washington Post will quote former UN human rights chief for Iraq, John Pace, saying that between two-thirds and three-fourths of the victims brought to Baghdad's main morgue are recorded as casualties of gunshot wounds. Nearly all showed signs of having been executed, tortured or both.

The statistics of deaths and causes of death in Iraq are not without politicisation and controversy. Regarding other estimates by the Washington Post

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari said on Tuesday that 379 people had been killed since Feb. 22, and he described as inaccurate and exaggerated a Washington Post report that put the death toll at 1,300.

The acting director of the morgue, Qais Hassan, also denied The Post's figure... Hassan began running the morgue when the director, Faik Bakir, fled the country a few months ago after being threatened over the release of morgue information seen as linking many killings to death squads...


Further reading, opinions and commentary:

Grievances fuelling insurgency


Today Knight Ridder will report on a National Intelligence Estimate completed in October 2003. According to the article
[the National Intelligence Estimate] concluded that the insurgency was fueled by local conditions - not foreign terrorists- and drew strength from deep grievances, including the presence of U.S. troops.

Iran's Minister of Defence scores rhetorical points against US


Today Iran's Minister of Defence, Brigadier General Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, will make a speech at the first nationwide gathering on the goals of the Ministry (source). In that speech he will use US human rights abuse as a rhetorical device to criticise the US Administration. He is quoted as saying
the human rights favored by US President George Bush are based on clandestine cells, torture, terror, wire tapping of American civilians, sacrilege to religious sanctities, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and attack on civilians.

It is among the wonders of the 21st century that the US administration with its black record of activities claim leadership of the world towards democracy and human rights...

The US disgrace due to its crimes in Abu Ghraib prison indicates that the US administration has no respect for the most basic principles of human rights ... the US through such shameful acts has been completely isolated and hated in the world.

Washington Post on Iraqi sectarian violence


Today Nelson Hernandez and Bassam Sebti of the Washington Post will write an article with the cautious title Apparent Death Squad Is Linked to Iraqi Ministry (another copy here). It will contain the following statement
The [arrest of 22 members of a death squad] is the first hard evidence to support the widely held suspicion among Sunni Arabs that vigilantes in the country's Shiite-dominated police force are rounding up Sunnis and killing them.

Australian viewers -- Dateline tonight


According to today's Sydney Morning Herald:
MORE photographs have been leaked of Iraqi citizens tortured by US soldiers at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison on the outskirts of Baghdad.

Tonight the SBS Dateline program plans to broadcast about 60 previously unpublished photographs that the US Government has been fighting to keep secret in a court case with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Other countries might want to check the Dateline website for transcripts.

From mparent7777's livejournal blog called Crimes and Corruption of the New World Order, this is one of 6 photos said to be from the new set. The rest of can be found here.

Further reading:

Torture strengthens insurgency


Today the International Crisis Group will release Middle East Report No. 50 called In their own words: Reading the Iraqi insurgency. The objective of the report is to help the US defeat the insurgency by winning hearts and minds, which means understanding how the insurgency gains its legitimacy and delegitimises the occupation (page 4). As U.S. officials repeatedly have acknowledged, this war will not be won on the battlefield, at least not on the battlefield alone. All three principal actors have been hobbled by non-military factors: the U.S. by the collapse of its legitimacy in Iraqi eyes and by growing scepticism at home; its Iraqi allies by a credibility deficit; and the insurgency by accusations of sectarianism and resort to ghastly methods. Perceptions, in others words, will play a critical part in the conflicts outcome. Prevailing in this arena requires, at a minimum, taking seriously what the armed opposition says, understanding how it resonates and why, and addressing the legitimate grievances it expresses. The executive summary states that respect for human rights is key to countering negative perceptions about the occupation Countering the insurgency requires taking its discourse seriously, reducing its legitimacy and increasing that of the Iraqi government. The harm from excessive use of force, torture, tactics that inflict widespread civilian injury and reliance on sectarian militias outweighs any military gain. It is essential for the U.S. to hold the new government accountable and make clear that long-term relations, economic aid and military cooperation depend on disbanding militias, halting political killings and respecting human rights. In the body, the report describes the insurgency's tactic of legitimising the occupation Mirroring the coalitions own accusations, the insurgency repeatedly charges its enemies with waging a dirty war in which U.S. forces engage in heavy military assaults while subcontracting torture and forced disappearances to local allies.[174] These include the Badr Corps, the Saqr and Dhib police commandos and the national guards.[175] The U.S. is condemned for relying on sectarian-based death squads and turning a blind eye to numerous crimes committed against Sunni Arabs in general.[176] Consequently, of the 6 recommendations made at the end of the report (page 26), 4 of them relate to ending human rights abuses by the Coalition and its Iraqi allies. They are closely monitoring, controlling and, if necessary, punishing, the behaviour of security forces; halting recourse to the most questionable types of practices, including torture and extraordinary methods of interrogation and confinement, collective punishment and extra-judicial killings; ending the use of sectarian militias as a complement to, or substitute for, regular armed forces and beginning a serious process of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) of militia fighters; the U.S. holding the new government accountable and making clear that longer-term relations, economic assistance and future military cooperation will depend on the steps it takes to rein in and ultimately disband militias, halt politically-motivated killings and respect human rights and the rule of law; -- Further reading, opinions and commentary: The Truth about Iraqis, 15 February 2006, 'ICG: Iraqi resistance appears confident' -- [174] In October 2005, al-Jaysh al-Islami devoted a special edition of al-Fursan to the alleged massacre in al-Iskan, a Sunni neighbourhood of Baghdad. The article included details of an alleged joint operation of Interior Ministry forces and the Badr Corps on 11 August 2005. Insurgents claimed there were mass detentions, and they later uncovered near the Iranian border the desecrated bodies of thos[...]

