New York

Morning Report 12/9/05Seizers’ Palace: Rigging the Game of Hold ‘Em


In White House terror war, even the choice of “suspects” was suspect, documents indicate

Harkavy (Center for Public Integrity; Red Cross)


Draw your own conclusions: Most of Abu Ghraib’s unhappy prisoners (one of them is shown above with interrogators, as drawn for a training session by our own soldiers at the prison) were suspect as suspects. Documents from Abu Ghraib and the Red Cross reveal it. I marked the highlights in yellow; they’re explained below.

Beyond the furor of the CIA rendition flights, it looks as if the usual suspects — the CheneyRumsfeld cabal and its puppet president, George W. Bush — rounded up the wrong suspects, probably in far bigger numbers than what we thought.

Every Muslim in muslin was liable to be scooped up and “detained” in the heady days of the Bush regime’s war of terror. That’s the inescapable conclusion drawn from an exhumation of only a few of the thousands of documents released after last year’s Abu Ghraib scandal broke.

Thanks to one of the scoops by Dana Priest of the Washington Post, we already knew that German citizen Khaled Masri was mistakenly seized by the CIA and that the U.S. government itself is investigating what one official admitted were “erroneous renditions.”

And we already knew about Maher Arar, the Canadian resident who was mistakenly seized at JFK and shipped to Syria, home of Far-Filastin prison.

Now let’s talk about some bigger numbers.

Nearly a year ago, when Abu Ghraib tormentor Chuck Graner was in the news, I noted:

Our procedure at Abu Ghraib, aside from terrorizing prisoners, was to strip any and all of them, whether or not they had “intelligence value.” That game is an insult to our rule of law.

The question at the time was whether the rogues in the Abu Ghraib scandal were the soldiers or their bosses in the Pentagon. Isn’t the answer obvious by now?

When the Abu Ghraib scandal first broke, in the spring of 2004, numerous military investigations followed.

The blizzard of documents that fell on us was simply too large to handle, especially for most of the mainstream media, and stories melted away. But now that the rendition flights have brought the usual suspects (Cheney, et al.—) back in the news for more questioning, we have the chance to look at the Abu Ghraib documents in a new light.

You can hear the crash of international symbols as you compare the Red Cross’s February 2004 report on its visit to Abu Ghraib with the Pentagon’s own documents during that same time period about that same Baghdad hellhole.

Take, for instance, the January 14, 2004, “Situation Update” compiled by the U.S. Army’s 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. (Passages from both documents are excerpted in the illustration above.)

The Army’s “update” for the Pentagon says on page 5 that of Abu Ghraib’s 6,000 prisoners, 1,243 were “interrogation holds.” Later, on page 23, the report lists that number again but specifically notes a total of 9,449 as being of “intelligence interest.” But the same page carries a printed notation: “Those of intelligence interest are small percentage.”

Questions arise: Like, what exactly is that “9,449” number? Worldwide? Frequent flyers? Only Iraqis?

We don’t know. Yet. But we do know that whatever methods were being used at Abu Ghraib — the dog leashes, the naked pyramids, and so on — they weren’t producing anything. Elsewhere on that page (I didn’t include it in the illustration), under the number of suspects “confirmed” as “Al Qaeda,” the figure is zero. Zip, nada, nothing, no one.

Now go to the February 2004 Red Cross report, which says on page 8:

Certain CF [Coalition forces] military intelligence officers told the ICRC that in their estimate between 70% and 90% of the persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake.

They also attributed the brutality of some arrests to the lack of proper supervision of battle group units.

No wonder the Bush regime hasn’t given the Red Cross access to all of its “detainees,” especially the ones being tortured at prisons in other countries, where they really know how to treat a “detainee.”

Read this BBC story about that surprising admission by the Bush regime. Of course, in the Pravda-like New York Times this morning, it rated only an aside way on down in the main story on the renditions-with-Rice dish:

In Geneva on Thursday, John Bellinger, the State Department’s legal adviser, acknowledged that the International Committee of the Red Cross did not have access to all detainees held by American forces.

The BBC story puts this startling statement by Bellinger in perspective:

He stated that the group International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had access to “absolutely everybody” at the prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which holds suspects detained during the US war on terror.

When asked by journalists if the organisation had access to everybody held in similar circumstances elsewhere, he said: “No.” He declined to explain further.

Until now the US administration has been careful in its language, says the BBC’s state department correspondent Jonathan Beale.

It has always said that the ICRC has access to all prisoners held at US defence department facilities — leaving open the question of whether there are CIA prisons elsewhere.

Mr Bellinger’s comments will raise suspicions that high-profile terrorist suspects are being held out of international view, our correspondent says.

Beale, by the way, has been a thorn in Rice’s side before, particularly about the U.S.’s response to starving kids in Africa, as I noted this past July.

Anyway, speaking of adult torture, I can’t spell it out any clearer: Condi Rice‘s new renditions of the regime’s renditions are suspicious enough, but the roundup of usual suspects was probably even more suspect.

Could we please have a passenger manifest of those people on the CIA flights?

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