Friday, April 15, 2005
George Bush says that "The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example." Porter Goss says "The United States does not engage in or condone torture." Yet Janis Karpinski, the officer who was in charge of Abu Ghraib, claims that one full year after the prisoner-abuse scandals became public, she still receives e-mails from soldiers who tell her "you need to know that it's still happening." And when Steve Crawshaw of Human Rights Watch, quoted in the Nat Hentoff column below, says "You can't wash your hands and say we didn't torture, but we will use what comes out of torture," the Bush administration has a straightforward reply -- Yes, we can:
Actually, there is much that U.S. interrogators can learn from their counterparts in Uzbekistan on how to break down prisoners. One of the CIA's jet planes used to render purported terrorists to other countries—where information is extracted by any means necessary—made 10 trips to Uzbekistan. In a segment of CBS's 60 Minutes on these CIA torture missions (March 5), former British ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray told of the range of advanced techniques used by Uzbek interrogators:
"drowning and suffocation, rape was used . . . and also immersion of limbs in boiling liquid."
Two nights later on ABC's World News Tonight, Craig Murray told of photos he received of an Uzbek interrogation that ended with the prisoner actually being boiled to death!
Murray, appalled, had protested to the British Foreign Office in a confidential memorandum leaked to and printed in the Financial Times on October 11 of last year:
"Uzbek officials are torturing prisoners to extract information [about reported terrorist operations], which is supplied to the U.S. and passed through its Central Intelligence Agency to the U.K., says Mr. Murray." (Emphasis added.)
Prime Minister Tony Blair quickly reacted to this undiplomatic whistle-blowing. Craig Murray was removed as ambassador to Uzbekistan . . . .
As for our ally Uzbekistan, run by the merciless dictator Islam Karimov, Philip Stephens, a forthright columnist for the Financial Times, noted on October 19:
"Uzbekistan provides a vital base for U.S. operations in neighbouring Afghanistan. U.S. financial aid [to Uzbekistan] provides a bulwark against Russian influence." And—dig this—an October 16 Financial Times editorial points out that because the Bush administration supports the barbaric government of President Karimov, the U.S. "has given [Karimov] the confidence to sell a long-running campaign against internal dissidents as part of the campaign against Al Qaeda." (Emphasis added.)
In 2003, Fatima Mukhadirova sent photographs of her son—who was tortured to death in an Uzbek prison—to the British embassy. As reported in Muslim Uzbekistan (February 12, 2004): "His teeth were smashed, his fingers were stripped of nails, and his body had been cut, bruised and scalded." His mother was put on trial "for attempted encroachment on the constitutional order" to convince her to shut up about what was done to her son. (She was subsequently convicted and sentenced to six years in prison.)