Sunday, February 26, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

Iraqi police are stepping up the search for kidnapped US journalist Jill Carroll; but report no new developments as the deadline set by her captors for the US to meet their demands draws near.
The 28-year-old freelancer for the Christian Science Monitor was kidnapped in Baghdad on 7 January and last seen in a videotape broadcast this month by Alrai, the private Kuwaiti television station.
Jassem Boudai, the station owner, said the kidnappers set a Sunday deadline for US and Iraqi authorities to meet their demands or they would kill her.
The kidnappers had demanded the release of all women detainees in Iraq but Boudai indicated the group had provided more specific conditions which he refused to reveal.

[. . .]
Also on Sunday, Aljazeera broadcast a tape it received from the family of Canadian hostage James Loney appealing for his release and that of three colleagues abducted with him in Baghdad last November.
"James is a loving, compassionate, selfless man," said a woman relative who appeared on the tape.

The above, noted by Lynda, is from "Jill Carroll captors' deadline nears" (Al Jazeera). It's Sunday, we're focused on news from outside the US mainstream media. (Though, time permitting, we'll be noting the New York Times in this entry at one point.)

Stephen Hadley is attempting a wave of Operation Happy Talk ("They've stared into the abyss a bit.") as you'll note in Vic's highlight, "Iraqi officials lift curfew, citing drop in sectarian attacks" (Canada's CBS) which offers these bits of Sunday reality that seem to have escaped Hadley:

Mortar rounds fired into a mainly Sunni neighbourhood in Baghdad killed at least 15 people and wounded 49 others.
A mortar shell killed three and wounded six in a Shia-dominated neighbourhood in the city.
A bomb exploded at a Shia mosque in Basra, injuring two.
Gunmen shot up a soccer game in a mixed neighbourhood outside Baghdad, killing two teenagers and wounding five others.
Three U.S. soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad.
Five people died when a bomb destroyed a minibus in Hilla, a Shia town south of Baghdad.

(FYI, Hadley was the deputy to Condi Rice when she was the National Security advisor. After her "brilliant" job, she moved over to to head the State Department and Hadley became the National security advisor.)

While Hadley tries to launch yet another wave of Operation Happy Talk, James in Brighton steers us to some realistic prospects via Michael Howard's "Sunni-Shia schism 'threatening to tear Iraq apart', says conflict group" (The Guardian of London):

Iraq is on the verge of breaking up along religious, ethnic and tribal lines - a process bloodily amplified by the Shia versus Sunni violence in the wake of last week's bomb attack on the gold-domed shrine in Samarra, the International Crisis Group says in a report out today.
The conflict resolution organisation warns that, left unchecked, the widening fissures in Iraqi society that have been exposed since the removal of the Ba'athist regime in 2003 could bring further "instability and violence to many areas, especially those with mixed populations".
The most pressing problem is the Sunni-Shia schism which "threatens to tear the country apart" says the report, entitled The Next Iraqi War? It urges Iraqi leaders and the international community to take immediate action to prevent the conflict from escalating into a civil war that could cause Iraq's disintegration and spread chaos through the region.
But it also calls for the international community, including Iraq's neighbours, to start preparing for the "regrettable" scenario in which the country falls apart.
"Until now, such an effort has been a taboo, but failure to anticipate such a possibility may lead to further disasters in the future," the ICG warns.

Time to sing it:

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Let's note the American military fatalitiy count for the month of February: 49. Forty-nine on this 26th day of February. Last Sunday when we noted the American military fatality count since the start of the invasion the number was: 2273. This Sunday, the number's up to 2291. What's the magic number before we realize the "cakewalk" is a death march and get the hell out? If you've missed it conservative William F. Buckley is now staying it's time to leave. There's an e-mail from a visitor stating that Bill O'Leilly of Fox "News" is making the same call.
(We've made it here from the start. As Mike would say, "Welcome to the party.") How many Iraqis have to die? (After the occupation ends, will the US government release the figures for the toll, the figures we all know they're keeping?) What's the magic number?

Here's a number, three years. Three years in March since Rummy and the others in the administration lied us into war promising a cakewalk and a path strewn with roses. They lied then, they lie now. Next month (which is only days away, we're at the end of February) it will be three years. There will be protests, rallies, house parties and much more to get the word out.
On that and speaking out, Marci asked if we could note the following from today's edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review:

"Editorial: Use your voice "
And the "tone" screamers scream on (smart people ignore them)"

Get active, get vocal. Make yourself heard.

