Saturday :: Jun 16, 2007

"The darkness would descend on you."

by Mary

"The place was just haunted," he recalls. "There was noise coming from places where there weren't supposed to be people. You'd be like, 'Was that real? Was that a ghost?'" Late afternoon sun streams through the windows of the restaurant, and particles of dust swirl in the air. "The hair on the back of my neck would stand." He reaches back and touches the top of his spine. "The darkness would descend on you. At night you would not go down the hallway by yourself because you knew something was there, and it was pissed off."

The American Prospect's Tara McKelvey has recently published a new book about what happened inside Abu Ghraib and the policies that led to the horror inside those walls. You can find an excerpt from Monstering: Inside America's Policy of Secret Interrogations and Torture in the Terror War at the TAP website.

McKelvey's book is based on extensive interviews with a number of people and much time spent with one of the not-so-well-known whistle-blowers, Sam Provance, who was stationed at Abu Ghraib at the time when Major General Geoffrey Miller showed up with his new techniques for eliciting information.

From September 2003 to February 2004, Provance says he saw how detainees were mistreated at Abu Ghraib: A 16-year-old boy, for example, was hooded, shackled, and interrogated not because he knew anything about the insurgency but because it would upset an Iraqi general, Hamid Zabar, who was his father. Provance also heard about beatings and assaults of other detainees. He reported the abuses, but he says no one aggressively pursued the leads. Out of frustration, he agreed to appear on ABC's World News Tonight with Peter Jennings on May 18, 2004.

...In early October, several weeks after Major General Geoffrey D. Miller, U.S. Army commander of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo visited the prison, boxes of electronic equipment were shipped to the prison. "Computers started coming in, and they just never stopped coming," says Provance. "Brand-new, state-of-the-art desktops, laptops. But there were still no lights in the guardhouse. It was crazy. It was like, 'Oh, my God. What do you expect from us?'"

Approximately 20 civilian and military members of interrogation teams, including several individuals who had been stationed at Guantanamo, also arrived. "Big Gitmo implants," Provance calls them. "They were a lot more aggressive," he says. Many had served in the military. But now they were paid between $50,000 and $120,000 a year. "These guys were torn to pieces by the women," says Provance. "You see soldiers all around you, and then you see this brash civilian who comes in with a goatee, a Harley Davidson T-shirt and jeans, and the women are going to tear his clothes off."

Reading this excerpt, it is chilling to see how deeply the psychology of hyper-masculinity, brutal sexuality and violence was embedded into the culture of the prison. Taking the gloves off, indeed.

It is horrifying and angering that those in command and responsible for creating this hell on earth have yet to pay for their inhumanity and their sadism. There needs be a reckoning.

Mary :: 4:16 PM :: Comments (10) :: Digg It!