Saturday, March 09, 2013

Pentagon's links to Iraq torture centers

I guess this is old news now:
The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the "dirty wars" in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents.

These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country's descent into full-scale civil war. Colonel James Steele was a 58-year-old retired special forces veteran when he was nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic shows.

After the Pentagon lifted a ban on Shia militias joining the security forces, the special police commando (SPC) membership was increasingly drawn from violent Shia groups such as the Badr brigades.

A second special adviser, retired Colonel James H Coffman, worked alongside Steele in detention centres that were set up with millions of dollars of US funding.

Coffman reported directly to General David Petraeus, sent to Iraq in June 2004 to organise and train the new Iraqi security forces. Steele, who was in Iraq from 2003 to 2005, and returned to the country in 2006, reported directly to Rumsfeld.


   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.      said...

      "I guess this is old news now:"

Ya think?

I'm not sure what your point is supposed to be.  The Guardian article you cite is heavy on the innuendo, but fairly devoid of anything else.  I can understand The Guardian publishing that; they probably spent a lot of money and time on it and came up with nothing but innuendo, and were trying to re-coop at least some of their investment.
But I don't get your point.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

I guess that should be ‘recoup

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

But I don't get your point.

My guess would be his reason for this post is to bring this to the attention of anyone currently reading this blog. And that would be mainly college students at this time, I would think.

Some will, no doubt, take it at face value and others will look for other sources for information.

The Iraq war was never black and white. Nor was it about one person. Whether or not Steele was complicit in torture will not change the fact that it was a conflict that showed the depths to which humanity could go, both American and Iraqi.

Anyone seriously wanting to understand the nuances of it will look to many sources for information, not just newspapers or blogs.

Marcus said...

Bruno used to have this whole story well researched. If there was a time for a reapperance from Bruno this would be it.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

While war can very well show man's inhumanity to man, it can also show humanity at its best.

Here is one amazing story from WWII. I have to believe there are others out there as well.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Bruno used to have this whole story well researched.

Bruno? Hmmm...yes, well, research done on is not exactly what I had in mind. I would try for something without a bias. If such a thing is possible.

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John Moore said...

A typical Guardian piece - allegations and guilt by association woven together to create, without actual evidence, the appearance of guilt.

Was there torture in Iraq? A better question would be: was there ever not torture in Iraq.

War is hell. That was true in Central America and in Iraq. You don't always get to choose or control your allies. That Americans aided one side in a conflict where both sides were engaged in inhumane acts reflects a lack of good choices, not crimes by the Americans.

Anonymous said...

Hey John Moore, How do you like the training and funding that your country is now providing to al-Qaeda freedom fighters in Syria? Just this week American and British advisers were training about three dozen of the most hardened Syrian fighters in Jordan.

Let's just say the rest of the world won't be shedding much tears when it comes back to bite you guys in the ass again

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

      "Let's just say the rest of the world won't be shedding
      much tears when it comes back to bite you guys in
      the ass again

So, no change from the first time then? 
I seem to recall dancing in the streets pretty much across the Arab world after 09/11/01.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

Note re:  American politics

Things are lookin’ rather more unsettled for the ‘continuing resolution’ to fund the government coming up on 27 March.  (This is not the ‘debt-ceiling’ problem; that one's about paying the bills we've already run up; this is the authorization to keep running up new bills to pay.)  Absent an agreement we'll get a government shutdown on 27 March.  And the parties are actually getting further apart rather than further together.

Boehner's fall-back position is that he thinks he can pass a ‘clean’ resolution, one that simply continues the sequester in place with no changes at all, and the Senate would probably have to go along.  But, the chances of them locking horns and locking things up is increasing these days.  And time is running out.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Hey John Moore, How do you like the training and funding that your country is now providing to al-Qaeda freedom fighters in Syria?

And how do you know what country John Moore is from, Anonymous?

Let's just say the rest of the world won't be shedding much tears when it comes back to bite you guys in the ass again

I have not been seeing very many good ideas from the rest of the world at this time. So I can see where they might put all the blame for the twists and turns of the Syrian conflict on America and Great Britain. It's easier to criticize rather than to actually do something themselves...something like remove Al-Qaida and its affiliates from the field.

anan said...

This article does not appear to be well researched. They should e-mail and ask people familiar with the ISF.

In 2004 Petraeus and MNF-I/MNSTC-I only trained IMoD (Iraqi Army etc.), not I MoI.

MoI was in theory trained by the State Department, not that they did very much. Allawi came into office and saw didley squat going on with respect to ISF training. Rumsfeld at the time opposed training and equipping the ISF. For example Rumsfeld felt the Iraqi Army should not number more than 40 thousand.

Allawi quickly grew the MoI by adding militia fighters. Not that MNF-I had much influence over that decision since by then Iraq was a sovereign country.

