Photos reveal torture of Iraqi children

The White House has it. So does Congress, the Washington Post, The New Yorker and a few others. Yet there has been no mention of it in national media. It is photographic and video evidence of the torture of children at Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere in Iraq.

This story has been a major feature for weeks in the international news media. It is the biggest story of the Iraq war. The perpetrators of this disgusting practice are U.S. troops, and it is not just a few “bad apples.”

The International Red Cross recently asserted that more than 100 children are held in U.S.-controlled detention centers, including Abu Ghraib. “Between January and May of this year, we’ve registered 107 children, during 19 visits in six different detention locations,” said Red Cross representative Florian Westphal.

An article in the German magazine Report Mainz presented some eyewitness testimony about the abuse of these children. Staff Sgt. Samuel Provance, who was stationed at Abu Ghraib, said interrogators had custody of a teenage girl–maybe 15 or 16 years old. The questioning was stopped by military police only when the girl was half undressed.

In another incident described in the magazine, a 16-year-old boy was soaked with water, driven through the cold, smeared with mud and shown to his weeping father, who also was a prisoner.

Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker reporter who broke the original story of prisoner torture at Abu Ghraib, recently addressed an ACLU convention. Hersh has seen the pictures and video tapes the American media have so far refused to show. “The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling, and the worst part is the soundtrack, of the boys shrieking,” Hersh said. “And this is your government at war.”

Hersh called the prison scene “a series of massive crimes, criminal activity by the president and the vice president, by this administration anyway,” and said there has been “a massive amount of criminal wrongdoing that was covered up by the highest command out there, and higher.”

Americans knew of the original report of prisoner abuses in the Baghdad prison when the core of the report by Gen. Taguba was released by the media. Since then, 106 additions to that report have been released.

U.S. News & World Report commented: “The abuses took place, the files show, in a chaotic and dangerous environment made even more so by the constant pressure from Washington to squeeze intelligence from detainees. Riots, prisoner escapes, shootings, corrupt Iraqi guards, unsanitary conditions, rampant sexual misbehavior, bug-infested food, prisoner beatings and humiliations, and almost-daily mortar shellings from Iraqi insurgents–according to the annex to General Taguba’s report, that pretty much sums up life at Abu Ghraib.”

A Red Cross report cited the statement of a coalition intelligence officer that between 70 percent and 90 percent of Iraqis held in these prisons were arrested by mistake. In short, they are innocent.

It has been pointed out before that this treatment of prisoners was not the idea of a few miscreants in the ranks. In the military, the ordinary soldier initiates nothing; he or she follows orders. Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who formerly commanded Abu Ghraib, said the truth about where the orders came from would be disclosed at the trials of the accused soldiers. Memos have been seen that ordered the mistreatment and torture of prisoners. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld signed off on those memos.

William Rivers Pitt, writing for Truthout.Org, stated: “We invaded a country based upon the false claim that Iraq was allied with al-Qaeda. We invaded a country based on the false claim that there were weapons of mass destruction which needed to be destroyed. We promised freedom and democracy, and instead installed a CIA-trained strongman named Allawi who has all but created a dictatorship in Iraq, and who has been accused of killing Iraqi prisoners by his own hand. More than 900 American soldiers have died so we could do this.

“We took thousands of innocent civilians off the streets in Iraq and threw them into hellhole prisons, where they were beaten, raped and killed. The story has faded from public view because no new pictures of the abuses have come out in the last several weeks. Those pictures are out there, and they show the rape and torture of children. The international media is reporting on it.

“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?”

And they want us to support this? Any good we may have done in Iraq is stained with the blood of the innocent. We ought to be saying “May God have mercy on America.”

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