Republicans in house committee vote down torture investigation


Today the vote on three resolutions seeking information about Administration torture policies will be reported. The resolutions demanded
  • Information on a practice that has been called extraordinary rendition, or sending suspects abroad to countries where they would allegedly be tortured for information.
  • Documents about U.S. policies regarding U.N. anti-torture conventions.
  • Documents and records involving Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's December trip to Europe, during which she was dogged by reports of alleged secret European jails.
It will be defeated by the Republican Party on almost straight party lines.

CIA chief fired for opposing torture


This week Robert Grenier, head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, will be fired. Vincent Cannistraro, a former head of counter-terrorism at the agency, will tell the Sunday Times that the reason for the firing was that Grenier "expressed misgivings about the secret prisons in Europe and the rendition of terrorists." Head of the CIA Poter Goss is also believed to have blamed Grenier for allowing leaks to the press about "black sites" in Europe on his watch.

Creating terrorists


Today the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff signed a new classified counterterrorism. Included in the strategy is an order to the military to focus on terrorist information-gathering systems, personnel and ideology. The strategy will be reported on in the New York Times.

The document is unusual for admitting the negative impact military actions can have

"The way we conduct operations choosing whether, when, where and how can affect ideological support for terrorism. Knowledge of indigenous population's cultural and religious sensitivities and understanding of how the enemy uses the U.S. military's actions against us should inform the way the U.S. military operates."

That has been clear in the situations ranging from disgrace suffered by the United States after revelations of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib to instances when Arab media emphasized pictures of crosses or rosaries hung from artillery tubes by American soldiers. Such photographs were used to argue that the counterterrorism effort was a war on Islam. Pentagon officials involved in writing the strategy point out that the American military's efforts to aid tsunami victims in southeast Asia and to assist victims of Pakistan's earthquake did more to counter terrorist ideology than any attack mission.

The NYT quotes one senior Pentagon official involved in writing the strategy as saying that the Defense Department had identified more than 30 new terrorist organizations affiliated with Al Qaeda that had sprung to life since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

German hostages in orange overalls


Today two German engineers, Rene Braeunlich and Thomas Nitzschke, will be abducted outside their workplace in the industrial town of Baiji, 180km north of Baghdad. According to news reports, Al Arabiya will air a hostage video of them dressed in orange overalls, the kind associated with Muslims detained at Guantanamo Bay. Hostage takers Ansar al-Tawhid Wa-Sunna will threaten to kill the men unless Germany ends its cooperation with the Iraq government and closes its mission in Baghdad, and German firms stop their dealings there.

Osama tape mentions US torture


Today al-Jazeera will air an audio tape of a speech by Osama Bin Laden addressed to the people of the United States of America (BBC transcript). In it, he will refer to the US government's torture policy (links to what he's referring to have been added)
Jihad is continuing, praise be to God, despite all the repressive measures the US army and its agents take to the point where there is no significant difference between these crimes and those of Saddam.

These crimes include the raping of women and taking them hostage instead of their husbands. There is no power but in God.

The torturing of men has reached the point of using chemical acids [victims found with peeling skin?] and electric drills in their joints. If they become desperate with them, they put the drill on their heads until death.

If you like, read the humanitarian reports on the atrocities and crimes in the prisons of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

I say that despite all the barbaric methods, they have failed to ease resistance, and the number of mujahideen, praise be to God, is increasing.

He will also misquote `Rogue State' by William Blum (actually the quote is from `Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire' by the same) to express the response he wants from the American people
If Bush declines but to continue lying and practicing injustice [against us], it is useful for you to read the book of "The Rogue State", the introduction of which reads: If I were a president, I would halt the operations against the United States.

