Tortured To Death

As Spencer Ackerman informs, the long awaited IG Report will be a little longer awaited, and will not be released today. Could be tomorrow, could be next week; what a shocker.

In the meantime, and in keeping with our coordinated push with the ACLU Accountability Project, I would like to draw attention to an article Andy Worthington has out today:

On Friday, I also wrote an article about torture for the ACLU’s Accountability Project, explaining how the hunger strikers at Guantánamo are part of the same torture machine — and, moreover, one that, unnervingly, is still operating today — but as a contribution to the specific topic of demonstrating to the US public, and the wider world, that torture techniques implemented by the Bush administration led to murders in US custody, I’m presenting below some relevant sections from my book The Guantánamo Files, from testimony provided by former prisoner Omar Deghayes, and from a recent report by investigator John Sifton, relating to ten murders in US prisons in Afghanistan, three of which, to the best of my knowledge, have never been investigated at all.

Following the outline proposed by Glenn Greenwald above, some of these murders may have involved a few “rogue” actions, but in general it’s clear that they followed methods authorized at the highest levels of the Bush White House — or variations introduced in a context where limits on abusive behavior had been reduced or eliminated, ostensibly to facilitate interrogation.

The prelude to two notorious murders — and, very possibly, three others — in the US prison at Bagram airbase began in the summer of 2002, when 14 soldiers from the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade at Fort Bragg arrived at the prison, led by Lt. Carolyn Wood, and were soon joined by six Arabic-speaking reservists from the Utah National Guard. Lt. Wood took over interrogations from a team led by an interrogator who later wrote a book about his experiences, The Interrogators, using the pseudonym Chris Mackey. This is how I described what happened next in The Guantánamo Files.

Please, go read the entire article, Andy lays out the case on ten murders in US custody in Afghanistan, taken mostly from his book "The Guantanamo Files," but also including testimony by released Guantanamo prisoner Omar Deghayes and research by John Sifton. It is a damning read.

Marcy is in transit back from New York and I have a couple of things I must work on. Give Andy Worthington a read in the meantime and I will check in.

Bmaz is a rather large saguaro cactus in the Southwestern Sonoran desert. A lover of the Constitution, law, family, sports, food and spirits. As you might imagine, a bit prickly occasionally. Bmaz has attended all three state universities in Arizona, with both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Arizona State University, and with significant post-graduate work (in physics and organic chemistry, go figure) at both the University of Colorado in Boulder and the University of Arizona. Married, with both a lovely child and a giant Sasquatch dog. Bmaz has been a participant on the internet since the early 2000’s, including active participation in the precursor to Emptywheel, The Next Hurrah. Formally joined the Emptywheel blog as an original contributing member at its founding in 2007. Bmaz grew up around politics, education, sports and, most significantly, cars; notably around Formula One racing and Concours de Elegance automobile restoration and showing. Currently lives in the Cactus Patch with his lovely wife and beast of a dog, and practices both criminal and civil trial law.
  1. ghostof911 says:

    It’s very important that Andy and others are championing the cause of these prisoners.

    Lest it be forgotten, there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of civilian war casualties in Iraq who have had no such champion. Do they not deserve at least a mention?

  2. Funnydiva2002 says:

    Thanks, Bmaz
    Glenn Greenwald has linked to this article as well.

    Very, very tough read.


      • freepatriot says:

        the truth is coming out

        we can enjoy that

        can’t we ???

        I don’t like what happened, and I’m about fed up Obama’s response

        but all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put humpty dumpty back together again

        there is truth in children’s stories

        that makes me happy

  3. Mary says:

    One thing that Worthington mentions that has always stuck with me is the way that the two men who were kidnapped for torture with Dilawar handled things.

    They were Dilawar’s “fare” in his impromptu “cabbie” effort to pick up some money. They were handed over with Dilawar (by the warlord that the US later imprisoned when they figured out who the actual bad guys were). They were their while Dilawar was tortured to death by Americans laughing over how he called out to God whenever they tortured him. After Dilawar’s death, as witnesses they were disappeared off to GITMO. When they were eventually released from GITMO (apparently the “worst of the worst” Afghans were those who watched us torture to death an innocent young Afhgan) they spoke with Dilawar’s mother.

    And they just couldn’t bear to tell her how her son died – they couldn’t bear to look at her and tell her how her baby was tortured to death. So, despite everything they went through at American hands themselves, they told her that he died of a heart problem and that the Americans were kind to him the whole time they had him, giving him a bed to rest on and trying to help him.

    • Andy Worthington says:

      Hi Mary,
      That’s up there with some of the most heartbreaking moments, isn’t it? I was moved re-reading that today — and believe me, by now I’ve become pretty forensic about all the vile inhuman sh*t I’ve come across in the last three years.

    • Funnydiva2002 says:

      Thanks for highlighting this.
      Utterly astonishing that, after what they’d been through, these men had such compassion for a grieving mother. That in spite of the unimaginable Hell they’d been through, they still had their humanity.

  4. Mary says:

    Complete OT – but the IG report, IIRC the original production date of a week or so ago was a court ordered date, and the extension through today was one done by agreement of counsel.

    Any word on the procedural status of this new extension? Again by agreement? On request of gov with objections by petitioners and with court order?

    • WilliamOckham says:

      I have no answers, but I do have some questions. The letter that the DOJ sent to Judge Hellerstein asking for the extension also mentioned 35 DOD documents that were supposed to be released today. Does anybody know what those documents are and whether they have been released?

  5. freepatriot says:

    Any word on the procedural status of this new extension?

    I believe it was the oldest law on the books

    the “BECAUSE I SAID SO” status

  6. Mary says:

    @8 Hi Andy – it is a wonderful article. That’s just one of the many human moments that you pull out, but it’s one that I have carried with me for awhile and it does have a special resonance.

    @14 I’d like to know that too – maybe we’ll get something by tomorrow on an actual order?

  7. perris says:

    I really wish progressives would start talking about the damage to our national security these programs created

    progressives need to attack the programs as having created more terrorists and more activity against our country

    then they need to attack these policies as the reasons Iraqi’s hated our presence and attacked our soldiers

    this is so much more then “right against wrong”, it’s also “it creates terrorists and terrorism for us and our children, for generations

    there are far more effective methods for regaining public outrage against these policies

    cheney went on his torture tour and corporate media allows these “pundits” to spin these programs as being productive

    we MUST change that missive and we MUST attack these sociopaths for the harm they have done to us on the theatre of national security

  8. Mary says:

    Via Scott Horton an AP translation of an interview given by Robert Lady (CIA)to Italian press about the Italian Job.

    “I am not guilty. I am only responsible for following an order I received from my superiors,” Lady was quoted as saying by Il Giornale. “It was not a criminal act. It was a state affair.”

    Sanford should try that state affair approach.

  9. Leen says:

    Bmaz, Andy/all
    “mostly reservists — who had received very little training, and who brought with them a new technique, the common peroneal strike, described by Tim Golden as “a potentially disabling blow to the side of the leg, just above the knee,” which soon became widely applied”

    this stuff is tough to read start tearing up immediately..what the fuck is up with these interrogators … are they zombies?

    No need to wonder why people hate us..this are some sick sick folk.

    Will we ever witness those up the chain of command ladder get their punishments?

    • prostratedragon says:

      Another thank you to Andy Worthington for doing the difficult job of researching and writing these horrible incidents.

      I’ve always had trouble with the “common peroneal strike,” or as some call it the low swing-kick aspect of what was done to Dilawar and a few others. You see, I know how to do one. I’ve practiced it with partners in classes, as both kicker and pad holder. And of all the potentially damaging and even lethal techniques we practiced, that kick was probably the one —maybe save for a thrust side kick— for which the kicker took the greatest care to establish position and focus on the pad*, and check the holding partner afterward. If you’ve seen one of these kicks, unless you’ve got some flaw in your mentation you know that this is not something to aim lightly at another person even once. As for 100 times, well, that’s where I start to crumble every time I read the story.

