More evidence US ignored abuse warnings

Iraq's former human rights minister, Abd Al-Basit Turki, has said abuse of Iraqi prisoners has been going on at all US bases since the occupation began, with some taking place as recently as last week.

    Abd Al-Basit Turki (R) says Paul Bremer (L) is helpless over abuse

    In an interview with French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche, released before publication on Sunday, Turki said he had warned US administrator Paul Bremer of the abuse in November 2003. 

    The scandal over detainee abuse broke last week with the release of photographs showing the sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib, a US-run jail outside Baghdad.

    "The first reports I received concerned the city of Umm Qasr, the detention zone at Baghdad airport, and finally the prison at Abu Ghuraib. But there was torture at all the American
    bases," he told the newspaper.

    "I have information about further abuses committed against prisoners just this week," he said, but did not elaborate.

    Turki, who resigned one month ago over US heavy-handedness in the flashpoint town of Falluja, said he had quickly understood that Bremer "did not have the power to ask the military to change its methods".

    "We were waiting impatiently for the end of the old regime, convinced that we would never see these sorts of scenes in Iraq again. But the coalition does not value the Iraqis at all," Turki said.

    "These dealings prove that America has failed to defend democracy in Iraq," he added.

    Turki's comments followed a disclosure from the International Committee of the Red Cross on Friday that the organisation had raised concerns about routine and systematic abuses of Iraqi detainees since the beginning of the occupation. 

    Jail won't shut

    The US commander for detention facilities in Iraq said on Saturday there were no immediate plans to close Abu Ghraib.

    More pictures have emerged, this
    one in the Washington Post

    "Currently, we will continue to operate at the Abu Ghuraib facility," said Major General Geoffrey Miller amid calls from US politicians to shut it down.

    "If there are decisions about removing us from that facility, probably we will move to our facility at Camp Bucca," near the port of Umm Qasr in southern Iraq," he said.

    Miller said he wanted to reduce Abu Ghraib's population from 3800 inmates to between 1500 and 2000 as he sought to undo the damage caused by images of abuse that have shocked the world.

    Fresh details

    But a seemingly unending flow of details of the grisly goings-on in Iraqi jails appear to be undermining the Bush administration's best efforts.

    One of the seven US soldiers now charged with abusing Iraqi prisoners told The Washington Post on Saturday she was acting under direct orders from military intelligence to "make it hell" for inmates before interrogation.

    "The job of the MP (military police) was
    to keep them awake, make it hell so they would talk"

    Sabrina Harman,
    military police officer

    "They would bring in one to several prisoners at a time, already hooded and cuffed," specialist Sabrina Harman, 26, a military police officer from Alexandria, Virginia, told the paper.

    "The job of the MP (military police) was to keep them awake, make it hell so they would talk."

    Speaking with the paper via email this week from Baghdad, the US army reservist said her unit took direction from the military intelligence officers in charge of the Abu Ghraib prison and from civilian contractors there who conducted interrogations.

    President George Bush took up the issue in his weekly national radio address saying he deplored the abuses and stressing they represented the actions of a minority.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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