3 in 82nd Airborne Say Beating Iraqi Prisoners Was Routine By ERIC SCHMITT
WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 - Three former members of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division say soldiers in their battalion in Iraq routinely beat and abused prisoners in 2003 and 2004 to help gather intelligence on the insurgency and to amuse themselves.
The new allegations, the first involving members of the elite 82nd Airborne, are contained in a report by Human Rights Watch. The 30-page report does not identify the troops, but one is Capt. Ian Fishback, who has presented some of his allegations in letters this month to top aides of two senior Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, John W. Warner of Virginia, the chairman, and John McCain of Arizona. Captain Fishback approached the Senators’ offices only after he tried to report the allegations to his superiors for 17 months, the aides said. The aides also said they found the captain’s accusations credible enough to warrant investigation.
The captain tried to report the allegations to his superiors for 17 months. Were they all on the phone? Washing their hair? Why wouldn’t they take this report?
This wasn’t at Abu Ghraib:
In separate statements to the human rights organization, Captain Fishback and two sergeants described systematic abuses of Iraqi prisoners, including beatings, exposure to extremes of hot and cold, stacking in human pyramids and sleep deprivation at Camp Mercury, a forward operating base near Falluja. Falluja was the site of the major uprising against the American-led occupation in April 2004. The report describes the soldiers’ positions in the unit, but not their names.
Abu Ghraib, as you recall, was just a small group of rogue junior enlisted. No widespread pattern of abuse, no sir. Pure coincidence that these fellows came up with the same things to do to the prisoners.
So, what was being done with these prisoners?
In one incident, the Human Rights Watch report states, an off-duty cook broke a detainee’s leg with a metal baseball bat. Detainees were also stacked, fully clothed, in human pyramids and forced to hold five-gallon water jugs with arms outstretched or do jumping jacks until they passed out, the report says. “We would give them blows to the head, chest, legs and stomach, and pull them down, kick dirt on them,” one sergeant told Human Rights Watch researchers during one of four interviews in July and August. “This happened every day.”
If the Taliban were doing that to captured US troops, what word would you use to describe it? Does that word start with a T? If you had to describe these actions in two words, would those words start with W and C?
All this in the name of gathering intelligence, of course:
“They wanted intel,” said the sergeant, an infantry fire-team leader who served as a guard when no military police soldiers were available. “As long as no PUC’s [persons under control] came up dead, it happened.” He added, “We kept it to broken arms and legs.”
Never mind that the intel you get that way is useless — the prisoner will tell you anything at all to get you to stop hurting him. “Anything at all” isn’t limited to truth and reality. But then, we have it on the highest national authority that “reality” isn’t important.
But was getting intel the only reason for abusing the prisoners?
Not at all:
The sergeant continued: “Some days we would just get bored, so we would have everyone sit in a corner and then make them get in a pyramid. This was before Abu Ghraib but just like it. We did it for amusement.”
I guess collecting stamps just wasn’t as much fun.
Did we learn anything from Abu Ghraib?
Even after the Abu Ghraib scandal became public, one of the sergeants said, the abuses continued. “We still did it, but we were careful,” he told the human rights group.
Good thought, there, sergeant.
The whole article is worth reading.
This is a sign of a chain of command that’s broken, from top to bottom. This is the time for finger pointing. This is the time for blame. If not now, when?
Write to your senators. Write to your congressman. Write to your governor. Write to the editor of your local newspaper. If you’re outside of the USA, write to your representatives and to your ambassadors. How can anyone remain silent?