Da Scent

This is my first real attempt at an on-line journal. It'll be parts political, parts personal, parts other. I'll try to keep it interesting, whatever I write. Feedback is appreciated...

UPDATE: Ok, I've taken a step to avoid spammers. So anyone can post comments again, you'll just have to do a word verification first. No big deal, just a minor pain in the ass, courtesy of the fucktards.

Location: Pasadena, Maryland

Aspiring novelist (hey, write, call or e-mail if you can hook me up with a literary agent...no hurries though, I've only just started).

Sunday, May 29, 2005


Thanks to DK, for pointing out this Washington Post article out to me.

We got a good one here, kids. It seems the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff believes that our military is treating detainees "humanely and with the dignity that they should be accorded."

You may recall my last post, which seemed to contradict General Myers' appraisal of the situation.

There are two possibilities here, both are equally frightening. The first, and most unlikely of the two, is that Myers has his head in the sand and has not a clue what is going on in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and Iraq (including Abu Ghraib - ya, remember that place? Apparently General Myers doesn't...).

The other possibility is that he does know what is going on, and he considers that humane and in accordance with dignity with which POWs should be treated.

I don't know about you, but I'm not sure which is worse. What I do know, however, is that the longer these people are in charge - that is, the ones who deny that there is any wrongdoing in our POW facilities and refuse to invesitgate, arrest, and punish those responsible - and by those responsible I don't mean a handful of privates and corporals who make handy scapegoats, I mean the sick motherfuckers upon whose orders these pawns were acting - the more danger our troops - potential POWs, all of them - face every day in what is already a Hellish environment.

You reap what you sow, and right now the U.S. Army is planting some deadly fruit. Unfortunately those doing the sowing aren't the ones on the front lines.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

NY Times: In US Report, Brutal Details Of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths

Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.
The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.
Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.
"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"
At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.
"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.
Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.
The story of Mr. Dilawar's brutal death at the Bagram Collection Point - and that of another detainee, Habibullah, who died there six days earlier in December 2002 - emerge from a nearly 2,000-page confidential file of the Army's criminal investigation into the case, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.
Like a narrative counterpart to the digital images from Abu Ghraib, the Bagram file depicts young, poorly trained soldiers in repeated incidents of abuse. The harsh treatment, which has resulted in criminal charges against seven soldiers, went well beyond the two deaths.
In some instances, testimony shows, it was directed or carried out by interrogators to extract information. In others, it was punishment meted out by military police guards. Sometimes, the torment seems to have been driven by little more than boredom or cruelty, or both.
In sworn statements to Army investigators, soldiers describe one female interrogator with a taste for humiliation stepping on the neck of one prostrate detainee and kicking another in the genitals. They tell of a shackled prisoner being forced to roll back and forth on the floor of a cell, kissing the boots of his two interrogators as he went. Yet another prisoner is made to pick plastic bottle caps out of a drum mixed with excrement and water as part of a strategy to soften him up for questioning.
The Times obtained a copy of the file from a person involved in the investigation who was critical of the methods used at Bagram and the military's response to the deaths.
Although incidents of prisoner abuse at Bagram in 2002, including some details of the two men's deaths, have been previously reported, American officials have characterized them as isolated problems that were thoroughly investigated. And many of the officers and soldiers interviewed in the Dilawar investigation said the large majority of detainees at Bagram were compliant and reasonably well treated.
"What we have learned through the course of all these investigations is that there were people who clearly violated anyone's standard for humane treatment," said the Pentagon's chief spokesman, Larry Di Rita. "We're finding some cases that were not close calls."
Yet the Bagram file includes ample testimony that harsh treatment by some interrogators was routine and that guards could strike shackled detainees with virtual impunity. Prisoners considered important or troublesome were also handcuffed and chained to the ceilings and doors of their cells, sometimes for long periods, an action Army prosecutors recently classified as criminal assault.
Some of the mistreatment was quite obvious, the file suggests. Senior officers frequently toured the detention center, and several of them acknowledged seeing prisoners chained up for punishment or to deprive them of sleep. Shortly before the two deaths, observers from the International Committee of the Red Cross specifically complained to the military authorities at Bagram about the shackling of prisoners in "fixed positions," documents show.
Even though military investigators learned soon after Mr. Dilawar's death that he had been abused by at least two interrogators, the Army's criminal inquiry moved slowly. Meanwhile, many of the Bagram interrogators, led by the same operations officer, Capt. Carolyn A. Wood, were redeployed to Iraq and in July 2003 took charge of interrogations at the Abu Ghraib prison. According to a high-level Army inquiry last year, Captain Wood applied techniques there that were "remarkably similar" to those used at Bagram.
Last October, the Army's Criminal Investigation Command concluded that there was probable cause to charge 27 officers and enlisted personnel with criminal offenses in the Dilawar case ranging from dereliction of duty to maiming and involuntary manslaughter. Fifteen of the same soldiers were also cited for probable criminal responsibility in the Habibullah case.
So far, only the seven soldiers have been charged, including four last week. No one has been convicted in either death. Two Army interrogators were also reprimanded, a military spokesman said. Most of those who could still face legal action have denied wrongdoing, either in statements to investigators or in comments to a reporter.
"The whole situation is unfair," Sgt. Selena M. Salcedo, a former Bagram interrogator who was charged with assaulting Mr. Dilawar, dereliction of duty and lying to investigators, said in a telephone interview. "It's all going to come out when everything is said and done."
With most of the legal action pending, the story of abuses at Bagram remains incomplete. But documents and interviews reveal a striking disparity between the findings of Army investigators and what military officials said in the aftermath of the deaths.
Military spokesmen maintained that both men had died of natural causes, even after military coroners had ruled the deaths homicides. Two months after those autopsies, the American commander in Afghanistan, then-Lt. Gen. Daniel K. McNeill, said he had no indication that abuse by soldiers had contributed to the two deaths. The methods used at Bagram, he said, were "in accordance with what is generally accepted as interrogation techniques."
The Interrogators
In the summer of 2002, the military detention center at Bagram, about 40 miles north of Kabul, stood as a hulking reminder of the Americans' improvised hold over Afghanistan.
Built by the Soviets as an aircraft machine shop for the operations base they established after their intervention in the country in 1979, the building had survived the ensuing wars as a battered relic - a long, squat, concrete block with rusted metal sheets where the windows had once been.
Retrofitted with five large wire pens and a half dozen plywood isolation cells, the building became the Bagram Collection Point, a clearinghouse for prisoners captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The B.C.P., as soldiers called it, typically held between 40 and 80 detainees while they were interrogated and screened for possible shipment to the Pentagon's longer-term detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The new interrogation unit that arrived in July 2002 had been improvised as well. Captain Wood, then a 32-year-old lieutenant, came with 13 soldiers from the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade at Fort Bragg, N.C.; six Arabic-speaking reservists were added from the Utah National Guard.
Part of the new group, which was consolidated under Company A of the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, was made up of counterintelligence specialists with no background in interrogation. Only two of the soldiers had ever questioned actual prisoners.
What specialized training the unit received came on the job, in sessions with two interrogators who had worked in the prison for a few months. "There was nothing that prepared us for running an interrogation operation" like the one at Bagram, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the interrogators, Staff Sgt. Steven W. Loring, later told investigators.
Nor were the rules of engagement very clear. The platoon had the standard interrogations guide, Army Field Manual 34-52, and an order from the secretary of defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, to treat prisoners "humanely," and when possible, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. But with President Bush's final determination in February 2002 that the Conventions did not apply to the conflict with Al Qaeda and that Taliban fighters would not be accorded the rights of prisoners of war, the interrogators believed they "could deviate slightly from the rules," said one of the Utah reservists, Sgt. James A. Leahy.
"There was the Geneva Conventions for enemy prisoners of war, but nothing for terrorists," Sergeant Leahy told Army investigators. And the detainees, senior intelligence officers said, were to be considered terrorists until proved otherwise.
The deviations included the use of "safety positions" or "stress positions" that would make the detainees uncomfortable but not necessarily hurt them - kneeling on the ground, for instance, or sitting in a "chair" position against the wall. The new platoon was also trained in sleep deprivation, which the previous unit had generally limited to 24 hours or less, insisting that the interrogator remain awake with the prisoner to avoid pushing the limits of humane treatment.
