Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Operation Phoenix Rises Again: Why Bradley Manning and Wikileaks Acted in Support of American Values

Posted by Charles II on March 6, 2013

Operation Phoenix was the US terror operation in Vietnam. Repression in Latin America in the 1980s followed the same playbook. And now, Iraq:

Via Atrios, The Guardian’s Mona Mahmood, Maggie O’Kane, Chavala Madlena and Teresa Smith:

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, then 58, was a retired special forces veteran nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, according to an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic. After the Pentagon lifted a ban on Shia militias joining the security forces, the membership of the Special police commandos was increasingly drawn from violent Shia groups like the Badr brigades.

A second special adviser, retired Colonel James H Coffman (now 59) 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 between 2003 – 2005, and kept returning to the country through 2006, reported directly to Rumsfeld.

“Every single detention centre would have its own interrogation committee,” claimed al-Samari , who has for the first time talked in detail about the US role in the brutal interrogation units. “Each one was made up of an intelligence officer and eight interrogators. This committee will use all means of torture to make the detainee confess like using electricity or hanging him upside down, pulling out their nails, and beating them on sensitive parts.”

The Guardian/BBC Arabic investigation was sparked by the release of classified US military logs on WikiLeaks that detailed hundreds of incidents where US soldiers came across tortured detainees in a network of detention centres run by the police commandos across Iraq. Private Bradley Manning, 25, is facing a prison sentence of up to 20 years after he pleaded guilty to leaking the documents.

The pattern in Iraq provides an eerie parallel to the well-documented human rights abuses committed by US-advised and funded paramilitary squads in Central America in the 1980s.

Are electric shocks to the genitals and pulling out fingernails what this country stands for, what it means when it talks about “freedom?” Bradley Manning’s defense is that he acted to release the documents he did because he believed that to do otherwise would be to follow unlawful orders. If we do not accept torture as an American value, why is Bradley Manning in prison?

The answer is pretty clear: our government does regards torture as perfectly acceptable.


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