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The Guardian has published a new documentary which clearly indicates that torture of Iraqi citizens was ordered from the top.

Who is James Steele?  According to a 1988 New York Times article,

Lieut. Col. James Steele was head of the military group at the United States Embassy in El Salvador and testimony taken by the Congressional committees showed that he worked closely with the supply effort.
and, according to James Maass' 2005 article for the New York Times Magazine:
U.S. soldiers and officers are increasingly moving to a Salvador-style advisory role. In the process, they are backing up local forces that, like the military in El Salvador, do not shy away from violence. It is no coincidence that this new strategy is most visible in a paramilitary unit that has Steele as its main adviser; having been a key participant in the Salvador conflict, Steele knows how to organize a counterinsurgency campaign that is led by local forces.
This is the man who trained and supplied the El Salvadoran Death Squads, and in fact, lost his commission over his involvement in the Iran-Contra scanda. Rumsfeld knew he was dirty: that's why he sent him into Iraq.  But now, on with the show:

The allegations, made by US and Iraqi witnesses in the Guardian/BBC documentary, implicate US advisers for the first time in the human rights abuses committed by the commandos. It is also the first time that Petraeus – who last November was forced to resign as director of the CIA after a sex scandal – has been linked through an adviser to this abuse.


The Guardian/BBC Arabic investigation was sparked by the release of classified US military logs on WikiLeaks that detailed hundreds of incidents where US soldiers came across tortured detainees in a network of detention centres run by the police commandos across Iraq. Private Bradley Manning, 25, is facing a prison sentence of up to 20 years after he pleaded guilty to leaking the documents.

Samari claimed that torture was routine in the SPC-controlled detention centres. "I remember a 14-year-old who was tied to one of the library's columns. And he was tied up, with his legs above his head. Tied up. His whole body was blue because of the impact of the cables with which he had been beaten."

Gilles Peress, a photographer, came across Steele when he was on assignment for the New York Times, visiting one of the commando centres in the same library, in Samarra. "We were in a room in the library interviewing Steele and I'm looking around I see blood everywhere."

The reporter Peter Maass was also there, working on the story with Peress. "And while this interview was going on with a Saudi jihadi with Jim Steele also in the room, there were these terrible screams, somebody shouting: 'Allah, Allah, Allah!' But it wasn't kind of religious ecstasy or something like that, these were screams of pain and terror."

The pattern in Iraq provides an eerie parallel to the well-documented human rights abuses committed by US-advised and funded paramilitary squads in Central America in the 1980s. Steele was head of a US team of special military advisers that trained units of El Salvador's security forces in counterinsurgency. Petraeus visited El Salvador in 1986 while Steele was there and became a major advocate of counterinsurgency methods.

James Steele is now retired in comfort in Bryan/College Station, Texas -- home of Texas A & M, Texas World Speedway, and The George Bush Library and Foundation

Please contrast this, if you will,  with the treatment Bradley Manning, the man who released the information on what was going on in Iraq to WikiLeaks:

And now ask yourself:  who is the real hero?  

11:01 AM PT: And now for the El Salvadorization of the US

Private Prisons In the US, now with more Torture!

Kerness says the for-profit prison companies have created an entrepreneurial class like that of the Southern slaveholders, one “dependent on the poor, and on bodies of color as a source for income,” and she describes federal and state departments of corrections as “a state of mind.” This state of mind, she said in the interview, “led to Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo and what is going on in U.S. prisons right this moment.”

Who is the real hero here?

13%3 votes
78%18 votes
8%2 votes

| 23 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    "We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers salaries and take away their right to strike.” -Adolf Hitler, May 2, 1933

    by bekosiluvu on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 07:33:48 AM PDT

  •  Um, that would be neither. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ivorybill, FG

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 07:39:35 AM PDT

    •  "La la la, can't hear abt pattern of US torture (5+ / 0-)

      ...I've got carrots in my ears"?

      Without Manning, we'd still be pretending that Abu Ghraib was an isolated case of "rogue elements" rather than a widespread pattern established on the template of our work in El Salvador, by the same people -- namely, James Steele.  

      "We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers salaries and take away their right to strike.” -Adolf Hitler, May 2, 1933

      by bekosiluvu on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 07:46:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Heard an interesting story on Bradley Manning (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG, bekosiluvu

        on On the Media, on NPR yesterday. First, let me say that there's no nuance in James Steele's case. The man is a war criminal, and he belongs in the Hague. Manning did us a service by releasing that specific information. Just to get that out right at the start.

        However, I think Manning's case is somewhat nuanced... I still cannot accept the indiscriminate release of huge archives of diplomatic cables, because there really is a risk to individuals who may be associated with the US. I work for an NGO that was involved in child protection, gender-based violence and other legal related work in Iraq. We had to inform staff in Iraq that it is possible that their names were compromised, because, yes, we did communicate information on abuses to the State Department. That was not a fun conversation. It made me really angry. I also had to leave a country once, years ago, because of a (false) allegation that I was connected to a intelligence agency. That was frightening and destructive, and makes me viscerally opposed to massive, thoughtless release of information.

