The Red Cross Torture Report: What It Means

Mark Danner, The Red Cross Torture Report: What It Means. The New York Review of Books, 30 April 2009. “Working through the forty-three pages of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s report [of February 2007], one finds a strikingly detailed account of horrors inflicted on fourteen ‘high-value detainees’ over a period of weeks and months—horrors that Red Cross officials conclude, quite unequivocally, ‘constituted torture.'”

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US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites

Mark Danner, US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites. The New York Review of Books. 9 April 2009. “The [ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen “High Value Detainees” in CIA Custody by the International Committee of the Red Cross, February 2007] is based on extensive interviews, carried out in October and December 2006, with fourteen so-called “high-value detainees,” who had been imprisoned and interrogated for extended periods at the “black sites,” a series of secret prisons operated by the CIA in a number of countries around the world, including, at various times, Thailand, Afghanistan, Poland, Romania, and Morocco.” From footnote #2 in Mark Danner’s The Red Cross Torture Report: What It Means. (The sequel to US Torture: Voices from the Black Sites.) The New York Review of Books, 30 April 2009.

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The Black Sites: A rare look inside the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program

Jane Mayer, The Black Sites: A rare look inside the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation programThe New Yorker, 13 August 2007. After 11 September 2001 a secret C.I.A. program was started “in which terrorist suspects…were detained in ‘black sites’–secret prisons outside the United States–and subjected to unusually harsh treatment.” [Read more…]

The Logic of Torture: Abu Ghraib

Mark Danner, The Logic of Torture. The New York Review of Books, 24 June 2004. The second of two articles. (The first of the two articles is here.) “Behind the exotic brutality so painstakingly recorded in Abu Ghraib, and the multiple tangled plotlines that will be teased out in the coming weeks and months about responsibility, knowledge, and culpability, lies a simple truth, well known but not yet publicly admitted in Washington: that since the attacks of September 11, 2001, officials of the United States, at various locations around the world, from Bagram in Afghanistan to Guantanamo in Cuba to Abu Ghraib in Iraq, have been torturing prisoners. They did this, in the felicitous phrasing of General Taguba’s report, in order to “exploit [them] for actionable intelligence” and they did it, insofar as this is possible, with the institutional approval of the United States government, complete with memoranda from the President’s counsel and officially promulgated decisions, in the case of Afghanistan and Guantanamo, about the nonapplicability of the Geneva Conventions and, in the case of Iraq, about at least three different sets of interrogation policies, two of them modeled on earlier practice in Afghanistan and Cuba.”

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Torture at Abu Ghraib: [US] soldiers brutalized Iraqis. How far up does the responsibility go?

Seymour Hersh, Torture at Abu Ghraib. The New Yorker, 10 May 2004. “A fifty-three-page report, obtained by The New Yorker, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba and not meant for public release, was completed in late February [2004]. Its conclusions about the institutional failures of the Army prison system [at Abu Ghraib] were devastating. Specifically, Taguba found that between October and December of 2003 there were numerous instances of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib. This systematic and illegal abuse of detainees, Taguba reported, was perpetrated by soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company, and also by members of the American intelligence community….”

Excerpts from story:

Taguba’s report listed some of the wrongdoing: Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.There was stunning evidence to support the allegations, Taguba added—“detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence.” Photographs and videos taken by the soldiers as the abuses were happening were not included in his report, Taguba said, because of their “extremely sensitive nature.”…

As the international furor grew, senior military officers, and President Bush, insisted that the actions of a few did not reflect the conduct of the military as a whole. Taguba’s report, however, amounts to an unsparing study of collective wrongdoing and the failure of Army leadership at the highest levels. The picture he draws of Abu Ghraib is one in which Army regulations and the Geneva conventions were routinely violated, and in which much of the day-to-day management of the prisoners was abdicated to Army military-intelligence units and civilian contract employees. Interrogating prisoners and getting intelligence, including by intimidation and torture, was the priority…

Coverup–I: The Army’s Investigation of the Son My Massacres of South Vietnamese Civilians by U.S. Troops on March 16, 1968

Seymour M. Hersh, Coverup-I: The Army’s Investigation of the Son My Massacres of South Vietnamese Civilians by U.S. Troops on March 16, 1968. The New Yorker, 22 January 1972. “This is the first of two articles on the Army’s investigation of the Son My massacres.” “Early on March 16, 1968, a company of soldiers in the United States Army’s Americal Division were dropped in by helicopter for an assault against a hamlet known as My Lai 4, in the bitterly contested province of Quang Ngai, on the northeastern coast of South Vietnam. A hundred G.I.s and officers stormed the hamlet in military-textbook style, advancing by platoons; the troops expected to engage the Vietcong Local Force 48th Battalion—one of the enemy’s most successful units—but instead they found women, children, and old men, many of them still cooking their breakfast rice over outdoor fires. During the next few hours, the civilians were murdered. Many were rounded up in small groups and shot, others were flung into a drainage ditch at one edge of the hamlet and shot, and many more were shot at random in or near their homes. Some of the younger women and girls were raped and then murdered. After the shootings, the G.I.s systematically burned each home, destroyed the livestock and food, and fouled the area’s drinking supplies. None of this was officially told by Charlie Company to its task-force headquarters; instead, a claim that a hundred and twenty-eight Vietcong were killed and three weapons were captured eventually emerged from the task force and worked its way up to the highest American headquarters, in Saigon. There it was reported to the world’s press as a significant victory.”

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