11/17/2005

CBC-TV News: the fifth estate - A Few Bad Apples

"A Few Bad Apples" provides the context for understanding how rules were muddled, chains of authority confused and "forward leaning" interrogation methods authorized by the highest levels through the stories of the soldiers caught in the resulting chaos.

A FEW BAD APPLES
In April of 2004, a series of photos depicting events at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq were made public and shocked the world. The photos showed Iraqi detainees being abused and humiliated by their American military captors.

ONE NIGHT OF ABUSE
The fifth estate's story, "A Few Bad Apples", unravels the events of one night—October 25, 2003—events captured in one of those famous photographs. Three Iraqis, detained by American soldiers at the prison, are dragged from their cells, made to crawl naked along the floor and chained together on the ground and forced to mimic sex. (see large photo above) More soldiers gather. Some participate in the humiliation of the detainees, others stand by and watch.

"A Few Bad Apples" tells the story of the soldiers in that photograph—some of the "bad apples" that the White House argued were, alone, responsible for the abuses in Abu Ghraib—as well as another, bigger, story about politics and the war in Iraq.
A NEW INTERROGATION POLICY
The quick victory predicted by many Pentagon officials did not materialize after the invasion of Iraq. The country became ever more violent and dangerous. Caught unprepared, American forces scrambled to gather intelligence against a new, shadowy enemy.

Aggressive interrogation policies that contravened the Geneva Conventions were condoned and, in many instances, encouraged by the highest levels of the American government. High-level commanders insisted detainees be "broken". Soldiers in the field now understood that the "gloves [were] coming off."

Israel Rivera witnessed the abuse against Iraqi prisoners that night and walked away. The next day he reported the incident to his commander.

Young, inexperienced reserve soldiers like Israel Rivera were ordered to help break the detainees. Rivera told the fifth estate's Gillian Findlay: "I mean, prior to being an [intelligence] analyst I worked at Kentucky Fried Chicken, so it was quite a big jump from being a 19-year-old wage worker to, you know, people coming toward you and saying well, what do you think."

In Washington DC, Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan, plans were drawn up that would change the nature of interrogation policy at Abu Ghraib, allowing for new methods that were previously considered off-limits. John Yoo is a legal scholar who helped re-define the term "torture" for the Bush White House.

He explained the rational for doing so to Gillian Findlay: "I don't see why we ought to follow a policy that was created for wars between nation states that follow the laws of war when we're fighting an opponent that violates all the laws of war."

"A Few Bad Apples" provides the context for understanding how rules were muddled, chains of authority confused and "forward leaning" interrogation methods authorized by the highest levels through the stories of the soldiers caught in the resulting chaos.

CBC-TV News: the fifth estate - A Few Bad Apples

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