CNN in Iraq -- new report

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Babak, Apr 11, 2003.

  1. Babak


    The News We Kept to Ourselves

    TLANTA — Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN's Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard — awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.

    For example, in the mid-1990's one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government's ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency's Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk.

    Working for a foreign news organization provided Iraqi citizens no protection. The secret police terrorized Iraqis working for international press services who were courageous enough to try to provide accurate reporting. Some vanished, never to be heard from again. Others disappeared and then surfaced later with whispered tales of being hauled off and tortured in unimaginable ways. Obviously, other news organizations were in the same bind we were when it came to reporting on their own workers.

    We also had to worry that our reporting might endanger Iraqis not on our payroll. I knew that CNN could not report that Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, told me in 1995 that he intended to assassinate two of his brothers-in-law who had defected and also the man giving them asylum, King Hussein of Jordan. If we had gone with the story, I was sure he would have responded by killing the Iraqi translator who was the only other participant in the meeting. After all, secret police thugs brutalized even senior officials of the Information Ministry, just to keep them in line (one such official has long been missing all his fingernails).

    Still, I felt I had a moral obligation to warn Jordan's monarch, and I did so the next day. King Hussein dismissed the threat as a madman's rant. A few months later Uday lured the brothers-in-law back to Baghdad; they were soon killed.

    I came to know several Iraqi officials well enough that they confided in me that Saddam Hussein was a maniac who had to be removed. One Foreign Ministry officer told me of a colleague who, finding out his brother had been executed by the regime, was forced, as a test of loyalty, to write a letter of congratulations on the act to Saddam Hussein. An aide to Uday once told me why he had no front teeth: henchmen had ripped them out with pliers and told him never to wear dentures, so he would always remember the price to be paid for upsetting his boss. Again, we could not broadcast anything these men said to us.

    Last December, when I told Information Minister Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf that we intended to send reporters to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, he warned me they would "suffer the severest possible consequences." CNN went ahead, and in March, Kurdish officials presented us with evidence that they had thwarted an armed attack on our quarters in Erbil. This included videotaped confessions of two men identifying themselves as Iraqi intelligence agents who said their bosses in Baghdad told them the hotel actually housed C.I.A. and Israeli agents. The Kurds offered to let us interview the suspects on camera, but we refused, for fear of endangering our staff in Baghdad.

    Then there were the events that were not unreported but that nonetheless still haunt me. A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for "crimes," one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family's home.

    I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely.

    Eason Jordan is chief news executive at CNN.

    [btw I cut/pasted this because ny times requires trial]
  2. I'm sure a lot of the people who were protesting this war must be devastated to learn that there will be no more torture taking place at the hands of Saddam's regime.

    It must really upset to know that people won't be getting their teeth ripped out or having people ripped apart limb by limb.

    Where are all the war protestors now? They're still around -- let's not forget who they were, either.
  3. msfe


    UK troops 'break law' by hooding Iraqi prisoners

    British troops have been following America's example by hooding Iraqi detainees, but the practice is inhuman and illegal, writes Matthew Happold

    Friday April 11, 2003

    In recent days, television has shown pictures of British troops making arrests in southern Iraq. Those arrested, it has been reported, are Ba'athist leaders and militia. If so, they may well be guilty of heinous crimes.

    However, what we have seen on our screens are pictures of hooded and bound individuals, many of who were obviously terrified by such treatment, being pushed around by British soldiers. Hooding - the placing of a bag or sack over an individual's head and securing it so that it cannot be removed - is a practice with an ugly history. It is not only inhuman and illegal; it is also often the harbinger of further rough treatment.

    Were such a practice to be adopted at home, there would be an outcry. It is difficult to see why practising it abroad on foreigners renders it acceptable. There are no good reasons to hood detainees. It does not provide any extra protection to the detaining troops once the suspect is bound, nor is there any need for British troops to hide their identify from their captives.

    Hooding is a form of sensory deprivation. It is disorientating, frightening and possibly dangerous for those subject to it (particularly when their hands are also tied). Hooding also serves to dehumanise the person subjected to it, possibly leading to rougher treatment at the hands of his captors. Indeed, television footage of British troops escorting hooded suspects did not show them acting with much solicitude. Hooding has often been used as a "softening up" technique prior to interrogation. The fact that it is being practised by British troops does not give one confidence as to their behaviour once the cameras stop rolling and interrogation starts.

    In adopting the practice, the British army seems to be following the Americans, who were photographed hooding al-Qaeda suspects in Afghanistan. US interrogation techniques have been extensively condemned. The Washington Post has reported that al-Qaeda suspects detained at Bagram air base, in Afghanistan, have been subjected to treatment that clearly amounts to torture under international law.

