More about Quran desecration and prison abuse by US

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The American Civil Liberties Union had filed a case in a US federal court that FBI and other agencies should make public all records concerning the detainees under US authority. ACLU made this claim under the US law: the Freedom of Information Act. It won the case and the federal court ordered FBI and other agencies to make public all record concerning detainees. Under the court order, FBI released some documents on May 25, 2005.

According to an Associated Press report, large portions of the interrogation summaries were blacked out by FBI censors before being released to the ACLU. In spite of blackout of large portions of interrogation summaries, in their latest disclosure, declassified FBI reports showed that detainees at the U.S. naval prison in Cuba told FBI and military interrogators on a number of occasions as early as April 2002 –” three months after the first prisoners arrived at the makeshift prison –” that guards abused them and desecrated the Quran.

Lawrence Di Rita, chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, tried to blame the detainees themselves for making false claims of Quran desecration. But the AP report refers to the consistency of allegations by detainees. Were they all telling lies and conspired against their ‘innocent’ guards to blame them for an act, Quran desecration, which they had not committed?

AP reports, "The statements about guards disrespecting the Quran echo public allegations made many months later by some detainees and their lawyers after the prisoners’ release from Guantanamo Bay. The FBI documents show a consistency to the allegations and are the first indication that Justice and Defense department officials were aware in early 2002 that detainees were accusing their guards of mistreating the Quran."

In the light of such consistency of evidence by the detainees for over 3 years in the knowledge of US authorities’ concerned, it is easier to cast doubts on Di Rita denials rather than assume that all detainees’ claims were pure lies.

Washington Post has published further details of the FBI records. They indicate that at least 19 separate allegations of beatings or other severe violence on the part of guards or others in control of the prisoners in Afghanistan or at Guantanamo Bay. One captive said he was kicked in the stomach, back and head by U.S. military personnel at an unknown location and suffered a broken shoulder.

The records also include numerous allegations that guards or interrogators at Guantanamo Bay used sexually suggestive techniques designed to humiliate Muslim men. One said he was forced to stand naked in front of a female interrogator. Another said he was "touched sexually" by male guards.

The government has said two female interrogators at Guantanamo Bay have been reprimanded for sexually related techniques, including one for smearing ink on a detainee and telling him that it was menstrual blood.

After the release of FBI documents, Amnesty International has called it "the gulag of our time." It has urged the United States should shut down the prison, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the human rights group’s complaints were "unsupported by the facts" and allegations of mistreatment were being investigated. The ACLU has collected more than 30,000 official documents released by US government sources. These documents are available on their Web site. What more facts are needed by the White House spokesman? A lot of books have also been published to support the fact of mistreatment of the detainees.

An ACLU lawyer, Amrit Singh said, "The evidence that there was systemic and widespread abuse of detainees in U.S. custody continues to mount and the government continues to turn a blind eye to this evidence,"

The Constitution Project, based at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute, urged Congress to begin an independent investigation similar to the one conducted by the Sept. 11 commission to examine how abuse occurred and to develop policies to prevent such incidents.

In releasing its annual report on human rights, Amnesty International called for an independent investigation into alleged abuse at U.S. detention facilities. Executive Director William F. Schulz of Amnesty International asked for the prosecution of the "architects of torture policy" at the highest levels of the Bush administration. He said in a news conference at the National Press Club, "The refusal of the U.S. government to conduct a truly independent investigation into the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison and other detention centers is tantamount to a whitewash, if not a cover-up, of these disgraceful crimes,". He later called on foreign governments to investigate leaders such as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld if the United States is unwilling to do so.

Some 540 men are being held at Guantanamo Bay on suspicion of links to Afghanistan’s ousted Taliban government or the al-Qaida terror network. Some have been jailed for more than three years without charge.

The New York Times recently published details of a U.S. army report on abuse of detainees at Bagram Air Base near Kabul in 2002.

Anger with the United States was exacerbated this month over a magazine report U.S. military interrogators had desecrated the Koran. Sixteen people were killed in anti-American riots that quickly took on an anti-Karzai tone.

A Reuter report says that many Afghans say the retraction of the report by Newsweek magazine over a sourcing problem did not mean the desecration did not happen.

It is becoming difficult to control the situation in Afghanistan. Five hundred Ulema, Muslim scholars, gathered and declared that they will declare Jihad against US, if the culprits of Quran abuse are not found and punished by the Bush Administration.

Though the reports of abuse, including the death of two men, were not new, Karzai responded forcefully, calling for more control of U.S. operations and the return of Afghan detainees from U.S. custody.

Both demands were deflected when Karzai met President Bush. A worried Karzai said, "The problem is public opinion and the people inside Afghanistan, how to appease them, how to calm them."

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