Sidebar, NPR has a really bad habit of letting the "pundits" -- each time this year -- make the claim that the violence is abating based upon the figures for February. They note that February's American military fatalities are down from January's. What they never note is that February is a shorter month than January and, in fact, the shortest month of the year. If you hear a gas bag make that "talking point" remember what they fail to note -- it's a shorter month. The American military fatalities for January were 62, by the way. Remember that when you hear that things "grew" calmer this month. Calmer?

It is like a nightmare in that you don't realise i'’s a nightmare while having it-- only later, after waking up with your heart throbbing, and your eyes searching the dark for a pinpoint of light, do you realise it was a nightmare....

That's from Riverbend's latest (noted by Joan) entitled "Volatile Days..." (Baghdad Burning):

The last few days have been unsettlingly violent in spite of the curfew. We've been at home simply waiting it out and hoping for the best. The phone wasn't working and the electrical situation hasn’t improved. We are at a point, however, where things like electricity, telephones and fuel seem like minor worries. Even complaining about them is a luxury Iraqis can't afford these days.
The sounds of shooting and explosions usually begin at dawn, at least that's when I first sense them, and they don't really subside until well into the night. There was a small gunfight on the main road near our area the day before yesterday, but with the exception of the local mosque being fired upon, and a corpse found at dawn three streets down, things have been relatively quiet.
Some of the neighbors have been discussing the possibility of the men setting up a neighborhood watch. We did this during the war and during the chaos immediately after the war. The problem this time is that the Iraqi security forces are as much to fear as the black-clad and hooded men attacking mosques, houses and each other.

Calmer? More reality comes via Jonah's highlight, Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed's "Mosque Outrage Also Brings Solidarity" (IPS):

Widespread sectarian violence generated by the recent bombing of the Shia Golden Mosque in Samarra has also brought widespread demonstrations of solidarity between Sunnis and Shias across Iraq. The revered Al-Askariyya Mosque in Samarra, 135 km northwest of Baghdad, is one of four sacred places for Shias in Iraq. The mosque was bombed at 6:55am Feb. 22 by men who tied up the guards and planted the explosives.
This being the third attack on the Shias in as many days, outrage was immediate, violent and widespread. Bloody retaliatory attacks took the lives of three Sunni Imams and scores of civilians, while over 50 Sunni mosques were attacked. Yet the violence led also to demonstrations of solidarity after Shia and Sunni leaders called for calm and restraint.
Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani called for "easing things down and not attacking any Sunni mosques and shrines." Sistani's office was quick to issue a statement: "We call upon believers to express their protest...through peaceful means. The extent of their sorrow and shock should not drag them into taking actions that serve the enemies who have been working to lead Iraq into sectarian strife."
Muqtada Al-Sadr, arguably the second most influential Shia cleric in Iraq told reporters: "It was not the Sunnis who attacked the shrine of Imam Al-Hadi, God's peace be upon him, but rather the occupation (forces) and Ba'athists...God damn them. We should not attack Sunni mosques. I have ordered the Al-Mahdi Army to protect both Shia and Sunni shrines."
Sadr returned promptly from Lebanon and called on the Iraqi parliament to vote the departure of occupation forces from Iraq. Sunni religious authorities called for peace and asked people to confront those trying to generate a sectarian war. Many Arab media outlets blamed the floundering Iraqi government for failing to provide the security needed to prevent the attacks. But thousands of people who joined demonstrations blamed American troops for failing to protect the Iraqi people.

DK notes Damien McGuinness's "Iraq's Worsening Crisis" (Germany's Der Spiegel):

According to the left-leaning Berliner Zeitung, it is impossible to measure the extent of the damage caused by Wednesday's bomb. "Since the attacks one act of revenge has followed the next. On Wednesday night over 200 Sunni mosques went up in flames. The number of victims of retaliatory acts has kept rising. The fear that the ethnically and religiously divided Iraq might sink into civil war has accompanied the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein. But now it is becoming true." Most worrying, believes the paper, is the fact that the Sunni politicians did not go to a crisis meeting and announced that they didn't want to be a part in discussions over the creation of a national unity government. "A government of national unity and integration of the Sunnis into a cabinet would have been a major set-back (for foreign terrorists). The Samarra bombing has prevented that. It is now these terrorists and insurgents who are dictating what is happening in Iraq. The United States must try and come up with a new strategy."