But as the 519th interrogators settled into their jobs, they set their own procedures for sleep deprivation. They decided on 32 to 36 hours as the optimal time to keep prisoners awake and eliminated the practice of staying up themselves, one former interrogator, Eric LaHammer, said in an interview.
The interrogators worked from a menu of basic tactics to gain a prisoner's cooperation, from the "friendly" approach, to good cop-bad cop routines, to the threat of long-term imprisonment. But some less-experienced interrogators came to rely on the method known in the military as "Fear Up Harsh," or what one soldier referred to as "the screaming technique."
Sergeant Loring, then 27, tried with limited success to wean those interrogators off that approach, which typically involved yelling and throwing chairs. Mr. Leahy said the sergeant "put the brakes on when certain approaches got out of hand." But he could also be dismissive of tactics he considered too soft, several soldiers told investigators, and gave some of the most aggressive interrogators wide latitude. (Efforts to locate Mr. Loring, who has left the military, were unsuccessful.)
"We sometimes developed a rapport with detainees, and Sergeant Loring would sit us down and remind us that these were evil people and talk about 9/11 and they weren't our friends and could not be trusted," Mr. Leahy said.
Specialist Damien M. Corsetti, a tall, bearded interrogator sometimes called "Monster" -he had the nickname tattooed in Italian across his stomach, other soldiers said - was often chosen to intimidate new detainees. Specialist Corsetti, they said, would glower and yell at the arrivals as they stood chained to an overhead pole or lay face down on the floor of a holding room. (A military police K-9 unit often brought growling dogs to walk among the new prisoners for similar effect, documents show.)
"The other interrogators would use his reputation," said one interrogator, Specialist Eric H. Barclais. "They would tell the detainee, 'If you don't cooperate, we'll have to get Monster, and he won't be as nice.' " Another soldier told investigators that Sergeant Loring lightheartedly referred to Specialist Corsetti, then 23, as "the King of Torture."
A Saudi detainee who was interviewed by Army investigators last June at Guantánamo said Specialist Corsetti had pulled out his penis during an interrogation at Bagram, held it against the prisoner's face and threatened to rape him, excerpts from the man's statement show.
Last fall, the investigators cited probable cause to charge Specialist Corsetti with assault, maltreatment of a prisoner and indecent acts in the incident; he has not been charged. At Abu Ghraib, he was also one of three members of the 519th who were fined and demoted for forcing an Iraqi woman to strip during questioning, another interrogator said. A spokesman at Fort Bragg said Specialist Corsetti would not comment.
In late August of 2002, the Bagram interrogators were joined by a new military police unit that was assigned to guard the detainees. The soldiers, mostly reservists from the 377th Military Police Company based in Cincinnati and Bloomington, Ind., were similarly unprepared for their mission, members of the unit said.
The company received basic lessons in handling prisoners at Fort Dix, N.J., and some police and corrections officers in its ranks provided further training. That instruction included an overview of "pressure-point control tactics" and notably the "common peroneal strike" - a potentially disabling blow to the side of the leg, just above the knee.
The M.P.'s said they were never told that peroneal strikes were not part of Army doctrine. Nor did most of them hear one of the former police officers tell a fellow soldier during the training that he would never use such strikes because they would "tear up" a prisoner's legs.
But once in Afghanistan, members of the 377th found that the usual rules did not seem to apply. The peroneal strike quickly became a basic weapon of the M.P. arsenal. "That was kind of like an accepted thing; you could knee somebody in the leg," former Sgt. Thomas V. Curtis told the investigators.
A few weeks into the company's tour, Specialist Jeremy M. Callaway overheard another guard boasting about having beaten a detainee who had spit on him. Specialist Callaway also told investigators that other soldiers had congratulated the guard "for not taking any" from a detainee.
One captain nicknamed members of the Third Platoon "the Testosterone Gang." Several were devout bodybuilders. Upon arriving in Afghanistan, a group of the soldiers decorated their tent with a Confederate flag, one soldier said.
Some of the same M.P.'s took a particular interest in an emotionally disturbed Afghan detainee who was known to eat his feces and mutilate himself with concertina wire. The soldiers kneed the man repeatedly in the legs and, at one point, chained him with his arms straight up in the air, Specialist Callaway told investigators. They also nicknamed him "Timmy," after a disabled child in the animated television series "South Park." One of the guards who beat the prisoner also taught him to screech like the cartoon character, Specialist Callaway said.
Eventually, the man was sent home.
The Defiant Detainee
The detainee known as Person Under Control No. 412 was a portly, well-groomed Afghan named Habibullah. Some American officials identified him as "Mullah" Habibullah, a brother of a former Taliban commander from the southern Afghan province of Oruzgan.
He stood out from the scraggly guerrillas and villagers whom the Bagram interrogators typically saw. "He had a piercing gaze and was very confident," the provost marshal in charge of the M.P.'s, Maj. Bobby R. Atwell, recalled.
Documents from the investigation suggest that Mr. Habibullah was captured by an Afghan warlord on Nov. 28, 2002, and delivered to Bagram by C.I.A. operatives two days later. His well-being at that point is a matter of dispute. The doctor who examined him on arrival at Bagram reported him in good health. But the intelligence operations chief, Lt. Col. John W. Loffert Jr., later told Army investigators, "He was already in bad condition when he arrived."
What is clear is that Mr. Habibullah was identified at Bagram as an important prisoner and an unusually sharp-tongued and insubordinate one.
One of the 377th's Third Platoon sergeants, Alan J. Driver Jr., told investigators that Mr. Habibullah rose up after a rectal examination and kneed him in the groin. The guard said he grabbed the prisoner by the head and yelled in his face. Mr. Habibullah then "became combative," Sergeant Driver said, and had to be subdued by three guards and led away in an armlock.
He was then confined in one of the 9-foot by 7-foot isolation cells, which the M.P. commander, Capt. Christopher M. Beiring, later described as a standard procedure. "There was a policy that detainees were hooded, shackled and isolated for at least the first 24 hours, sometimes 72 hours of captivity," he told investigators.
While the guards kept some prisoners awake by yelling or poking at them or banging on their cell doors, Mr. Habibullah was shackled by the wrists to the wire ceiling over his cell, soldiers said.
On his second day, Dec. 1, the prisoner was "uncooperative" again, this time with Specialist Willie V. Brand. The guard, who has since been charged with assault and other crimes, told investigators he had delivered three peroneal strikes in response. The next day, Specialist Brand said, he had to knee the prisoner again. Other blows followed.
A lawyer for Specialist Brand, John P. Galligan, said there was no criminal intent by his client to hurt any detainee. "At the time, my client was acting consistently with the standard operating procedure that was in place at the Bagram facility."
The communication between Mr. Habibullah and his jailers appears to have been almost exclusively physical. Despite repeated requests, the M.P.'s were assigned no interpreters of their own. Instead, they borrowed from the interrogators when they could and relied on prisoners who spoke even a little English to translate for them.
When the detainees were beaten or kicked for "noncompliance," one of the interpreters, Ali M. Baryalai said, it was often "because they have no idea what the M.P. is saying."
By the morning of Dec. 2, witnesses told the investigators, Mr. Habibullah was coughing and complaining of chest pains. He limped into the interrogation room in shackles, his right leg stiff and his right foot swollen. The lead interrogator, Sergeant Leahy, let him sit on the floor because he could not bend his knees and sit in a chair.
The interpreter who was on hand, Ebrahim Baerde, said the interrogators had kept their distance that day "because he was spitting up a lot of phlegm."
