Iraqis Being Abused by US Personnel

Part 9

BCST 8/27/06
9/11 ACCOUNTABILTY Vs. "The Case For Impeachment"



Exporting Abuse?
Wardens Chosen to Establish Iraq Prison System Had Past Abuse Allegations

By Brian Ross

May 20, 2004 — A number of former state prison commissioners chosen by the Bush administration to establish a prison system in Iraq left their old posts after allegations of neglect, brutality and inmate deaths, an investigation by ABCNEWS has found.

Last year, the former head of Utah's prison system, Lane McCotter, was hired by the U.S. government to help set up Iraq's new prison system and train guards.

He even led a tour of Abu Ghraib for U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who attended the reopening of the Baghdad prison.

But in 1997, guards at a Utah prison, then under McCotter's charge, made a videotape showing the abuse of Michael Valent, a mentally ill inmate who allegedly would not follow orders.

Inmate Kept in Restraints for Hours

Valent was stripped naked, marched down the halls and, under an approved procedure at the time, placed in a special restraint chair, where he was left for 16 hours.

"By the time he was finally released from that restraint chair, he developed blood clotting and, through a pulmonary embolism, died," said Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson.

The use of the restraint chair was stopped soon after, and McCotter resigned in a shake-up two months later, going to work as a consultant.

McCotter denied any wrongdoing. He told ABCNEWS in a written statement that Valent was "placed in a restraint chair for his own protection" and "observed by correctional officers every 15 minutes and by medical personnel every 30 minutes."

McCotter, who left the Iraqi prison system in August, is one of four former prison officials sent to Iraq whose selection and backgrounds are now being questioned by civil rights lawyers.

"[The allegations are] very, very much like the kinds of things we are hearing [now] out of Abu Ghraib," said attorney Tony Ponvert. "They're no strangers and, in fact, are quite intimate with brutality and with degradation and with humiliation."

Ties to Abu Ghraib Abuse?

Gary Deland, another controversial former head of the Utah Department of Corrections, worked at Abu Ghraib last summer.

Anderson said he was sadistic in the way he ran the state prison system in the mid-to-late-'80s — a claim Deland denied.

Deland told ABCNEWS that no one can run a state prison system without being accused of prisoner mistreatment.

Anderson, who was working as an civil litigation attorney at the time, brought lawsuits against both former Utah corrections officials on behalf of the inmates.

"They seemed to have nothing but total disdain for the rights and interests of inmates," Anderson said.

A Culture Where Beating Inmates Was OK

John Armstrong, another member of the team sent to Iraq, served as head of the Connecticut prison system from 1995 to 2003. The tactics used by prison guards during his tenure were blamed in three inmate deaths.

Videotapes made by guards showed prisoners who did not follow orders being restrained, smothered and beaten by guards during the time Armstrong ran the corrections department.

"He established a culture where that was acceptable conduct and where if you did it, you wouldn't be punished, you wouldn't be disciplined, and in some cases you would be rewarded," Ponvert said.

The widening scandal over the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers has raised eyebrows about whether the influence of the former prison commissioners might be partly to blame.

"[Armstrong's] appointment raises serious questions, including whether he had anything to do with the Abu Ghraib crimes, and I asked Attorney General [John] Ashcroft what was being done to investigate the role of civilian contractors in the Iraqi prison scandal," said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "I'm still awaiting a response."

Armstrong has been in Iraq since August 2003, been training Iraqis and recruiting Americans to work in the country's prison system. He did not respond to questions about his work for Connecticut's prison system.

‘I Was Absolutely Uninvolved’

The former prison directors in question all said they do not condone prisoner abuse, and McCotter denied suggestions that his leadership might have led to prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.

He told ABCNEWS in a written statement: "Everyone seems to be ignoring one simple and irrefutable fact: my obligation in Iraq was over and I was back in the United States before any inmates ever arrived at the facility.

"I did not oversee the inmates, nor did I train or supervise the military personnel who did oversee them," McCotter added. "I was absolutely uninvolved and cannot understand this attempt to tie me to those incidents."

A senior Justice Department official said the department was aware of the backgrounds of the men before they were sent to Iraq, but they were among the few willing to go there.

