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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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".
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".
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
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?
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.
Posted: June 1, 2004