Sunday, May 09, 2004

Torture emerges as an allied military policy called R2I: Resistance to Interrogation

The Guardian is running this story by Peter Beaumont, Paul Harris and Jason Burke that is the most comprehensive thing I've yet to read on the systemic use of torture in the war on terrorism. There is a timeline at the end of the article.

Selected quote:

That it has been a catastrophe for US foreign policy is asserted by usually robust senior Pentagon officials who claim privately that Iraq policy is now '97 per cent disaster' and the war is no longer being planned but crisis-managed from day-to-day. And catastrophe was the word used by the beleaguered Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld during his humiliating appearance before Congress.

* * * * *

But as the week has worn on, the Pentagon's strategy to concentrate the story on a few 'bad apples' - including Sabrina Harman - has begun to seriously unravel, not only because of Harman's own evidence but because of the leaked Red Cross report and evidence of returning special forces soldiers to the UK.

According to one officer recently returned from Iraq, sexual humiliation of prisoners in Abu Ghraib was not an invention of 'maverick guards' but part of a system of degradation developed for use by British and US troops called R2I - resistance to interrogation - which uses sexual jibes and stripping prisoners to prolong 'the shock of capture' when detainees are at their most vulnerable.

In an interview with the Guardian yesterday, the officer said: 'It was clear from discussions with US private contractors in Iraq that prison guards were using R2I techniques, but they didn't know what they were doing.'

What has also emerged is the role that US military intelligence officers - and private intelligence contractors - have played in directing the abuse with most of the reservists involved alleging that they thought their duty was to 'soften up' the prisoners for questioning.

Indeed, Taguba's leaked confidential report identifies at least three contractors as being potentially to blame for the problems - contractors who are neither subject to Iraqi law, military discipline or the Geneva Conventions. Yet even as the scandal has boiled over, according to at least one of the companies named in Taguba's report, CACI International, the Pentagon has yet to contact it.

The Iraq war is now officially a clusterfuck. The Pentagon may as well just print up recruiting brochures for Al Queda. Anthony Sampson has some historical lessons about how torture affects the oppressed and the oppressors.

I think it's clear that these documented cases of torture will ultimately cause the occupation of Iraq to spin out of control and only worsen our position in the "war" on terrorism.

Blair is now trying to get a new UN resolution that will encourage Pakistan to commit troops to Iraq in order to save the occupation according to this article by Kamal Ahmed and Jason Burke.

I'm not sure that even Pakistani troops can save the occupation at this point. This thing is spinning out of control. I think if Pakistan did commit troops to shore up the anglo-alliance, it might spell the end for Musharraf. He has survived several assassination attempts already this year. Committing troops to Iraq to support the US might be the last nail in his coffin.

I think we need to get our troops out of Iraq as soon as possible.

And we ought to bulldoze Abu Ghraib. It is now an enduring monument to the hubris of the Bush administration.

I think Arkangel summed it up when he wrote:

In the end, the only thing we have in this life, as people and as a nation, is our honor. This Administration has grieviously tarnished our national honor, by their deeds and their attitudes. What the sergeants and privates did at Abu Ghraib--and, it must be mentioned, other places and other times, from the beginning of this war till now--wasn't done in a vacuum. It was done because people from the bottom all the way to the top didn't think it was a matter worthy of condemnation until the whole world knew about it.

That's why there is no honor. And that's why tonight, I weep silent tears of shame and rage at what was done in my name.

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