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"they have neither hope nor a chance to avoid great suffering and possible murder at the hands of brutal interrogators/torturers... they are totally alone against a brutal gang that has them in secret captivity in a hole in the ground..."



Posted May 18, 2004 thepeoplesvoice.org

By: Ted Lang

The Abu Ghriab prison torture scandal has been identified as the continuance of a Bush administration secret Pentagon plan identified by Seymour M. Hersh in his article "The Gray Zone" as SAP, which stands for "special-access program." Hersh's May 16th article appeared on The New Yorker website as well as in its newsstand hardcopy version on May 17th. Hersh points unmistakably to the culpability of the senior leaders at the Pentagon, to whom he ascribes the top-level orders that authorized both CIA and Army military intelligence interrogation and control of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison just outside of Baghdad.

White House counsel Alberto Gonzales wrote a memorandum to President George W. Bush warning him that the Pentagon's SAP activities were a blatant violation of the basic principles of the Geneva Convention. Reportedly, when Secretary of State Colin Powell got wind of both the Pentagon's SAP program and the White House memo, "he hit the ceiling." That is entirely understandable, as Powell's dedication and rise through the ranks of the United States Army to four-star general culminated in his being selected as the Chief of Staff under Bush I.

Basically, the Pentagon's SAP program allowed Geneva Convention violations in order to terrorize, humiliate, and otherwise torture prisoners of the war in Afghanistan. The primary attribute of this unconscionable and inhumane treatment is its "legitimized" authorization via secrecy in reaction to the need for national security. POW's at Guantanamo, colloquially dubbed "Gitmo," were tortured frequently and regularly in violation of the GC. Frustrated over the lack of intelligence, understandable even to the average laymen due to the generally disorganized nature of terrorist acts of "insurgents," Major General Geoffrey D. Miller was transferred to Abu Ghraib with the full knowledge and approval of theater commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

Miller and Sanchez's actions were therefore not isolated independent routine actions - they were violations of the GC that Bush counsel Alberto Gonzales warned the president about regarding SAP. And the execution of SAP policy was designed, authorized and orchestrated by Defense Under-Secretary for Intelligence Stephen Cambone, with the full knowledge and approval of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Chief of Staff General Richard Myers.

The basic thrust of mental torture instituted by despotic military regimes, better defined as militarized police states, is isolation. Think back to when you were a small child and became separated at a crowded mall or beach from your parent or parents. I remember such occurrences - it translates to panic and terror. Isolating a single, solitary human being, and letting that human being know with full certainty that they have neither hope nor a chance to avoid great suffering and possible murder at the hands of brutal interrogators/torturers, and that they are totally alone against a brutal gang that has them in secret captivity in a hole in the ground, does provide limitless terror for the victim of such captivity.

Such mental torture continues even after such interrogation victims are released by their captors. As one individual related as concerns those that were held in Nazi captivity but then released, "no one trusted them." People would worry as to what secrets or confessions were made to such brutal interrogators. They'd worry whether they'd be arrested next based upon forced confessions falsely implicating them. In the case of the SAP inquisitors, the sexually explicit photos that our low-level war-fighters engaged in required graphic evidence of an Iraqi's debasement and therefore his subsequent isolation and distrust by his own people.

Hersh's article describes perfectly the intent of the Abu Ghraib methods: "[T]here may have been a serious goal, in the beginning, behind the sexual humiliation and the posed photographs. It was thought that some prisoners would do anything-including spying on their associates-to avoid dissemination of the shameful photos to family and friends.. 'The idea was that they would be motivated by fear of exposure, and gather information about pending insurgency action,' the consultant said. If so, it wasn't effective; the insurgency continued to grow."

It is clear that the Pentagon officials and top military brass created the environment for POW abuse, even if they didn't participate directly or create orders to torture. This phony disconnect is what is being touted by Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander offering that all the dirty work is attributable only to the six rank and filers facing court martial. But as Hersh points out, the SAP methods and their supportive arguments and secrecy, created a "wide authority," where unconscionable abuse naturally evolved and progressed.


Copyright THEODORE E. LANG 5/18/04 All rights reserved. Ted Lang is a political analyst and a freelance writer.



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