Cannabis Sacrament Minister
Joined: 12 Dec 2003
|Posted: Thu Jul 08, 2004 6:02 am Post subject: War Quotes and facts
|"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." —George Santayana
"The worst organization for a human being to be made a part of is the military establishment because he is compelled to lose his entire identity and sense of right and wrong. He becomes a roboton — a roboton who is the subject of whatever modern Caesar has seized the power of command."
"A military establishment is based primarily on total authoritarianism, and as such must forever pose a threat to any democratic government to which it may be attached."
— Captain Earl J. Carroll, assistant prosecutor, Lichfield U.S. Army courts-martial, 1945
"Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, contrary to what you have just seen, war is neither glamorous nor fun. There are no winners, only losers. There are no good wars, with the following exceptions: The American Revolution, World War II, and The Star Wars Trilogy."
— Bart Simpson from "The Simpsons" 1989
"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
— Albert Einstein
"Our soldiers will show what American justice and democracy is all about."
— George W. Bush
"No one can now doubt the word of America."
—George W. Bush, State of the Union 1/20/2004
"Secretary of State Rumsfeld has served our nation well."
— George W. Bush, on whether he'd ask Rumsfeld for his resignation.
"You are a strong secretary of defense and our nation owes you a debt of gratitude."
— George W. Bush, to Donald Rumsfeld
"Don Rumsfeld is the best Secretary of Defense the United States has ever had. People ought to get off his case and let him do his job."
— Dick Cheney, 5/9/04
"There are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves in Iraq."
— George W. Bush
"Up to 90 percent of Iraqi detainees were arrested by mistake.
Abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers was widespread and routine.
Authorities entered houses usually after dark, breaking down doors, waking up residents roughly, yelling orders, forcing family members into one room under military guard while searching the rest of the house and further breaking doors, cabinets and other property. Sometimes they arrested all adult males present in a house, including elderly, handicapped or sick people.
Treatment often included pushing people around, insulting, taking aim with rifles, punching and kicking and striking with rifles.
Evidence supporting prisoners' allegations of other forms of abuse during arrest, initial detention and interrogation — including burns, bruises and other injuries."
— From Red Cross report given to Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell & Paul Bremer January, 04
"We're making progress, you bet. There's a strategy toward freedom." — George W. Bush
For many of the Iraqi inmates at Abu Ghraib, living conditions are better in prison than at home. At one point we were concerned that they wouldn't want to leave."
—General Janis Karpinski, head of Iraqi prison system, 1-month before investigation
"It's a good thing there are no gay people in the military because otherwise weird sex stuff might happen."
— Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live
"There are a lot more photographs and videos that exist. I looked at them last night and they're hard to believe. The American public needs to understand we're talking about rape and murder. If these are released to the public, obviously it's going to make matters worse."
— Donald Rumsfeld
"There was a special women's section. There were young boys in there. There were things done to young boys that were videotaped. It's much worse. And the Maj. Gen. Taguba was very tough about it. He said this place was riddled with violent, awful actions against prisoners." — Seymour Hersch, to Bill O'Reilly
"This is deeper and wider than I think most in this administration understand."
U.S. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska (Face the Nation 5/7/04)
"In an army of 150,000 people, there will be some people who misbehave. People who did far worse than that under Saddam Hussein were promoted, they weren't court-martialled."
— John Howard, Australian Prime Minister
"Stupid. Kid things - pranks."
—Terrie England, mother of one female soldier accused of abuse
"A college fraternity prank."
—Rush Limbaugh, on prison torture
"They [terrorists] don't like our value system, they don't like a system that treats each individual as a creature of God with the full rights of every other individual."
"We have failed. The issue is how high a price we're going to pay. Less, by getting out sooner, or more, by getting out later?"
—Gen. William E Odom, former NSA head
"We got a warning, saying the Military Police had found a video of people throwing prisoners off a bridge. [The response] wasn't 'Don't do it' or 'Stop it'. It was 'Get rid of it.' "
— British soldier
"I was only following orders"
"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
— Lord Emerich Acton, British Hitorian 1834–1902
"U.S. soldiers detained an elderly Iraqi woman, placed a harness on her, made her crawl on all fours and rode her like a donkey."
"In one case, electric shocks were used against a man. In others, people are being beaten for the whole night."
"People forced to smash heads against doors until their heads broke open."
— Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-NY
"A man beating himself against a wall as though to knock himself unconscious. I saw Cruel, sadistic torture"
— Rep. Jane Harman, D-CA
“Every time we confront Iraqi troops we may win some tactical battles, as we did for ten years in Vietnam, but we will not be able to win this war, which in my opinion is already lost. We do not have the military means to take over Baghdad and for this reason I believe the defeat of the United States in this war is inevitable. The United States is going to leave Iraq with its tail between its legs, defeated. It is a war we can not win.” –Scott Ritter, former U.N. weapons inspector, March 26
Beating Specialist Baker
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
New York Times
The prison abuse scandal refuses to die because soothing White House explanations keep colliding with revelations about dead prisoners and further connivance by senior military officers — and newly discovered victims, like Sean Baker.
If Sean Baker doesn't sound like an Iraqi name, it isn't. Specialist Baker, 37, is an American, and he was a proud U.S. soldier. An Air Force veteran and member of the Kentucky National Guard, he served in the first gulf war and more recently was a military policeman in Guantánamo Bay.
Then in January 2003, an officer in Guantánamo asked him to pretend to be a prisoner in a training drill. As instructed, Mr. Baker put on an orange prison jumpsuit over his uniform, and then crawled under a bunk in a cell so an "internal reaction force" could practice extracting an uncooperative inmate. The five U.S. soldiers in the reaction force were told that he was a genuine detainee who had already assaulted a sergeant.
Despite more than a week of coaxing, I haven't been able to get Mr. Baker to give an interview. But he earlier told a Kentucky television station what happened next:
"They grabbed my arms, my legs, twisted me up and unfortunately one of the individuals got up on my back from behind and put pressure down on me while I was face down. Then he — the same individual — reached around and began to choke me and press my head down against the steel floor. After several seconds, 20 to 30 seconds, it seemed like an eternity because I couldn't breathe. When I couldn't breathe, I began to panic and I gave the code word I was supposed to give to stop the exercise, which was `red.' . . . That individual slammed my head against the floor and continued to choke me. Somehow I got enough air. I muttered out: `I'm a U.S. soldier. I'm a U.S. soldier.' "
Then the soldiers noticed that he was wearing a U.S. battle dress uniform under the jumpsuit. Mr. Baker was taken to a military hospital for treatment of his head injuries, then flown to a Navy hospital in Portsmouth, Va. After a six-day hospitalization there, he was given a two-week discharge to rest.