Laurence Arnold
Ashcroft: Contempt of Congress
Tue Jun 8, 2004 14:14

U.S.'s Ashcroft Won't Release or Discuss Torture Memo (Update1)

June 8 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, warned that he might be risking a contempt citation from Congress, told lawmakers he won't release or discuss memoranda that news reports say offered justification for torturing suspected terrorists.

Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee asked Ashcroft about reports in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the New York Times that the Justice Department advised the White House in 2002 and 2003 that it might not be bound by U.S. and international laws prohibiting torture. Ashcroft said he wouldn't reveal confidential advice he gave to President George W. Bush or discuss it with Congress.

``This administration rejects torture,'' Ashcroft said as he refused to answer whether he personally believes torture can be justified under certain circumstances. Bush ``has not directed or ordered any conduct that would violate the Constitution of the United States,'' any U.S. laws or any international treaties, Ashcroft said.

The Washington Post, citing a Justice Department memo, said government lawyers told the White House in August 2002 that torturing captured al-Qaeda members abroad may be justified in the war on terrorism.

Senator Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat, challenged Ashcroft to say whether he was invoking executive privilege in refusing to give Congress the Justice Department memos. Ashcroft said he wasn't invoking executive privilege.

``You might be in contempt of Congress, then,'' Biden replied. ``You have to have a reason. You better come up with a good rationale.''

Prison Photographs

Senator Edward Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, held up copies of some of the photographs that have been released that depict abuses against inmates at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. Seven U.S. military police soldiers have been charged in the abuses.

``This is what directly results when you have that kind of memoranda out there,'' Kennedy said.

Ashcroft disagreed. ``The kind of atrocities'' depicted in the photographs ``are being prosecuted by this administration,'' he said. ``They are being investigated by this administration. They are rejected by this administration.''

He also challenged the lawmakers on whether their questions were appropriate. ``We are at war,'' Ashcroft said. ``And for us to begin to discuss all the legal ramifications of the war is not in our best interest, and it has never been in times of war.''

To contact the reporter on this story:
Laurence Arnold in Washington

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Glenn Hall at

Last Updated: June 8, 2004 12:13 EDT

Contempt of Congress

Contempt for Congress (
Contempt for Congress Thursday, March 18, 2004; Page A30. TENSION BETWEEN
THE executive and legislative branches is inevitable, but ...

Capitol Questions
What are the consequences of being cited in contempt of Congress? ... Congress
sets the procedures and punishment for contempt by statute. ...

What are the consequences of being cited in contempt of Congress? Who decides who is in contempt and what the penalties will be? Bellingham, WA - 5/3/00

Contempt of Congress is initiated by a resolution reported from the affected congressional committee which can cite any individual for contempt. The resolution must then be adopted by the House or Senate. If the relevant chamber adopts the contempt resolution recommended by one of its committees, the matter is referred to a U.S. Attorney for prosecution. The U.S. Attorney may call in a grand jury to decide whether or not to indict and prosecute. If prosecuted by the courts and found guilty of contempt, the punishment is presently set at up to one year in prison and/or up to $1,000 in fines.

The last high-ranking federal official to be held in contempt was Anne Gorsuch, then administrator of the EPA, in 1982. The House voted the citation for her refusal to provide requested documents concerning the Superfund to the Energy and Commerce Committee then chaired by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI). Prosecution of her case was halted after the Reagan White House negotiated an agreement to allow access to the papers.

Contempt resolutions have most often been issued in two categories: (1) for reasons of refusing to testify or failing to provide Congress with requested documents or answers, and (2) bribing or libeling a Member of Congress. Contempt citations are limited to matters which relate to legislative purposes and which fall within the affected committee's established jurisdiction.

Several Supreme Court decisions have upheld the contempt authority of Congress, most notably Anderson v. Dunn, decided in 1821. Congress sets the procedures and punishment for contempt by statute. The current contempt statute (2 USC 192) was adopted in 1857, and has been amended several times over the years. This statute also limits the issuance of contempt citations to matters which relate to legislative purposes and which fall within the affected committee's established jurisdiction as delegated to it by the full House or Senate.