"They were laughing and making fun of him, saying it was 'gross' or 'nasty,' " Mr. Baerde said.
Though battered, Mr. Habibullah was unbowed.
"Once they asked him if he wanted to spend the rest of his life in handcuffs," Mr. Baerde said. "His response was, 'Yes, don't they look good on me?' "
By Dec. 3, Mr. Habibullah's reputation for defiance seemed to make him an open target. One M.P. said he had given him five peroneal strikes for being "noncompliant and combative." Another gave him three or four more for being "combative and noncompliant." Some guards later asserted that he had been hurt trying to escape.
When Sgt. James P. Boland saw Mr. Habibullah on Dec. 3, he was in one of the isolation cells, tethered to the ceiling by two sets of handcuffs and a chain around his waist. His body was slumped forward, held up by the chains.
Sergeant Boland told the investigators he had entered the cell with two other guards, Specialists Anthony M. Morden and Brian E. Cammack. (All three have been charged with assault and other crimes.) One of them pulled off the prisoner's black hood. His head was slumped to one side, his tongue sticking out. Specialist Cammack said he had put some bread on Mr. Habibullah's tongue. Another soldier put an apple in the prisoner's hand; it fell to the floor.
When Specialist Cammack turned back toward the prisoner, he said in one statement, Mr. Habibullah's spit hit his chest. Later, Specialist Cammack acknowledged, "I'm not sure if he spit at me." But at the time, he exploded, yelling, "Don't ever spit on me again!" and kneeing the prisoner sharply in the thigh, "maybe a couple" of times. Mr. Habibullah's limp body swayed back and forth in the chains.
When Sergeant Boland returned to the cell some 20 minutes later, he said, Mr. Habibullah was not moving and had no pulse. Finally, the prisoner was unchained and laid out on the floor of his cell.
The guard who Specialist Cammack said had counseled him back in New Jersey about the dangers of peroneal strikes found him in the room where Mr. Habibullah lay, his body already cold.
"Specialist Cammack appeared very distraught," Specialist William Bohl told an investigator. The soldier "was running about the room hysterically."
An M.P. was sent to wake one of the medics.
"What are you getting me for?" the medic, Specialist Robert S. Melone, responded, telling him to call an ambulance instead.
When another medic finally arrived, he found Mr. Habibullah on the floor, his arms outstretched, his eyes and mouth open.
"It looked like he had been dead for a while, and it looked like nobody cared," the medic, Staff Sgt. Rodney D. Glass, recalled.
Not all of the guards were indifferent, their statements show. But if Mr. Habibullah's death shocked some of them, it did not lead to major changes in the detention center's operation.
Military police guards were assigned to be present during interrogations to help prevent mistreatment. The provost marshal, Major Atwell, told investigators he had already instructed the commander of the M.P. company, Captain Beiring, to stop chaining prisoners to the ceiling. Others said they never received such an order.
Senior officers later told investigators that they had been unaware of any serious abuses at the B.C.P. But the first sergeant of the 377th, Betty J. Jones, told investigators that the use of standing restraints, sleep deprivation and peroneal strikes was readily apparent.
"Everyone that is anyone went through the facility at one time or another," she said.
Major Atwell said the death "did not cause an enormous amount of concern 'cause it appeared natural."
In fact, Mr. Habibullah's autopsy, completed on Dec. 8, showed bruises or abrasions on his chest, arms and head. There were deep contusions on his calves, knees and thighs. His left calf was marked by what appeared to have been the sole of a boot.
His death was attributed to a blood clot, probably caused by the severe injuries to his legs, which traveled to his heart and blocked the blood flow to his lungs.
The Shy Detainee
On Dec. 5, one day after Mr. Habibullah died, Mr. Dilawar arrived at Bagram.
Four days before, on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Id al-Fitr, Mr. Dilawar set out from his tiny village of Yakubi in a prized new possession, a used Toyota sedan that his family bought for him a few weeks earlier to drive as a taxi.
Mr. Dilawar was not an adventurous man. He rarely went far from the stone farmhouse he shared with his wife, young daughter and extended family. He never attended school, relatives said, and had only one friend, Bacha Khel, with whom he would sit in the wheat fields surrounding the village and talk.
"He was a shy man, a very simple man," his eldest brother, Shahpoor, said in an interview.
On the day he disappeared, Mr. Dilawar's mother had asked him to gather his three sisters from their nearby villages and bring them home for the holiday. But he needed gas money and decided instead to drive to the provincial capital, Khost, about 45 minutes away, to look for fares.
At a taxi stand there, he found three men headed back toward Yakubi. On the way, they passed a base used by American troops, Camp Salerno, which had been the target of a rocket attack that morning.
Militiamen loyal to the guerrilla commander guarding the base, Jan Baz Khan, stopped the Toyota at a checkpoint. They confiscated a broken walkie-talkie from one of Mr. Dilawar's passengers. In the trunk, they found an electric stabilizer used to regulate current from a generator. (Mr. Dilawar's family said the stabilizer was not theirs; at the time, they said, they had no electricity at all.)
The four men were detained and turned over to American soldiers at the base as suspects in the attack. Mr. Dilawar and his passengers spent their first night there handcuffed to a fence, so they would be unable to sleep. When a doctor examined them the next morning, he said later, he found Mr. Dilawar tired and suffering from headaches but otherwise fine.
Mr. Dilawar's three passengers were eventually flown to Guantánamo and held for more than a year before being sent home without charge. In interviews after their release, the men described their treatment at Bagram as far worse than at Guantánamo. While all of them said they had been beaten, they complained most bitterly of being stripped naked in front of female soldiers for showers and medical examinations, which they said included the first of several painful and humiliating rectal exams.
"They did lots and lots of bad things to me," said Abdur Rahim, a 26-year-old baker from Khost. "I was shouting and crying, and no one was listening. When I was shouting, the soldiers were slamming my head against the desk."
For Mr. Dilawar, his fellow prisoners said, the most difficult thing seemed to be the black cloth hood that was pulled over his head. "He could not breathe," said a man called Parkhudin, who had been one of Mr. Dilawar's passengers.
Mr. Dilawar was a frail man, standing only 5 feet 9 inches and weighing 122 pounds. But at Bagram, he was quickly labeled one of the "noncompliant" ones.
When one of the First Platoon M.P.'s, Specialist Corey E. Jones, was sent to Mr. Dilawar's cell to give him some water, he said the prisoner spit in his face and started kicking him. Specialist Jones responded, he said, with a couple of knee strikes to the leg of the shackled man.
"He screamed out, 'Allah! Allah! Allah!' and my first reaction was that he was crying out to his god," Specialist Jones said to investigators. "Everybody heard him cry out and thought it was funny."
Other Third Platoon M.P.'s later came by the detention center and stopped at the isolation cells to see for themselves, Specialist Jones said.
It became a kind of running joke, and people kept showing up to give this detainee a common peroneal strike just to hear him scream out 'Allah,' " he said. "It went on over a 24-hour period, and I would think that it was over 100 strikes."
In a subsequent statement, Specialist Jones was vague about which M.P.'s had delivered the blows. His estimate was never confirmed, but other guards eventually admitted striking Mr. Dilawar repeatedly.
Many M.P.'s would eventually deny that they had any idea of Mr. Dilawar's injuries, explaining that they never saw his legs beneath his jumpsuit. But Specialist Jones recalled that the drawstring pants of Mr. Dilawar's orange prison suit fell down again and again while he was shackled.
"I saw the bruise because his pants kept falling down while he was in standing restraints," the soldier told investigators. "Over a certain time period, I noticed it was the size of a fist."