First, I will extend my apologies to the widows, orphans, and the persons who were tortured. Afterwards, I will announce that the US interference in the world's countries has ended for ever.

As a curious side-note, `Rogue State' has jumped from No. 209,000 to No. 30 on the sales list (source).

Carroll killed unless female Iraqi prisoners released


Today Time will be the first to report on the kidnap of freelancer journalist Jill Carroll, Al Jazeera will air a brief video of her from the hostage-takers.

In an accompanying statement, the hostage-takers will threaten to kill her within 72 hours unless female Iraqi prisoners held by the US are released. By many accounts Iraqi women have been raped while in US custody (e.g. (Selwa's case, what Saddam Selah saw while detained, the letter from "Noor" and the findings of the Taguba report, Saleh's observations while detained), which motivates extreme concern for their welfare when detained.

The abduction took place two days earlier, but was controversially kept quiet in a bid to win her release before her abductors discovered that she had worked for the Christian Science Monitor.

On 31 March, 2006, Jill Carrol will be released. In an initial interview, she will state that she was treated well and not harmed. Continuing a recent theme of making personal attacks against recently released hostages who disagree with the invasion of Iraqi, some American Republicans will subsequently question her mental stability, claim that she's a terrorist, and say that she was a willing participant in her kidnapping.

Suicide bombing of Interior Ministry retaliation for torture


Today, on Iraq's National Police Day, two suicide bombers disguised as police will infiltrated the heavily fortified Interior Ministry compound in Baghdad and blow themselves up killing 29.

An Internet site known for publishing extremist material from Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi carried a claim of responsibility for yesterday's suicide attack, saying it was in revenge for the torture of Sunni Arab prisoners at two detention facilities run by the Shi'ite-led Interior Ministry.

Bush sidesteps McCain amendment


Despite strong opposition from the Bush Administration, late last year, congress voted 90-9 in favour of an amendment to prohibit the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against anyone in U.S. government custody.

Shortly after signing the legislation into law today, Bush will email out an accompanying "signing statement". Specifically, the statement will say that the administration would interpret the amendment "in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the president to supervise the unitary executive branch and as commander in chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on judicial power." Democrats and some Republicans say assert that this implies that he could ignore the law if he wished.

Senator McCain, sponsor of the amendment, issued a strong statement rejecting Mr. Bush's assertion, even as the White House has repeatedly declined to say what the president meant. These actions will be met with cynicism by commenters (e.g. cartoon below).

Ted Rall cartoon in response to today's events.

(Sources: International Herald Tribune, New York Times. Hat tip to Bush Out and to Ted Rall.)

Bloggers defy UK gag order on info about complicity in Uzbek torture


[The following post is a mirror of this page on Craig Murray's website. It is being reposted here in solidarity with this group, who are defying a gag-order on these documents. Readers pleased be advised before linking to this post or reproducing this information that the govt does not want these documents made public, and if too few people participate, may take legal action against those who do.] Constituent: "This question is for Mr Straw; Have you ever read any documents where the intelligence has been procured through torturous means?" Jack Straw: "Not to the best of my knowledge... let me make this clear... the British government does not support torture in any circumstances. Full stop. We do not support the obtaining of intelligence by torture, or its use." -- Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, election hustings, Blackburn, April 2005 I was summoned to the UK for a meeting on 8 March 2003. Michael Wood gave his legal opinion that it was not illegal to obtain and to use intelligence acquired by torture... On behalf of the intelligence services, Matthew Kydd said that they found some of the material very useful indeed with a direct bearing on the war on terror. Linda Duffield said that she had been asked to assure me that my qualms of conscience were respected and understood. --Ambassador Craig Murray, memo to the Foreign Office, July 2004 With Tony Blair and Jack Straw cornered on extraordinary rendition, the UK government is particularly anxious to suppress all evidence of our complicity in obtaining intelligence extracted by foreign torturers. The British Foreign Office is now seeking to block publication of Craig Murray's forthcoming book, which documents his time as Ambassador to Uzbekistan. The Foreign Office has demanded that Craig Murray remove all references to two especially damning British government documents, indicating that our government was knowingly receiving information extracted by the Uzbeks through torture, and return every copy that he has in his possession. Craig Murray is refusing to do this. Instead, the documents are today being published simultaneously on blogs all around the world. The first document contains the text of several telegrams that Craig Murray sent back to London from 2002 to 2004, warning that the information being passed on by the Uzbek security services was torture-tainted, and challenging MI6 claims that the information was nonetheless "useful". The second document is the text of a legal opinion from the Foreign Office's Michael Wood, arguing that the use by intelligence services of information extracted through torture does not constitute a violation of the UN Convention Against Torture. Craig Murray says: In March 2003 I was summoned back to London from Tashkent specifically for a meeting at which I was told to stop protesting. I was told specifically that it was perfectly legal for us to obtain and to use intelligence from the Uzbek torture chambers. After this meeting Sir Michael Wood, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's legal adviser, wrote to confirm this position. This minute from Michael Wood is perhaps the most important document that has become public about extraordinary rendition. It is irrefutable evidence of the government's use of torture material, and that I was attempting to stop it. It is no wonder that the government is trying to suppress this. First document: Confidential letters from Uzbekistan Letter #1 Confidential FM Tashkent TO FCO, Cabinet Office, DFID, MODUK, OSCE Posts, Security Council Posts 16[...]

