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May 7, 2004

“Just a Few Bad Apples” Watch. Remember, as George W. Bush insists, “the actions of those folks in Iraq do not represent the values of the United States of America.”
The man who directed the reopening of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq last year and trained the guards there resigned under pressure as director of the Utah Department of Corrections in 1997 after an inmate died while shackled to a restraining chair for 16 hours. The inmate, who suffered from schizophrenia, was kept naked the whole time.

The Utah official, Lane McCotter, later became an executive of a private prison company, one of whose jails was under investigation by the Justice Department when he was sent to Iraq as part of a team of prison officials, judges, prosecutors and police chiefs picked by Attorney General John Ashcroft to rebuild the country’s criminal justice system.

(Via the New York Times.) [11:54 PM]
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Comments on "Just a Few Bad Apples" Watch.:

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 12:27 AM:

They said that to congress today too, comments that these were just a few bad actors, and not at all reflective of anything else.

Mind you, I've been saying, from the beginning, that the "unlawful enemy combatant,' nonsense was a dangerous thing, even if nothing wrong is done at Gitmo... because it leads us to place the prisoners outside the realm of legal protection and so relys on nothing more than the strong moral fiber of the totality of those in charge.

Then they sent Miller to BCCP to give advice on how to make it more efficient, and had civilians (how angry I am at that, I cannot say) in cahrge of MPs, who were taking part in interrogation procedures.

We are lucky it was not worse.

I hope.


Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 12:28 AM:

Is it just me, or are the activities by Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush looking more and more like an orchestrated plan to undermine and destroy a country as thoroughly as possible? The U.S.

I mean, really.

And in doing so, they seem to be deliberately leaving a trail of breadcrumbs so thick and so wide that a person with an IQ of 65 and a fourth-grade education could figure it out.

Or is it just me? I mean, I feel like I'm a conspiracy nutbar. Ok. Yeah. That's your line.

Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 12:32 AM:

Ah, but Terry, did you get how they lied today and said (after obfuscating for most of the session) that the civilians weren't in charge of the MPs, because that would be contrary to military law? It is buried in the transcript, towards the end, when they were running out of time and getting sloppier about the answers (or nonanswers). I found that interesting, knowing what you'd said in TNH's blog.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 01:06 AM:

Son. Of. A. Bitch.:


'Rumsfeld did not describe the photos, but U.S. military officials told NBC News that the unreleased images showed U.S. soldiers severely beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death, having sex with a female Iraqi female prisoner and “acting inappropriately with a dead body.” The officials said there was also a videotape, apparently shot by U.S. personnel, showing Iraqi guards raping young boys.'

Just blowing off some steam, eh Rush? Another "brilliant" tactic to show those A-Rabs we mean business, right?

Yeah, things are really looking up.

You know, I'm starting to think maybe Bush DESERVES a second term.

As punishment.

mattH ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 01:23 AM:

"Restraining chair" does not do that implement of torture justice. Even the picture doesn't. It's designed to immoblize the person placed in it and deny them the slightest movement beyond rotating their head. It makes me wonder if McCotter was chosen because of his history and not in spite of it.

Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 02:04 AM:

I need to find a copy of the transcript.

But here is what I interpret of the situation.

The contractors work for the Army. At a minimum that means someone in the Army tels them what to look for (unless they are being asked to do full OB interrogations of everyone, and that ain't the case. If it were there would have been no need for Miller's investigatin/reccomendations).

One of the things which has been bothering me is the way "MI" is tossed out, as if the Corps was a monolithic whole. Also the fact of people referring to MI interrogation officers. There is no such beast.

Enlisted ask the question, officers tell us what to look for.

That said, the MPs are supposed to work in parallel with the interrogation unit. They do what we tell them to, in the booth, and they run the camp, outside the booth.

In the booth, we're the boss, outside the booth, we set some parameters, but those are mostly in regards to who is allowed to mix with whom, not who gets beat up and humiliated tonight (that's left to the CIA :).

So I'd like to see how things are supposed to have been run there (I really want to see Miller's report).


Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 02:19 AM:

Guess I should have read Electrolite before posting to Making Light ...

Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 03:09 AM:

Stefan J: Wouldn't that punishment be even worse for his administration's victims (current & in the further future, in the US & elsewhere)?

A bit like finding which schools are having the greatest difficulty doing what they need to, then cutting off all help to them.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 04:14 AM:

Matt: It makes me wonder if McCotter was chosen because of his history and not in spite of it.

I’m well past the wondering point.

justin @ RSR ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 11:02 AM:

Click here for a picture of McCotter giving a tour to Paul Wolfowitz
I should note that lawsuits against prison facilities are very common… not necessarily an aberration… but the evidence does warrant further investigation. Surely McCotter’s job was a difficult one and the allegations are merely conjecture.. let’s not hang the guy on this.

But there his a history there… see
my post.

roger ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 11:52 AM:

It is surprising that the American press and public is shocked by standard techniques used in American prisons every day. One of the reasons nobody should mourn the loss of the late, ungreat Gov. Gray Davis is that he blocked reforms or even investigations of the massively corrupt and cruel California prison system, which has spawned actual gangs of prison guards. Davis benefited substantially from contributions to his campaign by Prison Guard unions. The latest investigation is into the Youth Authority, after two kids hung themselves last year. Standard practice there: putting kids in 4 by 4 cages, starvation, forcing drugs upon them, beatings, pepperspraying subdued kids, sexual assault, etc. etc.
Abu Ghraim, far from being an aberration, is simply turning into your normal American jail, with the random tortures inflicted, now, on random Iraqis grabbed from checkpoints. What did they think was going to happen?

Simon ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 02:15 PM:

This, no doubt, is why the reaction from some quarters to these revelations is "What's the big deal?" It's standard operating procedure to them.

bryan ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2004, 04:38 PM:

if life gives you bad apples, kill snow white.

Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2004, 02:03 AM:


I suppose the first part of your comment about the public and press being surprised is rhetorical because I'm sure that most people (me for one) don't think that this kind of systematic abuse is commonplace in America. I'm sure it does happen but hopefully it is rooted out fairly quickly. Call me an optimist.

Even if you are right though, I would think that with what is at stake in Iraq the Bush administration would at least try to be careful that crap like this doesn't happen if only so it doesn't hurt his re-election bid. Go figure.

Calimac ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2004, 01:02 AM:
"This has been a difficult few weeks," Bush said. "Yet our forces will stay on the offensive, finding and confronting the killers and terrorists who are trying to undermine the progress of democracy in Iraq."

Tried looking in a mirror, George?