      By the way, in Taxi to the Dark Side one of the guards leaves the impression that the strikes they used on Dilawar were the playground type of knee bumps into the peroneal area. Bullshit.

      * In fact for this kick the target area of the pad (in our classes a rectangular, leather-covered, air-filled innertubelike thing about the size of an adult’s torso and 8 inches thick and having an assortment of handles) is not held against the holder’s leg; the pad is held like a suitcase against the knee area, so as to provide an overhang away from the holder’s body. This overhang is what gets smacked.

      • Leen says:

        are your partners wrists shackled to the ceiling?

        some sick mother fuckers implementing these torture orders

        • prostratedragon says:

          That, of course, would intensify the effect.

          But as I say, unless you’ve got a screw loose somewhere —I can’t emphasize this enough— there is clearly nothing “playful” about this action and that even a couple such kicks is painful and damaging (they can result in tko in muay thai matches) to an average victim should be instantly obvious to the dumbest ain’t never bin nowhar before out there.

          This fact makes me think that it would be very difficult to convey the brutality of the atmosphere inside those places even with pictures, although the pictures should be released in my opinion.

          To put it another way I wouldn’t turn an eyelash if every one of the bastards responsible for these incidents, from generals down to grunts, was immediately swallowed up into the pit of Hell in an act of divine will.

    • prostratedragon says:

      That is a good article to tuck away.

      Here’s something that speaks to the moment.

      “It is a real adrenaline rush,” said Chris Raggio, 29, after staggering from the ring. “It is good practice on how to take a blow, how to defend yourself. The aggression has to be combined with skills.

      “You get badly bruised, especially on the legs but the injuries aren’t that serious.”

      [My emphasis] I see. I wonder how far from its alleged roots in awareness training, meditation, and aikido the MCMAP has, you know, evolved. (By the way, I found an earlier edition of the book in the second link interesting reading a few years ago. I wonder what his more recent reflections are like.)

  10. Leen says:

    John Yoo, Donald Rumsfeld and the Systematic Torture of Prisoners
    Wednesday 01 July 2009/by Jason Leopold
    ” “If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network,” Yoo wrote. “In that case, we believe that he could argue that the Executive Branch’s constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions.”

  11. BOHICA says:

    * United States Code

    U.S. Code as of: 01/19/04
    Section 2340A. Torture

    (a) Offense. – Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
    (b) Jurisdiction. – There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if –
    (1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
    (2) the alleged offender is present in the United States,irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.

    (c) Conspiracy. – A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.

    New Justice Dept motto
    Hear no evil
    See no evil
    Prosecute no evil

  12. katiejacob says:

    “It is indeed. And without it, the message that President Obama sends to the world is not that he has “regain[ed] America’s moral stature in the world,” but that senior officials can torture with impunity, so long as they leave office after committing their crimes.”
    Well said, Andy. But Obama must realize that this is true. It’s hard to imagine how he and his advisers justify to themselves what they are doing.

  13. eCAHNomics says:

    I’m about half way thru Alistair Horne’s Savage War of Peace, about Algeria’s insurgency against French colonialism. It sez on the cover of the current printing that the book was read by W. I think he used it as how-to book for Iraq, including the way the French tortured their Algerian prisoners. The only technique that I haven’t heard the U.S. using yet is shocks to sexual organs.

    • prostratedragon says:

      I’ve heard that during the run-up to the Iraq invasion the movie Battle of Algiers, a docudrama on those events and a really great movie, was much shown among the military.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        Interesting. It’s been years since I’ve seen the film, but I remember it as though it were yesterday. Truly impressive. According to the book, one of the characters played himself in the movie.

        I’m not surprised that the U.S. military would use it as a learning tool. After all, they probably have no idea how it turned out in the end, that France won the battle but lost the war.

        • prostratedragon says:

          they probably have no idea how it turned out in the end

          I started to mention that, but the whole thing is just too depressing.