Gareth notes Sameer Yacoub's "Dozens killed after Baghdad lifts curfew" (The Independent of London) which provides more reality from Iraq:

Mortars slammed into crowded Baghdad neighbourhoods, killing 18 people and injuring dozens, as security measures were eased in the capital after the bombing of a revered Shia shrine and a wave of bloody sectarian violence.
At least nine others victims, including two teenage boys playing football in Baqouba, were killed in other attacks yesterday.
A 24-hour transport ban remained in effect in Baghdad and its suburbs as authorities tried to halt the violence that has claimed nearly 200 lives since the Shia Askariya shrine was destroyed in Samarra on Wednesday. But traffic restrictions were lifted in the strife-prone provinces of Diyala, Babil and Salahuddin, where the shrine was located.
At least seven mortar rounds hit in a Shia enclave of Dora, a predominantly Sunni Arab district and one of the most dangerous parts of the city. Eighteen people were reported killed and at least 45 injured.
Britain's former ambassador to Iraq, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, warned that the country was slipping into a state of low-level civil war, with the conflict pitting rival ethnic and religious groups against each other. The sectarian fighting, he said, bore a resemblance to ethnic cleansing in some parts of the country.

Break here. Susan e-mailed noting that the Iraq entries on Sunday and Thursday nights are her "must reads." She said that they can be "hell to get through" due to the news in them. Members know Susan's been a part of the community forever now. They also know she loves music. She didn't ask in this e-mail what she usually does but I'll provide it anyway. What am I listening to? Right now at this moment, Judy Collins' In My Life. (Which happens to be one of Susan's favorite albums.) Susan's shared before that she couldn't pick one song from this album as her favorite but she could probably narrow it down to three: "In My Life," "Pirate Jenny" and the "Marat/Sade" suite. (From the last one: "We want our rights and we don't care how/ We want a revolution now.") I love all three songs as well (and others on the album) but for another version of "Pirate Jenny," look for Nina Simone's.

On what album? Well, Kat's got a review ready. Why isn't it up? She can't deal with this word verification. (Which is sometimes a grouping of random letters in a cursive text that, I agree, you can't read. There's not a standard "cursive.") But at some point, Kat will post that. (Or I'll post it in the evening for her.) I told her she was more than welcome to post the two reviews (she has both completed) at her site first and we'd get them up here when Blogger/Blogspot dealt with this nonsense. (I even offered that they could go up at The Third Estate Sunday Review.) But her attitude is that she started them here and they should go up here first.

Which is a long way of saying: No, we still can't do e-mail posts. I expected when I woke up I'd be able to post Isaiah's latest. Problem still exists. Blogger/Blogspot has again been contacted (maybe in a month or so they'll reply?). So if the problem's fixed this week, we'll have an evening comic from Isaiah. If not, I'll probably see if he wants to slide it over to the gina & krista round-robin.

So that updates everyone and also winds down our break. The news isn't surprising from Iraq but Susan's e-mail made me think a break might be needed in the midst of this (and Democracy Now! offers musical segments during their breaks so if you're going to copy, copy from the best).

Liang notes Mike Marqusee's "When 3 Million People Across the World Took to the Streets to Stop the War" (CounterPunch) which looks back to the Feb. 15, 2003 mass mobilization of protests around the world and the realities of Iraq today:

