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The American ghosts of Abu Ghraib

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I just stumbled upon an article at Consortiumnews.com that offers some shocking first-hand insight into failure by the previous (Republican-led) Congress to fully investigate the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib (and the military's own cover-up). In the article, Former Army Sgt. Sam Provence, who was "the only uniformed military intelligence officer at the Iraqi prison to testify about the abuses during the internal Army investigation," relates his experiences regarding the cover-up along with some shocking things he learned while attending a special screening of the documentary Ghosts of Abu Ghraib. The article starts out as follows:
For those of you who have not heard of me, I am Sam Provance. My career as an Army sergeant came to a premature end at age 32 after eight years of decorated service, because I refused to remain silent about Abu Ghraib, where I served for five months in 2004 at the height of the abuses. A noncommissioned officer specializing in intelligence analysis, my job at Abu Ghraib was systems administrator ("the computer guy"). But I had the misfortune of being on the night shift, saw detainees dragged in for interrogation, heard the screams, and saw many of them dragged out. I was sent back to my parent unit in Germany shortly after the Army began the first of its many self-investigations. In Germany, I had the surreal experience of being interrogated by one of the Army-General-Grand-Inquisitors, Major General George Fay, who showed himself singularly uninterested in what went on at Abu Ghraib. I had to insist that he listen to my eyewitness account, whereupon he threatened punitive actions against me for not coming forward sooner and even tried to hold me personally responsible for the scandal itself. The Army then demoted me, suspended my Top Secret clearance, and threatened me with ten years in a military prison if I asked for a court martial. I was even given a gag order, the only one I know to have been issued to those whom Gen. Fay interviewed. But the fact that most Americans know nothing of what I saw at Abu Ghraib, and that my career became collateral damage, so to speak, has nothing to do with the gag order, which turned out to be the straw that broke this sergeant's back. After seeing first-hand that the investigation wasn't going to go anywhere and that no one else I knew from the intelligence community was being candid, I allowed myself to be interviewed by American and German journalists. Sadly, you would have had to know German to learn the details of what I had to say at that time about the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Later, Republican Congressman Christopher Shays, who was then chair of the House Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations, invited me to testify on Feb. 14, 2006, so my sworn testimony is on the public record. [See: www.humanrightsfirst.info/pdf/06214-usls-provance-statment.pdf] On June 30, 2006, dissatisfied with the Pentagon's non-responsiveness to requests for information on my situation, the Committee on Government Reform issued a subpoena requiring then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to produce the requested documents by July 14. I heard nothing further. I guess he forgot. I guess Congress forgot, too. Thanks largely to a keen sense of justice and a good dose of courage on the part of pro bono lawyers and congressional aides, I made it through the next two and a half years of professional limbo, applying my computer skills to picking up trash and performing guard duty. Instead of a prison sentence, I was honorably discharged on Oct. 13, 2006 and began my still-continuing search for a place back in the civilian world. Producers for Rory Kennedy's documentary "Ghosts of Abu Ghraib" were among the journalists who interviewed me-discreetly-in Germany. On Feb. 12, 2007 I attended a screening of that documentary. What happened there bears telling.
Read more. And, if you live in South Carolina, please do everything you can to make sure that Senator Lindsey Graham does not get reelected in 2008. (You'll see why when you read the article.) -----

 

Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
 
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 It is petty that to see the defunct Iraqi re... by Aram on Sunday, Apr 1, 2007 at 4:07:19 PM