As Mr. Dilawar grew desperate, he began crying out more loudly to be released. But even the interpreters had trouble understanding his Pashto dialect; the annoyed guards heard only noise.
"He had constantly been screaming, 'Release me; I don't want to be here,' and things like that," said the one linguist who could decipher his distress, Abdul Ahad Wardak.
The Interrogation
On Dec. 8, Mr. Dilawar was taken for his fourth interrogation. It quickly turned hostile.
The 21-year-old lead interrogator, Specialist Glendale C. Walls II, later contended that Mr. Dilawar was evasive. "Some holes came up, and we wanted him to answer us truthfully," he said. The other interrogator, Sergeant Salcedo, complained that the prisoner was smiling, not answering questions, and refusing to stay kneeling on the ground or sitting against the wall.
The interpreter who was present, Ahmad Ahmadzai, recalled the encounter differently to investigators.
The interrogators, Mr. Ahmadzai said, accused Mr. Dilawar of launching the rockets that had hit the American base. He denied that. While kneeling on the ground, he was unable to hold his cuffed hands above his head as instructed, prompting Sergeant Salcedo to slap them back up whenever they began to drop.
"Selena berated him for being weak and questioned him about being a man, which was very insulting because of his heritage," Mr. Ahmadzai said.
When Mr. Dilawar was unable to sit in the chair position against the wall because of his battered legs, the two interrogators grabbed him by the shirt and repeatedly shoved him back against the wall.
"This went on for 10 or 15 minutes," the interpreter said. "He was so tired he couldn't get up."
"They stood him up, and at one point Selena stepped on his bare foot with her boot and grabbed him by his beard and pulled him towards her," he went on. "Once Selena kicked Dilawar in the groin, private areas, with her right foot. She was standing some distance from him, and she stepped back and kicked him.
"About the first 10 minutes, I think, they were actually questioning him, after that it was pushing, shoving, kicking and shouting at him," Mr. Ahmadzai said. "There was no interrogation going on."
The session ended, he said, with Sergeant Salcedo instructing the M.P.'s to keep Mr. Dilawar chained to the ceiling until the next shift came on.
The next morning, Mr. Dilawar began yelling again. At around noon, the M.P.'s called over another of the interpreters, Mr. Baerde, to try to quiet Mr. Dilawar down.
"I told him, 'Look, please, if you want to be able to sit down and be released from shackles, you just need to be quiet for one more hour."
"He told me that if he was in shackles another hour, he would die," Mr. Baerde said.
Half an hour later, Mr. Baerde returned to the cell. Mr. Dilawar's hands hung limply from the cuffs, and his head, covered by the black hood, slumped forward.
"He wanted me to get a doctor, and said that he needed 'a shot,' " Mr. Baerde recalled. "He said that he didn't feel good. He said that his legs were hurting."
Mr. Baerde translated Mr. Dilawar's plea to one of the guards. The soldier took the prisoner's hand and pressed down on his fingernails to check his circulation.
"He's O.K.," Mr. Baerde quoted the M.P. as saying. "He's just trying to get out of his restraints."
By the time Mr. Dilawar was brought in for his final interrogation in the first hours of the next day, Dec. 10, he appeared exhausted and was babbling that his wife had died. He also told the interrogators that he had been beaten by the guards.
"But we didn't pursue that," said Mr. Baryalai, the interpreter.
Specialist Walls was again the lead interrogator. But his more aggressive partner, Specialist Claus, quickly took over, Mr. Baryalai said.
"Josh had a rule that the detainee had to look at him, not me," the interpreter told investigators. "He gave him three chances, and then he grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him towards him, across the table, slamming his chest into the table front."
When Mr. Dilawar was unable to kneel, the interpreter said, the interrogators pulled him to his feet and pushed him against the wall. Told to assume a stress position, the prisoner leaned his head against the wall and began to fall asleep.
"It looked to me like Dilawar was trying to cooperate, but he couldn't physically perform the tasks," Mr. Baryalai said.
Finally, Specialist Walls grabbed the prisoner and "shook him harshly," the interpreter said, telling him that if he failed to cooperate, he would be shipped to a prison in the United States, where he would be "treated like a woman, by the other men" and face the wrath of criminals who "would be very angry with anyone involved in the 9/11 attacks." (Specialist Walls was charged last week with assault, maltreatment and failure to obey a lawful order; Specialist Claus was charged with assault, maltreatment and lying to investigators. Each man declined to comment.)
A third military intelligence specialist who spoke some Pashto, Staff Sgt. W. Christopher Yonushonis, had questioned Mr. Dilawar earlier and had arranged with Specialist Claus to take over when he was done. Instead, the sergeant arrived at the interrogation room to find a large puddle of water on the floor, a wet spot on Mr. Dilawar's shirt and Specialist Claus standing behind the detainee, twisting up the back of the hood that covered the prisoner's head.
"I had the impression that Josh was actually holding the detainee upright by pulling on the hood," he said. "I was furious at this point because I had seen Josh tighten the hood of another detainee the week before. This behavior seemed completely gratuitous and unrelated to intelligence collection."
"What the hell happened with that water?" Sergeant Yonushonis said he had demanded.
"We had to make sure he stayed hydrated," he said Specialist Claus had responded.
The next morning, Sergeant Yonushonis went to the noncommissioned officer in charge of the interrogators, Sergeant Loring, to report the incident. Mr. Dilawar, however, was already dead.
The Post-Mortem
The findings of Mr. Dilawar's autopsy were succinct. He had had some coronary artery disease, the medical examiner reported, but what caused his heart to fail was "blunt force injuries to the lower extremities." Similar injuries contributed to Mr. Habibullah's death.
One of the coroners later translated the assessment at a pre-trial hearing for Specialist Brand, saying the tissue in the young man's legs "had basically been pulpified."
"I've seen similar injuries in an individual run over by a bus," added Lt. Col. Elizabeth Rouse, the coroner, and a major at that time.
After the second death, several of the 519th Battalion's interrogators were temporarily removed from their posts. A medic was assigned to the detention center to work night shifts. On orders from the Bagram intelligence chief, interrogators were prohibited from any physical contact with the detainees. Chaining prisoners to any fixed object was also banned, and the use of stress positions was curtailed.
In February, an American military official disclosed that the Afghan guerrilla commander whose men had arrested Mr. Dilawar and his passengers had himself been detained. The commander, Jan Baz Khan, was suspected of attacking Camp Salerno himself and then turning over innocent "suspects" to the Americans in a ploy to win their trust, the military official said.
The three passengers in Mr. Dilawar's taxi were sent home from Guantánamo in March 2004, 15 months after their capture, with letters saying they posed "no threat" to American forces.
They were later visited by Mr. Dilawar's parents, who begged them to explain what had happened to their son. But the men said they could not bring themselves to recount the details.
"I told them he had a bed," said Mr. Parkhudin. "I said the Americans were very nice because he had a heart problem."
In late August of last year, shortly before the Army completed its inquiry into the deaths, Sergeant Yonushonis, who was stationed in Germany, went at his own initiative to see an agent of the Criminal Investigation Command. Until then, he had never been interviewed.
"I expected to be contacted at some point by investigators in this case," he said. "I was living a few doors down from the interrogation room, and I had been one of the last to see this detainee alive."
Sergeant Yonushonis described what he had witnessed of the detainee's last interrogation. "I remember being so mad that I had trouble speaking," he said.
He also added a detail that had been overlooked in the investigative file. By the time Mr. Dilawar was taken into his final interrogations, he said, "most of us were convinced that the detainee was innocent."
Ruhallah Khapalwak, Carlotta Gall and David Rohde contributed reporting for this article, and Alain Delaqueriere assisted with research.

