The January 2005 HRW report The New Iraq? Torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Iraqi custody alerted us to the fact that the new Iraqi govt's Interior Ministry was torturing and mistreating detainees as early as June 2004. This was done with the complicity of Coalition forces (see Chapter 6, paragraph 2, and Chapter 7). It was not until November 2005, when more than 170 prisoners were found at an Interior Ministry compound, that the US media started reporting in earnest about Interior Ministry abuses. Of course, Iraqis had known about these abuses well before then, and through blogs and independent reporting, had informed those Western citizens who were accessing those channels.
It is difficult not to postulate a clear chain of causality, from Guantanamo, to "gitmoizing" Abu Ghraib, to collaboration between US forces and the Interior Ministry, to the human rights abuses of the Interior Ministry today. I would posit that the horrific human rights abuses committed by the new Iraqi Interior Ministry are, in part, a consequence of these earlier policies. Apart from compelling moral reasons to oppose torture, there are clear pragmatic reasons as well.
... torture at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo, and in the network of secret prisons has, on balance, made the country less safe rather than more safe, both by increasing the number of people who hate the United States enough to do something about it and by morally degrading the people and organizations we rely on for our defense.
That's not the only reason to be against torture; it would be wrong even if it worked. But it's a good reason, all the same.
The Lady Speaks discusses our responsibilities in light of this knowledge:
Future generations will look back on this time in our history as one of shame and disgrace, when a President chose to use semantic manuevering to ignore both moral law and the Geneva Convention. It is time we as a nation stand up and tell President Bush 'No more. Not in our name'.
Time to get your diaries out and take some positive action.
Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition Intl are holding an international 24 hour fast on 01 June. If you are interesting in joining in or organising a group to join, you can find a sign-up form here.
There are plenty more actions on the website above and on the Torture Awareness Month website, which I'll keep you updated on as their time draws near.