Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Citing Relevant Authority

The New York Times is reporting that there has been another discovery of a Shiite-run detention center rife with the abuse, torture and mistreatment of the mostly Sunni captives.

The discovery of the prison was the second case in less than a month of a detention facility found with prisoners who seemed to have been tortured or abused. On Nov. 15, American soldiers entered an Interior Ministry basement and found 169 malnourished prisoners, some of whom, the Americans said, had been tortured. Most of those prisoners were Sunni Arabs.

Last week, a surprise American-Iraqi search of the detention center, which was run by an Iraqi commando unit attached to the Iraqi Interior Ministry, resulted in the discovery of an even larger number of prisoners.

...13 of the prisoners [were] in such bad shape that they needed to be hospitalized.
Iraqi officials issued a response that might seem familiar to many Americans privy to the Bush administration's contorted song and dance performed over the past three years. It comprises the initial denial of the act committed, then the downplaying the severity of the act committed, followed by the justifications for committing the act - which was denied in the first place (following the model of: America doesn't torture, these incidents are at the level of frat pranks, followed by "we are at war and must do everything to defend the homeland.").

The Iraqi Interior Ministry insisted Monday that none of the 625 prisoners discovered last week in an Iraqi detention center had been tortured or abused, despite assertions by American officials to the contrary.[...]

"Only a few guys were slapped on their faces," Mr. Anbagi said. "The prisoners who were taken to the hospital didn't have any serious injuries. They suffered from headaches only."

He did not elaborate on that point but added: "What do you want policemen to do after their colleagues have been attacked? Policemen die everyday because of those guys."
As noted above, this account was disputed by the American military personnel on the scene.

A spokesman for the American command disputed Mr. Anbagi's account, saying the physical condition of the prisoners who were hospitalized was worse than what Mr. Anbagi had described.

"These were very real medical conditions that needed immediate attention," said the spokesman, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson. "There were U.S. forces that provided medical attention on the scene and that transported them to the hospital."
Mr. Anbagi went on to cite what he called relevant legal authority, noting that none of the prisoners had been tortured because none had experienced pain equivalent to organ failure or death, and that even if a prisoner had experienced such pain, the infliction of such was not the specific intent of any of the interrogators/jailers. "Besides," he added, "what if there had been a ticking time bomb hidden somewhere in Baghdad and one of these prisoners knew where it was? Shouldn't they be tortured? How many innocent Iraqi lives should be sacrificed for one terrorist?"

Bush administration officials in the Department of Justice could not be reached for full comment, but did note that Anbagi's standard was prima facie valid. One anonymous source went on to add that any waterboarding conducted by interrogators at the facility should be viewed as a valid interrogation technique and not torture.

Vice President Cheney issued a statement saying that he hoped Iraqis would outlaw torture, but that any law addressing such an issue should specifically exclude any current or future Iraqi intelligence agencies from that law's scope and reach. According to Cheney's office, the establishment and preservation of a free and democratic society based on the rule of law demands such exceptions.*

*(please note, the last three paragraphs were satirical in nature)

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