But Mr. Baker began suffering seizures, so the military sent him to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center for treatment of a traumatic brain injury. He stayed at the hospital for 48 days, was transferred to light duty in an honor burial detail at Fort Dix, N.J., and was finally given a medical discharge two months ago.
Meanwhile, a military investigation concluded that there had been no misconduct involved in Mr. Baker's injury. Hmm. The military also says it can't find a videotape that is believed to have been made of the incident.
Most appalling, when Mr. Baker told his story to a Kentucky reporter, the military lied in a disgraceful effort to undermine his credibility. Maj. Laurie Arellano, a spokeswoman for the Southern Command, questioned the extent of Mr. Baker's injuries and told reporters that his medical discharge was unrelated to the injuries he had suffered in the training drill.
In fact, however, the Physical Evaluation Board of the Army stated in a document dated Sept. 29, 2003: "The TBI [traumatic brain injury] was due to soldier playing role of detainee who was non-cooperative and was being extracted from detention cell in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during a training exercise."
Major Arellano acknowledges that she misstated the facts and says she had been misinformed herself by medical personnel. She now says the medical discharge was related in part — but only in part, she says — to the "accident."
Mr. Baker, who is married and has a 14-year-old son, is now unemployed, taking nine prescription medications and still suffering frequent seizures. His lawyer, Bruce Simpson, has been told that Mr. Baker may not begin to get disability payments for up to 18 months. If he is judged 100 percent disabled, he will then get a maximum of $2,100 a month.
If the U.S. military treats one of its own soldiers this way — allowing him to be battered, and lying to cover it up — then imagine what happens to Afghans and Iraqis.
President Bush attributed the problems uncovered at Abu Ghraib to "a few American troops who dishonored our country." Mr. Bush, the problems go deeper than a few bad apples.
Lawyer Says Gen. Sanchez Knew of Abuse
May 24— A military lawyer for a soldier charged in the Abu Ghraib abuse case stated that a captain at the prison said the highest-ranking U.S. military officer in Iraq was present during some "interrogations and/or allegations of the prisoner abuse," according to a recording of a military hearing obtained by The Washington Post, the paper reported on Saturday. The lawyer at the hearing said that Army Lt.Gen. Ricardo Sanchez was aware of what was taking place on Tier-A of Abu Ghraib. Up to this point, evidence presented in the prison abuse case implicates only low-level military police officers part of the 372nd Military Police Company.
And a follow-up on an ABCNEWS exclusive — A witness who told ABCNEWS he believed the military was covering up the extent of abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison was today stripped of his security clearance and told he may face prosecution because his comments were "not in the national interest."
New York Times
U.S. Disputed Protected Status of Iraq Inmates
By Douglas Jehl and Neil A. Lewis
WASHINGTON, May 22 — Presented last fall with a detailed catalog of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, the American military responded on Dec. 24 with a confidential letter to a Red Cross official asserting that many Iraqi prisoners were not entitled to the full protections of the Geneva Conventions.
The letter, drafted by military lawyers and signed by Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, emphasized the "military necessity" of isolating some inmates at the prison for interrogation because of their "significant intelligence value," and said prisoners held as security risks could legally be treated differently from prisoners of war or ordinary criminals.
But the military insisted that there were "clear procedures governing interrogation to ensure approaches do not amount to inhumane treatment."
In recent public statements, Bush administration officials have said that the Geneva Conventions were "fully applicable" in Iraq. That has put American-run prisons in Iraq in a different category from those in Afghanistan and in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban have been declared unlawful combatants not eligible for protection. However, the Dec. 24 letter appears to undermine administration assertions of the conventions' broad application in Iraq.
Until now, the only known element of the letter had been a provision described by a senior Army officer as having asserted that the Red Cross should not seek in the future to conduct no-notice inspections in the cellblock where the worst abuses took place.
The International Committee of the Red Cross had reported in November that its staff, in a series of visits to Abu Ghraib in October, had "documented and witnessed" ill treatment that "included deliberate physical violence" as well as verbal abuse, forced nudity and prolonged handcuffing in uncomfortable positions.
In Congressional testimony last week, Lt. Gen. Lance Smith, the deputy commander of American forces in the Middle East, asserted that the Dec. 24 response demonstrated that the military had fully addressed the Red Cross complaints.
But the three-page response did not address many of the specific concerns cited by the Red Cross, whose main recommendations included improving the treatment of prisoners held for interrogation.
Instead, much of the military's reply is devoted to presenting a legal justification for the treatment of a broad category of Iraqi prisoners, including hundreds identified by the United States as "security detainees" in a cellblock at Abu Ghraib and in another facility known as Camp Cropper on the outskirts of the Baghdad airport, where the Red Cross had also found abuses.
Prisoners of war are given comprehensive protections under the Third Geneva Convention, while civilian prisoners are granted considerable protection under the Fourth Convention.
But under the argument advanced by the military, Iraqi prisoners who are deemed security risks can be denied the right to communicate with others, and perhaps other rights and privileges, at least until the overall security situation in Iraq improves.
The military's rationale relied on a legal exemption within the Fourth Geneva Convention.
"While the armed conflict continues, and where `absolute military security so requires,' security detainees will not obtain full GC protection as recognized in GCIV/5, although such protection will be afforded as soon as the security situation in Iraq allows it," the letter says, using abbreviations to refer to Article 5 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
That brief provision opens what is, in effect, a narrow, three-paragraph loophole in the 1949 convention.
The Red Cross's standing commentary on the provision calls it "an important and regrettable concession to State expediency." It was drafted, during intense debate and in inconsistent French and English versions, to address the treatment of spies and saboteurs.
"What is most to be feared is that widespread application of the article may eventually lead to the existence of a category of civilian internees who do not receive the normal treatment laid down by the convention but are detained under conditions which are almost impossible to check," says the Red Cross commentary, which is posted on its Web site. "It must be emphasized most strongly, therefore, that Article 5 can only be applied in individual cases of an exceptional nature."
An authority on the laws of war, Prof. Scott L. Silliman of Duke University, said that the assertions in the military's letter were highly questionable and that the military lawyers who drafted it may have misconstrued the law.