Jafari convinced MNF-I and MNSTC-I to train the MoI (although not nearly to the extent Iraqis wanted or needed), but the effort was half hearted on the part of MNF-I and MNSTC-I since Rumsfeld dragged his feet.

Zeyad, do you really think MNF-I controlled Iraqi MoI once Jabr took over? Really? Does anyone believe that MNF-I had the power to stop Jabr from getting the MoI post after Badr/SCIRI (renamed ISCI later) had done so well in the January 2005 elections?

People who know nothing about ISF should not write about them.

General Muntadher al-Samari is now saying that he shared what was going on with an Americans. In general terms, very possibly. The American response likely would have been to inform the MoI minister and then the PM. Both of which would have internally thought . . . "COOL!". There was not much else MNF-I could do by then since Iraq was sovereign.

Torture was a much bigger problem in I MoI than in I MoD which MNF-I had more influence over.

Part of this article is outright lies. For example the reason why violence in Iraq increased in 2004 and 2005 was because Takfiri crazies (and before them sectarian sunni arab milias) started mass murdering Iraqis and ISF.

The ISF was unable to protect Iraqis because a major training program for them did not begin until the Maliki administration in mid 2006. As a result many Iraqis reached out to sectarian Shia militias (and Peshmerga and neighborhood militias and other militias) to protect them rather than the Government of Iraq and ISF. In other words the other militias were a response to sectarian Sunni Arab militias, not the cause of sectarian sunni arab militias.

anan said...

Lynnette In Minnesota, Al Qaeda in Iraq (or al-Nusra as they now like to call themselves) are big players in the Syrian civil war. We should all (Iraqis especially) hop they lose.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

      "Al Qaeda…are big players in the Syrian civil war."

That's a good part of the reason our government has been reluctant to get too far into bed with the insurgency in Syria.  There don't seem to be a whole bunch of ‘pro-democracy’ types involved on either side.  It's hard to find good guys to support there.  We know we don't like Assad, but the other side ain't all angels either.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to find good guys to support there.

How about staying out of it and not supporting any side of this conflict? A novel idea, I know

anan said...

Anonymous, hasn't PM Maliki--who I have a lot of respect for--tried to stay out of it? But the question is how long Iraq can stay out of it. Al-Nusra has started to attack the Iraqi Army and mass murder Iraqis.

If the civil war in Syria continues to spin out of control, every country in the middle east could be dragged into a regional war kicking and screaming, whether they like it or not.

If this happens, Russia, Europe, America, Iran, India, China will all be dragged in.

If Al Qaeda linked networks (Takfiri) win this war, can nuclear mushroom clouds in Moscow, Najaf, Mumbai, Quom, Europe and America be far behind?

If you are a naive American, Anonymous, a victory by Al Qaeda threatens the American homeland.

For this reason the international community needs to unite and help the good positive forces in the middle east.

The US should--as Maliki has quietly asked--send 4 thousand or so quality officers and NCOs to train the ISF. The international community should also work to strengthen Iraq. Maliki should get over his hatefest egofest fight with Erdogan and allow Turkish trainers to train the ISF too.

A powerful rising Iraq and ISF is likely to be a force for stability and a break on the advance of Takfiri extremists.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

      "A novel idea, I know."

Hardly a novel idea.  It has its supporters, concentrated most highly in Europe and certain sections of downtown Damascus, although it has some support among certain isolationist elements here in the states.
Those elements notwithstanding, kickin’ back and dispassionately watchin’ Syria bleed out while the violence spreads beyond its borders hardly seems like a superior option.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Lynnette In Minnesota, Al Qaeda in Iraq (or al-Nusra as they now like to call themselves) are big players in the Syrian civil war. We should all (Iraqis especially) hop they lose.

Believe me, I do. Which is way I can't support our sitting on the sidelines as Anonymous suggests we do.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

How about staying out of it and not supporting any side of this conflict? A novel idea, I know.

It is too late, Anonymous. As much as you, and others, may wish it, the world is too interconnected for us to stay on the sidelines. What affects one region will eventually affect others.

Anonymous said...

Just remember that your money is going to these people s

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

I'm guessin’ you have no evidence for that.

   Lee C.  ―   U.S.A.     said...

If the big banks are ‘too big to fail’ then they're too damn big.  What part of this is complicated?  What part of this is so hard for some folks to get their heads around?

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Arwa Damon looks at Iraq 10 years after the start of the war.

JG said...

Thanks for that, Lynnette. I like Arwa Damon. She has done some excellent shows on Lebanon too.

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Anonymous said...

Al Qaeda in Syria now has Chinese recruits. LOL. cute

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

I like Arwa Damon.

I do too.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Al Qaeda in Syria now has Chinese recruits. LOL. cute

Crazies everywhere, Anonymous.

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Shenron said...

anan how can you have respect for Maliki? He is a scumbag who used to forge passports and sell Sibha's on the street before the war. He should hang for treason.

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