Friday, December 02, 2005

Trained for Torture

The following article, “Trained for Torture”, was sent to me today. We know that the “Salvadoran Option” was unleashed upon Iraq last year in 2004, after John Negroponte , of Iran/Contra infamy, was sent there as the Ambassador. We also know that “death squads” are now roaming the streets of Iraq seeking whom they may kill –and they are lead, trained and commanded by U.S. military personnel. Is it any wonder that so many in Iraq have picked up guns?

Today we hear those in Washington talking about “declaring victory” and bring troops home next year. Well, I’m telling you to look behind those headlines. One of the reasons behind any discussion of pulling troops out of Iraq is simply this: the U.S. is going to shortly start bombing the hell out of Iraq. They already are doing that you say. There are 20 to 30 bombing raids around Iraq on a daily basis you say (this info I received from a man in Baghdad I correspond with).

Nope…I’m talking about carpet bombing on a grand scale; because that is what is in the works. 6 months from now, if this occupation of Iraq is not ended; if Cheney/Bush and their cheerleaders in congress are not stopped, they will bomb Iraq further back into the Stone Age than what has already occurred! They are going to end up turning Iraq into one great big bomb crater.

Also see -- "Pacified" Fallujah -- by: Dahr Jamail who is also on the ground in Iraq.

Below is the forward to the article Sheila wrote, followed by her article. Read it close and get others to do the same. Get on the phone, write letters, organize, resist—we might not have the resources of those we oppose but we are not without hope, nor or we helpless. We have more power than what we fully realize, we need only use it!

Together the ants devour the elephant.”--Jack

Dear Family,

I apologize for the unusual length of this email. I have been considering how to reply to the recent evidence of torture by the Iraqi security forces. Unfortunately, I have a great deal of on-the-ground information to share about this. But first, a positive news flash -- I am traveling to Syria soon to visit the Palestinian refugees, all of whom are now in a refugee compound inside Syria, thank God! I will send them your greetings. I will be out of the range of email for two weeks, however, so do not be alarmed if you do not hear from me. Thank you, as always, for your encouragement and support. If you would like to take action steps after reading this email, there are suggestions at the very end.

Blessings and peace,Sheila

Trained for Torture
By Sheila Provencher
23 November 2005

I see them almost every day, roaring through the Baghdad streets -- black-masked young men, standing up in the backs of pick-up trucks, with their automatic weapons firing into the air. Sometimes the insignia on the side of the truck is a wolf, sometimes a lion, sometimes a scorpion. Iraq's commando units.

Iraq's new security forces are supposedly the salvation of the country, the answer to the terrorist bombs and constant state of insecurity. But when I hear the gunshots approach and watch the pick-up trucks race through traffic, I feel cold and afraid . . . . I have listened too many times to the stories of the men these security forces have detained and interrogated.

"They electrocuted me so much that my body was lifted up and thrown down, it was such strong electricity" said *Isam, a young Iraqi who was picked up by the Scorpion Brigade on the streets of Baghdad, imprisoned and tortured in several different detention centers for more than two months, then finally released without charge. Others have shared the fact of their torture but are too afraid to go into detail. Still others will never tell their story, except through the marks left on their corpses in the pictures their families receive at the morgue.

I read the other day that the Iraqi government is downplaying the recent report about torture by Iraqi security forces. Like the U.S. government leaders said following the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal, the message is that this is a case of a few bad apples, and it will soon be under control.

Friends, this is just not true. The torture is widespread, and the only reason that the world has not heard more about it is that the torture survivors are terrified to speak out. I have heard too many personal accounts to believe otherwise. In addition, large international human rights organizations documented this torture more than a year ago - see Human Rights Watch's report of January 2005 at:

From *Isam's perspective, here is the reality. I am sorry but I can only share a few excerpts of his story, until I have permission to share it in its entirety. The fear of repercussions runs too deep. Here is what I can share: At a Scorpion Brigade detention center: The interrogators made Isam sit on the ground and told him to admit to specific crimes - that he had beheaded Iraqi Police, killed Iraqi National Guard soldiers, and raped women. He denied these charges.