Mother of God. What has this country become?

Monday, May 23, 2005

4 Movie Reviews

Since I blogged last, I've seen four movies that I had not seen before, two at the movies and two on DVD. I'll review them in the order I saw them:

Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy ***
First, it should be noted that I am a huge fan of the books. When I saw the trailer for the first time, I was simultaneously enthused and apprehensive. Enthused because the books were classics, and if the movie did the book any justice, it would be one of the best movies I'd see this year. Apprehensive because if it was a bad movie, it would be doubly so, considering the original source.

I walked out of the theatre feeling relieved, becuase the movie, while not being great by any stretch, did not whip it out and piss all over the good name that is Hitchhiker's. The cast was very good (although it could have used a couple more English accents, especially from Mos Def and the lady who played Trillian). The special effects ranged from very good to fantastic, especially the Vogons and the inside of the planet factory. The romance angle between Arthur and Trillian should have been a tad more subtle, and the movie must have been very disorientating to anyone who hadn't read the books (although, if that's the case, fuck you, go read the goddam books...). I wasn't blown away by the film like I was with the books, but they did make a picture worth watching.

Garden State ***1/2

The best of the four movies. I was astonished to find out that this movie was written, directed, and starred in by the guy from Scrubs. Both he and Natalie Portman were amazing, the script was fantastic, the story was compelling, the characters were real. If you haven't seen it, go rent it. It's a good couple movie, too.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge Of The Sith ***

This movie was thiiiiiiiiis close to being a classic like the first three. The difference - the big difference - was the screenplay. Like the first two prequels, George Lucas insisted on writing the screenplay, which simply is not where his talents lie. If he could have checked his ego and given someone else the go-ahead to write the dialogue, than all three of these movies - and certainly this last one - could have stood up to the original series.

As it is, this is by far the best of the prequel movies. The special effects were dazzling - once again - and the story and characters were compelling. Even though we all knew the end of the movie before we set foot in the theatre, we were still very inetersted in seeing how everything unfolded. Worth seeing.

Saved! ***

Three stars for a Mandy Moore film? I was as shocked as you are, but Moore was great in this movie. Written and directed by a UMBC grad, this movie did a great job of capturing the Christian subculture here in the US. In other words, these people are freaks, and it was pretty well documented in the film. Worth watching by any normal person.

Ok new Minesweeper times:

Beginner - 6 seconds
Intermediate - 47 seconds
Expert - 176 seconds

I'll note here that Dave - yes, the Pat Sajak Dave - reported a time of 5 seconds on Beginner.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Congrats to Kate and Fuck You to Pat Sajak

Kate graduated today. Beautiful day, nice ceremony. Mercifully short, as her College, SMCM, had a graduating class of only 465 (or was it 456?). Kate graduated cum laude, with a Bachelor's in History and English.

