05 October 2005

Even more abuses reported by Army and Bush is trying to stonewall efforts to correct it.

Soldier Reports More Abuses to Senators

An Army captain has reported new allegations of detainee abuse in a different area of Iraq. And has met Tuesday with Senator John McCain and staff aides on the House Armed Services Committee and gave them additional accounts of abuse.

Captain Fishback said that since he and two other former members of the 82nd Airborne Division last month accused soldiers in their battalion in Iraq of routinely beating and abusing prisoners in 2003 and 2004, several other soldiers had contacted him and asked him to relay to lawmakers their own experiences.

In separate statements to Human Rights Watch, Captain Fishback and two sergeants related their experiences as they recounted how members of the First Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry, had repeatedly beaten Iraqi prisoners, exposed them to extremes of hot and cold, and stacked them in human pyramids at Camp Mercury, a forward operating base near Falluja.

The abuses reportedly took place between September 2003 and April 2004, before and during the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

Led by Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a group of Republicans wants to have amendments imposing restrictions on the detention, interrogation and prosecution of prisoners tacked onto the $440 billion military spending bill the Senate is to vote on by weeks' end.

Senators offered the same proposals in the summer as the Senate worked on a bill setting Pentagon policy. But Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., scuttled that bill in part because of White House opposition to the detainee proposals.

Undeterred, McCain, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam, resurrected his legislation this week. His amendment would ban the use of "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" against anyone in U.S. custody and require all U.S. troops to follow procedures in the Army Field Manual when they detain and interrogate suspects.

On Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was reintroducing his proposal that would define "enemy combatant" and put into law procedures for prosecuting detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

As it did before, the White House last week threatened a veto over the proposals, arguing they would tie the president's hands during wartime. Which isn't that the point? To tie these guys hands so that they act in a manner that respresents ALL Americans and not just the rogue nature of Cheney or Rumsfeld. We are asking for accountibility from an Administration that does not understand what that means.

However, this time the administration did not send Vice President Dick Cheney to Capitol Hill to personally lobby McCain, Graham and Sen. John Warner, R-Va., the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman who supports the amendments.

"I hope there is a realization that this is the right thing to do," McCain said Tuesday.

At the same time, Democrats plan to continue to push their own proposal that would establish an independent commission to investigate allegations of prisoner abuse. The Pentagon already has done several of its own investigations and argues that another would be redundant. But that is like the prosecutor investigating himself for impropriety.

McCain, Graham and Warner decided that standards for handling detainees were needed in light of allegations of mistreatment at the Navy's Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and now growing to every detention facility.

Since July, a list of retired generals and admirals backing the effort has doubled from 14 to 28.

"It is now apparent that the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and elsewhere took place in part because our men and women in uniform were given ambiguous instructions," the retired officers said in a letter dated last month. "Our service members were denied clear guidance, and left to take the blame when things went wrong. They deserve better than that."

In recent weeks, even new and worse claims of abuse and reminders of Abu Ghraib have been in the headlines.

Human Rights Watch, a U.S. rights organization, reported that soldiers in the Army's elite 82nd Airborne Division systematically tortured Iraqi detainees in 2003 and 2004.

Last week, a federal judge in New York ordered the release of dozens more pictures of prisoners being abused at Abu Ghraib, rejecting government arguments that the images would provoke terrorists and incite violence against U.S. troops in Iraq.

Maybe the only to combat this administration is through all out assault and complete transparancy of their heinous actions.

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