Friday, September 4, 2009

U.S. Government Suppressing Reports of Prisoner Deaths

DoD has completely suppressed prisoner death reports from Afghanistan since 2004 and adopted a similar policy for Iraq in 2008.
This is the conclusion of Dr. Steven Miles in an not-yet released article in the American Journal of Bioethics. The quote comes from an important story by Daphne Eviatar in today's Washington Independent.
The New York Times also reported back in 2004 that the Defense Department had provided incomplete or inaccurate information about deaths of prisoners in its custody.

I’ve asked several different spokesmen at the Department of Defense over the last few days to respond to this charge, to explain its policy for reporting detainee deaths, and to explain if that policy has changed since 2003. So far, I have received no response.

But Devon Chaffee, Advocacy Counsel at Human Rights First, which reported in 2006 on about 100 deaths in U.S. custody since 2002 that it was able to learn about, was not surprised.

“Our report found that commanders failed to report deaths in custody. Sometimes they reported them days or weeks later. But there clearly was a reporting problem. Some were simply not reported at all,” she added, although Army regulations require that any deaths in U.S. custody be reported within 24 hours.

Dr. Miles, author of “Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity and America’s War on Terror, has been tracking the issue of prisoner deaths for years. In his new article, he will report that by the end of 2008 over 50% of known decedents in Iraqi prisons were unnamed, and less than a quarter even had a death certificate. Now, reports have stopped. Eviatar notes that Obama's Department of Defense has not "resumed regular reporting on the deaths of prisoners in custody."

What kind of barbarous country is the United States? Prisoners who die must remain anonymous, ghostly, invisible witnesses to an imperial policy of war and conquest. And back home? The President of the United States says that when it comes to crimes like torture, the country should "look forward," and forgive those who thought they were only following orders. While I am a total supporter of the need for 100% socialized medicine and health care, the population is so insensate that the worst sort of inhuman crimes and policies pass by unremarked, as the population remains fixated on the difficult health care struggle, as if it couldn't pay attention to much else or its ability to think or act politically on more than one thing would cause their heads to explode.

No treaty is too sacrosanct that it can't be ignored. No crime is too great, if committed under the red, white and blue. No issue carries any importance if it doesn't touch the sacred lives of Americans.


trog69 said...

Good afternoon, Dr. Valtin.

Obviously, they see no upside to producing those figures. Just like Bush discontinuing the M3 numbers, why put it out there so that they have to defend them. No figures, no worries.

Anyway, I forgot how I got here, but after reading a few of your posts, let me say that I am sincerely grateful for your work putting these scoundrels feet to the fire. As the WH example illustrates all to clearly, it's a lot easier just burying your head in the sand, and taking the paycheck. Or counting on someone else taking up the fight for you. Thank you,

tom rogers

Valtin said...

Thanks, Tom. It's always good to hear others think I'm doing a good job.

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