Monday, July 04, 2011

Another Iraqi prison abuse scandal

GEOFF THOMPSON: It's the death in Iraq the Department of Defence and the Howard government never wanted revealed to the Australian public. Forty-three-year-old Iranian, Tanik Mahmud, was among 66 men captured by 20 Australian Special Forces troops in Iraq's western desert on the 11th of April 2003. Hours later he was dead after being transported to Baghdad on a Chinook helicopter flown by the UK's RAF. His death was recorded as a heart attack but no autopsy was conducted. Other evidence canvassed in the British press suggests he was assaulted. Solicitor Edward Santow is the chief executive officer of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre - or PIAC - which has obtained hundreds of pages of previously classified documents after a six-year FOI battle with the Department of Defence.

EDWARD SANTOW: There is very strong evidence that has subsequently come out that suggests that he might have been beaten to death while he was in UK custody.

GEOFF THOMPSON: Why do we care if he wasn't in Australian custody?

EDWARD SANTOW: Well under international law when one country takes a certain group of people prisoner then they retain responsibility for the treatment of those prisoners while they are prisoners of war.

The above is from AM (Australia's ABC -- link has text and audio) about yet another Iraq War scandal. This one focuses on the British and the US and the two countries' treatment of prisoners but this time with outrage from Australia. Edward Santow (Sydney Morning Herald) explains, "The Anzac spirit is one of tenacity, bravery and triumph against the odds. It also emphasises a fair go, honesty and common decency. The modern Australian Defence Force is the rightful heir to this proud heritage. But unless the ADF openly addresses its flaws, far more than its hard-earned reputation is at stake." Deborah Snow and Anne Davis (The Age) review "confidential" Australian Defence Dept documents and come up with these key points:

■Australian officials wrongly assumed the US would take a similar view to Canberra of the legal rights of captives.

■Australia came up with a legal convenience, the ''Afghan model'', to paper over the gap.

■The Afghan model was based on the contrivance that the US would always be the formal ''detaining'' power when prisoners were taken, even if only one US soldier was operating alongside much larger numbers of Australians at the time of capture.

■The ''Afghan model'' was the result of ''a serious divergence of legal and policy views between coalition partners''.

■As a result, Defence wanted the issue to have as little publicity as possible.

■Nearly a year after Australian forces were deployed to Afghanistan, Defence was still working on Australia having its own detainee capability but never carried through until 2010.

NINEMSN reports on the push for an independent investigation into the emerging scandal to "establish if the Defence Force's 'shadow policy' on detainees of war continues to exist, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) chief executive, Ed Santow, said." NINEMSN also reports that the Australian government was aware of the abuses taking place after they turned prisoners over as evidenced by a June 2004 government report.

Yesterday, Roy Gutman's important report for McClatchy Newspapers on Camp Ashraf. Recapping, US Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey can't understand why residents of Camp Ashraf (who unarmed after the US government promised to protect them) don't want to leave their area and disperse throughout Iraq as, in his word, "refugees." Nima Sharif's "US gives Iranian Opposition Choice: Die or Commit Suicide" (Stop Fundamentalism) points out:

The fact of the matter is that the residents of Camp Ashraf who died last April – 36 of them including 8 women – were killed when the Iraqi military forces raided their camp. That makes Ambassador Jeffery’s remarks refereeing to a “place a bit safer” puzzling. Does he mean that there is actually a place in Iraq where Iraqi forces cannot attack the residents and have no access to? Logic suggests that if the Iraqi forces are determined to slaughter the members of the Iranian main opposition movement, the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK/PMOI), they can do so anywhere in Iraq. Moreover, what does he mean when he say “a bit safer?” Does he mean that next time less people will be killed and that is acceptable to the U.S.?
But in reality, since Camp Ashraf currently receives some minimal international attention, the only place that is "a bit safer" for the residents in Iraq is in fact Camp Ashraf.
The camp residents have already announced their complete agreement to the European plan for their resettlement outside Iraq to resolve the situation once and for all. They consider that the only party disagreeing with their relocation outside Iraq would be the Iranian regime; rather it wants all the 3400 residents of the camp to be destroyed. In fact it has been the Iranian regime and its Iraqi collaborators who have been calling for their relocation inside Iraq for the past few weeks.

