about those torture photos…


Richard Moore


When I first saw those torture photos, with the grinning female GI, I
knew something unusual was coming down. The torture itself was of course
not news. We've already seen numerous reports of prisoners being
tortured, beaten to death, and murdered in Iraq and Afghanistan. I've
published some of those and I'm sure you folks get such stuff off the
net as well. The involvement of junior soldiers and females was a bit
odd, and the fact that photos were taken and distributed freely around
the prison was certainly not traditional procedure. But the strangest
thing was the fact that we were seeing the images and hearing the
stories on mainstream TV. What was that about?  Why was the media
undermining the President and a war that the media has been staunchly
supporting all along? Why have the networks suddenly sprouted a social

Part of the reason, of course, is that once the photos were distributed
widely in the military, and then uploaded to the net, the story became
difficult to sit on. "Someone's going to break it, so why not get in
early?".  Perhaps that's the whole reason for the media coverage. But I
doubt it very much. There is lots of disturbing evidence all over the
net, regarding all sorts of American transgressions - which never sees
the light of a media camera. When has the mainstream media ever talked
about depleted uranium, or snipers shooting unarmed women and children,
or units firing heavy weapons into unarmed crowds? I've gotten hundreds of
reports like that, and I believe there are photos available as well.  If
they can sit on all that and more, month after month, why couldn't they
sit on the torture story?

My suspicion was that there is some kind of struggle emerging in
high-level circles. Circles high enough to get leaks published and
high enough to infiltrate the prison and initiate the photo activity.
Evidently, it seemed to me, there is a very well-connected little circle
within the bigger elite circle, and that little circle is hostile to the
neocons. It is not difficult to guess what kind of people are likely to
be in that little circle of friends. It is open knowledge that veteran
brass and intelligence people are very pissed off at the neocons. Those
veterans knew there were no weapons of mass destruction, they know that
there was plenty of warning before 9/11, and they know that the
interceptors were held back on the day. And yet they're the ones who are
taking the blame for "intelligence failures" and they are the ones who
have to send GIs off to die in Iraq. The neocons are arrogant upstarts
in DC, a bit like JFK was, and like him they've made a lot of enemies.
Not even the oil companies are happy about administration policy in
Iraq. The little circle may not be all that little.

OK, enough preamble. Something big is coming down, and I'd like to show
you some of the breaking news items. I'll quote excerpts from various
articles, and include the URLs of the full articles.

To begin with, and as you know from the media - the revelations are not
stopping with that first batch of photos. Even as the White House
scurries into damage-control mode, damning testimony and new evidence is
appearing in rapid succession. 

This first article is an interview with Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey, a 12 year
Marine veteran who served in both Iraq campaigns. Here is someone with
very high public credibility. He wasn't involved with prisons, but he
describes, or more confesses, things he and others did in Iraq. He talks
about wiping out a group of unarmed young demonstrators, and says, "The
order to shoot the demonstrators, I believe, came from senior government
officials, including intelligence communities within the military and
the U.S. government." He talks graphically about depleted uranium, and
cluster bombs. He goes on to tell how his actions became increasingly
difficult for him to justify, despite his strong sense of duty and
discipline as a Marine.  He describes an incident with a superior:

              Atrocities in Iraq: 'I Killed Innocent People for Our Government'
              By Paul Rockwell
              Sacramento Bee
              Sunday 16 May 2004

      There was an incident. It was right after the fall of Baghdad, when we
      went back down south. On the outskirts of Karbala, we had a morning
      meeting on the battle plan. I was not in a good mindset. All these
      things were going through my head - about what we were doing over there.
      About some of the things my troops were asking. I was holding it all
      inside. My lieutenant and I got into a conversation. The conversation
      was striking me wrong. And I lashed out. I looked at him and told him:
      "You know, I honestly feel that what we're doing is wrong over here.
      We're committing genocide.'"
          He asked me something and I said that with the killing of civilians
      and the depleted uranium we're leaving over here, we're not going to
      have to worry about terrorists. He didn't like that. He got up and
      stormed off. And I knew right then and there that my career was over. I
      was talking to my commanding officer.

