Sunday, February 15, 2009

You mean it gets even worse?

Four and a half years ago, I wrote this blog post, about how frustrating it was that no one would be held accountable for what happened at Gitmo other than a few low-level functionaries.

Three and a half years ago, I wrote this blog post, about how much worse what actually happened at Abu Ghraib was than we all had thought.

A former Gitmo guard has now come forward and is talking about what is actually going on there.

Neely [the guard] discusses at some length the notion of IRF (initial reaction force), a technique devised to brutalize or physically beat a detainee under the pretense that he required being physically subdued. The IRF approach was devised to use a perceived legal loophole in the prohibition on torture. Neely’s testimony makes clear that IRF was understood by everyone, including the prison guards who applied it, as a subterfuge for beating and mistreating prisoners—and that it had nothing to do with the need to preserve discipline and order in the prison.

Honestly, that really doesn't shock me. Several prisoners were actually beaten to death at Abu Ghraib. I remember one quote from an Army doctor that examined the dead detainee, and how he described his injuries as resembling those of someone that had been hit by a bus. So finding out that physical abuse is not just regular, but encouraged, seems just par for the course.

But as shocking and saddening it is to hear about beatings like this, that's not the end of it: (emphasis mine)

He describes body searches undertaken for no legitimate security purpose, simply to sexually invade and humiliate the prisoners. This was a standardized Bush Administration tactic–the importance of which became apparent to me when I participated in some Capitol Hill negotiations with White House representatives relating to legislation creating criminal law accountability for contractors. The Bush White House vehemently objected to provisions of the law dealing with rape by instrumentality. When House negotiators pressed to know why, they were met first with silence and then an embarrassed acknowledgment that a key part of the Bush program included invasion of the bodies of prisoners in a way that might be deemed rape by instrumentality under existing federal and state criminal statutes.

It's one thing (and implausible) to say that the Abu Ghraib abuse was the work of "a few bad apples." This obviously isn't. White House lawyers were aware of what was going on and actually fought to provide legal cover. You can't tell me that the awareness of these tactics stopped with those lawyers.

In other words, rape is now official government policy.

1 comment:

Ian said...

You'd think that, by now, nothing about the Bushies would shock or sicken me any more.

I am shocked. I am sickened. I think that's a good thing, because as we get used to these stories, we have a little of our humanity abraded away.