31 May 2004

Jailed - for showing dislike of US invaders

General Ryder, the army's provost marshal, reported that some Iraqis had been held for months for nothing more than expressing 'displeasure or ill will' towards the US occupying forces.

The report, drafted in November, said the process for deciding which arrested Iraqis posed security risks justifying imprisonment violated the Pentagon's own policies. It also said the conditions in which they were held sometimes violated the Geneva conventions.

General Ryder's report to Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez, the senior American commander in Iraq, was obtained by The New York Times.

Senior military officials also revealed that interrogation experts from the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay were sent to Iraq in the second half of last year and played a big role in training US military intelligence teams at Abu Ghraib.

Meanwhile, human rights groups say Iraqi women who were held at Abu Ghraib have complained of rape by US and Iraqi jailers. Brigadier-General Mark Kimmitt, chief military spokesman for the US-led coalition in Iraq, said the prisons department was 'unaware of any such reports at Abu Ghraib'.

If the contents of the Ryder report are quoted correctly, then most of the recent testimony by Messrs Rumsfeld and Co is now inoperative. The most terrible thing about Abu Ghraib, beyond the torture itself, is the casual way that several thousand people have been held without trial, review, or any real purpose except inertia. In the name of big-F freedom.

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