The category in which prisoners may be excluded from the protections of the Geneva Conventions that the letter cites, Professor Silliman said, are for people who can be shown to be a continuing threat to the occupying force, not people who might have valuable intelligence.
"They may be high value assets but that does not necessarily make them security risks," he said. The provision cited in the letter provides that the protections could be suspended for people suspected of "activities hostile to the security" of a warring state or an occupying power.
In testimony last week on Capitol Hill, Col. Marc Warren, a top American military lawyer in Iraq, defended harsh techniques available to American interrogators there as not being in violation of the Geneva Conventions. He said the conventions should be read in light of "various legal treatises and interpretations of coercion as applied to security internees."
Exactly how the treatment of security prisoners would differ from others under the military's approach was not spelled out in detail, but clearly it would allow their segregation into a separate part of the prison for interrogation, where some of them could be held incommunicado.
The military's letter promised to try to improve prisoners' treatment in some respects cited by the Red Cross, promising, for example, to provide shelters against mortar and rocket attacks "in due course" but noting that the shelters are in short supply for American and allied soldiers. It also said "improvement can be made" to provide adequate clothing and water, and promised speedier judgments and discharges of innocent prisoners.
The letter is addressed to Eva Svoboda of the Red Cross committee, who is identified as the agency's "protection coordinator."
It asserts that the prisoners at Camp Cropper "have been assessed to be of significant ongoing intelligence value to current and future military operations in Iraq."
"Their detention condition is in the context of ongoing strategic interrogation," it said, and "under the circumstances, we consider their detention to be humane."
The Red Cross report said that at the time of the October visits to Abu Ghraib, "a total of 601 detainees were held as security detainees."
"Many were unaware of any charges against them or what legal process might be ahead of them," the undated report said.
Professor Silliman, a former Air Force lawyer who heads the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke, said the response of authorities at Abu Ghraib to the Red Cross appeared to be part of a larger pattern in which the administration and the military devote great energy to find ways to avoid the jurisdiction of the Geneva Conventions.
"If you look at this in connection with other things that are coming out, it doesn't seem like a snap decision but part of an across-the-board pattern of decision-making to create another category outside the conventions."
He cited a memorandum written in January 2002 by Albert R. Gonzales, the White House counsel, recommending that President Bush decree that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to prisoners from the war in Afghanistan. In the memorandum, Mr. Gonzales said that getting out from under the restrictions of the Geneva Conventions would preserve the government's flexibility in fighting terrorism.
New York Times
May 22, 2004
Only a Few Spoke Up on Abuse as Many Soldiers Stayed Silent
By Kate Zernike
"I knew I had to do something. I didn't want to see any more prisoners being abused because I knew it was wrong." — SPECIALIST JOSEPH M. DARBY, whose report triggered the investigation into prisoner mistreatment at Abu Ghraib.
Specialist Joseph M. Darby had just arrived at Abu Ghraib in October when his friend Specialist Charles A. Graner Jr. showed him a picture on his digital camera of a naked prisoner chained to his cell with his arms hung above him.
"The Christian in me says it's wrong," Specialist Darby would later tell investigators Specialist Graner had said. Specialist Darby said Specialist Graner then said that as a corrections officer he enjoyed it.
Specialist Darby came forward two months later, he told investigators, after deciding that the photo and others he saw were "morally wrong."
He said in his sworn testimony: "I knew I had to do something. I didn't want to see any more prisoners being abused because I knew it was wrong."
Specialist Darby's report would initiate the investigation into mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and other military facilities in Iraq and raise questions about whether the misconduct was authorized by military officials.
In alerting criminal investigators, Specialist Darby, a 24-year-old from from Maryland, stood out from other soldiers who learned of the abuse. According to documents obtained by The New York Times, many other people, including medics, dog handlers and military intelligence soldiers — and even the warden of the site where the abuses occurred — saw or heard of similar pictures of abuse, witnessed it or heard abuse discussed openly at Abu Ghraib months before the investigation started in January.
Mistreatment was not only widely known but also apparently tolerated, so much so that a picture of naked detainees forced into a human pyramid was used as a screen saver on a computer in the interrogations room. Other soldiers easily stumbled onto photographs of naked detainees left on computers in the Internet cafe at the prison. Some soldiers saw detainees being left naked for days, screamed at, threatened with dogs and beaten with furniture. A few tried to report abuse or stop it, but nothing came of their efforts.
"I saw prisoners being handcuffed to each other naked, having two inmates walking in the isolation section of the cells naked and handcuffed to each other," said Specialist Roman Krol, a reservist with the 325th Military Intelligence Battalion. "One of the M.P.'s took a Nerf football and threw it at the detainees, and another M.P. threw water at the detainees. I had never seen anything like that before."
Specialist Darby left a disc with the photographs and a letter describing its contents anonymously, then came forward a day later. When asked why he wanted to be anonymous, he said, "I was worried about retaliation from other people in my company if they found out."
The seven soldiers charged in the investigation are all from his unit, the 372nd Military Police Company based in Cresaptown, Md.
Much of the evidence of abuse at the prison came from medical documents. Records and statements show doctors and medics reporting to the area of the prison where the abuse occurred several times to stitch wounds, tend to collapsed prisoners or see patients with bruised or reddened genitals.
Two doctors recognized that a detainee's shoulder was hurt because he had his arms handcuffed over his head for what they said was "a long period." They gave him an injection of painkiller, and sent him to an outside hospital for what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder, but did not report any suspicions of abuse. One medic, Staff Sgt. Reuben Layton, told investigators that he had found the detainee handcuffed in the same position on three occasions, despite instructing Specialist Graner to free the man.
"I feel I did the right thing when I told Graner to get the detainee uncuffed from the bed," Sergeant Layton told investigators.
Sergeant Layton also said he saw Specialist Graner hitting a metal baton against the leg wounds of a detainee who had been shot. He did not report that incident.
Sgt. Neil Wallin, another medic, recorded on Nov. 14: "Patient has blood down front of clothes and sandbag over head," noting three wounds requiring 13 stitches, above his eye, on his nose and on his chin.
Sergeant Wallin later told investigators that when he got to the prison: "I observed blood on the wall near a metal weld, which I believed to be the place where the detainee received his injury. I do not know how he was injured or if it was done by himself or another."
He also told investigators that he had seen male detainees forced to wear women's underwear and that he had seen a video in which a prisoner known to smear himself with his own feces repeatedly banged his head against the wall, "very hard."