Countless horrors have accompanied the conflict. The looting and destruction of Iraq's (humanity's) ancient heritage. The wave of kidnapping and assassinations that has taken the lives of more than 250 of the country's leading educators and intellectuals. The one hundred journalists killed either by the occupiers or the resistance. The plunder of the the Iraqi treasury by corrupt officials and multi-national corporations. The erosion of women's rights.
The occupiers have proclaimed one turning-point after another. But despite referenda and elections, constitutions and cabinets, the high-tech bludgeoning of alleged rebel hot-beds such as Fallujah, Tal Afar, Samarra, Al-Qa'im, Haditha, Ramadi, and Husaybah, warfare continues and self-determination for Iraqis remains a remote prospect. The writ of the central government remains negligible and its authority dependent on the 180,000 US-led foreign troops. Meanwhile, the occupiers' divide-and-rule strategy (the only one left in their arsenal once it became clear that the bulk of the population, however relieved to be rid of Saddam Hussein, did not welcome their presence) has unleashed sectarianism and pushed Iraqi society perilously close to civil war.
A common theme of speeches at the 15th February demonstrations was that attacking Iraq was likely to increase the jihadi terrorism it was supposed to combat. So it has proved -- in Iraq, in London and elsewhere. In Greek mythology, Cassandra's tragedy was that she saw the future but no one believed her predictions. The protesters' tragedy was that nearly everyone believed their predictions but the rulers proceeded on course for disaster regardless.
The remaining proponents of the initial invasion argue that all this is still better than rule by Saddam Hussein. Many in Iraq would disagree, but in any case what kind of a measure is this? Are these the only alternatives the west is prepared to offer the people of Iraq? For the dead, injured, impoverished and abused, this kind of calculus never adds up.
In the US and Britain, more people than ever broadly agree with the what the protesters were saying three years ago, but there are fewer people protesting. Ironically, one of the reasons for the decline in numbers on the streets is the extraordinary success of 15th February, and the concomitant sense of failure that ensued. The record-breaking turn-outs did not stop the US and Britain from going to war. "We protested in huge numbers, numbers never seen before, and still it made no difference, people in London say. "They didn't listen. They never listen. So what's the point of protesting again?
Actually, it's far too early to judge the long-term significance of what happened on 15th February 2003. People who took part in the non-cooperation and civil disobedience campaigns in India in the twenties and thirties had to wait a long time for swaraj. There were eight years of protest and more than two million dead before the Vietnam war came to an end.

As everyone in this community knows, it's a process (as Marqusee notes). It's not going to happen overnight. Bully Boy doesn't want the occupation to end. The people are going to have to make their (our) voices heard. In London, they did just that. Olive notes the AFP's "London rally calls for peace in Iraq" (via Australia's ABC):

Several thousand people have gathered in central London to protest against the attack on a Shiite mosque in the Iraqi city of Samarra and warn about the risk of civil war in Iraq.
The protesters, carrying banners declaring 'Iraqis stand united in Iraq', also held pictures of the mosque before and after the attack, as well as portraits of Shiite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
The demonstration drew up to 15,000 people, according to organisers, while police put the number at 5,500.
Protest organiser Mohammed Al-Hilli, 27, whose family fled Iraq to Britain when he was two years old, said the event saw both Sunni and Shia Muslims voice their opposition to the attack on the shrine.

We have two highlights from Pru for this entry and we'll note this one first, "Iraq will join global anti-war protest" (Great Britain's The Socialist Worker):

Baghdad and Basra will march with us
The people of Basra and Baghdad will be joining next month's global protest against the US and British occupation of Iraq.
From British occupied Basra, Faraj Rabat Mizbhan of the independent Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions is urging trade unionists, peace activists and opponents of the occupation to demonstrate in their tens of thousands across the world on 18 March.
"We are indebted to the people who have raised their voices against the occupation of our country -- whether they are British, Americans, Russians or from anywhere across the globe," he told Socialist Worker from Basra.
"By opposing this war, and opposing this occupation you are standing by the Iraqis who have to endure the terror of occupation.
"You are standing up for our right to independence, our freedom from the thieves who have descended on our country.
"People in Britain will have seen the film of British soldiers savagely beating the four lads in Ammara.
"This is the reality of the occupation. Carry this image in your minds when you demonstrate. This is what we are ­struggling against."
Demonstrations called in Baghdad and Basra on Friday 17 March are backed by the Al-Sadr Movement, the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions and the Iraqi National Foundation Conference.
The Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions represents thousands of oil workers across the country. The union has campaigned against the privatisation of Iraqi industry.
The Iraqi National Foundation Conference represents Shia and Sunni opponents to the occupation.
Muqtada al-Sadr has repeatedly demanded an end to the occupation. He led two uprisings against the US in 2004. His party has the largest number of MPs in the Iraqi parliament.
An activist assembly at the World Social Forum in Venezuela in January also backed the global protest.
Lindsey German, national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, says, "Tony Blair tells us that we are there to protect the Iraqi people and help them build democracy.
"In reality all opinion polls show the Iraqi people want the troops to leave. With thousands of Iraqis set to take to the streets demanding troops out, his lies will be well and truly exposed."
From London to Jakarta, Baghdad to Madrid, Florida to Santiago millions will take to the streets around 18 March to demonstrate against the occupation of Iraq, and threats of war on Iran. Join them.