CPT hostages killed unless detainees freed


On 29 November, 2005, a Candian non-governmental organisation called Christian Peacemaker Teams confirmed that four of their members had been taken hostage in Iraq. The hostages were in Iraq on a fact-finding mission, gathering evidence of human rights abuses. The blog of one hostage, Tom Fox, can be found here. His entry about the "new" Iraq is worth reading.

Initial reports stated that the hostage-takers accused the hostages of being "spies". However on 02 December 2005, in video shown on Al Jazeera, the hostage takers will demand that all detainees held by US and Iraqi forces be freed by today, or the hostages will be killed.

On 08 March 2006, Tom Fox's corpse will be found in Mansour district, showing signs that he had been beaten before being killed.

On 23 March 2006 the remaining hostages will be freed after a raid led by British troops.

Right wing bloggers will object to the way in which the release was treated by media and bloggers alike, specifically, the use of the word "released" as opposed to "rescued", or some other word flattering to the occupying forces in Iraq. Conservatives will send inflammatory emails to the still-grieving friends of the hostages, stating, for example

I hope you quit sending your hippies to WAR regions risking not only their lives but the lives of the soldiers who end up having to secure their "release" by RESCUING them (source).
It will later be revealed that one of the informants was a guard holding the prisoners hostage. This person apparently got cold feet when Fox was murdered by other elements involved in the abduction (see also Guardian article).

Marine tells of US torturing Afghans, commits murder-suicide


Today former Marine sergeant and veteran of the invasion of Afghanistan, Jeffrey Lehner (aged 42), will shoot his father, Edwin Lehner (aged 77), to death. He will then kill himself with a single gunshot wound to the head.

The veteran had previously been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome, which may have been brought on in part by an incident in which 8 Marines unit died (source). Another contributing factor was observing CIA officers torturing and killing mostly innocent Afghans at Kandahar airport.

Before his death he was working with LA Times reporter Ann Louise Bardach to air his allegations. From an article in the LA Times

In the beginning, Jeff supported the administration's policies in the region. But over time, that began to change. As we talked, Jeff brought out an album of photos from Afghanistan. He pointed to a series of photographs of a trailer and several huts behind a barbed-wire fence; these were taken, he said, outside a U.S. military camp not far from the Kandahar airport. He told me that young Afghans some visible in blue jumpsuits in his photos had been rounded up and brought to the site by a CIA special operations team. The CIA officers made no great secret of what they were doing, he said, but were dismissive of the Marines and pulled rank when challenged.

Jeff said he had been told by soldiers who had been present that the detainees were being interrogated and tortured, and that they were sometimes given psychotropic drugs. Some, he believed, had died in custody. What disturbed him most, he said, was that the detainees were not Taliban fighters or associates of Osama bin Laden. "By the time we got there," Jeff said, "the serious fighters were long gone."

Jeff had other stories to tell as well. He said the CIA team had put detainees in cargo containers aboard planes and interrogated them while circling in the air. He'd been on board some of these flights, he said, and was deeply disturbed by what he'd seen.


Further reading, opinions and commentary:

Saddam's defence uses comparison to US Abu Ghraib abuses as rhetorical device


Today the cross-examination of "Witness A" will be reported. After "Witness A" describes the appalling conditions of her detention under Saddam's regime, the defence will will seize the opportunity to make a comparison to Abu Ghraib under US command
"I agree that things in Abu Ghraib were, until recently, bad, but did they use dogs on you? Did they take photographs?" said one defense attorney, alluding to U.S. troops' abuse of Iraqi detainees at the prison.

"No," she replied.

Schulz taken hostage, murdered for detainees and compensation


Today Al Jazeera broadcasted a video of a hostage Ronald Schulz, who had been abducted by Iraqi insurgents. The US security contractor is the second American abducted in the last two weeks. The kidnappers will claim that he is a spy. They will threaten to kill him unless all Iraqi detainees are freed, and compensation is paid to Anbar province for US attacks since last year.

On 14 January 2006, a memorial service will be held for him at St. John's Lutheran Church, the same church where Schulz was baptized.