Atrocities by U.S. Troops Commonplace, Soldier Says

One of the more than 5,000 U.S. military deserters, Jeremy Hinzman, had an Immigration and Refugee Board hearing in Canada at which another ex-soldier, Jimmy Massey testified that U.S. military atrocities were commonplace in Iraq.

His story is one of an increasing number that tell of the savagery of the occupation troops. This despite strong measures to try to keep this brutality from being brought to light:

On , Sgt. Frank “Greg” Ford, a counterintelligence agent in the California National Guard’s 223rd Military Intelligence (M.I.) Battalion stationed in Samarra, Iraq, told his commanding officer, Capt. Victor Artiga, that he had witnessed five incidents of torture and abuse of Iraqi detainees at his base, and requested a formal investigation. Thirty-six hours later, Ford, a 49-year-old with over 30 years of military service in the Coast Guard, Army and Navy, was ordered by U.S. Army medical personnel to lie down on a gurney, was then strapped down, loaded onto a military plane and medevac’d to a military medical center outside the country.

Although no “medevac” order appears to have been written, in violation of Army policy, Ford was clearly shipped out because of a diagnosis that he was suffering from combat stress. After Ford raised the torture allegations, Artiga immediately said Ford was “delusional” and ordered a psychiatric examination, according to Ford. But that examination, carried out by an Army psychiatrist, diagnosed him as “completely normal.”

A witness, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Marciello, claims that Artiga became enraged when he read the initial medical report finding nothing wrong with Ford and intimidated the psychiatrist into changing it. According to Marciello, Artiga angrily told the psychiatrist that it was a “C.I. [counterintelligence] or M.I. matter” and insisted that she had to change her report and get Ford out of Iraq.

Documents show that all subsequent examinations of Ford by Army mental-health professionals, over many months, confirmed his initial diagnosis as normal.

That’s from today’s Salon magazine. An ACLU press release yesterday tells of another cover-up:

A memo from Vice Admiral Lowell E. Jacoby, Defense Intelligence Agency chief, entitled “alleged detainee abuse by TF 62-6,” describing how DIA personnel who complained about abuses were threatened, had their car keys confiscated and e-mails monitored, and were ordered “not to talk to anyone in the U.S.” or leave the base “even to get a haircut.”

The memo also describes how the task force’s officers punched a prisoner in the face “to the point he needed medical attention,” failed to record the medical treatment, and confiscated DIA photos of the injuries. The date of the incident is unclear.

Combine what we know of the abuses that have come to light with this new evidence of the vigor of cover-up attempts, then add in the Dubya Squad’s penchant for secrecy and foot-dragging about FOIA disclosures, and then estimate the size of the iceberg we’re seeing the tip of.

Update: a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report published on cast doubt on the atrocity stories told by Jimmy Massey. However, that report has itself been called into doubt. See also: this Democracy Now debate, and Paul Rockwell’s defense of Massey.