[News] Torturing Children

News at freedomarchives.org News at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jul 20 11:34:42 EDT 2004


     Torturing Children
     By William Rivers Pitt
     t r u t h o u t | Perspective

     Tuesday 20 July 2004

     The biggest story of the Iraq war is not about missing weapons of mass 
destruction, or about deep-cover CIA officers getting their covers blown by 
vengeful White House agents, or even about 896 dead American soldiers. 
These have been covered to one degree or another, and then summarily 
dismissed, by the American mainstream news media. The biggest story of the 
Iraq war has not enjoyed any coverage in America, though it has been 
exploding across the international news media for several weeks now.

     The biggest story of the Iraq war is about the torture of Iraqi children.

     A German TV magazine called 'Report Mainz' recently aired accusations 
from the International Red Cross, to the effect that over 100 children are 
imprisoned in U.S.- controlled detention centers, including Abu Ghraib. 
"Between January and May of this year, we've registered 107 children, 
during 19 visits in 6 different detention locations," said Red Cross 
representative Florian Westphal in the report.

     The report also outlined eyewitness testimony of the abuse of these 
children. Staff Sergeant Samuel Provance, who was stationed at Abu Ghraib, 
said that interrogating officers had gotten their hands on a 15 or 16 year 
old girl. Military police only stopped the interrogation when the girl was 
half undressed. A separate incident described a 16 year old being soaked 
with water, driven through the cold, smeared with mud, and then presented 
before his weeping father, who was also a prisoner.

     Seymour Hersh, the New Yorker reporter who first broke the story of 
torture at Abu Ghraib, recently spoke at an ACLU convention. He has seen 
the pictures and the videotapes the American media has not yet shown. "The 
boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling, and the worst part is the 
soundtrack, of the boys shrieking," said Hersh. "And this is your 
government at war."

     Hersh described the prison scene as, "a series of massive crimes, 
criminal activity by the president and the vice president, by this 
administration anyway," and that there has been, "a massive amount of 
criminal wrongdoing that was covered up at the highest command out there, 
and higher."

     Reports of abuses at Abu Ghraib and other American prisons have been 
public knowledge since the release of the Taguba Report. Recently, however, 
some 106 annexes to the report, previously classified, have also been 
released. U.S. News and World Report detailed the sum of what is contained 
in these annexes in an article titled 'Hell on Earth.'

     In it, U.S. News says, "The abuses took place, the files show, in a 
chaotic and dangerous environment made even more so by the constant 
pressure from Washington to squeeze intelligence from detainees. Riots, 
prisoner escapes, shootings, corrupt Iraqi guards, unsanitary conditions, 
rampant sexual misbehavior, bug-infested food, prisoner beatings and 
humiliations, and almost-daily mortar shellings from Iraqi 
insurgents--according to the annex to General Taguba's report, that pretty 
much sums up life at Abu Ghraib." According to coalition intelligence 
officers cited in a Red Cross report from last May, between 70% to 90% of 
Iraqi detainees held in these prisons were arrested "by mistake." That 
means they were innocent.

     The orders to treat prisoners in this fashion were not manufactured by 
the few "bad apples" we have heard about, but came from up on high. Brig. 
Gen Janis Karpinski, former commander of Abu Ghraib and now scapegoat for 
the abuses, says the truth about where the orders came from would be 
revealed in the trials of the accused soldiers. Memos ordering the abuse of 
prisoners were signed off on by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. The Justice 
Department and Mr. Bush's senior legal advisor went out of their way to 
craft arguments justifying this, claiming that torture isn't really torture 
and that the President is basically above the law.

     Mr. Hersh will revisit this issue within the next several weeks. In 
the meantime, the American news media has an obligation to report on this 
situation. Photographic and videotape evidence of this torture is currently 
in the hands of the New Yorker, the Washington Post, the U.S. Congress and 
the White House. It must be released.

     We invaded a country based upon the false claim that Iraq was allied 
with al Qaeda. We invaded a country based on the false claim that there 
were weapons of mass destruction which needed to be destroyed. We promised 
freedom and democracy, and instead installed a CIA-trained strongman named 
Allawi who has all but created a dictatorship in Iraq, and who has been 
accused of killing Iraqi prisoners by his own hand. 896 American soldiers 
have died so we could do this.

     We took thousands of innocent civilians off the streets in Iraq and 
threw them into hellhole prisons, where they were beaten, raped, and 
killed. This story has faded from public view because no new pictures of 
the abuses have come out in the last several weeks. Those pictures are out 
there, and they show the rape and torture of children. The international 
media is reporting on it. Coalition ally Norway may be preparing to flee 
Iraq because of the allegations regarding these children.

     Where is the American news media? Where are the pictures? Who is 
responsible for this abomination? Torturing children in the name of 
freedom? Is this what we have become?

     <mailto:william.pitt at truthout.org>William Rivers Pitt is a New York 
Times and international bestseller of two books - 
on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You To Know' and 
Greatest Sedition is Silence.'

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