Demo on 18 March
Troops home / Don't attack Iran12 noon, Parliament Square, central London
© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.

Ian notes "Shock over Iraqi reporter's death" (BBC):

The killing of Atwar Bahjat, who rose to fame reporting from Iraq for both main Arabic satellite news networks, has shocked Arab journalistic circles.
Gunmen kidnapped and killed her and two members of her crew near Samarra where they had gone to cover reaction to Wednesday's shrine bombing.
A member of the al-Arabiya TV team who escaped described how two gunmen showed up as they stood in a crowd of Iraqis.
They dragged Bahjat and her colleagues away and shot them.
Their bodies were found on the outskirts of Samarra, an area racked by sectarian violence since Wednesday's explosion that destroyed the revered Shia Muslim al-Askari shrine.

A spokesman for al-Arabiya said Bahjat, an Iraqi citizen, was a Sunni Muslim. She was one of very few women to work as frontline conflict reporters for Arabic television.

We have a problem with our link to Alive in Baghdad and I'll attempt to fix that after the two entries are up. But Melissa notes Brian Conley's "In Iraq, Electricity and Civil War, at the Turn of a Switch" (Alive in Baghdad):

I just finished chatting with Omar, my friend and translator who lives in the Mansur area of Baghdad.
I’m worried that, with all the exaggerations about civil war and violence, we are forgetting to remember the on-the-ground reality in Iraq.
Violence happens everyday in Iraq.
People are killed everyday in Iraq.
Just because the mainstream press doesn't report it until it
starts being called a civil war, doesn't mean it isn't happening.
Omar tells me he's glad the gunfire and violence hasn't been near his area in the Mansur neighborhood lately, but he hears it constantly, and, like all Iraqis, just waits for it to come knocking.
According to the figures at, this month hasn't been all that different from previous months.

Skip notes "Germans 'gave US Saddam war plan'" (The Australian Herald Sun):

GERMAN intelligence agents in Baghdad obtained a copy of Saddam Hussein's plan to defend the Iraqi capital, which was passed on to US commanders a month before the 2003 invasion, The New York Times has reported.In providing the Iraqi document, German intelligence officials offered more significant assistance to the US than their government has publicly acknowledged, the newspaper said on its website.
The plan gave the American military an extraordinary window into Iraq's top-level deliberations, including where and how Saddam planned to deploy his most loyal troops, the Times said.
An account of the German role in acquiring a copy of the Iraqi plan is contained in an American military study, which focuses on Iraq's military strategy and was prepared in 2005 by the US Joint Forces Command, it said.

Now for the New York Times. Prepare to chuckle (and thanks to Rob for pointing it out, I often skip the book section and had intended this to be one of those days):

But [Paul L.] Bremer bears a heavy responsibility for keeping silent -- and so does General Sanchez. If we can ssume that Bremer's recollection is correct, then General Sanchez's remarks indicate that Baghdad was indeed out of control, that both he and Bremer knew it and that without more troops, it was likely to stay out of control. [. . .]
By staying silent, Bremer ensured that there would be no public debate on the merits of deploying more Americans troops. By staying silent, he ensured that there would be little public discussion over the condition of the Iraqi security forces, whose quality he doubted. [. . . .]

What do we learn from the above? It's by an in-house writer at the paper so it's safe to assume (no surprise) that the Times argument remains "Stay until more are slaughtered!" Yeah, they're making the idiotic argument that "more troops" are needed. Got to protect those foreign investments, got to protect that "free market," no need to leave until we've privatized everything. That's their real argument. The Times can support human rights . . . to a point. The point is where human rights intersects with a "healthy" profit motive. At that point, the paper tosses human rights out the window.

Listening to the scolding of Bremer (who deserves it) for his silence is anyone else thinking of all that the paper of record has been silent on? The Bully Boy hump? The NSA warrantless and illegal spying that they sat on for a year. And so much more. (For years and years and years.)
If you're thinking, "Who is the Times to scold anyone for staying silent?" wait, it's about to get a whole lot funnier (and more hypocritical). The review is entitled "Desert Sturm" (oh, aren't they cute -- in their minds). And the writer? Dexter Filkins.

