Monday, May 23, 2005

Morning reading

The New York Times has a two-article series detailing abuses that occurred at Bagram Collection Point, a US army prison in Afghanistan, during 2002. The two articles are:

In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths - May 20, 2005

Army Faltered in Investigating Detainee Abuse - May 22, 2005
"The story of Mr. Dilawar's brutal death at the Bagram Collection Point - and that of another detainee, Habibullah, who died there six days earlier in December 2002 - emerge from a nearly 2,000-page confidential file of the Army's criminal investigation into the case, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.

"Like a narrative counterpart to the digital images from Abu Ghraib, the Bagram file depicts young, poorly trained soldiers in repeated incidents of abuse. The harsh treatment, which has resulted in criminal charges against seven soldiers, went well beyond the two deaths
The articles are long and detailed, but here's a glimpse of what they contain:
"Mr. Dilawar was a frail man, standing only 5 feet 9 inches and weighing 122 pounds. But at Bagram, he was quickly labeled one of the 'noncompliant' ones.

"When one of the First Platoon M.P.'s, Specialist Corey E. Jones, was sent to Mr. Dilawar's cell to give him some water, he said the prisoner spit in his face and started kicking him. Specialist Jones responded, he said, with a couple of knee strikes to the leg of the shackled man.

"'He screamed out, "Allah! Allah! Allah!" and my first reaction was that he was crying out to his god,' Specialist Jones said to investigators. 'Everybody heard him cry out and thought it was funny.'

"Other Third Platoon M.P.'s later came by the detention center and stopped at the isolation cells to see for themselves, Specialist Jones said.

"It became a kind of running joke, and people kept showing up to give this detainee a common peroneal strike just to hear him scream out "Allah," ' he said. 'It went on over a 24-hour period, and I would think that it was over 100 strikes.'"


"The findings of Mr. Dilawar's autopsy were succinct. He had had some coronary artery disease, the medical examiner reported, but what caused his heart to fail was 'blunt force injuries to the lower extremities.' Similar injuries contributed to Mr. Habibullah's [another prisoner's] death.

"One of the coroners later translated the assessment at a pre-trial hearing for Specialist Brand, saying the tissue in the young man's legs 'had basically been pulpified.'

"'I've seen similar injuries in an individual run over by a bus,' added Lt. Col. Elizabeth Rouse, the coroner, and a major at that time.
The articles provide even more details of the interrogations and deaths of the two inmates, and also describe the slow investigations that followed.

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