Helga Margot Aldape-Moreno, a nurse, told investigators that in September she reported to the cell to tend to a prisoner having a panic attack, and that, opening the door, she saw naked Iraqis in a human pyramid, with sandbags over their heads. Military police officers were yelling at the detainees, she said.
Ms. Aldape-Moreno tended to the prisoner, she said, then left the room and did not report what she saw until the investigation began in January.
In the first week of November, Specialist Matthew Wisdom told investigators later, he saw detainees being thrown into a pile, and Specialist Graner and Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick II punching several of them. Specialist Wisdom said he reported what he saw to his team leader. The team leader said he would talk to Sergeant Frederick — who has since been charged with abuse and described as a ringleader of the mistreatment. Specialist Wisdom said he asked not to work in that site anymore.
The names of Specialist Graner, who was also charged in the abuse, and Sergeant Frederick are woven through the statements from witnesses and detainees. Witnesses told investigators it was widely known that Specialist Graner had explicit photographs and videos on his computer.
Sergeant Layton told investigators that Specialist Graner borrowed his computer to download photographs. When Sergeant Layton discovered that the photographs were sexually explicit, he told investigators, he told Specialist Graner he could not use the computer.
Cpl. Matthew Bolinger told investigators of Specialist Graner's pulling a disc from beneath his mattress, revealing on it a video of his having sex with an unidentified woman.
Specialist Hannah Schlegel reported that another soldier went to her in November, upset, because he had seen two prisoners naked and tied together and forced to crawl like dogs on leashes. Specialist Schlegel reported the concerns to a sergeant, who said he would report the accusations to the officer in charge. The report apparently went nowhere, perhaps, an investigator said later, because the officer in charge was Sergeant Frederick.
Adel Nakhla, a translator for the Titan Corporation, saw detainees being held naked for days and, later, naked detainees forced to crawl and lie on top of one another.
"Why did you not report what you felt was abuse toward the prisoners?" an investigator asked Mr. Nakhla in January, after Specialist Darby had handed over the discs with photographs.
"I have seen soldiers get in trouble for reporting abuse," Mr. Nakhla replied, "and I was scared. I didn't want to lose my job."
Even Specialist Sabrina Harman, one of the women now accused, recognized the abuse as something that should be reported to higher-ups, but did not do so. When she went home on leave to Virginia in November, Specialist Harman took home a disc with photographs of prisoners in sexual positions and gave it to her roommate, saying she wanted to present it to higher-ups when she returned permanently.
The roommate told investigators that Specialist Harman "could not report anything while there because her superiors were aware of the actions taking place against the prisoners."
In statements to investigators, many witnesses expressed regret that they had not come forward. "I even apologized to the detainees after this was done," Mr. Nakhla said. "I told them I thought what had happened was very degrading."
The Denver Post
Friday, May 21, 2004
Skipped autopsies in Iraq revealed
By Miles Moffeit, Denver Post Staff Writer
Autopsies were not performed on at least five Iraqi prisoners who died of mysterious causes at Abu Ghraib prison and other detention camps, according to Pentagon records.
And the lack of forensic investigations may conflict with international standards, including the Geneva Conventions, for the handling of war-detainee deaths.
Among the cases is a prisoner who died, the records show, after "gasping for air." Another detainee who had "prior head injuries" fell out of a hospital bed and struck his head on the floor. One prisoner began having "chest pains and collapsed."
Synopses of the death investigations, which do not disclose whether the prisoners were interrogated, are enclosed in documents obtained by The Denver Post from a high-level Pentagon source this week.
The deaths, all characterized as having "undetermined" causes, raise more serious questions about the treatment of detainees in the custody of U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib and other combat-zone facilities, say U.S. lawmakers and human-rights organizations.
A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on the cases.
The Post reported Wednesday that harsh interrogation techniques by U.S. soldiers are being investigated in the deaths of five other prisoners.
Autopsies were done on those deaths; three of the prisoners died after being suffocated, the autopsies show.
Richard Goldstein, Village Voice
May 7, 2004
There Donald Rumsfeld was, fielding unfriendly fire on Tuesday over the military's torture of Iraqi prisoners. This time, his usual pose of barely concealed contempt seemed more like scarcely repressed rage. Every muscle in his body was tensed, and his shoulders looked like wire hangers were holding them up. It was Rummy's Strangelove-ian attempt to keep from shrugging.
Hey, the voice within him longed to say, those fuckers are lucky to have their fingernails. But Rummy is a master of extenuation. When Baghdad was looted while the U.S. army stood by, he uttered his most famous euphemism: "Stuff happens." Now he was saying something even more elliptical: Torture? Don't call it that.
The military report that describes forced masturbation and anal rape, threats of electrocution, and terror inflicted even unto death? Rummy hasn't finished reading it yet. The failure to inform Congress? He cited a memo issued last January that was as oblique as the fog of war itself. The probe of similar conduct at some 20 U.S.-run detention centers in Iraq and Afghanistan? The guilty will be punished, Rummy vowed -- but surely not the intelligence officers who devised this "softening-up" process or the two private companies contracted to perform interrogations (because they are exempt from military law). Or the secretary of defense.
Two immigrants held in New York after 9/11 have filed a suit charging guards -- supervised by intelligence officers -- with subjecting them to casual violence and repeated body-cavity searches. (As in Iraq, large objects were allegedly inserted in the rectum.) But don't call it torture; why, that would be against U.S. law. The events at Abu Ghraib prison are an aberration, Rummy insisted, even though there are dark accusations of prisoner abuse by our British allies. For that matter, many of the 3,000 men detained since 9-11 were shipped to countries whose governments are known to practice interrogation methods anyone but Rummy would consider a bit much.
What if the military had stuck to the "rule book" of prolonged sleep deprivation, protracted isolation in a small space, and a severely limited diet that John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban, says he was subjected to? What if we contented ourselves with variations on the old rubber hose? These techniques are so acceptable that you can see them in many cop movies, even though they're against the law. The truth is that most Americans are willing to tolerate such acts, and far worse, in the name of safety -- especially today. We just don't want to have the evidence shoved in our faces. And we sure don't want to see pictures of our heroic troops acting like pervs.
Or do we?
One reason why these photos are such a sensation is that they are stimulating. Especially the image of that woman grinning over a pyramid of naked men. She's the Phallic Female, watching guys parade around naked and jerk off before her. This really gets the kitten-with-a-whip crowd drooling. And when it comes to sadistic pleasure, there's nothing like forcing a man to give a simulated blowjob or take a peg-leg-sized anal probe. Shit, you won't even see that on Oz.
