The March 12 report in The New York Times detailed the “scale of abuse of prisoners in an Afghan jail [Bagram air base]” through the U.S. Army’s own documents (diary). Two particularly vicious murders are described; one prisoner was maimed and killed “over a five-day period by ‘destroying his leg muscle tissue with repeated unlawful knee strikes’.”

The March 16 New York Times report — apparently an exclusive — reveals that the “U.S. Military Says 26 Inmate Deaths May Be Homicide.”

The report further exposes the reach of the abuse:

Only one of the deaths occurred at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, officials said, showing how broadly the most violent abuses extended beyond those prison walls and contradicting early impressions that the wrongdoing was confined to a handful of members of the military police on the prison’s night shift.

::: more below :::

WASHINGTON, March 15 – At least 26 prisoners have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002 in what Army and Navy investigators have concluded or suspect were acts of criminal homicide, according to military officials.

The number of confirmed or suspected cases is much higher than any accounting the military has previously reported. …

The new figure of 26 was provided by the Army and Navy this week after repeated inquiries. In 18 cases reviewed by the Army and Navy, investigators have now closed their inquiries and have recommended them for prosecution or referred them to other agencies for action, Army and Navy officials said. Eight cases are still under investigation but are listed by the Army as confirmed or suspected criminal homicides, the officials said.

Key points in the article:
    – Four cases involve “Central Intelligence Agency employees that are being reviewed by the Justice Department for possible prosecution,” including “a killing in Afghanistan in June 2003 for which David Passaro, a contract worker for the C.I.A., is now facing trial in federal court in North Carolina.”
    – “Army officials said the killings took place both inside and outside detention areas, including at the point of capture in often violent battlefield conditions.”
    – Beyond the 26 criminal homicides, “11 cases involving prisoner deaths at the hands of American troops are now listed as justifiable homicides that should not be prosecuted, Army officials said. Those cases included killings caused by soldiers in suppressing prisoner riots in Iraq, they said. Other prisoners have died in captivity of natural causes. …”
    – The total of 26 cases involves “prisoner deaths confirmed or suspected of being criminal homicides includes 24 cases investigated by the Army and two by the Navy”
    – “At least eight Army soldiers have now been convicted of crimes in the deaths of prisoners in American custody. …”
    – “An additional 13 Army soldiers are now being tried. …”
    – In some cases, “including the death of an Iraqi, Manadel al-Jamadi, in Abu Ghraib in November 2003 [SUSAN’s note: See “Iraqi Died While Hung From Wrists (CIA,Army, Navy SEALs)”] , most of those initially charged with crimes by the military have ended up receiving only nonjudicial punishments, and neither their names nor the details of those punishments have been disclosed.”
    – “the Army’s criminal investigators have examined 308 cases involving allegations of mistreating detainees.”

It is critical to call on our Senators and members of the House to hold those in power responsible and — as suggested in today’s article — conduct “a Sept. 11-style inquiry into detention operations and abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

[Chris] Mackey [a former interrogator at Bagram air base in Afghanistan] says  … “[T]here was horrible incompetence at the leadership and oversight level. [The prison] was practically a Disney ride, with lots of higher-ups and officials coming through. But the common response we got was, Aren’t you kind of babying them?” Mother Jones, March/April 2005

But, to date, those responsible — those who toured the interrogation rooms, and mocked interrogators for “babying” the inmates — are rarely being held to account, and punished.

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File photo obtained by ABC news and allegedly taken by Sgt. Charles Frederick, Army Spc. Sabrina Harman, 372nd Military Police Company, poses with the body of Iraqi detainee Manadel al-Jamadi who is packed in ice at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Iraq. CBC

According to court documents and testimony, the SEALs punched, kicked and struck al-Jamadi with their rifles before handing him over to the CIA early on Nov. 4. By 7 a.m., al-Jamadi was dead. …

The military pathologist who ruled the case a homicide found several broken ribs and concluded al-Jamadi died from pressure to the chest and difficulty breathing. …

Dr. Vincent Iacopino, director of research for Physicians for Human Rights, called the hyper-extension of the arms behind the back “clear and simple torture.” … AP: Iraqi Died While Hung From Wrists , Feb. 17, 2005

What was the outcome?

Navy prosecutors in San Diego have charged nine SEALs and one sailor with abusing al-Jamadi and others. All but two lieutenants have received nonjudicial punishment; one lieutenant is scheduled for court-martial in March, the other is awaiting a hearing before the Navy’s top SEAL.

Again: Call on our Senators and members of the House to hold those in power responsible, and to launch a thorough investigative inquiry.

All emphases mine. To be cross-posted at Daily Kos.

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