News Release

Torture and War Crimes: Crucial Context

CLIFF KINDY
Kindy has spent two five-month stints over the last year and a half in Iraq with the Christian Peacemaker Team, which released a document entitled “Report and Recommendations on Iraqi Detainees” in January. Kindy has had substantial contact with Iraqi detainees and their families and with U.S. soldiers and higher-ups.
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DAHR JAMAIL
Baghdad correspondent for the Internet journal The NewStandard, Jamail has written several articles (one of them in January) about U.S. military torture of Iraqis. His most recent piece, “Telltale Signs of Torture Lead Family to Demand Answers,” is available at the above web page.
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ANDRES THOMAS CONTERIS
“We know that the U.S. has been involved with torture training because of the School of the Americas in Georgia; torture manuals have been exposed there,” said Conteris, who has helped produce a documentary about the School of the Americas, “Hidden in Plain Sight.” Added Conteris: “Last week at John Negroponte’s nomination hearing as Ambassador to Iraq, I noted Negroponte’s connections to death squads during his tenure as ambassador to Honduras. If he is confirmed, which seems likely since Democratic senators like Christopher Dodd and Joe Biden have backed him, Negroponte will work to prevent such images of torture from getting out. The Senate can act as though they are shocked by torture now, but if they approve Negroponte, they are facilitating the likelihood it will escalate and be covered up.”
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AS’AD ABUKHALIL
AbuKhalil is professor of political science at California State University at Stanislaus and visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley. He said today: “U.S. propaganda efforts, and the last-minute appearances of Bush in Arab media (with the deliberate exclusion of al-Jazeera — the most widely watched channel by far) only underscore U.S. problems. But the message by Bush will only underline the gap between this administration and Arab public opinion. He tells them that the torture incidents were an exception, and Arabs believe that they are systematic. He tells them that the U.S. is making progress; Arabs know the nature of the bloody mess in Iraq. He tells them that Sharon is a man of peace; Arabs (and many Europeans and some Israelis) consider him a war criminal. Bush tells them that the U.S. is promoting freedom in Iraq; Arabs know that the U.S. is obstructing democracy and elections in Iraq. The Bush message is effective to an audience in Iowa. In the Arab world, his message will only provoke and insult. But that is the nature of U.S. propaganda efforts in the Middle East: the more they try, the worse the U.S. image problem gets.”
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RAY HANANIA
A syndicated columnist, Hanania just wrote the article “Appearing on Arab TV Not Enough Mr. President,” in which he comments: “Rather than win the hearts and minds of the Arab World, American policies reinforce greater anti-American hatred because they fail to speak to the fundamental and legitimate complaints of the Arab World.”
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MARJORIE COHN
Professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists, Cohn wrote the recent article “Torturing Hearts and Minds,” at the above web page.
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REED BRODY
Brody is special counsel with Human Rights Watch and author of a recent article in the International Herald Tribune, “Prisoner Abuse: What About the Other Secret U.S. Prisons?” He said today: “The U.S. has created legal black holes all over the world where we can’t find out what’s happening to prisoners.”
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ROGER NORMAND
Normand is executive director of the Center for Economic and Social Rights. He will be participating in the World Tribunal on Iraq in New York City this Saturday, May 8. Normand said today: “Recent revelations about mistreatment at Abu Ghraib prison are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to U.S. war crimes in Iraq. Despite the rhetoric of fighting for democracy and human rights, the U.S. occupation is providing the world with a case study on how to violate the full range of civilian protections enshrined in the Geneva conventions — from indiscriminate killings and collective punishment, to arbitrary detention, torture and sexual violence, to war profiteering and pillaging.”
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ROBERT JENSEN
Jensen is author of the new book Citizens of the Empire, and co-author of the book Pornography: The Production and Consumption of Inequality. He wrote the essay “Blow Bangs and Cluster Bombs: The Cruelty of Men and Americans” for the magazine Feminista. Jensen said today: “Many are expressing outrage and surprise at the cruel and pornographic nature of the photos from the Abu Ghraib prison. Outrage is appropriate, but we should not be surprised. U.S. culture is saturated with such pornography, which each year gets more overtly cruel and sadistic. Millions of U.S. men watch this kind of material every year. We should expect to see those values play out in the world, especially in the military, where violence is normalized and cruelty is essential to the task
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LARA STEMPLE, [via Alex Coolman]
Executive director of Stop Prisoner Rape, Stemple said today: “These are troubling events, but they didn’t happen by accident. The choice to use sexually charged forms of abuse was not random or careless…. Approximately one in five male inmates in the United States has faced forced or pressured sexual contact in custody, according to studies by researchers such as Cindy Struckman-Johnson at the University of South Dakota. One in 10 has been raped. For women, whose abusers are often corrections officers, the rates of sexual assault are as high as one in four in some facilities.”
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ILENE FEINMAN
Author of Citizenship Rites: Feminist Soldiers and Feminist Antimilitarists, Feinman said today: “The increase in more gender neutral training in the forces (notwithstanding the severe residual sexualized violence against women in the military by the military) has enabled women to develop the same strategies of power over and objectification of ‘the other,’ a.k.a. enemy combatants, as the men possess…. It is most interesting that the woman brigadier general is being held responsible for this abuse which happened under military intelligence, or possibly CIA, purview. The sexual politics of military women are revisited here in that the arguments for women in the military and against women in the military were both grounded on the idea that women as they are socialized would bring a ‘civilizing’ force to the military; this would either improve the military or destroy it, respectively.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020