But that's the great perk of war. You can unleash the darkest reaches of your libido. Murdering, mutilating, and raping are all part of the adrenaline rush -- and nothing feels better than that forbidden thrill in the name of God and country.
The most distressing thing in those photos from Abu Ghraib was also the least remarked upon. That soldier standing over his prostrate prisoners, holding his thumb up, was wearing surgical gloves. Was he afraid of being contaminated by his victims' blood, feces, semen -- or just their humanity? We'll never know. But it's an astonishing symbol of what America is becoming: a nation where suffering is tolerable -- even pleasurable -- as long as the shit doesn't get on our hands.
New York Times
May 22, 2004
Dogs and Other Harsh Tactics Linked to Military Intelligence
By DOUGLAS JEHL and ERIC SCHMITT
WASHINGTON, May 21 — The use of dogs to intimidate prisoners during interrogation at Abu Ghraib in Iraq was approved by military intelligence officers at the prison, and was one of several aggressive tactics they adopted even without approval from senior military commanders, according to interviews gathered by Army investigators.
Intelligence officers also demanded strict limits on Red Cross access to prisoners as early as last October, delaying for a day what the military had previously described as an unannounced visit to the cellblock where the worst abuses occurred, according to a document from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The role of intelligence officers in the abuse scandal is still under investigation, and the newly disclosed documents provide further details of their involvement in abuses that so far have resulted in formal charges against the prison guards, but not the interrogators.
Other Army documents first obtained by The Denver Post provided new evidence that harsh treatment extended beyond Abu Ghraib to more American-run detention centers in Iraq, revealing details about three previously unreported incidents in which Iraqi prisoners died after questioning by American interrogators.
At the Pentagon on Friday, the Army revised an earlier estimate to say that it is now actively investigating the deaths of nine prisoners in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002, and that eight had already been determined by medical examiners to be possible homicides, involving acts committed before or during an interrogation.
In previous statements, it was not clear that so many prisoners died in interrogation, rather than being shot during riots or escape attempts. At Abu Ghraib, military intelligence units were responsible for interrogations, and military police units for guarding the prisoners and preparing them for interrogation.
The documents assembled by Army investigators starting in January and obtained by The New York Times cite accounts by American dog handlers who say the use of military working dogs in interrogations at Abu Ghraib was approved by Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. Previously, Pentagon and Army officials have said that only the top American commander, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, could have approved the use of the animals for interrogations. A "memorandum for the record" issued on Oct. 9 by the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at the prison listed as permissible a number of interrogation procedures that Army officials have said were allowed only with approval from General Sanchez. Among other things, the memorandum said the use of dogs in interrogations and the confining of prisoners to isolation cells was permitted in some cases without a prior approval from General Sanchez.
In a November report to military commanders in Iraq that was included in the documents, the Red Cross complained that its inspectors had faced restrictions "at the behest of Military Intelligence," including a one-day delay in interviewing prisoners, who were to be seen for only a short time, and asked only about their names and their health.
In the four-page report, which has not previously been made public, the Red Cross said it had nonetheless found naked prisoners covering themselves with packages from ready-to-eat military rations, and subjected to "deliberate physical violence and verbal abuse." Prisoners were found to be incoherent, anxious and even suicidal, with abnormal symptoms "provoked by the interrogation period and methods."
The document said the prison authorities "could not explain" the lack of clothing for prisoners and "could not provide clarification" about other mistreatment of prisoners.
On Capitol Hill, some Senate Republicans and Democrats expressed concern that the Pentagon withheld important supporting documents when it sent Congress copies of the 6,000-page investigative report by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba.
But a spokesman for Senator John W. Warner, a Virginia Republican who heads the Armed Services Committee, said the Army was working to fill any gaps in materials. "There does not appear to be a problem in producing materials that are germane to the facts of the inquiry," said the spokesman, John Ullyot.
The documents show that military intelligence officers at the prison and civilian contractors under their control adopted harsher tactics than previously known, and enlisted the military police in some of their interrogation methods. In many details, the documents elaborate on what has already been known since the photos of the abuses first became public last month.
To date, only seven enlisted soldiers from a military police company have been charged with crimes in connection with the abuses at Abu Ghraib, all in a single cellblock, known as Tier 1. But most have argued that they were acting with the knowledge or encouragement of the military intelligence officers who oversaw the interrogations and exerted authority over the cellblock.
A new time line provided by an Army spokesman also showed that the involvement of military intelligence personnel in abuses at Abu Ghraib began in October 2003. The first reported episode involved soldiers assigned to the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center, months before the major criminal investigation initiated in January into misconduct at the prison, which focused on the involvement by the military police.
Three enlisted soldiers from the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion were fined and demoted in the incident, whose broad outlines have been reported previously. The spokesman, Lt. Col. Billy Buckner, declined to identify the soldiers involved or the details of the incident, citing privacy concerns.
The documents obtained by The Times included transcripts of sworn statements from military intelligence, the military police, civilian contractors and others who were interviewed by Army investigators last January as they began to look into allegations of abuse.
The statements include several accounts from officers, including Capt. Donald J. Reese of the 372nd Military Police Company, who acknowledged having seen Iraqi prisoners stripped naked while in American detention. Captain Reese, among others, said they had been told that nudity was part of "an interrogation procedure used by M.I." or military intelligence.
One intelligence officer, Specialist Luciana Spencer, said interrogations had been staged "in the showers, stairwell or property room" of the cellblock, as well as in two interrogation centers that were formally in control of the Joint Information and Debriefing Center. The officer in charge was Capt. Carolyn A. Wood of the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, who other Army officers have said brought to Iraq the aggressive procedures the unit had developed during her previous service in Afghanistan, from July 2002 to January 2003. She served in Afghanistan as the operations officer in charge of the Bagram Collection Point.
Steven A. Stefanowicz, a civilian interrogator who worked under contract to the intelligence unit, described an interrogation tool that he called a "Sleep Meal Management Program," in which prisoners were allowed no more than four hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, in a regime that usually lasted 72 hours. Mr. Stefanowicz said in a statement that military police were "allowed to do what is necessary," within certain limits, to keep prisoners awake during that period.
At least two noncommissioned officers, Sgts. Michael J. Smith and Santos A. Cardona, said they had used unmuzzled military dogs to intimidate prisoners under interrogation. They said they were acting under instructions from Colonel Pappas, the commander of the intelligence brigade.