              The Roots of Torture
          By John Barry, Michael Hirsh and Michael Isikoff
          Newsweek International
          May 24 Issue
      The road to Abu Ghraib began after 9/11, when Washington wrote new rules
      to fight a new kind of war.
The story begins in the months after September 11, when a small band of
      conservative lawyers within the Bush administration staked out a
      forward-leaning legal position. The attacks by Al Qaeda on the World
      Trade Center and the Pentagon, these lawyers said, had plunged the
      country into a new kind of war. It was a conflict against a vast,
      outlaw, international enemy in which the rules of war, international
      treaties and even the Geneva Conventions did not apply. These positions
      were laid out in secret legal opinions drafted by lawyers from the
      Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, and then endorsed by the
      Department of Defense and ultimately by White House counsel Alberto
      Gonzales, according to copies of the opinions and other internal legal
      memos obtained by NEWSWEEK.
By Jan. 25, 2002, according to a memo obtained by NEWSWEEK, it was clear
      that Bush had already decided that the Geneva Conventions did not apply
      at all, either to the Taliban or Al Qaeda. In the memo, which was
      written to Bush by Gonzales, the White House legal counsel told the
      president that Powell had "requested that you reconsider that decision."
      Gonzales then laid out startlingly broad arguments that anticipated any
      objections to the conduct of U.S. soldiers or CIA interrogators in the
      future. "As you have said, the war against terrorism is a new kind of
      war," Gonzales wrote to Bush. "The nature of the new war places a - high
      premium on other factors, such as the ability to quickly obtain
      information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to
      avoid further atrocities against American civilians." Gonzales concluded
      in stark terms: "In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete
      Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and
      renders quaint some of its provisions.
           'Definitely a Cover-Up'
          By Brian Ross and Alexandra Salomon
           Tuesday 18 May 2004
      Former Abu Ghraib Intel Staffer Says Army Concealed Involvement in Abuse
        Dozens of soldiers - other than the seven military police reservists
      who have been charged - were involved in the abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib
      prison, and there is an effort under way in the Army to hide it, a key
      witness in the investigation told ABCNEWS.
          "There's definitely a cover-up," the witness, Sgt. Samuel Provance,
      said. "People are either telling themselves or being told to be quiet."
          Provance, 30, was part of the 302nd Military Intelligence Battalion
      stationed at Abu Ghraib last September. He spoke to ABCNEWS despite
      orders from his commanders not to.
         Top military officials have claimed the abuse seen in the photos at Abu
      Ghraib was limited to a few MPs, but Provance says the sexual
      humiliation of prisoners began as a technique ordered by the
      interrogators from military intelligence.

These are hard-hitting stories. Their content, like the torture photos,
is not particularly new or surprising - but their presence in mainstream
channels is. And each of the stories I quoted not only expands on the
list of crimes, but also points the finger upwards, to high officials
and intelligence officers. This is the kind of media material that can
turn the whole population against the war, and against Bush and the
neocons. Now that it's OK to put out damning Iraq stories - regardless
of why it's now OK - there are lots of reporters and interviewees who
will go for it because they think it's the right thing to do. It can't
be stopped now. The damn has broken, and it's beginning to feel like the
early days of Watergate.

If there is a 'little circle' out to get the neocons, then they have
succeeded in launching a media blitz that will make the Monica Lowenski
affair seem minor. Bush, it would seem, is on his way out. This is his
scandal, like Lowenski before, and the Iranian Hostage Crisis before

Is there really a 'little circle'? This next article might shed some
light on that question

          Army, CIA Want Torture Truths Exposed
          By Martin Sieff
          UPI Senior News Analyst
          Tuesday 18 May 2004
        Washington - Efforts at the top level of the Bush administration and
       the civilian echelon of the Department of Defense to contain the Iraq
       prison torture scandal and limit the blame to a handful of enlisted
       soldiers and immediate senior officers have already failed: The scandal
       continues to metastasize by the day.
          Over the past weekend and into this week, devastating new
       allegations have emerged putting Stephen Cambone, the first
       Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, firmly in the crosshairs
       and bringing a new wave of allegations cascading down on the head of
       Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, when he scarcely had time to catch
       his breath from the previous ones.
          Even worse for Rumsfeld and his coterie of neo-conservative true
       believers who have run the Pentagon for the past 3 1/2 years, three
       major institutions in the Washington power structure have decided that
       after almost a full presidential term of being treated with contempt
       and abuse by them, it's payback time.
          Those three institutions are: The United States Army, the Central
       Intelligence Agency and the old, relatively moderate but highly
       experienced Republican leadership in the United States Senate.
          None of those groups is chopped liver: Taken together they comprise
       a devastating Grand Slam.
           The spearhead for the new wave of revelations and allegations - but
       by no means the only source of them - is veteran investigative
       journalist Seymour Hersh. In a major article published in the New
       Yorker this week and posted on to its Web-site Saturday, Hersh revealed
       that a high-level Pentagon operation code-named Copper Green
       "encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation" of Iraqi
       prisoners. He also cited Pentagon sources and consultants as saying
       that photographing the victims of such abuse was an explicit part of
       the program meant to force the victims into becoming blackmailed
       reliable informants.
           Hersh further claimed in his article that Rumsfeld himself approved
       the program and that one of his four or five top aides, Cambone, set it
       up in Baghdad and ran it.
          ...intelligence and regular Army sources have told UPI that senior
       officers and officials in both communities are sickened and outraged by
       the revelations of mass torture and abuse, and also by the incompetence
       involved, in the Abu Ghraib prison revelations. These sources also said
       that officials all the way up to the highest level in both the Army and
       the Agency are determined not to be scapegoated, or allow very junior
       soldiers or officials to take the full blame for the excesses.

