Sunday, May 22, 2005

Winning Hearts and Minds

From Friday's New York Times...

"Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.

"The story of Mr. Dilawar's brutal death at the Bagram Collection Point - and that of another detainee, Habibullah, who died there six days earlier in December 2002 - emerge from a nearly 2,000-page confidential file of the Army's criminal investigation into the case, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.

"Like a narrative counterpart to the digital images from Abu Ghraib, the Bagram file depicts young, poorly trained soldiers in repeated incidents of abuse. The harsh treatment, which has resulted in criminal charges against seven soldiers, went well beyond the two deaths.

"In some instances, testimony shows, it was directed or carried out by interrogators to extract information. In others, it was punishment meted out by military police guards. Sometimes, the torment seems to have been driven by little more than boredom or cruelty, or both."

Update: More on the story in Sunday's New York Times...

"Despite autopsy findings of homicide and statements by soldiers that two prisoners died after being struck by guards at an American military detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, Army investigators initially recommended closing the case without bringing any criminal charges, documents and interviews show...

"The investigators' move to close the case was among a series of apparent missteps in an Army inquiry that ultimately took almost two years to complete and has so far resulted in criminal charges against seven soldiers. Early on, the documents show, crucial witnesses were not interviewed, documents disappeared, and at least a few pieces of evidence were mishandled.

"While senior military intelligence officers at Bagram quickly heard reports of abuse by several interrogators, documents show they also failed to file reports that are mandatory when any intelligence personnel are suspected of misconduct, including mistreatment of detainees. Those reports would have alerted military intelligence officials in the United States to a problem in the unit, military officials said.

"Those interrogators and others from Bagram were later sent to Iraq and were assigned to Abu Ghraib prison. A high-level military inquiry last year found that the captain who led interrogation operations at Bagram, Capt. Carolyn A. Wood, applied many of the same harsh methods in Iraq that she had overseen in Afghanistan."

Note: If needed, you can use the BugMeNot logon, yoink/forty to access the stories.

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