          For those who haven’t seen the flick and aren’t familiar with the story, the above is really the whole point: torture, ghettoization, executions, in the end none of it mattered. All the French managed was to add to their sins (and budget deficit), as de Gaulle of all people finally figured out.

          Afterword: TCM runs it from time to time.

          • eCAHNomics says:

            One big difference between France & the U.S. is that when the French citizens started to find out about the torture (very late in the conflict because it was never reported until then), they were shocked and many turned against the war. In the U.S., crickets.

          • fatster says:

            “The Battle of Algiers” is an absolute must-see. “To Die in Madrid” ain’t bad, either. Glad to hear “The Battle of Algiers” is still being aired, however infrequently. Thnx.

              • fatster says:

                U B funnee. No, it’s about fascism-fighting, a most noble and essential cause for all kinds of reasons, freedom being very high on the list. Good film. Do see it if you can (if you didn’t already).

    • tjbs says:

      When you figure out something more shocking than slicing a penis w/ a scalpel, which is documented to a British Citizen, you give me a ring. Tell me they weren’t threatening to cut off his nuts with that.

      Now, more than ever, only a Nuremburg 2.0 will bring out justice because we are way beyond judging ourselves honestly.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        That was done by a U.S. proxy. I was referring to what the French and the U.S. actually did themselves.

  14. Hugh says:

    Friday is when the holiday weekend begins so my bet, since last week, is on the release of the CIA IG report tomorrow as part of a pre-holiday news dump that will get lost in the 4th celebrations.

    Glenn Greenwald had a link to one of the autopsies which I read through and left a long comment on at his site (~69). As a medical report it sucked.

    OT the job numbers for June will be out tomorrow instead of Friday because of the 4th.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      As a medical report it sucked.

      How so?

      The doc who was here for book salon said they’ve stopped doing autopsies altogether, iirc.

  15. Hugh says:

    Here is the comment:

    The autopsy report on patient ME 03-067 is one pathetic medical report from any number of points of view.

    First, the victim was found lying on the floor. I assume that he was unconscious but the report doesn’t say. The victim could have been comatose or conscious for all the report doesn’t say. Did anyone check for level of consciousness. Were pupils reactive? Was there a reaction to deep pain stimulus: twisting nose hairs or brushing the cornea? Were deep tendon reflexes intact? There is a reference in the opinion at the very end that the victim was obtunded, ie had a decreased level of consciousness but given what I just wrote all it means is that the victim was not “fully” conscious. Well, duh.

    Second, what were this guy’s vitals? Blood pressure above everything, pulse rate, was pulse regular? Instead we get his axillary temp of 102, why would anyone include this, it’s high but not extravagantly high, as the victim’s only salient vital unless dehydration secondary to hyperthermia was suspected?

    Third, breathing was described as shallow, what was the respiratory rate? His O2 sat is described as “decreased”. What the hell does that mean? Give me a number. 95%, 85%, dead?

    Fourth, “decreased sweating” was noted. Again this is not the first thing you would remark unless you already knew you were looking for signs of dehydration. Normally you would notice if the skin was hot or cool or dry or moist and describe it so. When you mention decreased sweating, you are really already pointing to a clinical diagnosis. One of the last sentences states that temps in the area were grater [sic] than 110 degrees.

    Fifth, if you are thinking hyperthermia why were no wet rags or water immersion used to bring the temp down?

    Sixth, the failure to get venous access. This could be secondary to the victim’s dehydration or it could have been a function of arteriovenous collapse. When peripheral access could not be obtained why was central access, like a subclavian insertion, not tried? Transrectal administration of fluids just seems dumb to me. Like it was better than nothing so we did that. And when was this guy intubated (again an indication that he wasn’t really very conscious because his gag reflex did not kick in)?

    Seventh, how long did they work to resuscitate this guy, how long did the trip to the hospital take that he was pronounced DOA?

