Friday, March 11, 2005

THE NEW YORK TIMES cites copies of Army reports obtained by Human Rights Watch that document the murders of two Afghan detainees, in Afghanistan, at the end of 2002, by American soldiers. The reports, part of a criminal investigation by the Army of these murders and many others, contain documented details indicating that Mullah Habibullah and another detainee named Dilawar were savagely, brutally beaten to death.

[The prisoners] were chained to the ceiling, kicked and beaten by American soldiers in sustained assaults that caused their deaths, according to Army criminal investigative reports that have not yet been made public.

One soldier, Pfc. Willie V. Brand, was charged with manslaughter in a closed hearing last month in Texas in connection with one of the deaths, another Army document shows. Private Brand, who acknowledged striking a detainee named Dilawar 37 times, was accused of having maimed and killed him over a five-day period by "destroying his leg muscle tissue with repeated unlawful knee strikes."

The attacks on Mr. Dilawar were so severe that "even if he had survived, both legs would have had to be amputated," the Army report said, citing a medical examiner.

Apparently some of the soldiers involved in these atrocities were part of the same Fort Bragg, NC unit that later went on to Iraq and tortured, abused, and humiliated detainees in Abu Ghraib.

The beatings and killings that the two Afghans received at the Bagram, Afghanistan, interrogation center were by no means isolated incidents.

The Army reports cited "credible information" that four military interrogators assaulted Mr. Dilawar and another Afghan prisoner with "kicks to the groin and leg, shoving or slamming him into walls/table, forcing the detainee to maintain painful, contorted body positions during interview and forcing water into his mouth until he could not breathe."

American military officials in Afghanistan initially said the deaths of Mr. Habibullah, in an isolation cell on Dec. 4, 2002, and Mr. Dilawar, in another such cell six days later, were from natural causes. Lt. Gen. Daniel K. McNeill, the American commander of allied forces in Afghanistan at the time, denied then that prisoners had been chained to the ceiling or that conditions at Bagram endangered the lives of prisoners.

But after an investigation by The New York Times, the Army acknowledged that the deaths were homicides. Last fall, Army investigators implicated 28 soldiers and reservists and recommended that they face criminal charges, including negligent homicide.

But so far only Private Brand, a military policeman from the 377th Military Police Company, an Army Reserve unit based in Cincinnati, and Sgt. James P. Boland, from the same unit, have been charged.

I'm getting increasingly sick at heart and enraged in mind at having to read articles like this. Bono's words, written over 20 years ago, are going through my head and are still, sad to say, as fresh today as they were in 1983.

I can't believe the news today
I can't close my eyes and make it go away.

It's still Sunday, bloody Sunday.

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