Monday, July 13, 2009

How did Baha Mousa die?

Matthew Weaver (Guardian) notes that Baha Mousa's death at the age of 26 while in British custody in September 2003 is the subject of a public inquiry in England which starts today.

A central issue of the inquiry is why five "conditioning techniques" – hooding prisoners, putting them in stress positions, depriving them of sleep, depriving them of food and water, and playing white noise – were used on Iraqi detainees. The techniques, inflicted on IRA suspects, were banned in 1972 by the then prime minister, Edward Heath..
Detailing the abuses against six other Iraqis arrested with Mousa, Elias said: "One man says he was made to dance in the style of Michael Jackson."
Other detainees claimed they were urinated on and forced to lie face down over a hole in the ground filled with excrement.

The Telegraph of London offers this background:

While in the custody of the Preston-based Queen's Lancashire Regiment, the receptionist was beaten to death, sustaining 93 separate injuries, including fractured ribs and a broken nose.
Mr Mousa's 22-year-old wife had died of cancer shortly before his detention, meaning his two young sons, Hussein and Hassan, were orphaned.
Seven soldiers faced a court martial at Bulford Camp in Wiltshire on war crimes charges relating to the receptionist's death. All but one were cleared on all counts in March 2007.
The Ministry of Defence agreed in July last year to pay £2.83 million in compensation to the families of Mr Mousa and nine other Iraqi men mistreated by British troops.
Mr Mousa's father, Iraqi police colonel Daoud Mousa, said: "I think of my son every day.

The Telegraph also notes that the inquiry was shown video of Corporal Donald Payne yelling and screaming, "shouting and swearing at the Iraqis as they are force to main painful 'stress position'." Julian Rush (Channel 4) offers a video report of the hearing thus far and what the inquiry is supposed to explore over the next year. BBC explains the Sir William Gage led inquiry will explore four segments:

• The history of "conditioning" techniques, like hooding, used by UK troops while questioning prisoners from Northern Ireland in the early 1970s to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003

• What happened to Mr Mousa and other Iraqi detainees

• Training and the chain of command

• Events since 2003 and any recommendations for the future

Turning to the United States where Topeka, Kansas was in the news yesterday afternoon as a veteran had a standoff with police at the Colmery-O'Neil VA Medical Center. India's Thaindian reports, "An unknown gunman stormed a Topeka, Kansas hospital on Sunday afternoon, officials told BNO News." Taylor Atkins and Ann Marie Bush (The Topeka Capital-Journal) explain:

Jim Gleisberg, public affairs officer for the medical center, said no one was injured when a veteran, whose name and hometown won’t be released, walked into the emergency room with a handgun at 12:10 p.m. and asked to talk to a VA police officer.
"The veteran showed the officer he had a gun and threatened his own life," Gleisberg said. "The police officer acted very professionally. He got the veteran to leave the emergency room area, and other staff members on duty called the Topeka police."

KTKA quotes the VA's Jim Gleisberg stating the man is an Iraq War and Afghanistan War veteran and, "Veterans are being stressed. The soldiers over there now that are in the conflict that are coming back with issues just because they've been deployed either once or twice at 12 or 15 months at a time it's a very stressful situation and so they are going to have issues."

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Republican Dream" went up last night.

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