New UN Report Shows the US Combo of Torture and Impunity Thrives in Iraqi Prisons

Part of the deadly serious problem with the Obama administration's
position on (not) holding accountable CIA torturers, their lawyers and
the Bush administration officials who authorized and ordered all of
these crimes is this: It sends a message to other governments that if
Washington does it, we can too. Especially governments completely
created by the US government.

No governments on the planet are more controlled by the US right now than the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A new UN human rights report
examining Iraq shows that torture of prisoners by Iraqi authorities is
widespread and accountability is nonexistent. "The lack of
accountability of the perpetrators of such human rights abuses
reinforces the culture of impunity," the UN bluntly states. The 30-page
report by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, which
examined conditions in Iraq from July to December 2008, was just
released Wednesday.

At times, the report reads as though it
could have been written about the US torture program at Guantanamo and
other US-run prisons and the total lack of accountability. In Iraq, the
UN cites "the use of torture as an interrogation method" and "prolonged
periods of detention without charge or access to legal counsel and the
use of torture or physical abuse against detainees to extract

UN investigators said it was of "particular
concern" that a senior Iraqi police official complained that the Iraqi
government's pending ratification of the Convention against Torture
would "not be helpful," stating, "How are we going to get confessions?
We have to force the criminals to confess and how are we going to do
that now?" It sounds like that Iraqi police official has been listening
to Dick Cheney.

The UN says "there are no documented cases to
this day where an official of the Minister of Defence has been held
accountable for human rights abuses." That is exactly the situation
within the US Department of Defense (and Justice and CIA and White
House for that matter). "This laxity in the prosecution is contrary to
the international obligations undertaken by Iraq and to the provisions
of the Convention against Torture."

Iraq hasn't even ratified the convention, but the US has-so what does that say about US conduct?

of the worst abuses in Iraqi prisons are said to take place in the
northern autonomous Kurdish region, which has long been an area of
major US influence (going back to the Saddam era). Among the findings
of the UN:

claims of beatings during interrogation, torture by
electric shocks, forced confessions, secret detention facilities, and a
lack of medical attention. Abuse is often committed by masked men or
while detainees are blindfolded. In general, detainees fear the
interrogators and investigative personnel more than prison guards.

As of December 2008, there were 41,271 people being held in prisons
throughout Iraq, 15,058 of them in the custody of the US-controlled
"Multi-National Forces." The UN found that "many" of the prisoners
"have been deprived of their liberty for months or even years in
overcrowded cells" and expressed concerns "about violations of the
minimum rules of due process as many did not have access to defence
counsel, or were not formally charged with a crime or appeared before a

While the report primarily focused on Iraqi run prisons, it notes
that in US-run prisons "detainees have remained in custody for
prolonged periods without judicial review of their cases." And
remember, the US is in the process of turning over more prisoners to Iraqi custody.

is well known that after Bush launched the so-called "War on Terror,"
the US torture system was exported from Guantanamo to Afghanistan and
Iraq. Apparently the disdain for accountability and international law
was as well when the US was setting up the new Iraqi government. Wasn't
Saddams torture and disdain for international law one of the
justifications for the invasion (after the WMD myth was exposed)? This
UN report should serve as a sobering reminder of why it is so important
to hold those who created, ordered, justified and implemented the US
torture program responsible for their crimes. Sadly, the US at present
has zero credibility in confronting these crimes by the Iraqi

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