March 18, 2006

No Blood, No Foul: Task Force 6-26

The American military never fails to disgust me. Another prisoner abuse haven was profiled today in the New York Times. Camp Nama is run by a "shadowy" military unit known as Task Force 6-26, and was apparently one of the locations used to detain and interrogate suspected Iraqi insurgents. The article relies on interviews with government employees who requested to remain anonymous because of security concerns. The information they were about to reveal is a sickening tale of yet more prisoner abuse, most definitely amounting to torture, where prisoners were treated as targets in a "paintball" game...
Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, "NO BLOOD, NO FOUL." The slogan, as one Defense Department official explained, reflected an adage adopted by Task Force 6-26: "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it." According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. "The reality is, there were no rules there," another Pentagon official said.
Some soldiers and military officials will defend their actions, claiming that most of the prisoners are high ranking terrorists. Of course they are, just like this kid:
In early 2004, an 18-year-old man suspected of selling cars to members of the Zarqawi terrorist network was seized with his entire family at their home in Baghdad. Task force soldiers beat him repeatedly with a rifle butt and punched him in the head and kidneys, said a Defense Department specialist briefed on the incident.
Soldiers can get pretty bored with their interrogations, so they decide they decide to entertain themselves...

Some former task force members said the Nama in the camp's name stood for a coarse phrase that soldiers used to describe the compound. One Defense Department specialist recalled seeing pink blotches on detainees' clothing as well as red welts on their bodies, marks he learned later were inflicted by soldiers who used detainees as targets and called themselves the High Five Paintball Club.

But then again, it's easy to say it just never happened, after all, it was a blackhole...

Mr. McGraw, the military spokesman, said he had not heard of the Black Room or the paintball club and had not seen any mention of them in the documents he had reviewed.

These types of interrogation techniques are legitimate too. Oh and then the computer crashed:

In January 2004, the task force captured the son of one of Mr. Hussein's bodyguards in Tikrit. The man told Army investigators that he was forced to strip and that he was punched in the spine until he fainted, put in front of an air-conditioner while cold water was poured on him and kicked in the stomach until he vomited. Army investigators were forced to close their inquiry in June 2005 after they said task force members used battlefield pseudonyms that made it impossible to identify and locate the soldiers involved. The unit also asserted that 70 percent of its computer files had been lost.
When the soldiers got sick of beating up the prisoners...

Prisoners deemed no threat to American troops were often driven deep into the Iraqi desert at night and released, sometimes given $100 or more in American money for their trouble.

In the end, a few soldiers might get a few months in jail, but the details of the horror will most likely remain secret.

Military and legal experts say the full breadth of abuses committed by Task Force 6-26 may never be known because of the secrecy surrounding the unit, and the likelihood that some allegations went unreported.

In the summer of 2004, Camp Nama closed and the unit moved to a new headquarters in Balad, 45 miles north of Baghdad. The unit's operations are now shrouded in even tighter secrecy.

And Iraqis lived happily ever after...

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