Torture Realities

Revolution #024, November 27, 2005, posted at

On Nov. 7, George Bush told the world with a straight face, "We don't torture." But the reality of ongoing and rampant torture by the U.S. continues to spill out on every front.

A story in Time magazine Nov. 14 reported on the torture murder of an Iraqi "ghost detainee" by the CIA at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The man, Manadel al Jamadi, died of blunt force injuries and asphyxiation. Manadel was trussed up with his arms behind him, a sandbag put over his head. He was beaten until "blood gushed from his mouth and nose like a faucet had turned on," according to the story. To cover up this brutal killing, blood was mopped up with chlorine before the scene could be investigated.

And an interview by "Democracy Now" on Nov. 16 with former U.S. military interrogator Tony Lagouranis further reveals the extent of torture and other war crimes by the U.S. Lagouranis is speaking out now to try to rectify what he did and witnessed. He apologized to the people of Iraq and called on GIs to not do what "everybody else is doing," but to follow their conscience.

Lagouranis was in Iraq at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities from 2003-2005. Despite U.S. claims about stopping torture in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal in 2003, Lagouranis reveals torture of detainees continued and is routine. At a U.S. army detention facility in Mosul, Lagouranis interrogated prisoners who were placed in shipping containers, kept up all night with music and strobe lights, and put in painful stress positions. Guards would then have dogs bark and jump on them. The dogs were muzzled, but the prisoners wouldnt know they werent going to be bitten because they were blindfolded.

Military interrogators routinely induced hypothermia to break prisoners down for "intel." Prisoners were kept outside in polyester jumpsuits in wet and freezing cold conditions. Lagouranis said Navy SEALS would interrogate people after putting them in ice water to lower their body temperature--taking their temperature with a rectal thermometer so they wouldnt die.

At a prison in North Babel near Baghdad, Lagouranis saw many prisoners brought in by marine units after being tortured in their own homes. Prisoners had been kicked and beaten--some had their bones broken, including by blunt ends of axes smashing their feet.

Lagouranis was sent in to Fallujah to search dead Iraqis after the U.S. destroyed the city and its remaining people. He saw 500 corpses, what he called "a small number" of the total killed. Of these, only 20 percent were found with weapons. There were many women, children, and elderly. Lagouranis said he didnt know how many people the U.S. had killed in Fallujah, but the number he heard marines talking about was 10,000.

After a while Lagouranis began to realize the U.S. was overwhelmingly detaining and torturing people who didnt even have anything to do with the insurgency. People were being hurled into this hellish world of detention and torture, and lies created to justify it all to report high numbers of "terrorists captured." He filed complaints to higher officials in the military at various times and places but none of them were acted on.

If this is the experience of just one military interrogator, what does this show about the level of torture and war crimes being carried out in Iraq and elsewhere by this government?

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