The Central Intelligence
Agency crucified a prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, according to a report
published in The New Yorker magazine.
"A forensic examiner found
that he (the prisoner) had essentially been crucified; he died from
asphyxiation after having been hung by his arms, in a hood, and suffering
broken ribs," the magazine's Jane Mayer writes in the magazine's June 22nd
issue. "Military pathologists classified the case a homicide." The date of the
murder was not given.
"No criminal charges have
ever been brought against any C.I.A. officer involved in the torture program,
despite the fact that at least three prisoners interrogated by agency personnel
died as a result of mistreatment," Mayer notes.
report, by John Hendren in The Los
Angeles Times indicted other torture killings. And Human Rights First says nearly
100 detainees have died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hendren reported that one
Manadel Jamadi died "of blunt-force injuries" complicated by "compromised
respiration" at Abu Ghraib prison "while he was with Navy SEALs and other
special operations troops." Another victim, Abdul Jaleel, died while gagged and
shackled to a cell door with his hands over his head." Yet another prisoner,
Maj. Gen. Abid Mowhosh, former commander of Iraq's air defenses, "died of
asphyxiation due to smothering and chest compression" in Qaim, Iraq.
is no question that U.S. interrogations have resulted in deaths," says Anthony
Romero, executive director of the ACLU. "High-ranking officials who knew
about the torture and sat on their hands and those who created and endorsed
these policies must be held accountable. America must stop putting its head in
the sand and deal with the torture scandal." At least scores of detainees
in U.S. custody have died and homicide is suspected. As far back as May, 2004,
the Pentagon conceded at least 37 deaths of prisoners in its custody in Iraq
and Afghanistan had prompted investigations.
Nathaniel Raymond, of Physicians
for Human Rights, told The New Yorker, "We still don't know how
many detainees were in the black sites, or who they were. We don't fully know
the White House's role, or the C.I.A.'s role. We need a full accounting,
especially as it relates to health professionals."
Recently released Justice
memos, he noted, contain numerous references to CIA medical personnel
participating in coercive interrogation sessions. "They were the designers, the
legitimizers, and the implementers," Raymond said. "This is arguably the single
greatest medical-ethics scandal in American history. We need answers."
The ACLU obtained its
information from the Pentagon through a Freedom of Information suit. Documents received included
44 autopsies and death reports as well as a summary of autopsy reports of
people seized in Iraq and Afghanistan. An ACLU statement noted, "This covers just a fraction of the total
number of Iraqis and Afghanis who have died while in U.S. custody." (Italics
Torture by the CIA has been
facilitated by the Agency's ability to hide prisoners in "black sites" kept
secret from the Red Cross, to hold prisoners off the books, and to detain them
for years without bringing charges or providing them with lawyers.
Kenneth Roth, executive
director of Human Rights Watch, denounced the Obama administration for
considering "prevention detention," The New
Yorker's Mayer wrote. Roth said this tactic "mimics the Bush
Administration's abusive approach."
From all indications, CIA
Director Panetta has no intention of bringing to justice CIA officials involved
in the systematic torture of prisoners. Panetta told Mayer, "I'm going to give
people the benefit of the doubt...If they do the job that they're paid to do, I
can't ask for a hell of a lot more."
Such sentiments differ
markedly from those Panetta wrote in an article published last year in the
January Washington Monthly: "We
either believe in the dignity of the individual, the rule of law, and the
prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, or we don't. There is no middle
One way to discern who really
runs a country is to look to see which individuals, if any, are above the law.
In the Obama administration, like its predecessors, they include the employees
of the CIA. Crucifixions they execute in the Middle East differ from those
reported in the New Testament in at least one important respect: Jesus Christ
had a trial.
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Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular "Workplace" column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public (more...