Now, I'm gonna go ahead and vent on an article I read on Dave's Blog, written by Pat Sajak. It's such a complete piece of shit that critiquing it is like shooting fish in a barrel, but if there's one thing I love, it's pointing out the idiocy of Repubs, especially the stupid Repub celebrities (ever notice how Repub celebrities are always no-talents like Sajak, Ahhnold, or Sly? Oh, wait, I almost forgot the Ultimate Warrior...).

Ok, here we go...

A distasteful glee emanates from the Left upon the arrival of any bad news from the Middle East. It’s as if they are saying, “So, W, where is all the Democracy we’re supposed to be spreading through the area? See, we were right, and you were wrong. And deceitful. And dumb.” And as bad news is welcomed as an indictment of the President and his policies, good news (and there has been plenty) must be minimized or ignored.

It’s one thing to oppose an Administration’s foreign policy, but it’s another to publicly gloat over and appear to smugly enjoy any of its setbacks. The long tradition of a Loyal Opposition in this country now appears to be an old-fashioned notion. There may have been widespread resistance to America’s entry into World War II, but once we were in it, there wasn’t much doubt about whom Americans were pulling for.

This is the same shit we've been getting from the right since the start of the war in Iraq. Basically, we're being told that if we don't fall in line with Administration Policy, we hate America. Well fuck you, everyone who says that. Everyone. My father worked for the government of this country - for the NSA, in fact - for almost 30 years. You want to tell me you love America more than he does? Or even more than I do, for that matter? I HATE it when right-wing fucks try and tell me I'm not a True Patriot. You don't know jack shit about my Patriotism. Besides, I don't know what could possibly be more Anti-American than "fall behind the President, or else."

Do we revel in the President's failures in the Middle East? That suggestion could not be more ridiculous. Do you think we like the fact that Osama Bin Laden is still at large, waiting to attack us again? The Repubs out in Kansas don't give a shit, because who the fuck is going to attack Kansas? But the folks here in the Northeast, where the 9/11 attacks took place, we're plenty upset about it.

Sajak is right about one thing, Loyal Opposition is a thing of the past. That's because whenever anyone raises any kind of opposition whatsoever, they are branded as Traitors and People Who Hate America.

If our country’s Middle East policies prove to be the disaster some claim, there will be plenty of time for recriminations. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with voicing concerns about these policies, what is to be gained by actively working to undercut them or rooting for their failure? Wouldn’t it be better if they succeeded? Isn’t bringing millions of long-oppressed people a chance to live in freedom a noble achievement? Isn’t ensuring women the right to vote and the right to an education something to be celebrated? Won’t the world be a safer place if hope replaces despair in the lives of that region’s youth?
Wow. Plenty of time for recriminations? What the fuck does that mean? What about the over 1,500 dead US troops? Is there still plenty of time for them? And what the fuck is this business about "actively working to undercut" Administration Policy? Who has done this? Name a single person! "Rooting for their failure"? Who's rooting for failure? No one is rooting for failure...they're criticizing bad policy. We don't have to root for failure, because this policy will NEVER WORK. And when it doesn't work, and we say "See, we fucking told you so", we get accused of being disloyal. Pretty fucking convienient if you're a Repub, I'd say. Anytime someone points our your mistakes, you can just accuse them of Hating America.

You know who does Hate America? The Arabs do. Partly because we support corrupt, repressive, murderous regimes in the area. Partly because we're one-sided in our handling of Arab-Israeli disputes. Partly because they perceive us as exploiting their oil. Partly because they're a bunch of crazy religious fanatics - like Jerry Fallwell times a hundred million. But mostly because we're on their land. And even if - if - the Arabs wanted Democracy, they're sure as shit not going to be told how to do it by the Americans. That's not my opinion, that's not something I'm rooting for, that's fact. And next year, when the elections come around, we're going to point out that this Administration has been bungling things from day one, and you may not like seeing your Party get exposed, but we're not going to allow ourselves to be silenced because you think that Opposition is not a legitimate part of a Democracy.

Democrats continue to puzzle over their losses. They blame them on people who are too addlebrained to know they are voting against their own interests. Then they go to these same voters they’ve trashed and ask for their support. They seem to revel in any American setbacks overseas and yet protest when they are characterized as “weak” on defense issues. They stereotype Christians but cry foul when they are accused of not sharing their “values”.
You know, I love how the Repubs tell us that Dems are weak on defense...and that the whole country knows it. Hey, I got a question. You know what part of the country is the most likely to be hit with a foreign terrorist attack? I'd say the northeastern seaboard, the area of the country between Boston and Washington, D.C. How many states in that region did Bush win in '04? None. Zip. Zero. Nada. The people who actually live in the region that terrorists may strike spoke loudly and plainly that they trusted the Democrats to keep them safe a lot more than the Republicans. Everyone else in the country is just talking out of their ass. We're not puzzling over our losses. We lost because there are a lot of stupid rednecks out there who hate fags and vote on single issues. Our problem is we have to create the same kind of fervor come election time as our opponents do, which is a difficult problem, because our opponents use Fear, Ignorance, & Hate to rive their "base". Hope & Tolerance don't sell quite as well.

There are plenty of issues over which you can disagree with George W. Bush, including Iraq and his push for democratization throughout the world. You may find him wrongheaded or naïve. You may think his policies will blow up in our faces. But if you feel that way, shouldn’t you at least hope you’re wrong and he’s right.
How stupid was that? Seriously, President Bush's policies are stupid and naive, but I sure do hope he's right! I sure do hope that the Arabs will look at the abuses of Abu Ghraib, and decide that they DON'T hate us and that we can work together! I sure do hope that they can ignore the fact that more Iraqi civilians - many, many more - have been killed since the start of the Iraq War than American civilians were killed in the 9/11 Attacks. I sure do hope that if we give the vote to a bunch of religious fanatics, they won't elect a de facto theocracy. I sure hope that the Arab terrorists, who attacked us for merely BEING in Saudi Arabia, don't attack us for up and STARTING A WAR in Iraq.