    Eighth, his lungs weighed 1650 grams and should have weighed about half that. They were “deep red purple” which is not how a normal lung should look but consistent with the pulmonary congestion described. Basically, his lungs weren’t oxygenating his blood properly and his heart wasn’t clearing the lungs leading to an excess build up of fluid and blood in the lungs.

    Ninth, the bladder contained only a miniscule amount of urine consistent with extreme dehydration. It is described as yellow-brown and concentrated but indication of its specific gravity is not given.

    Tenth, the opinion at the end says the cause of death is consistent with heat stroke. Again this is sloppy non-medical terminology, good for a general story but not a medical report. The guy died of cardi0-respiratory collapse secondary to dehydration secondary to hyperthermia secondary to torture.

    Eleventh, which makes the finding of “accidental” in the manner of death, not just a joke but malpractice.

    I should have added as 12 that at some point between being found and his DOA arrival at the hospital. He coded. How was that handled? What was done? Were chest compressions done? He apparently wasn’t shocked. Why not? Was anything administered directly?…..5/3192.pdf

    • Garrett says:

      There is another autopsy with “deep red-purple lungs”: DOD003235

      This guy was very very badly beaten. They fractured his ribs in all sorts of ways. Classified as homicide, blunt force trauma and asphyxia.

      If it’s the asphyxiation not the beating that would cause it, then deep red-purple lungs can mean: shackled to the top of a doorframe with a gag in your mouth, for long enough a period that your pants are covered in shit.

      • Leen says:

        U.S. “shining city on a hill” horseshit!

        So many folks around the world know that these claims of the moral high groung that the U.s. leaders and others like to repeat rings hollow around the world. People know words are cheap and the American public likes to hide behind those words and pretend that these horrific crimes are not being committed in their names.
        Most Americans have to get to church and the mall quickly and just do not have the time to be concerned

  16. sporkovat says:

    President Obama now owns and operates these torture dungeons, pays the salaries of the sick, disgusting soldiers, operators and mercenaries who perpetrate the tortures, and protects them against the mechanisms of US and international justice.

    Those terrible knee-kicks, the blood smears from bodies dragged across prison floors, these are what comes to mind when I see an Obama/Biden bumper sticker now.

    Take ‘em off your cars already, they don’t convey the message you think they do.

  17. prostratedragon says:

    As I was looking for a good visual of a peroneal strike* a link came up from a book I’d never heard of called Unspeak: How Words Become Weapons, How Weapons Become a Message, and How That Message Becomes Reality by Stephen Poole. One language example Poole (beginning Chapter 7) takes apart comes precisely from the Army’s investigation of the deaths of Dilawar and another Bagram prisoner who was similarly beaten. It is a good introduction to his general topic of the misuse of language surrounding the torture regime. The same passage Worthington quotes from the soldier who called the affair “a running joke” helps to give the lie to the language of the report.

    * Nothing; but one could check out flash vids of the muay thai-style matches of a fighter named Ernesto Hoost, who uses a version of the technique with frequently devastating effectiveness.

  18. BayStateLibrul says:

    Let’s go on a hunger strike til we get the IG Report…

    “If you’re at the Taste of Chicago Friday, and you see a guy cramming slabs of deep dish pizza into his mouth like there’s no tomorrow, stay out of his way.
    It may well be Daniel Kamen, a Buffalo Grove chiropractor who is vowing to go on a 500-calorie-a-day diet until his beloved Cubs put together a five-game winning streak — something that has eluded them so far this season.”

    Chicago Sun-Times

  19. wavpeac says:

    and some critics of America think Americans aren’t willing to make sacrifices for important causes…like for…games.

  20. johnhkennedy says:

    The only way President Obama and our Congressional Democrats may ever claim to be enforcing our US Federal Anti-Torture Laws
    Is To Prosecute Those Who Tortured
    In Our Name.

    There is no substitute. An unenforced law means an official isn’t doing their job

    Push Obama to do the right thing.

    calling for Prosecution of the Torturers


    Over 250,000 have signed
    Join them and call yourself a patriot