 As a follow-up, here's an article about the Republican leadership in
 the US Senate:

          Senators to Press Scandal
          By Richard Simon and Elizabeth Shogren
          Los Angeles Times
         Monday 17 May 2004
      A GOP-controlled panel, feeling slighted by the administration and
      obliged to look at abuse of prisoners, has no plan to drop the issue
         Washington - As the White House struggles to get beyond the prisoner
      abuse scandal, it faces an unsettling fact: The Senate Armed Services
      Committee - controlled by Republicans - plans to keep the issue alive
      for weeks to come.
          That promises more headaches for the White House and once
      undreamed-of opportunities for Democrats on the committee, such as Sen.
      Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and other critics of President Bush's
      handling of the war in Iraq.
          The Armed Services Committee, led by 77-year-old Senate veteran John
      W. Warner of Virginia, has served noticed that it would not pull back,
      as the House Armed Services Committee has done. Instead, Warner plans
      extended hearings to call on the carpet such high-profile officials as
      Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, and L. Paul
      Bremer III, head of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority.
         More disturbing still for the White House, Democrats and Republicans
      on the Senate committee say they will shift the focus from the misdeeds
      of a handful of guards at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad. What they
      want to dig into instead is how senior Pentagon officials loosened the
      rules protecting prisoners during interrogation.

Think about the sequence of events. The media sequence was: (1) photos,
(2) more revelations, (3) Senate decides to investigate, (4) Senate
decides to be a bull dog on the matter. The public is supposed to assume
that (1) led to (2) led to (3) led to (4). But does that make sense? If 
Martin Sieff, a UPI Senior News Analyst, has properly checked his
sources, as he would with such an article, then the Grand Slam of Army,
CIA, and Republican Senate leadership have had it in for Bush for some
time now. And certainly these people talk to each other all the time.
The Armed Services Committee, the CIA, and the Army work together very
closely, and sharing secrets is a routine part of their jobs. These are
hardball players. Why would they not pursue their common interests,
using very straightforward means easily at their disposal?

The Army and the CIA would have no trouble at all between them setting
up whatever conditions and climate they wanted at Abu Ghraib. And who do
you imagine it is in DC that liaisons with the media? Who actually makes
the phone calls and passes the leaks to the key editors? In most cases
that would be the CIA's job. Relationships build up over time, trust
develops. The editor gets a call, "Trust me on this one, run with it.
You won't get roasted."

The real sequence of events goes more like this. (1) our little circle
decides to take action, (2) Army, CIA, and Senate each prepare for their
role, (3) when all is in place, the photos are published. The dead
give-away is the rapidity of the media version of the sequence. Just as
the War on Terrorism sprung into life impossibly quickly after the
towers collapsed, so have too many ducks fallen into place too quickly
since the photos appeared. And just as we learned later about the
neocon's "New Pearl Harbor" agenda, now we learn of long-simmering
resentment in the Grand Slam. You do the math.

What we are seeing is a power struggle between the neocons and the
old-cons - the traditional conservatives. So far it looks like a replay
of Watergate, and if it goes that way the neocons will be out, and Kerry
will be working within a new power alignment and a new set of
priorities. The glove, to some extent, will be put back on the fascist

But the neocons are not pushovers. They obviously have their own little
fascist circles, within the CIA, military intelligence, and the private
sector, or they wouldn't have been able to do all the things they've
been doing, in the face of institutional disapproval. They too can play
hardball. They proved that on 9/11. Whatever little circles pulled that
off, domestic or foreign, are still in place - and they're in it up to
their necks now, committed to the program.

There's one obvious scenario that could keep the neocons in power and
enable them to aggressively pursue their New American Century: (1) a
major "terrorist" event just before the election, something big -
perhaps the Senate building, (2) Al Qaeda is immediately blamed and
'evidence' released, (3) Bush declares Marshall Law and cancels the
election, (4) see: German history from 1933.

And guess what? Just as the neocons told us about the new Pearl Harbor
before it happened, now they're telling us what to expect next...

      From U.S. News and World Report
      Washington Whispers
      From the White House, a nightmare scenario
      White House officials say they've got a "working premise" about
      terrorism and the presidential election: It's going to happen. "We
      assume," says a top administration official, "an attack will happen
      leading up to the election." And, he added, "it will happen here." There
      are two worst-case scenarios, the official says. The first posits an
      attack on Washington, possibly the Capitol, which was believed to be the
      target of the 9/11 jet that crashed in Pennsylvania. Theory 2: smaller
      but more frequent attacks in Washington and other major cities leading
      up to the election. To prepare, the administration has been holding
      secret antiterrorism drills to make sure top officials know what to do.
      "There was a sense," says one official involved in the drills, "of mass
      confusion on 9/11. Now we have a sense of order."

Sense of order indeed. Which sense? "Alles in Ordnung" sense? "New World
Order" sense? Take your pick.



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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland
    "...the Patriot Act followed 9-11 as smoothly as the
      suspension of the Weimar constitution followed the
      Reichstag fire."  
      - Srdja Trifkovic

    There is not a problem with the system.
    The system is the problem.

    Faith in ourselves - not gods, ideologies, leaders, or programs.
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