They clipped an electric wire to his right wrist, and connected the other end to his left big toe. They yelled at him, threatened him that they would make him publicly confess on Iraqi TV, and that he would die. They whipped him with cables on his back, and beat him with a club on his head and arms. Then they made him lie down on his stomach and beat him with plastic water pipes, while one man stepped on his head.

They electrocuted him, so that "my body was lifted up and thrown down, it was such strong electricity." When he said nothing, they kicked him on his chest, shoulders, and stomach. At some point during the first or second interrogation, the interrogators told him that if he did not confess to the crimes, they would bring in his wife and rape her in front of him.

At another center, the cell had no fan, no window, no water and no toilet. Isam noticed that many of the detainees were sick. One had heart disease, one had asthma, and some lost consciousness. They were packed into the hot room and felt that there was no air to breathe. They had no way to perform their prayers, because they had no clean space and no water with which to perform their ablutions. They did not have access to the Qur'an.

At yet another center, detainees were jammed together so tightly that each man's chest touched the back of the man in front of him. They were not allowed to lie down or sleep. If anyone nodded off, he would get beaten. Isam said that some of his fellow detainees admitted to crimes they did not commit, because of the torture they experienced.

Over time, Isam's body was getting severely damaged from the torture. He had many bruises and sores. He believes that it was for this reason, as well as the fact that there was no evidence against him, that the authorities finally brought him to be tried in court. The judge released him after telling him not to commit any more crimes, although Isam denied having committed any crimes at all.

It is not only the Iraqi government that must bear culpability for this horror. The U.S. government, which supplies trainers and advisors for Iraqi security forces, is responsible as well. For example -- James Steele, one of the U.S. military's experts on counterinsurgency, is an advisor to Adnan Thavit, the leader of the Special Police Commandos, known as one of the most brutal of Iraq's new forces.(1) In his previous life, James Steele led U.S. Special Forces in El Salvador in the 1980s, aiding a repressive government's military that killed thousands of peasants, students, and activists - anyone perceived as aiding or supporting the guerrillas.(2) In addition, Steve Casteel, a former top official in the Drug Enforcement Administration who spent years in Latin America, is the senior U.S. adviser in the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, which has operational control over the commandos.(3)

Funding and training for the commando groups come from the Iraqi government, as all of them fall at least nominally under the Ministry of the Interior or the Ministry of Defense.(4) And from which country does a great deal of the funding for the Iraqi government come?

How many more "Isams" are out there?

How can we act to help this horror to end? (5)

*Name changed

1: Maass, Peter , "The Way of the Commandos,"
New York Times Magazine, May 1, 2005.

2. Fuller, Max, "For Iraq, The Salvador Option Becomes a Reality,"
Global Research,

3. Maass, Peter, "The Way of the Commandos," New York Times Magazine, May 1, 20054.

4. "Q&A: Iraq's Militias," New York Times, June 9, 20055.

5. If you would like speak out about the use of torture, please consider contacting the U.S. State Department at Telephone: 202-647-6575,
Fax: 202-647-4147 or
website: and

Contact the Iraqi embassy in your country as well.

Here are a few:

Embassy of Iraq in Washington, D.C.Tel: (202) 483-7500
Fax: (202) 462-5066; (202) 462-0564

Embassy of Iraq in Canada
215 McLeod Street
Ottawa, ON K2P0Z8
Phone: 613-236-9177 (9178)
Fax: 613-567-1101

Iraq Embassy, United Kingdom
169 Knightsbridge
London SW7 1DW
Phone: (020) 7581-2264
Fax: (020) 7589-3356

Peace and Justice, G. Simon Harak
Anti-Militarism Coordinator
339 Lafayette St.,
New York, NY 10012
Phone 212-228-0450;
Fax 212-228-6193


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