Behind an Abu Ghraib “ghost detainee” homicide

No doubt the Washington Post sent the inquiring minds at Little Green Footballs into a tizzy when it alleged earlier this week that Dick Cheney “will be remembered as the vice president who campaigned for torture.”* But the administration wants to exempt CIA employees from a proposed legislative measure “that would bar cruel and degrading treatment of any prisoners in U.S. custody.”*

And lest we forget the legacy of the U.S. military in Iraq, tonight NPR’s All Things Considered will air John McChesney’s report on the last hours of an Abu Ghraib detainee whose death was ruled a homicide. (That’s the detainee pictured, above right, beneath a gloating sergeant.)

Following months reviewing thousands of secret military and CIA documents obtained by NPR and interviews with eyewitnesses, McChesney reveals how [the detainee and suspected terrorist leader] Manadel Al Jamadi underwent physical beatings, beginning with his capture and through the interrogation processes. Al Jamadi was transferred from the custody of Navy SEALS — whose platoon leader was court-martialed on these charges but later acquitted — to the CIA, military police and another CIA team. Eyewitnesses interviewed report that Al Jamadi told his captors “I’m dying” and was suffering with labored breathing, although others deny he uttered those words and was physically capable of continuing the interrogation.

An NPR review of logs shows that Al Jamadi was a “ghost detainee,” never formally checked in to Abu Ghraib. McChesney also examines conflicting recollections about whether medics were called when the detainee appeared to be in extreme difficulty, although he reports where the accounts differ. Finally, an expert provides analysis of the military autopsy.

The NPR press release calls the death the sole reported Abu Ghraib homicide, but Dana forwards a link to a horrifying ACLU report, released earlier this week, that purports to detail homicides of multiple detainees in U.S. custody. (See also:Autopsies Support Abuse Allegations: U.S. military documents show 21 war detainees were homicide victims, an ACLU report says.”)

Streaming audio of the Al Jamadi report will be available on at 7PM (ET).

* John McCain, who survived torture as a Vietnam POW, has denounced the administration’s position, saying, “I don’t see how you could possibly agree to legitimizing an agent of the government engaging in torture.”


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