Both sergeants said Colonel Pappas had assured them that the use of dogs in interrogation was permitted and did not require written authorization or approval from senior officers. The memorandum for the record issued by the interrogation center on Oct. 9 also listed the "presence of working dogs" as "approved" on the basis of authorization from the interrogation officer in charge.
Colonel Pappas has declined requests for interviews, but other Army officials have said the use of dogs in interrogations could have been approved only by General Sanchez, as outlined in a policy he issued on Oct. 10. An unclassified Dec. 12 situation update sent by Colonel Pappas's unit describes interrogation techniques permitted for use in Iraq, including "sleep management, sensory deprivation, isolation longer than 30 days, dogs," as among the "harsh approaches" that could be introduced only with prior approval from General Sanchez.
Some new details involving deaths of Iraqi prisoners that are being investigated as possible homicides were first reported in Wednesday's editions of The Denver Post, and several of them involved Special Operations Forces. The details of the incidents were confirmed Friday by Pentagon officials, who said the deaths were among the nine now being investigated by the Army.
Among the previously unknown incidents was the death in January 2004 of an Iraqi prisoner at a forward operating base in Asad, Iraq, where a detainee had resisted questioning by Special Forces soldiers from Operational Detachment Delta. The prisoner died after he was gagged and his hands were tied to the top of his cell door, in an incident being reviewed for "consideration of misconduct," the Army documents said.
In a second incident in June 2003, at a "classified interrogation facility" in Baghdad, an Iraqi prisoner was found dead after being restrained in a chair for questioning, and after being subjected to physical and psychological stress, the Army documents show. The Denver Post said an autopsy had determined that he died of a "hard, fast blow" to the head; and that while an investigation was continuing, no disciplinary action has been taken.
A third incident, whose broad outlines had been previously known, involved the death in custody of a high-ranking general, Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, who died in November at a detention facility run by the Third Armored Cavalry, a unit based in Fort Carson, Colo. A Nov. 27 announcement by the American military command in Baghdad described General Mowhoush as having died "of natural causes."
In fact, according to the Army documents cited by The Denver Post, General Mowhoush died after being shoved head-first into a sleeping bag, and questioned while being rolled repeatedly from his back to his stomach. Then, according to the documents, an interrogator sat on the general's chest and placed his hands over his mouth.
The documents say the "preliminary report lists the cause of death as asphyxia due to smothering and chest compressions." American intelligence officials have said General Mowhoush died several days after C.I.A. officers handed over custody of him to the military, but they say the agency's inspector general is examining possible wrongdoing involving C.I.A. personnel.
Altogether, a senior military official said at a Pentagon briefing on Friday afternoon, 37 prisoners have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since August 2002, all but five in Iraq.
Of these, 15 prisoner deaths have been determined by the Army to be cases of death by natural or undetermined causes, and 8 as justifiable homicides. Two have been determined to be homicides inside American detention centers.
Three others, including one homicide, took place outside American prisons, the senior military officer said. The officer described the remaining nine as being under active investigation. Of them, the Army official said, two were at Abu Ghraib, including the death of a prisoner there in an incident that the C.I.A. has said involved agency personnel.
The Pentagon also released copies of 23 death certificates of prisoners who died while in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department announced Friday that it was opening a criminal investigation into a civilian contractor in Iraq. The action represents the first time that the Justice Department has formally begun a criminal investigation in the prisoner abuse scandal, although it has been reviewing its jurisdiction in three death cases involving the C.I.A., including one in Afghanistan.
Justice Department officials said they had received a criminal referral from the Pentagon on Thursday, but would not identify the civilian contractor who is under investigation. An internal Army report in March identified two contractors at Abu Ghaib who were suspected of abuses, but it is not clear whether either one of them is the subject of the criminal investigation.
The Justice Department has asserted its jurisdiction over the conduct of civilians working for the military under an as yet untested federal statute, the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which allows contractors and other nonmilitary personnel working for the armed forces to be charged with crimes in civilian courts.
New York Times
May 9, 2004
The War's Lost Weekend
Just when you've persuaded yourself yet again that this isn't Vietnam, you are hit by another acid flashback. Last weekend that flashback was to 1969. It was in June 1969 that Life magazine ran its cover story "The Faces of the American Dead in Vietnam: One Week's Toll," the acknowledged prototype for Ted Koppel's photographic roll-call of the American dead in Iraq on "Nightline." It was in November 1969 that a little-known reporter, Seymour Hersh, broke the story of the 1968 massacre at My Lai, the horrific scoop that has now found its match 35 years later in Mr. Hersh's New Yorker revelation of a 53-page Army report detailing "numerous instances of `sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses' at Abu Ghraib." No doubt some future edition of the Pentagon Papers will explain just why we restored Saddam Hussein's hellhole to its original use, torture rooms included, even as we allowed Baghdad's National Library, a repository of Mesopotamia's glorious pre-Baath history, to be looted and burned.
The Vietnam parallels are, as always, not quite exact. We didn't "withdraw" for another four years after 1969 and didn't flee Saigon for another two years after that. We're on a faster track this time. News travels at a higher velocity now than it did then and saturates the culture more completely; the stray, silent images from the TV set at the gym or the p.c. on someone else's desk lodge in our brains even when we are trying to tune them out. Last weekend, the first anniversary of the end of the war's "major combat operations," was a Perfect Storm of such inescapable images. The dense 48-hour cloud of bad news marked the beginning of the real, involuntary end of America's major combat operations in Iraq, come hell or June 30.
The first sign was the uproar over "Nightline" from the war's cheerleaders. You have to wonder: if this country is so firm in its support of this war, by what logic would photographs of its selfless soldiers, either their faces or their flag-draped coffins, undermine public opinion? The practical effect of all the clamor was only to increase hunger for "Nightline" — its ratings went up as much as 30 percent — and ensure that the fallen's faces would be seen on many more channels as well. Those faces then bled into the pictures from Abu Ghraib, which, after their original display on "60 Minutes II," metastasized by the hour on other networks and Web sites: graphic intimations of rape, with Americans cast as the rapists and Iraqis as the victims, that needed no commentary to be understood in any culture. (The word "reprimand" — the punishment we first doled out for these crimes — may lose something in translation to the Arabic, however.)