    The last time British security forces hooded suspects was as one of the so-called "five techniques" used in Northern Ireland in the early 1970s. The four other techniques were wall-standing, subjection to white noise, and deprivation of sleep and of food and drink. These "five techniques" were found by the European court of human rights to constitute inhuman treatment, in breach of the UK's obligations under the European convention on human rights. British forces' present conduct similarly risks being in breach of our international obligations.

    British troops are in occupation of southern Iraq; accordingly they have obligations towards Iraqi civilians under the fourth Geneva convention. They are also obliged to treat members of the Iraqi armed forces in accordance with the third Geneva convention. Both provide that persons in the power of occupying forces must be treated humanely. Hooding detainees may well violate these obligations.

    In addition to violating international humanitarian law - the law governing the conduct of armed conflicts and military occupations - it may be that in allowing the hooding of suspects, the UK is in violation of its human rights' obligations. The UK is a party to both the international covenant on civil and political rights, and the European convention on human rights. Both prohibit inhuman and degrading treatment. But even under customary international law, humiliating and degrading treatment is prohibited in all circumstances.

    The human rights committee, the body charged with supervising compliance with the international covenant, has held that it applies to states as well as to military occupiers. Whether the scope of the European convention applies in such situations is less clear.

    The European court of human rights has held admissible a complaint against the activities of the Turkish armed forces in northern Iraq, but in a more recent decision, the court stated that the convention applied in an essentially regional, i.e. European, context. Putting this aside, however, it does seem that the hooding of Iraq suspects might breach international human rights as well as international humanitarian law.

    Although any violations by British troops are minor by comparison to those committed by the Iraqi government, to rely on this distinction misses the point. The UK has entered into its international engagements freely and should comply with them. The purpose of these obligations is to protect human life and dignity, the very values that the coalition claims to stand for.

    In addition, the UK, unlike the US, is a party to the Rome statute of the international criminal court. Potential violations of the laws and customs of war by British troops can be investigated and prosecuted by the court, if it considers that the domestic authorities are unable or unwilling to do so (although this seems unlikely).

    The hooding of prisoners is one American habit we should not adopt. Their treatment of detainees - at Bagram air base, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere - has been heavily criticised. The concern must be that having adopting one American practice, the UK will adopt others as well. The British army has a reputation for discipline and for treating prisoners well. The ministry of defence should order the end of the practice of hooding prisoners immediately.

    · Matthew Happold is a lecturer in Law at the University of Nottingham
  4. all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for the decent people to do nothing. If people cross over the line and support the evil, then they are guilty by association. The people that aided the iraqi propaganda machine, and attempted to harm the morale of our troops, are guilty and should not get away totally clean.

    The least we can do is remember.
  5. msfe


    If people cross over the line and support the evil, then they are guilty by association.The people that aided the American propaganda machine, are guilty and should not get away totally clean.

    The least we can do is remember.
  6. ElCubano


    You are pretty ignorant to think that the War protesters were protesting about liberating Iraq........There are many Dictators that torture inlcuding some that we have put in power...what say you about that..It is a great accoplishment to see the Iraqi people free at last, but dont for one second be fooled that this was the reason we went....Bush Sr. let f-16 pilots not fire on iraqi troops back in 91' when the Iraqi troops were slaughtering the people uprising back then.....peace
  7. Ungodly acts, and commonplace. How many tens of thousands of Iraqis were tortured, imprisoned, and executed? We may never know.

    And then, completely and utterly unmoved by these tales of horror, our remora, MSFE, appears out of the ether...


    As further revelations of the depravity of the Hussein regime emerge - accounts of rape, torture, kidnappings, dismemberment, etc. - MSFE will no doubt bring forth charges against the US of committing such despicable acts as not serving champagne with the prisoners' meals, prohibiting the viewing of adult videos while in custody, and, horror of horrors, the utter lack of room service.

    What a complete and utter ass.
  8. they would still be getting tortured to this day if we hadn't gone in and you know it. And the war protestors WERE AGAINST GOING IN. Fact. Deny it at your own peril, its bad for your mental health.
  9. ElCubano


    In North Korea,,, we have the same situation...lets see how we handle that. In Cuba they are right now as we speak jailing people 18 -20 years for having a fax and talking agaisnt the Cuban regime, lets see how we handle that....but yes I agree with you they would still be getting tortured and its good to see the smile on the kids faces on TV...peace
  10. There are dictators all over the world, and it is my true heart felt belief that there should be no dictators on the planet earth.

    As for which ones can be dealt with and in what manner, I leave that up to true statesmen and generals. This particular war seemed totally logical and timely to me, and I supported it without reservation, and anybody with eyes and ears knows that it was a success.
    #10     Apr 11, 2003