Thursday, December 08, 2005

Real Torture

Chicago Tribune | Woman tells of 4 years in Iraqi jails

"I was forced to take my clothes off," she said of her detention in an intelligence services building. "They lifted my legs up, they tied my hands, they beat me with cables and gave me electric shocks. They were more than five persons. They treated me as if I were a banquet."

Witness A was one of three anonymous witnesses who offered their accounts in the second day of testimony against Hussein and his seven co-defendants charged in the 1982 massacre in Dujail.[snip]

Witness A, who was 16 at the time of the Dujail incident in July 1982, said she was summoned for interrogation by Wadah al-Sheik, a military intelligence officer who died last month of cancer. Al-Sheik ordered her stripped and bound after she told him that she had nothing to tell him, the witness testified.

"They took me to the operation room. ... He told me, `Take off your clothes,'" she recalled. "I told him, `Please, by my eyes and heart, my honor is your honor.'

"He told me, `Shut up. Don't dare mention my honor.'"

Hussein's defense team pressed the witnesses to affirm that they had no knowledge of Hussein's direct involvement in the atrocities. Witness C, who said he was only 11 when he was rounded up, fumed at the defense when asked if he ever saw Hussein commit war crimes.

`Is this not a crime?'

"What do you call torturing our families and killing them in front of our eyes?" Witness C asked. "Is this not a crime?"

Note Hussein's defense. He was not there so how could he be guilty? He's implying that it was somebody below him without his knowledge that perpetrated the acts.

Of course, Barzan is trying crazily to distance himself as well:

Ibrahim sought to distance himself from the Dujail events, saying that his position as head of intelligence then was a "political post," and that the treatment of prisoners was not the responsibility of the security services.

"Once prisoners are handed over to prisons, they are the responsibility of the department of social affairs," he said. "I am not a jailer. I am a political official."

And, no, this is not equal to the Bush/Rumsfeld question of torture and responsibility because the American case ended with investigation of allegations, charges and prosecution of the offenders who were operating beyond their orders and station. Officers above them were reprimanded or charged for dereliction of duty basically. Because it is not condoned.

In Saddam's world, if you rounded up 500 people, the odds are, you had a signed order. The odds are (and I believe will come out shortly) there are 140 death warrants signed and dated for the same date by Saddam. Further, Barzan is full of crap because the torture, beatings and degredation usually behan at al Hakayim Interior Ministry. Further, I am more than confident that no one was ever investigated or charged with torture and murder under Saddam's regime which meant that, not only did he order the murders, he condoned the torture.

But, hell, you know somebody is going to shrug and claim it is the same:

Khamis al-Obeidi, one of Hussein's lawyers, used the cross-examination of Witness A to criticize the Americans as he questioned her about her time at Abu Ghraib prison, the site of a recent prisoner abuse scandal involving U.S. military personnel.

"I agree with you. Conditions in Abu Ghraib were very bad. But did they use dogs on you?" al-Obeidi asked. "Did they take photographs? Was it as bad as that?"

Let's see, she just describes being beaten and raped and the attorney responds by asking her if they took pictures "like Abu Ghraib" because some how getting your picture taken in a degrading position with panties on your head and a dog leash is worse than having five guys beat and rape you.

On days like this I imagine Sgt Graner getting his balls blown off and wish that Lyndie England wasn't so damn pathetic. Not because I think they are more evil than Saddam, but because some moron out there thinks that they are more evil than Saddam.

The truth is, these court proceedings seem odd to me with the defendents saying whatever they want, insulting and threatening the witnesses, the judges and anyone else without the judge banging his gavel and telling the defendent to shut the hell up or be in contempt of court. It's odd to see the attornies making public political statements and declaring the court illegal even after submitting a brief and having a response returned to them without the court banging on the gavel and threatening contempt of court.

I also think that the witnesses testimony giving is an odd process since there seems to be little questioning and much free wheeling with the witnesses often making uncollaborated statements about other people and general remarks about what they think they know instead of what they do know.

And then, back to the defense who proceeds to openly intimidate the witnesses and has no control over their clients.

Finally, on the defendents and their attornies, I have to say that, when your clients life is at risk, when there is documentation, videos and mass graves and the judge has obviously been alive during the whole regime, it seems kind of counter intuitive to claim that the court is illegal. I mean, the guy isn't going to recognize such a claim and an appeals court will never recognize such a claim, even if it would be true in an American court and the judge asked to recuse himself, where are you going to find any impartial court? No where and the defense is hoping to make the trial such a pain that the judge declares the court unable to proceed and Saddam can then demand that his case be heard in the ICC which will take a decade to happen. Not to mention he has more friends internationally that would run interference because they have every interest in keeping information quiet.

Of course, his followers can hold out illusions that he will return and keep fighting the new government and Saddam can pretend that he will just get 15 years in some cushy joint where he might live to the ripe old age of 82 before finally returning home to retake the country.

Or something.

Maybe he thinks he can just delay the courts until the "great revolution" frees him and he can go back to ruling Iraq with an iron fist?

Who knows what a narcissistic socio-path believes?

But, I think this woman speaks for the rest of Iraq when she said she would rather be a donkey:

At one point in her testimony, Witness A recalled wishing she could trade places with a donkey she saw during her transfer from Abu Ghraib to another prison.

"Oh God, how I envy him for his freedom," she said.

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