Thursday, November 16, 2006

Dumsfeld And Others Accused Of Torture

Outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and other American officials have been named in a lawsuit filed in Germany earlier this week, which alleges that they bear responsibility for torture committed at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. A preliminary hearing was held in Berlin on Tuesday, details of which have been difficult to find, especially in the USA. How surprising!

Fortunately, more comprehensive reports have been published elsewhere.

From Business Day (South Africa): Former US inmates target Rumsfeld in war crimes suit:
Eleven former prisoners of the US armed forces [Tuesday] filed a lawsuit in Germany calling for former US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and other American officials to be investigated for war crimes.

Backed by human rights groups, the 11 say they were tortured at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison and the US prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba on the orders of Rumsfeld and other top members of US President George Bush’s administration.
From The Berlin Paper: Lawyers meet in movie theaters to push for Rumsfeld war crimes suit
Lawyers met Tuesday in Mitte’s Babylon theater [shown in the photo above: the marquee reads "Human Rights Against Rumsfeld"] to announce and explain their lawsuit against outgoing US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other Bush administration officials whom they accuse of committing war crimes.

The lawsuit was organized by Wolfgang Kaleck from the Center for Institutional Rights (CCR); the German lawyers’ group “Republikanische Anwälteverein” (RAV); and the Paris-based Federation Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l’Hommes (FIDH). The suit asks the German Federal Prosecutor’s office in Karlsruhe to investigate whether Rumsfeld, attorney general Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet, and Bush administration lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee committed war crimes in authorizing the use of torture.

For five hours on Monday, lawyers read the text of their lawsuit to the public at Friedrichshain movie theater Kino International before filing court papers on Tuesday in Karlsruhe.

This suit differs from a similar brief filed last year in that it lists 12 individuals, rather than four, as having been tortured and abused by US officials. In both instances, the cases were cobbled together using Pentagon memos, reports from human rights groups, newspaper articles, and eyewitness testimonies.

But what bolsters their argument this time is former brigadier general Janis Karpinski’s offer to testify on their behalf.
By far the most detailed English-language report of the hearing that I have been able to find is Rumsfeld faces lawsuit for alleged war crimes in Iraq, written by Roger Boyes in Berlin, and published by Times Online (UK). Boyes' report includes the following:
[Janis Karpinski], the former head of Abu Ghraib jail [...] gave a graphic account of conditions in the US detention centre as part of an attempt to put Donald Rumsfeld in the dock for allegedly aiding and abetting war crimes in Iraq.
“When I arrived in 2003, the prison held under 500 Iraqis, but, within a month, after a visit by military intelligence, that number had jumped to 3,000,” said Mrs Karpinski.

“Within a further month, the prison was holding 7,800. There was no release procedure in place and most did not know why they were being held.”
She accused Mr Rumsfeld [Tuesday] of authorising the use of torture at the prison and effectively wresting the jail out of her control.

At a public hearing in Berlin today - to press home the prosecution case against Mr Rumsfeld - the former governor described how a senior military intelligence officer, Major General Geoffrey Miller, took command over the prison. He was, according to the case presented to a public hearing today, acting on the orders of Mr Rumsfeld to secure better and quicker intelligence from captured Iraqis.

“He simply said: ’I order you to hand over Abu Ghraib to me’,” recalled the former governor, who was disciplined and demoted after photographs of prisoner abuse were made public.
Mrs. Karpinski was interviewed on Monday by the German paper Tagesspiegel, but (as far as I can tell) it has only been published in German. My attempts to translate the text into English using software have produced illegible results, so I'll spare you the details.

If you any know enough German to translate this web page, or if you know of any software capable of generating a reasonable translation, please contact me, either via email or in comments.