An e-mail from a community member asked that we ignore a Libya interview on a left or 'left' program. No problem there. That little watch doggie refused to call out sexism in 2008. They also kept their fingers on the scale in other ways such as ignoring the many journalistic crimes of Keith Olbermann because one of their founders was friends with him. (Ava and I critique TV. We don't have the luxury of not offending friends. It's a rare month when a friend's not on the phone asking, "How could you?" Sometimes yelling it. And we explain that we're not doing a gossip column, we're doing a media critique and we have to be fair and consistent in our evaluations. We apologize to friends for any harm they think we've caused -- we're still blamed for a cancelation from 2005 by one friend -- but explain we can't play favorites. And if we're asked to wait, we note that. We were very offended by the way women were coming off in Fringe. We were asked to give it a few more months before weighing in because they said they were addressing the problem. For a change, that wasn't smoke up the ass but honesty. They did address the issue and it's a great show. But the first time we reviewed it, we noted that we had held off and why. And before we reviewed it -- months before -- we noted that we were holding off and why.) I have no interest in that outlet. The community member notes he might be forgiving if they would take accountability. They will never take accountability. Never. But if you're looking for Libyan coverage, be sure to listen to Scott Horton's Antiwar Radio interview with Jason Ditz on the topic.

Last week, we repeatedly highlighted Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya's Libyan War reports from Tripoli on KPFA's Flashpoints. He has an article up at Information Clearing House entitled "Journalism as a Weapon of War in Libya:"

The truth has been turned on its head in Libya. NATO and the Libyan government are saying contradictory things. NATO says that the Libyan regime will fall in a matter of days, while the Libyan government says that the fighting in Misrata will end in about two weeks.
During the night the sound of NATO jets flying over Tripoli can be heard in the Mediterranean coastal city. Tripoli has not been bombed for a few days, but the sound of the flyovers have been numerous. The Atlantic Alliance deliberately picks the night as a means to disturb the sleep of residence in an attempt to spread fear. Small children in Libya have lost a lot of sleep during this war. This is part of the psychological war being waged. It is meant to break the spirit of Libya. This is all additional to the severing wound imposed on Libya through trickery and sedition.
In the same context, the media war against Libya has continued too. The Rixos Hotel in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, where the majority of the international press is located, is a nest of lies and warped narratives where foreign reporters are twisting realities, spinning events, and misreporting to justify the NATO war against Libya. Every report and news wire being sent out of Libya by international reporters has to carefully be cross-checked and analyzed. Foreign journalists have put words in the mouth of Libyans and are willfully blind. They have ignored the civilian deaths in Libya, the clear war crimes being perpetrated against the Libyan people, and the damage to civilian infrastructure, from hotels to docks and hospitals.
One group of Libyan youth explained in a private conversation that when speaking to reporters they would interview in twos. One would ask a question followed immediately by another one. In the process the answer to the first question would be used as the answer for the second question. In the Libyan hospitals the foreign reports try not to take pictures of the wounded and dying. They just go into the hospitals to paint the image of impartiality, but virtually report about nothing and ignore almost everything newsworthy. They refuse to tell the other side of the story. Shamelessly in front of seriously injured civilians, the type of questions many foreign reporters ask doctors, nurses, and hospital staff is if they have been treating military and security personnel in the hospitals.
CNN has even released a report from Misrata by Sara Sidner showing the sodomization of a woman with a broomstick which was conducted by Libyan soldiers (which it refers to as Qaddafi troops as a means of demonization). In reality the video was a domestic affair and from prior to the conflict. It originally took place in Tripoli and the man even has an accent from Tripoli. This is the type of fabrications that the mainstream media is pushing forward to push for war and military intervention.
There are now investigations underway to show that depleted uranium has been used against Libyans. The use of depleted uranium is an absolute war crime. It is not only an attack on the present, but it also leaves a radioactive trace that attacks the unborn children of tomorrow. Future generations will be hurt by these weapons too. These generations of the future are innocent. The use of depleted uranium is the equivalent of the U.S. planting nuclear weapons in Germany or Japan during the Second World War and leaving timers for them to detonate in 2011. This is an important and newsworthy issue in Libya and all the foreign journalists have heard about it, but how many have actually covered it?

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