        That said, I think that what Manning did does not rise to the level of "aiding the enemy" or anywhere close. Whistleblowers sometimes have to pay a price, and I think Manning did what he did out of conscience. The price in this case should be proportional to the actual damage, taking into consideration what were honorable motives, and probably means a couple years in jail - not more. He did what Daniel Ellsberg did, only in a less targeted and much clumsier manner. I am glad he released the information on Steele. But the indiscriminate nature of the release of all that information bothers me. Even Wikileaks went from a dogmatic and cult-like "all information should be free and we're just a conduit" to later starting to behave more like a news source - acknowledging that information that can harm individuals should not be released. I wish Manning had released more selectively, and to the Guardian or the NYT rather than to Assange.  But is he a hero? Maybe. Time will tell. Sometimes heroes do idiotic things, and the way in which he released the information was naive at best, maybe just a little idiotic at worst. I've got a certain amount of sympathy for him and am deeply opposed to the abuses he endured in custody.  

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 08:33:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Even the Pentagon had a statement shortly after (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bekosiluvu, david78209, ivorybill

          Manning's leaks that there was no critical information involved.  That nothing damaged units in the field, etc.

          The thing that I see is this:

          Here's a young guy and he comes across some horrible things - the helicopter gunship video. Along with that there are thousands to millions of messages, videos, cables, whatnot.

          Could he sit down and sort through it all?  How long would it take one person and would he continue to have access to all of it for a long enough time?

          And then, I ask myself, why would "the system" be allowing access to all this classified information to such a low ranking soldier?  Could it be that the system simply over-classifies everything possible?

          I cannot blame Manning for releasing all that at once. I see how people might be worried about it, but the citizens of a democracy have a right to know what horrors are being committed in their name.  Once the Pentagon made the post-Vietnam decision to lock the press out of realistic, independent war reporting, the USA has been in the dark about the horrors our war-making causes.

          A million dead in Iraq for no reason whatsoever, other than Bush's hubris and Cheney's ambitions. And what has America been told about that?   We hear more about an America sniper (whose targets were whom, exactly?) than about the million dead, the vast majority of whom were civilians -- men, women and children not engaged in warfare.

          "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

          by YucatanMan on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 11:05:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Manning tried to hand it to media that could sort (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            bekosiluvu, YucatanMan, BradyB

            through it all and avoid releasing information that could compromise intelligence sources or soldiers in the field.  He got what he took as a brush-off from the Washington Post, and no call back from the NY Times public editor (who apparently didn't see it as part of his job to refer possible tips to the appropriate reporter).  

            And later, when the Times was getting the information via WikiLeaks, I think WikiLeaks or the Times or both tried to give the Federal Government (maybe via the State Department) a chance to review what was about to go to the public, though without the promise to redact anything the Feds wanted kept secret.  The Feds turned them down.  That makes me think the government was more interested in making an example of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange than in protecting alleged "secrets".  

            We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

            by david78209 on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 11:25:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  US torture? (0+ / 0-)
        There is no evidence that Steele or Coffman tortured prisoners themselves, only that they were sometimes present in the detention centres where torture took place and were involved in the processing of thousands of detainees.
        No one's actually accusing the US of torture in this article.  They're accusing the allied Iraqi forces of torture (which is consistent with the WikiLeaks documents)
        •  Oh, right, it's just a coincidence (0+ / 0-)

          That Jim Steele shows up and suddenly there are Death Squads running the joint.  In country after country.  

          Pull the other one, it's got bells on it.  

          "We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers salaries and take away their right to strike.” -Adolf Hitler, May 2, 1933

          by bekosiluvu on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 11:58:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  We need to come to terms with Reagan (6+ / 0-)

    I think the Reagan Administration conducted the most shameful foreign policy of my lifetime at least, and maybe the worst in our nation's history. The way we conducted the cold war in Latin America, Africa, Afghanistan and the Middle East in the Reagan years will haunt us for our lifetimes... the Guatemalan genoide, the enabling and empowerment of Saddam Hussein and the cynical policy of supporting both Iran and Iraq in that horrible war; the decades of violence in Congo and the legacy of Mobutu Sese Seko, the list goes on and on.

    And now this guy Steele. THey still put Reagan-Bush era idiots like Elliot Abrams on TV as pundits, instead of jailing them.

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

    by ivorybill on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 08:38:40 AM PDT

    •  Hear, hear! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "The way we conducted the cold war in Latin America, Africa, Afghanistan and the Middle East in the Reagan years will haunt us for our lifetimes..."  

      Personally, I think it goes back at least as far as Nixon, Kissinger and the Secret Bombing of Cambodia and Laos, and the overthrow of Allende in Chile... or even earlier to Eisenhower (/Nixon!) and the overthrow of Mosaddegh in Iran, and Árbenz in Guatemala.  

      And yes, It haunts us in any number of ways, not least of which is the fact that we continue to conduct wars this way, even when there is a Democrat in the White House.  

      And not least of which is the fact that the same torture and murder is being committed on American citizens in prisons here in America.  

      "We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers salaries and take away their right to strike.” -Adolf Hitler, May 2, 1933

      by bekosiluvu on Mon Mar 18, 2013 at 11:29:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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