Then there were the pictures of marines retreating from Fallujah and of that city's citizens dancing in the streets to celebrate their victory over the American liberators they were supposed to be welcoming with flowers. And perhaps most bizarre of all, there was the image that negated the war's one unambiguous accomplishment, the toppling of Saddam. Now, less than 13 months after that victory, we could see a man in Republican Guard gear take command in Fallujah. He could have been one of those Saddam doubles we kept hearing about before "Shock and Awe." But instead of toppling this Saddam stand-in we were resurrecting him and returning him to power.
Through a cruel accident of timing, each of these images was in turn cross-cut with a retread of a golden oldie: President Bush standing under the "Mission Accomplished" banner of a year ago. "I wish the banner was not up there," Karl Rove had told a newspaper editorial board in the swing state of Ohio in mid-April. Not "I wish that we had planned for the dangers of post-Saddam Iraq before recklessly throwing underprepared and underprotected Americans into harm's way." No, Mr. Rove has his eye on what's most important: better political image management through better set design. In prewar America, presidential backdrops reading "Strengthening Medicare" and "Strengthening Our Economy" had worked just fine. If only that one on the U.S.S. Lincoln had said "Strengthening Iraq," everything would be hunky-dory now.
Not having any positive pictures of its own to counter last weekend's ugly ones, the administration tried gamely to alter the images' meaning through words instead. Little could be done to neutralize the mortal calculus of "Nightline" — though Paul Wolfowitz trivialized the whole idea of a casualty count by publicly underestimating the actual death toll by some 200. But back in Iraq, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt went for broke. "This is not a withdrawal, it's not a retreat," he said, even as news video showed an American tank literally going in reverse while pulling away from Fallujah. To counter the image of the Saddam clone, the Pentagon initially told reporters that he was not a member of the Republican Guard, even as we saw him strutting about in the familiar olive-green uniform and beret. (Later the truth emerged, and the Saddam clone in question, Jasim Muhammad Saleh, was yanked off-camera.)
As for Abu Ghraib, a State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, said "I'm not too concerned" about the fallout of these snapshots on American credibility in the Arab world. Gen. Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, took to three Sunday morning talk shows to say that only "a handful" of Americans had engaged in such heinous activities — even though that low estimate was contradicted by the two-month-old internal Army report uncovered by Mr. Hersh and available to everyone in the world, it seemed, except the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and his civilian counterpart, Donald Rumsfeld.
The general blamed the public's grim interpretation of the news from Iraq on "inaccurate reporting" that he found nearly everywhere, from CNN to "the morning papers." He and the administration no doubt prefer the hard-hitting journalism over at Fox. "I end up spending a lot of time watching Fox News," Dick Cheney explained last month, "because they're more accurate in my experience, in those events that I'm personally involved in, than many of the other outlets."
It was instructive, then, to see how Fox covered the images of last weekend — in part by disparaging the idea of showing them at all. Fox's (if not America's) most self-infatuated newsman, the host of "The O'Reilly Factor," worried on air that "Nightline" might undermine morale if it tried to "exploit casualties in a time of war." He somehow forgot that just five nights earlier he had used his own show to exploit a casualty, the N.F.L. player Pat Tillman — a segment, Mr. O'Reilly confided with delight, "very highly rated by billoreilly.com premium members." (Lesson to families who lose sons and daughters in Iraq: if you want them to be exploited on "The Factor," let alone applauded by Web site "premium members" who pay its host $49.95 a year, be sure they become celebrities before they enlist.)
Soon Mr. O'Reilly was announcing that he was "not going to use the pictures" of Abu Ghraib either and suggested that "60 Minutes II" should have followed his example. Lest anyone be tempted to take a peek by switching channels, a former Army interrogation instructor, Tony Robinson, showed up on another Fox show, "Hannity & Colmes," to assert that the prison photos did not show torture. "Frat hazing is worse than this," the self-styled expert said.
Perhaps no one exemplified the principles of Cheney-favored journalism more eloquently than the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the large station owner (and Republican contributor) that refused to broadcast "Nightline" on its ABC outlets. A spokesman, Mark Hyman, explained: "Someone who died 13 months ago — why is that news?" Been there, done that, I guess.
The administration has been coddled by this kind of coverage since 9/11, until fairly recently, and it didn't all come from Fox and Sinclair. Last Sunday, Michael Getler, the ombudsman at The Washington Post, wrote that "almost everything we were told before the war, other than that Saddam Hussein is bad, has turned out, so far, not to be the case: the weapons of mass destruction, the imagery of nuclear mushroom clouds, the links between al Qaeda and Hussein, the welcome, the resistance, the costs, the numbers of troops needed." He was arguing that, as good as much of the war reportage has been, "it is prewar coverage that counts the most."
If that coverage had been sharper, and more skeptical of administration propaganda, more of the fictions that sent us to war would have been punctured before we signed on. Perhaps a majority of the country would not have been conned into accepting as fact (as it still does, according to an April poll) that Iraq still had weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam was in league with al Qaeda. As fate would have it, last weekend was also when C-Span broadcast live coverage of the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, many of whose attendees were responsible for the journalistic shortfall described by Mr. Getler. The revelers joined the president in pausing to mourn Michael Kelly and David Bloom, two of the 25 journalists killed so far in the line of duty in Iraq. Then it was back to Washington at its merriest, as the assembled journalists could return to drooling over such fading or faded stars as Ben Affleck, Morgan Fairchild and Wayne Newton.
That was an image, too — as ludicrous in its way as those second-rung Playboy bunnies turning up in "Apocalypse Now" — but not as powerful as those from the front lines. Mr. Koppel's salute to the fallen was heartbreaking, no matter what you think about the war; one young soldier could be seen cradling his infant child, others were still wearing the cap and gown of high school and college graduations. The Abu Ghraib images shocked us into remembering that real obscenity is distinct from the revelation of Janet Jackson's right breast, the cynical obsession of some of the Washington politicians also seen partying at the correspondents' dinner.
As we know from "Mission Accomplished" and Colin Powell's aerial reconnaissance shots displayed as evidence to the United Nations, pictures can be made to lie — easily. But over time credible pictures, because they have a true story to tell, can trump the phonies. Try as politicians might to alter their meaning with spin, eventually there comes a point when the old Marx Brothers gag comes into play: "Who are you going to believe — me or your own eyes?" Last weekend was a time when many, if not most, of us had little choice but to believe our own eyes.
Red Cross Was Told Iraq Abuse "Part of the Process"
May 10, 2004 By Peter Graff
LONDON (Reuters) - The Red Cross saw U.S. troops keeping Iraqi prisoners naked for days in darkness at the Abu Ghraib jail last October and was told by an intelligence officer in charge it was "part of the process," a report leaked on Monday said.