Dexter Filkins who stayed silent on the slaughter he should have witnessed in Falluja. Supposedly he was there in November 2004. But to read his rah-rah, video game reporting, it was all, people killed, people who had it coming to them. And it was so 'totally cool' judging by his breathless reporting. (Did the American troops have to swat him on the snout to get him to stop humping their legs?) It was all so glorious, so wonderous to read Dexy's "award winning" "reporting." The piece that took over six days to make it into print. Who edited that report? Who had to clear it? Why did it take so long to make it into the paper?

Those are questions Dexy may have to answer someday (probably sooner than he thinks). But the man who couldn't report the truth on Iraq (not just on Falluja, on the entire occupation) now wants to scold Bremer for staying silent. It's interesting to watch the liars turn on one another.
As the Judith Miller controversy was in its final stages, I said repeatedly that if she helped get us into war (she was part of a large number of helpers -- she didn't do it alone), it's the "reporters" like Dexter Filkins who keep us over there by refusing to report the truth. Now Dexter wants to scold Bremer for "staying silent"? Filkins' press releases live from the Green Zone will not be forgotten. He can pretend like the only one staying silent was Bremer but it was him too. Had the Times written the truth about the occupation long ago, America might have woken up sooner.

And we close out with Pru's second highlight, Simon Assaf's "Revealed: the brutality of the US reign of terror in Iraq" (Great Britain's The Socialist Worker):

