America’s Shameful Treatment of Detainees

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Human Rights First has put out a deeply disturbing report about the conduct of American military and intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan. They document the death of nearly 100 detainees at the hands of their American captors. Even if one accepts at face value the arguments of the Bush Adminstration–that this war is justified and winnable, how can a nation that seeks to lead the world condone this brutality? At what cost do we pursue this war? As great as the economic loss has been, as terrible the loss of life, the most important loss might be the souls of our men and women and the values of a nation that should be committed to a nobler fate than that of being world’s next inhuman empire.

Read through the report. Read the names of people killed by our citizens while in detention. Ask yourself how many young men, under the age of 30, could credibly be dying in American-run prisons of heart failure. If we fail to bear witness and demand answers, who will?

An American soldier told us of our father.s death. He said: .Your father died during the interrogation. . So we thought maybe it was high blood pressure under personal stress. This would happen in American detention centers. People would die of high blood pressure. But afterwards the people who were imprisoned, detained with him said: .No. They would torture him and they assigned American soldiers to him especially for the torture. He died during the torture.. . . . Honestly, my mother, after the case, after they brought my father dead, she entered a state we can say a coma or like a coma. She withdrew from life.–Hossam Mowoush (in translation) Son of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush

According to an autopsy conducted by the U.S. Armed Forces Medical Examiner.s Office and reviewed by Human Rights First, Jameel.s death was a homicide caused by .Blunt Force Injuries and Asphyxia.93 . A lack of oxygen.94 The autopsy found .[t]he severe blunt force injuries, the hanging position, and the obstruction of the oral cavity with a gag contributed to [his] death..95 The autopsy detailed evidence of additional abuse Jameel suffered: a fractured and bleeding throat, more than a dozen fractured ribs, internal bleeding, and numerous lacerations and contusions all over his body.

A medical examiner who later examined the autopsy report at the request of a lawyer for one of the SEALS and was informed of al- Jamadi.s shackling position gave the opinion that the likely cause of his death was the hanging position, rather than beatings inflicted prior to his arrival at Abu Ghraib.132 According to Dr. Michael Baden, New York State police chief forensic pathologist, .asphyxia is what he died from . As in a crucifixion..133 Dr. Edmund Donahue, the president of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists, who reviewed the autopsy at the request of National Public Radio, gave a similar opinion, saying: .When you combine [the hanging position] with having a hood over your head and having the broken ribs, it.s fairly clear that this death was caused by asphyxia because he couldn.t breathe properly..

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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