The 24-page report added to the pressure on U.S. officials by revealing that commanders were alerted to apparent abuses at Abu Ghraib months before they opened a criminal investigation.
The Red Cross, which has special access to war zone prisons under international treaties, said mistreatment of prisoners "went beyond exceptional cases and might be considered as a practice tolerated by the CF (Coalition Forces)."
Abuse was "in some cases tantamount to torture."
Although most of the Red Cross's observations concerned U.S. forces, it also piled pressure on Washington's closest ally, describing British troops forcing Iraqi detainees to kneel and stomping on their necks in an incident in which one died.
The International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva confirmed that the confidential February 4 report, initially leaked on the Web site of The Wall Street Journal, was genuine.
During a visit to Abu Ghraib in October, Red Cross delegates witnessed "the practice of keeping persons deprived of their liberty completely naked in totally empty concrete cells and in total darkness," the report said.
"Upon witnessing such cases, the ICRC interrupted its visits and requested an explanation from the authorities. The military intelligence officer in charge of the interrogation explained that this practice was 'part of the process'."
Delegates met prisoners who were being held naked in complete darkness. Others were forced to wear women's underwear.
The Red Cross's visit took place two months before pictures were taken of U.S. troops abusing prisoners, which later led to criminal charges against seven soldiers. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has said he was unaware of abuse until the investigation into the pictures was launched in January.
Those pictures appeared in the media last month, causing international outrage and prompting apologies by President Bush and other senior officials. However, Washington has said it believed the practices were isolated incidents of aberrant behavior by individuals and not usual practice.
Although much of the abuse described in the report appears to have taken place in jails run by U.S. forces, the report also describes the death of an Iraqi prisoner in custody in the British zone of Basra last September.
The victim's name is blacked out, but Britain's defense ministry said it referred to detainee Baha Musa, whose death Britain says it has been investigating since last year.
The Red Cross report described him as one of nine men arrested in a Basra hotel and "made to kneel, face and hands against the ground, as if in a prayer position. The soldiers stamped on the back of the neck of those raising their head."
His death certificate said he died of a heart attack, although witnesses saw a body with a broken nose and ribs.
The Red Cross said it had repeatedly brought allegations of mistreatment to the attention of the authorities. In some cases, they changed practices. For example, they stopped issuing wristbands marked "terrorist" to all foreign detainees.
The report says prison guards often opened fire with live ammunition on detainees who "were unarmed and did not appear to pose any serious threat to anyone's life."
Among "serious violations of international humanitarian law" the report listed a failure to set up a system to notify family members of arrests, resulting "in the de facto 'disappearance' of the arrestee for weeks or months."
"The uncaring behavior of the CF (Coalition Forces) and their inability to quickly provide accurate information on persons deprived of their liberty for the families concerned also seriously affects the image of the Occupying Powers among the Iraqi population," it said.
One Soldier's Unlikely Act
Family Fears for Man Who Reported Iraqi Prisoner Abuse
By Elizabeth Williamson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 6, 2004; Page A16
WINDBER, Pa. -- When reports this week named Spec. Joseph M. Darby as the soldier who sounded the alarm on abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad, his family was both proud and anxious.
"The news has been using the word 'whistleblower,' which to me sounds like a bad thing," said Maxine Carroll, Darby's sister-in-law and the family's spokeswoman. "I'm sure he wrestled with himself and decided to take the high road.
"We're hoping they put him somewhere safe."
According to a report in this week's New Yorker, Darby, a reservist in the 372nd Military Police Company, placed an anonymous note under the door of a superior, describing incidents of sexual and physical abuse of Iraqi detainees by some members of the unit that, documented by hundreds of explicit photographs, have shocked the world. He later came forward with a sworn statement.
As the families and friends of the Cumberland, Md.-based unit struggle to fathom the evidence, those who knew Darby before he enlisted wondered why he, more hothead than hero, came forward.
When news of his deed filtered through southwest Pennsylvania's mountain hollows to his high school home of Jenners, "I thought, 'That don't sound like Joe,' " said Doug Ashbrook, Darby's friend during their days at North Star High School in nearby Boswell. Then he remembered Darby in the high school bathroom, punching out paper towel dispensers.
"When he got mad at somebody, he wouldn't hit out at them -- he'd go bust something up," said Ashbrook, 24. "He had this temper, and that might have been the thing."
"Like the rest of us might, I thought maybe he'd just turn and forget about" the prisoner abuse, Ashbrook said. "Maybe I'd do the same. You just never know."
Darby's family moved a lot, but never far. In the mid-1990s, the family settled into a cream-colored clapboard duplex in Jenners, a tiny coal town in a region of rolling hills, exhausted strip mines and long-gone factory jobs. They had even less money than most; Darby lived with his stepfather, Dale, a disabled former truck driver, and mother, Margaret, who stayed home with his toddler brother, Montana. After school he worked the night shift at Wendy's to help out.
Gilbert Reffner, who lives across the street, remembers slipping a Christmas card with a few dollars inside under the door one year. He recalled the gesture when told about reports that Darby had slipped a missive of his own under the door of a superior in Baghdad. It was Darby's upbringing, Reffner said, that inspired the act.
"He didn't fit in with the whole crowd because he didn't have a lot of material things, fancy clothes or a car," said Reffner, 50. Darby's stepfather, who died several years ago, was a former Marine, neighbors say, who taught old-school manners to his son. He was "respectful, brought up the proper way," Reffner said.
Most evenings, Darby would cut through Reffner's back yard to visit Christina Vaillancourt, whose family lived on Short Street. The pair attended North Star High: Darby, a full-faced sophomore with shaggy, bowl-cut brown hair, beams out from the pages of the 1995 Polaris, the school's yearbook. He was a tackle for the North Star Cougars and was active in the Future Farmers of America chapter at Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School, which he attended part-time.
When they first met, "he was very sweet and kind of shy," Vaillancourt said. She recalled a benefit dance Darby organized to raise money for the family of a friend whose father died of a heart attack.
She got acquainted with Darby's temper one afternoon on the school bus, when a fellow student
Psalms 34:1 - I will bless Jehovah at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Psalms 16:7 - I will bless Jehovah, who giveth me counsel; even in the nights my reins instruct me
" I pass to you the torch that Christ once passed to me, others are still in the dark an need the light to see"
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