The policies of this Administration are not merely naive or wrongheaded - they are completely out of touch with reality, they are responsible for thousands of deaths already, and they could be responsible for thousands more before we've reversed course. So excuse us for not keeping our mouths shut. At some point somebody has to restore sanity to this country's leadership, and we're not going to sit here and watch whilst you fuckers lead us into Armageddon.

Fuck you Pat Sajak, and all of your ilk.

Monday, May 09, 2005


I promised you a fantasy baseball update (bet you were holding your breath), and here it is.

First of all, the Paper Street Soap Co released MI/OF Chris Burke and signed 3B Dallas McPherson.

It wasn't a good week on Paper Street, as the Soap Co fell into 7th place. C Joe Mauer was the star of the week for Paper Street - he 2 HR, 5 RBI, and a SB.

On the other hand, 'Roid Rage had one hell of a week. They remain 3rd in the standings, although they gained a lot of ground on the top two teams, and are now only 2.5 games out of first. The team totals for the week were astonishing: they set league season-highs each of the following categories: Runs (49), HR (19), RBI (49), TB (149), AVG (.365), OBP (.448), and WHIP (.93).

The star of the week was 2B Alfonso Soriano, who scored 9 runs, drove in 13, socked 5 jacks, hit for 28 total bases, and stole a base. Honorable mention goes to 1B Justin Morneau, who went yard 4 times, touched the plate 5 times, drove in 10 runs, and totaled 24 bases.

Ok, that's it for now. Get back at you later on, hopefully today, if I don't forget.


Sunday, May 08, 2005

Happy Mother's Day

Hope you had a special Mother's Day, all of you mothers who are out there reading my blog. Although I'm not sure how many mothers there are out there who like to keep up with the exploits of a 23 year old aspiring novelist/college student and the successes and failures of his fantasy baseball teams. But, hey, if you're out there, Happiest of Mother's Days to you.

Anyway - wow, what a weekend. The Birds took 2 of 3 from the visiting Royals, and I was fortunate enough to be at OPACY for both wins. Then today we had the Barchanowiczes over for Mother's Day dinner, for which I had prepared my Special Marinade and BBQ Sauce (ok...I jacked the recipies from the internet, but they're still delicious; I'll make some modifications to the recipies when I get more experienced with that sort of thing) to put on some country pork ribs that dad grilled. Anybody who has ever had this combination can attest to how wonderful they are together.

I've finally got some of my novel down on paper. I haven't been able to really get much done on it, having school and all that to deal with, but it's nice to get some momentum going on this thing. I expect to get a whole lot done this summer.

Sorry I haven't been updating this more regularly...I'd say it's because I'm so busy - and while I am busy, that isn't really the reason - but it's mostly because I'm completely scatterbrained, and if I'm not thinking about doing something, it won't get done. What I need to do is come up with segments, like on talk radio shows. I'd write about one subject on Mondays, another on Tuesdays, and so forth. I'll come up with some ideas tonight and tell you what I come up with tommorow. Also, look for my weekly fantasy baseball update tommorow...it's a doozy...'Roid Rage kicked some major ass this past week.

Ok, get back atcha in the morn'...


P.S. I shaved another 3 seconds off my best Minesweeper time on Intermediate. It's at 52 now.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Fantasy Baseball Update

No transactions this week. I'm really quite satisfied with the current make-up of both rosters at this point and don't foresee any major changes anytime soon, barring injury.

It wasn't nearly as productive a week last week as it was the week before, but 'Roid Rage still managed to climb another spot in the standings to sit in third place. The big hero of the week was 1B Mark Teixeira, who hit .360 with 2 jacks, 4 RBI and 4 runs scored, and hit for 16 total bases. For the Paper Street Soap Co, who remained in 6th place, the big star was none other than Miggy T, who absolutely went off last week to the tune of a .565 OBP, 4 HR, 10 RBI, and a SLG of 1.182.

New Best Time for Minesweeper, Intermediate level - 55 seconds. Still 8 on Beginner and 191 on Expert.

Sunday, May 01, 2005


I'm officially addicted to the 2005 Baltimore Orioles. I can not get enough of them. I spend the hours between games counting the time until they play again. I know their record by heart (17-7). I know how many games in a row they've won (8), I know how many games ahead of the Red Sox and Blue Jays they are (4), how many games they are ahead of the Yankees (7.5) and Devil Rays (9.5). I know that they lead the League in runs scored, hits, home runs, stolen bases, batting average, sluggin percentage, OPS, extra-base hits, total bases, most Ks by their pitchers, fewest Ks by their hitters, and save conversion percentage. I know that Miguel Tejada is leading the League in home runs and RBI, and that he and Brian Roberts are in the top 5 in each of the three triple crown categories.

I also know that when Manny Ramirez hit a 3-run homer that put the Red Sox up 8-3 over the Orioles in the 4th inning a week ago, I didn't dare turn off the TV, because this team is special, and that something extraordinary might happen. And you know what? It did. I know that the morning after that game a guy called up the Mark Vivano Show and told him how his daughter's team had lost a softball game that evening, and they turned on the O's game, and what they did made it all better.

I know that baseball is my favorite sport, that the Orioles are my favorite team - the Skins a distant second - and that it has wrenched my heart to see them be so bad for so long. I know that this town has the most abused baseball fans in the country, and yet they keep coming back, because they love the sport and they love their team.

I don't know how long they can keep this up, but I do know I'm ready to ride it out as long as they can keep going.

I have a feeling this is going to be one magic summer. Why Not?