FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Ugly Truth of Camp Cropper

by ROBERT FISK

Now here’s a story to shame us all. It’s about America’s shameful prison camps in Iraq. It’s about the beating of prisoners during interrogation.

“Sources” may be a dubious word in journalism right now, but the sources for the beatings in Iraq are impeccable. This story is also about the gunning down of three prisoners in Baghdad, two of them “while trying to escape”. But most of all, it’s about Qais Mohamed al-Salman. Qais al-Salman is just the sort of guy the US ambassador Paul Bremer and his dead-end assistants need now. He hated Saddam, fled Iraq in 1976, then returned after the “liberation” with a briefcase literally full of plans to help in the restoration of his country’s infrastructure and water purification system.

He’s an engineer who has worked in Africa, Asia and Europe. He is a Danish citizen. He speaks good English. He even likes America. Or did until 6 June this year.

That day he was travelling in Abu Nawas Street when his car came under American fire. He says he never saw a checkpoint. Bullets hit the tyres and his driver and another passenger ran for their lives. Qais al-Salman stood meekly beside the vehicle. He was carrying his Danish passport, Danish driving licence and medical records.

But let him tell his own story. “A civilian car came up with American soldiers in it. Then more soldiers in military vehicles. I told them I didn’t understand what had happened, that I was a scientific researcher. But they made me lie down in the street, tied my arms behind me with plastic-and-steel cuffs and tied up my feet and put me in one of their vehicles.”

The next bit of his story carries implications for our own journalistic profession. “After 10 minutes in the vehicle, I was taken out again. There were journalists with cameras. The Americans untied me, then made me lie on the road again. Then, in front of the cameras, they tied my hands and feet all over again and put me back in the vehicle.”

If this wasn’t a common story in Baghdad today–if the gross injustices meted out to ordinary Iraqis and the equally gross mistreatment in America’s prison camps here was not so common–then Qais al-Salman’s story would not be so important.

Amnesty International turned up in Baghdad yesterday to investigate, as well as Saddam’s monstrous crimes, the mass detention centre run by the Americans at Baghdad international airport in which up to 2,000 prisoners live in hot, airless tents. The makeshift jail is called Camp Cropper and there have already been two attempted breakouts.

Both would-be escapees, needless to say, were swiftly shot dead by their American captors. Yesterday, Amnesty was forbidden permission to visit Camp Cropper. This is where the Americans took Qais Al-Salman on 6 June.

He was put in Tent B, a vast canvas room containing up to 130 prisoners. “There were different classes of people there,” Qais al-Salman says. “There were people of high culture, doctors and university people, and there were the most dirty, animal people, thieves and criminals the like of which I never saw before.

“In the morning, I was taken for interrogation before an American military intelligence officer. I showed him letters involving me in US aid projects . He pinned a label on my shirt. It read, Suspected Assassin’.”

Now there probably are some assassins in Camp Cropper. The good, the bad and the ugly have been incarcerated there: old Baathists, possible Iraqi torturers, looters and just about anyone who has got in the way of the American military. Only “selected” prisoners are beaten during interrogation. Again, I repeat, the source is impeccable, and Western.

Qais Al-Salman was given no water to wash in, and after trying to explain his innocence to a second interrogator, he went on hunger strike. No formal charges were made against him. There were no rules for the American jailers.

“Some soldiers drove me back to Baghdad after 33 days in that camp,” Qais al-Salman says. “They dropped me in Rashid Street and gave me back my documents and Danish passport and they said, Sorry’.”

Qais al-Salman went home to his grief-stricken mother who had long believed her son was dead. No American had contacted her despite her desperate requests to the US authorities for help. Not one of the Americans had bothered to tell the Danish government they had imprisoned one of its citizens. Just as in Saddam’s day, a man had simply been “disappeared” off the streets of Baghdad.

ROBERT FISK is a reporter for The Independent and author of Pity the Nation. He is also a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s forthcoming book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail