Posted by Brad @ 1:15 pm on May 28th 2009

Rape in America Detention Centers

This comes as no surprise to those of us who have actually had an interest in learning about the practices that regularly went on in American detention centers, oftentimes at either the willful behest or conscious blind-eye of the chain of command, but it’s worth noting, because torture apologists try to pretend this stuff isn’t out there.

Former Major General Antonio Taguba, the officer who conducted an inquiry into Abu Ghraib in 2004, has been interviewed by Britain’s Daily Telegraph, and confirms some of the reporting originally done by Seymour Hersh. Namely, these detention centers had an explicit “anything goes” policy, and under those conditions, of course, anything went.

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

One such photo was already released—you can find it at Salon and other places—with the original batch. It shows a blindfolded detainee in a very unnatural position sticking a banana in his rectum. The military inquiry caption read something to the effect of “Detainee sticking a banana in his rectum. This was apparently done voluntarily.”

I’m sure.

There were also pictures in that set of a couple of prostitutes they had picked up in Iraq that, for some damn reason, they had detaineed at Abu Gharib. The guards with the cameras were quite taken with them. Pictures of them lifting up their shirts for the camera, sitting on each other’s laps, etc. And of course, the naked dogpiles, images of Granger and England performing sex acts on each other in the detention center while on duty, and on and on. Who the hell knows what else, although Hersh, for his part, reported about an incident that seems to match Taguba’s description of one particular picture:

Maj Gen Taguba’s internal inquiry into the abuse at Abu Ghraib, included sworn statements by 13 detainees, which, he said in the report, he found “credible based on the clarity of their statements and supporting evidence provided by other witnesses.”

Among the graphic statements, which were later released under US freedom of information laws, is that of Kasim Mehaddi Hilas in which he says: “I saw [name of a translator] ******* a kid, his age would be about 15. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [name] who was wearing the military uniform, putting his **** in the little kid’s ***…. and the female soldier was taking pictures.”

There are two points on all this.

1. It keeps reminding me of the Stanford Prison Experiment, the most infamous illustration of the innate corruptibility of man to come out of the field of psychology (and which, for obvious reasons, will never be replicated). You give a group of people—any people—absolute power over another group of people they are conditioned, even indirectly, to dehumanize, and bad things happen. That’s why we demand such vigilance with law enforcement, why guidelines of conduct in mental hospitals, nursing homes, and (theoretically) jails and prisons are so formally conscripted. The “bad apples” comment is not wrong, but it misses the point. It’s not just “bad luck” that these people wound up there, doing what they were doing. You could have replaced them with a random sample of other detention officers and, conditions being what they were, gotten roughly the same result.

2. And there’s the rub. “Conditions being what they were”. The orders from on high, which we know and have on record, is that so long as you didn’t kill them, “anything goes”. Including, as John Yoo famously opined, crushing a child’s testicles. Interrogators who objected were overruled by civilian command and contractors who thought they knew better or had an axe to grind or point to prove, and romper room ensued.

Obama needs to release everything he has. It is not the releasing of the documentation that damages our reputation and puts our country in danger, its the practices being documented, and we not only have we every right to know, but we NEED to know to be shaken to our core that this is not Jack Bauer style saving the world. This is evil and it is weakness and it is a black spot on our national soul that is only expanding the more we refuse to hold ourselves accountable for it, the more we let the infection alone. We, as a country, are rotting away from the inside because we’ve allowed this to become a theoretical partisan issue. There is now a political base for blank check torture in America today, in large part because of the various fictions that have been allowed to get entrenched.

Throw open the doors, let the sunlight in, and let’s see who’s prepared to be counted as enabling these kinds of things.

6 Comments »

  1. This is an excellent post. I think it has received no comments because it is sufficient on its own, and left me sober. Which is unusual for this time in the evening. I especially like these sentences:

    “It is not the releasing of the documentation that damages our reputation and puts our country in danger, it are the practices being documented, and we not only have every right but we NEED to be shaken to our core that this is not Jack Bauer style saving the world. This is evil and it is weakness and it is a black spot on our national soul that is only expanding the more we refuse to hold ourselves accountable for it. We, as a country, are rotting away from the inside because we’ve allowed this to become a theoretical partisan issue.”

    I read today, somewhere, that the strong push back from certain circles against release of the documentation puts the lie to the theory that “They hate us for our freedom” and not for our actions. Even the most hard core supporters of torture, and obfuscation of our national role in it, are now, by their desire to hide these photos, explicitely admitting the rightness of blowback. Would that they extend such recognition to the activities rather than merely the evidence.

    Comment by Jack — 5/28/2009 @ 8:46 pm

  2. I know I may be in the minority concerning this subject, but I’m concerned about the candidate’s position on dwarves and purple lights.

    Does anyone have any background on this?

    Comment by thimbles — 5/28/2009 @ 10:38 pm

  3. DamnATION!
    I meant to post that in this thread
    http://thecrossedpond.com/?p=8766
    and I got my tabs confused.

    OH MY KINGDOM FOR AN EDIT BUTTON!

    PS.. One thing that is also notable is the amount of rape taking place on American service women and contractors and how those cases have been handled.
    http://www.democracynow.org/2004/7/12/enemy_in_their_camp_scores_of
    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/Story?id=3977702
    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080421/houppert
    And the allegations of rape and abuse have been going on for a long time:
    http://www.antiwar.com/orig/croke.php?articleid=3645

    The thing that bothers me is that these people were subjected to such abuse without cause.
    At one time, 70% of the detained were held by mistake.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4944094/
    and we are still being sloppy about it
    http://hub.witness.org/fr/upload/us-detention-system-iraq

    So basically the situation in Iraq is innocent people are picked up, held in detention, possibly raped or abused, possibly extremely abused through testicle shocks and waterboards administered by contractors, and then maybe released back to the public after being forced to give up names.

    And this wins hearts and minds how?

    Comment by thimbles — 5/28/2009 @ 10:58 pm

  4. PS: Since you brought up the Stanford Prison Experiment I’ll link to this ol CBC presentation which is worth a watch:
    http://www.livevideo.com/media/playvideo_fs.aspx?fs=1&cid=7BA0DFC570AC4146A1102D93D00F217B
    http://www.livevideo.com/media/playvideo_fs.aspx?fs=1&cid=E3676C7B475643458E25132D9700DA57

    It covers the Stanford Prison situation and the Milgram experiment which shows the power of authority over the individual.

    Also relevant is the lesser known Asch experiment which shows the power of a unified group over the will of a diverging individual.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6LH10-3H8k

    Monkey see, monkey do, unless monkey becomes aware that there are more important things than acting like a monkey.

    Comment by thimbles — 5/29/2009 @ 12:03 am

  5. Well, no more worries, my friends. Obama is President now and there is no torture going on anymore. I promise.

    Comment by James — 5/29/2009 @ 12:32 am

  6. This presentation is pretty damn awesome.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMoZ3ThW6x0

    Comment by thimbles — 5/29/2009 @ 1:58 am

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