Saturday, January 22, 2011

Torture and 'unjustified homicide' in US run prisons?

Jennifer Rizzo (CNN) reports the ACLU is, via Freedom of Information requests, in possession of "thousands" of documents which "show 'unjustified homicide' of detainees and concerns about the conditions of confinement in U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay" and notes:

Others are thought by the ACLU to be new. In one such case, a detainee was killed by an unnamed sergeant who walked into a room where the detainee was lying wounded "and assaulted him ... then shot him twice thus killing him," one of the investigating documents says. The sergeant than instructed the other soldiers present to lie about the incident. Later, the document says an unnamed corporal then shot the deceased detainee in the head after finding his corpse.
In another example, documents note a soldier "committed the offense of murder when he shot and killed an unarmed Afghan male." But, according to the ACLU, the individual was found not guilty of murder by general court-martial.

Meanwhile, as noted in yesterday's snapshot, Moqtada al-Sadr is back in Iran. For a visit or another two-year-plus stay no one knows. BBC News notes he was only in Iraq for two weeks (and think of all the press he got for what might have been a vacation). Also yesterday, Tony Blair gave testimony to the Iraq Inquiry in London. Jason Beattie (Daily Mirror) notes that when the War Criminal was asked about keeping his own Cabinet in the dark about his plans, his response was, "My frank belief is it wouldn't have made a great deal of difference" if there had been more sunshine on the shadows of illegal war.

As Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) reported earlier this week, Sweden has forcibly deported 26 Iraqis back to Iraq (at least, Sweden's saying they were Iraqis; last year, Sweden forcibly deported an "Iraqi" back to Iraq only to discover the Swedish government didn't know what the hell were doing because he wasn't an Iraqi).The UNHCR tells Karadsheh that 3 of the 26 were Iraqi Christians. Iraqi Christians have been targeted throughout the Iraq War but the latest wave began October 31st with the assault on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad. DPA notes, "The plans have been criticized by various international agencies - including the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR - citing fears that the refugees would be returned to areas where Christians and other minorities have recently come under attack. Swedish churches, human rights groups, and members of the opposition have also protested the move." Coming under increasing criticism for their move, CNN reports, "Sweden's Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy, Tobias Billstrom, defended the decision by pointing to a recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights, which he said decided that there is no need to stop the return of Iraqis who had unsuccessfully sought asylum in Sweden." They don't come off very humanitarian with their actions. Nor do recent revelations indicate that they've acted out of humanitarian impulses. DPA reports:

While Sweden was prepared to receive asylum seekers there was need for 'a return agreement' with Iraq for refugees whose applications were rejected the ministers said, according to US diplomatic cables leaked by whistle-blower site WikiLeaks and quoted by the daily Svenska Dagbladet.
During a September 2007 visit to Iraq, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Tobias Billstrom, minister for migration and asylum policy, met with Iraqi officials and US embassy officials in Baghdad.
According to the US cable, Bildt and Billstrom mentioned concerns that many arrivals after 2003 were 'more difficult to assimilate.'
Contributing factors were that the asylum seekers were destitute, and often had poor education or lacked language or professional skills.

Sweden's The Local reports:

A Green Party member is considering reporting Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and Migration Minister Tobias Billström to a parliamentary committee following a WikiLeak exposing statements that they made in 2007 about Iraqi refugees.
Bildt and Billström are the subject of renewed criticism following the revelation. At the time, Bildt stated Sweden's demands for a tougher immigration policy. The opinions were expressed during a meeting between the two ministers and a US ambassador.
Bildt and Billström attended a breakfast meeting with then-Swedish ambassador to Iraq Niclas Trouvé and then-US ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, according to the classified documents on Iraqi immigration to Sweden, Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) reported on Friday.
The problem was the Iraqis that Sweden did not want to grant residence permits to. Bildt wanted an agreement with Iraq on the return of these asylum seekers. Without one, it would have been impossible to establish a Swedish embassy in Baghdad, said Bildt, according to the documents.

Please be sure to read Bob Somerby's Thursday Howler and Friday one. There's some very important work being done in both. We'll close with this from David Swanson's "Punishing Bradley Manning for the Crimes of Others" (War Is A Crime):

Bradley Manning, alleged U.S. Army whistleblower, is in two ways -- one likely, the other certain -- being punished for the crimes of others.

On Monday a crowd that I was part of staged a protest at Quantico, where Manning has been imprisoned for several months with no trial. At the last minute, the military denied us permission to hold a rally on the base, so we held it in the street blocking the entrance to the base. This visibly enraged at least one of the guards who attempted unsuccessfully to arrest a couple of us.

On Tuesday, for no stated reason whatsoever, Manning's jailers put him on suicide watch. This meant that he was isolated for 24 hours a day instead of 23, the glasses he needs to see were taken away, and other harsh conditions imposed. Two days later, for no stated reason whatsoever, Manning was taken off suicide watch again. It appears likely that he was punished in response to our protest. As a result, we're all going to crawl under our beds and hide, promising never to use the First Amendment again in our lives.

Just kidding! Instead, we're planning larger protests. And Manning's lawyer has, for his part, filed a complaint and threatened to sue over Manning's mistreatment. These colors don't run, as someone might say.

Perhaps it was a coincidence that the Marine Corpse (sic) momentarily believed Manning to be suicidal the day after a protest. And yet we know for certain that Manning is being punished for the crimes of others. When you witness a crime, you are obliged to report it. This is exactly what Manning has allegedly done, for a great many crimes. And it is all Manning has allegedly done.

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