Parliamentary precedents for granting legislatures contempt powers go back to English parliamentary practices in the Elizabethan era. The first use of congressional contempt power was in 1795 when the House cited and punished Robert Randall for trying to bribe a Member. The Senate first voted a contempt citation in 1800 when William Duane was arrested for libeling a Member.


New Torture Memo Leaked - Ashcroft: Contempt of Congress!
Wed Jun 9, 2004 04:24

New Torture Memo Leaked

Phillip Carter about a DoD memo that seems to imply that the administration sought advice on how to get around laws prohibiting torture. A rather discerning passage from the Wall Street Journal article that reported the memo advises:

To protect subordinates should they be charged with torture, the memo advised that Mr. Bush issue a "presidential directive or other writing" that could serve as evidence, since authority to set aside the laws is "inherent in the president."

Carter goes on to argue that such power is not "inherent" in the President, that in fact the opposite is true. Presumably the president should respect the law like no other. Now, despite the fact that many on the right made the same argument against Clinton, I think Carter is probably right. But this is just an initial judgment. I'm trying to find the entire memo.

Exclusive: Read the War Crimes Memos
Memos Reveal War Crimes Warnings
Could Bush administration officials be prosecuted for 'war crimes' as a result of new measures used in the war on terror? The White House's top lawyer thought so...

In the memo, the White House lawyer focused on a little known 1996 law passed by Congress, known as the War Crimes Act, that banned any Americans from committing war crimes—defined in part as "grave breaches" of the Geneva Conventions. Noting that the law applies to "U.S. officials" and that punishments for violators "include the death penalty," Gonzales told Bush that "it was difficult to predict with confidence" how Justice Department prosecutors might apply the law in the future. This was especially the case given that some of the language in the Geneva Conventions—such as that outlawing "outrages upon personal dignity" and "inhuman treatment" of prisoners—was "undefined."

FM 3-19.40


The Roots of Torture

Camps for Citizens: Ashcroft's Hellish Vision


Wichita Eagle

Posted on Thu, Aug. 26, 2004

In charge?

Abu Ghraib was failure at highest levels
Former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, in releasing his independent report this week on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, called the night shift at the prison "a kind of 'Animal House.' "
That's an insult to the memory of John Belushi.
No, this shameful debacle wasn't about college high jinks and food fights. As the report itself makes clear -- and the shocking photos have already revealed to the world -- it involved "acts of brutality and purposeless sadism" by U.S. military personnel.
More important, the report debunks the standard military line that blame rests with a few bad grunts and their immediate superiors. Abu Ghraib was about "fundamental failures throughout all levels of command, from the soldiers on the ground to Central Command and to the Pentagon."
These failures of leadership permitted a total breakdown of military discipline at the prison -- it was "chaos," says the report -- and set the stage for the abuses.
In short, final responsibility for this scandal rests with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his Pentagon brass.
Among the report's findings:
Mr. Rumsfeld and other civilian leaders failed to establish consistent guidelines for prisoner interrogation, causing confusion in Iraq about what was permissible.
Pentagon brass failed to adequately plan for the level of insurgency after the fall of Saddam Hussein, or to train or staff enough guards to handle the resulting surge in prisoners (at Abu Ghraib, the guard-to-prisoner ratio was 1-to-75).
Problems at the prison were "well-known," but military commanders failed to heed reports of abuses by the International Red Cross and others that should have set off alarm bells.
This report might not be the final word: Still unclear is the extent of CIA and military intelligence involvement in the interrogation abuses (the report was inconclusive on the former, and a separate Pentagon report was released Wednesday on the latter).
There could be worse to come.
To be sure, the lowly soldiers who carried out these abuses deserve the punishment they now face.
But Pentagon leaders also must be held accountable for their part in allowing this fiasco.
The buck stops at the top -- or should. 


(Excerpt) -

The Geneva Convention:

Article 17

No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.

Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War

Terror By Another Name...Jewish Hospitality

Iraqis Being Abused by US Personnel

Part 1 
Part 2 
Part 3 
Part 4 
Part 6 
Part 7 
Part 8
Part 9 

53 Page Prison Abuse Report
24 Page Red Cross Report

Iraqis Abused by U.S. Personnel - Military Documents

Intelligence Interrogation
Legal Documents and punishments



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