Abu Ghraib was no one-off. Simon Assaf reports on the documents that reveal systematic torture by secret US military units in Iraq and elsewhere -- and the attempts to cover it up
Newly declassified documents have exposed widespread and systematic torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay by a shadowy US military unit operating as part of a "Special Access Programme". This secret unit is funded directly by the US Congress.
The documents have been obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). They reveal a cover-up of the activities of Task Force 626, comprising CIA agents and special forces involved in torture.
One set of papers refers to an investigation by the US Criminal Investigation Command into the abuse of a detainee at Baghdad international airport, a facility reserved for "high value" prisoners.
The victim's name is blanked out, but he is referred to as the son of one of Saddam Hussein's bodyguards captured in the city of Tikrit on 5 January 2004.
The documents reveal how the man was stripped naked, doused with water and made to stand in front of a freezing air conditioning unit. He was repeatedly beaten until he passed out, revived and beaten again.
The investigation was cut short because of the involvement of the Special Access Programme. The investigator informed his superiors that any further enquiry was useless, since Task Force 626 members had faked names, shredded medical records and wiped their computers.
The agent tells his superior, "Hell, even if we reopened it [the case], we wouldn't get any more information than we already have."
The same document confirms allegations that the US army is operating secret torture chambers and was part of a widescale cover-up after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal broke.
One investigator admits in a June 2004 e-mail that his caseload in Iraq was "exploding with high visibility cases". Yet only a few low ranking soldiers have been prosecuted.
Other e-mails detail the type of intimidation used to halt investigations. A memo from vice admiral Lowell Jacoby, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, describes how agents who complained about abuses were threatened, had their car keys confiscated and their e-mails monitored.
The memo, written on 25 June 2004 and headed "alleged detainee abuse by TF 626", describes how investigators were ordered "not to talk to anyone in the US" or leave their base "even to get a haircut".
The ACLU has forced the US government to declassify the documents under freedom of information legislation. They have secured over 35,000 documents so far.
The latest batch, some 9,000 documents, include e-mails, heavily censored legal records and testimonies of soldiers and civilians. Many of the documents describe in harrowing detail widespread use of sadistic torture and casual violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.
The documents also reveal huge tensions between government agencies, as departments and individuals tried to expose the scale of torture and abuse.
One e-mail in May 2004 from "on-scene commander, Baghdad" ordered FBI agents to ignore instructions from senior White House officials to use military dogs, sleep deprivation, stress positions and sensory deprivation during interrogation.
An e-mail from an FBI agent in Guantanamo Bay, released by the ACLU last year, warns superiors that interrogators from the department of defence were posing as FBI agents and torturing victims in order to discredit the agency.
The new documents confirm the widespread operations of Task Force 626 and another shadow unit, Task Force 20.
Earlier documents refer to Task Force 20 members "sodomising" an elderly Iraqi woman with a stick. The investigation into the allegation was abandoned.
Documents released last year include accounts of "about 90 incidents" of abuse by Task Force 626 at al-Azimiyah palace in Baghdad.
In statements, a civilian reports abuse of male and female detainees, including forced sodomy, electric shocks, cigarette burns and beatings.
One report reveals that CIA interrogators in Task Force 626 are involved in the torture of "ghost prisoners" -- Iraqis held in secret facilities.
One document describes how they beat a detainee to death then dumped his body in a taxi, instructing the driver to "take it to a morgue".
These documents have shed more light on the cover-up of torture after the revelations at Abu Ghraib. In February last year the ACLU discovered documents that confirm "house cleaning" after the prison scandal broke.
Hundreds of pictures and videos from Afghanistan were destroyed to avoid "another public outrage".
Among the images are ones purported to be of US soldiers posing during the mock execution of captives in southern Afghanistan.
Declassified documents also reveal the extent of "Qur'an abuse" in Guantanamo Bay, and incidents where torture victims were forced to wrap themselves in Israeli flags.
The ACLU is attempting to obtain more documents declassified and believes the US government is holding back documents that prove the continued use of torture and secret prisons.
Soldier's testimony: 'We just drove off looking for more people to kill'
Many of the new documents include testimonies by soldiers and civilians describing abuse they have witnessed in Iraq.
Among the documents is a statement by an army private describing how his platoon attacked a village after soldiers joked that their sergeant was a coward.
The sergeant decided to prove himself by setting an ambush for an Iraqi civilian.
"Right before a mission one night [the sergeant] went up to his gunner and asked him if he wanted to test the MK-19 [multiple grenade launcher] on someone tonight.
"We usually just drive around and look for people with AKs [rifles] and confiscate them. We have always been able to drive up to them and take the weapon from them with no shots fired.
"That night on a mission we saw an Iraqi civilian walking towards us on the other side of the canal. So we decided to set up an ambush and kill him.
"We waited until he was next to us on the other side of the canal and opened fire on him. He never took his rifle off his shoulder.
"He just ran away from us into a field for cover. In the countryside in Iraq all people have guns for protection.
"After the man ran into the field we waited close to a minute and there was never any fire returned. That's when my platoon sergeant told his gunner to spray the field with MK-19 [grenade] rounds.
"The gunner put about four to five rounds into the field. Still there was no return fire. But next door to the field was a house.
[The climate] is so hot that everybody sleeps outside. After the MK-19 explosions all you heard was women and children screaming.
"My platoon sergeant told my gunner to get his eyes [night vision equipment] on the house. There were two men, four to six women and about ten children. My platoon sergeant asked my gunner if there were any weapons and he said 'no', that the two men were just trying to get [the women and children] all inside.
Then a single shot came off in the distance well over 500 meters away. My platoon sergeant said 'f--k it' and ‘light them up'.
His gunner shot about three to four MK-19 rounds into the front yard and everyone else shot M16 [assault rifles]. It lasted about ten seconds.
"Then we just stopped and saw that the two men were injured. One of them had his arm blown off.
"All the people at the house were panicking. Some ran into the woods, some into the house, and a couple next door into another house. We just sat there and watched them.
"Finally an [Iraqi civilian vehicle] drove by and loaded a bunch of injured people and drove off. And so did we, looking for more people to kill."
The soldier recounts how captured Iraqis would be "hog tied" to the front of their Humvee military vehicles.
"We would put the [captive] on top of the Humvees with the gunner until one tried to throw up. After that we would hog tie them and stuff them in between the hood and the brush guard.
"I asked, 'At least tie his leg to the brush guard so he doesn't fall off' and my [superior] would say, 'Who cares? If he falls off we just run him over and it's one less to worry about'."
The private describes in his statement how his platoon was involved in looting the homes of Iraqis.
The platoon would follow expensive cars to their homes. Soldiers would then search the home and "steal stuff from the houses or POWs [prisoners], such as bricks of money, Iraqi army medals, uniforms, pictures of Saddam... all the way down to cigarette lighters".
Despite the private's seven page testimony, none of the other soldiers in his platoon were prepared to back him up. The rest of the report is composed of denials.
The report concludes that no action would be taken and all charges were dismissed.
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