The Guardian July 28, 2004


Children tortured in US detention in Iraq

The people of the US have only recently been allowed access to 
106 previously classified annexes to the Taguba Report into the 
prisoner abuse at the now notorious Abu Ghraib prison. The 
documents back up the worst suspicions raised by the sickening 
images made public earlier this year. According to media reports, 
Brig. Gen Janis Karpinski  who has been singled out as the 
major scapegoat for the outrages  is hopeful that the truth 
about just how high up the chain of command the sanction for 
criminal abuse originated will come out at the trials of the 
accused soldiers.

As bitter as these revelations and developments are, it appears 
that the US public is set to be rocked by revelations that over 
100 children currently captive in US detention centres in Iraq 
(including at Abu Ghraib) have been tortured and humiliated. 
William Rivers Pitt of The New York Times recently lifted the lid 
on the story after the International Red Cross (IRC) released 
details of the detention of children.

"Between January and May of this year, we've registered 107 
children during 19 visits in 6 different detention locations", 
said IRC representative Florian Westphal in their report. The 
report gathered eyewitness accounts like those of Staff Sergeant 
Samuel Provance who saw a 16-year-old girl interrogated. Military 
police only halted their interrogation after the girl was half 
undressed. A 16-year-old boy was soaked with water, driven around 
in the cold, smeared with mud and then brought before his 
distraught father, who was also a prisoner.

Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker magazine recently spoke at a 
convention of the American Civil Liberties Union. He has seen 
pictures and videotapes of abuse not yet shown in the US media. 
"The boys were sodomised with the cameras rolling, and the worst 
part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking. And this is your 
government at war."

Mr Hersh points out that photographic and videotape evidence is 
currently in the hands of The New Yorker, The Washington Post, 
the US Congress and the White House. However, the US media has 
been slow to take up the story. While numerous international 
outlets like the German magazine Report Mainz have carried 
extensive coverage, the American press (with only a few notable 
exceptions) appears to be offering the US Administration a 
breather on the issue of torture in Iraq.

"Where is the American news media? Where are the pictures? Who is 
responsible for this abomination? Torturing children in the name 
of freedom? Is this what we have become?" William Rivers Pitt has 
raised some important and uncomfortable questions for the minders 
of Bush, Rumsfeld & Co.

The same journalist has highlighted a statistic in the Red Cross 
report of last May. It turns out that between 70 and 90 per cent 
of Iraqis being detained have been arrested "by mistake". The 
people, including children, being tortured in the most perverse 
manner imaginable in US detention centres are in most cases 
"innocent" of charges of violating the victor's justice.

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