FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Things Bush Didn’t Say in His Speech

by ROBERT FISK

The Independent

I can’t wait to see Abu Ghraib prison reduced to rubble by the Americans–at the request of the new Iraqi government, of course. It will be turned to dust in order to destroy a symbol of Saddam’s brutality. That’s what President Bush tells us. So the re-writing of history still goes on.

Last August, I was invited to Abu Ghraib–by my favourite US General Janis Karpinski, no less–to see the million-dollar US refurbishment of this vile place. Squeaky clean cells and toothpaste tubes and fresh pairs of pants for the “terrorist” inmates. But now, suddenly, the whole kit and caboodle is no longer an American torture centre. It’s still an Iraqi torture centre, and thus worthy of demolition.

The re-writing of Iraqi history is now going on at supersonic speed. Weapons of mass destruction? Forget it. Links between Saddam and al-Qa’ida? Forget it. Liberating the Iraqis from Saddam’s Abu Ghraib life of torture? Forget it. Wedding party slaughtered? Forget it. Clear the decks for both “full (sic) sovereignty” and “chaotic events”. This is, at any rate, according to Mr Bush. When I heard his hesitant pronunciation of Abu Ghraib as “Abu Grub” on Monday night, I could only profoundly agree.

But we’re in danger again of missing the detail. Just as the unsupervised armed mercenaries being killed in Iraq are being described by the occupation authorities as “contractors” or, more mendaciously, “civilians”–so the responsibility for the porno interrogations at Abu Ghraib is being allowed to slide into the summer mists over the Tigris river. So let’s go back, for a moment, to the long weeks in which the Department of Bad Apples allowed its jerks to put leashes around Iraqi necks, forced prisoners to have sex with each other and raped some Iraqi lasses in the jail.

And let’s cast our eyes upon that little, all-important matter of responsibility. The actual interrogators accused of encouraging US troops to abuse Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail were working for at least one company with extensive military and commercial contacts with Israel. The head of an American company whose personnel are implicated in the Iraqi tortures, it now turns out, attended an “anti-terror” training camp in Israel and, earlier this year, was presented with an award by Shaul Mofaz, the right-wing Israeli defence minister.

According to Dr J P London’s company, CACI International, the visit of Dr London–sponsored by an Israeli lobby group and including US congressmen and other defence contractors–was “to promote opportunities for strategic partnerships and joint ventures between US and Israeli defence and homeland security agencies”.

The Pentagon and the occupation powers in Iraq insist that only US citizens have been allowed to question prisoners in Abu Ghraib–but this takes no account of Americans who may also hold double citizenship. The once secret torture report by US General Antonio Taguba refers to “third country nationals” involved in the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq.

General Taguba mentions Steven Staphanovic and John Israel as involved in the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Staphanovic, who worked for CACI–known to the US military as “Khaki”–was said by Taguba to have “allowed and/or instructed MPs (military police), who were not trained in interrogation techniques, to facilitate interrogations by ‘setting conditions’ … he clearly knew his instructions equated to physical abuse”. One of Staphanovic’s co-workers, Joe Ryan–who was not named in the Taguba report–now says that he underwent an “Israeli interrogation course” before going to Iraq.

We know the Pentagon asked Israel for its “rules of engagement” in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Israeli officers have briefed their US opposite numbers and, according to the Associated Press, “in January and February of 2003, Israeli and American troops trained together in southern Israel’s Negev desert … Israel has also hosted senior law enforcement officials from the United States for a seminar on counter-terrorism”.

Staphanovic of CACI, who may also be Australian, was accused by Taguba’s army report of making “a false statement to the investigation team regarding … his knowledge of abuses”. Another outside interrogator, Adel Nakhla,who may be of Egyptian origin, was a witness to the “stacking” of naked prisoners in Abu Ghraib. John Israel “misled” investigators by denying he had witnessed misconduct and did not have “security clearance”. Israel, according to Titan–two of whose employees were mentioned in Taguba’s report–works for one of the company’s “sub-contractors”. Titan refused to name the “sub-contractor”.

Why? Among the company’s former directors is ex-CIA director James Woolsey, one of the architects of the US invasion of Iraq, a friend of Ahmed Chalabi and a prominent pro-Israeli lobbyist in Washington. Dr London says CACI “does not condone or tolerate or endorse in any fashion (sic) any illegal, inappropriate behaviour on the part of its employees in any circumstances at any time anywhere”.

But it is clear the torture trail at Abu Ghraib has to run much further than a group of brutal US military cops, all of whom claim “intelligence officers” told them to “soften up” their prisoners for questioning. Were they Israeli? Or South African? Or British? Are we going to let the story go?

ROBERT FISK is a reporter for The Independent and author of Pity the Nation. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s hot new book, The Politics of Anti-Semitism.

 

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

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail