How Manadel al-Jamadi Died

Remember the dead guy on ice in those Abu Ghraib photos? The one that Charles Graner and Lynndie England posed with in their beaming smiles and their green surgical-gloved hands in thumbs-up poses? Today the Associated Press told us the story of how he died.

An Iraqi whose corpse was photographed with grinning U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib died under CIA interrogation while in a position condemned by human rights groups as torture — suspended by his wrists, with his hands cuffed behind his back, according to reports reviewed by The Associated Press.…

Al-Jamadi was one of the CIA’s “ghost” detainees at Abu Ghraib — prisoners being held secretly by the agency.…

Al-Jamadi died in a prison shower room during about a half-hour of questioning, before interrogators could extract any information, according to the documents, which consist of statements from Army prison guards to investigators with the military and the CIA’s Inspector General’s office.

One Army guard, Sgt. Jeffery Frost, said the prisoner’s arms were stretched behind him in a way he had never before seen. Frost told investigators he was surprised al-Jamadi’s arms “didn’t pop out of their sockets,” according to a summary of his interview.

Frost and other guards had been summoned to reposition al-Jamadi, who an interrogator said was not cooperating. As the guards released the shackles and lowered al-Jamadi, blood gushed from his mouth “as if a faucet had been turned on,” according to the interview summary.

The military pathologist who ruled the case a homicide found several broken ribs and concluded al-Jamadi died from pressure to the chest and difficulty breathing.

Andrew Sullivan, one of the few conservatives who seem to be in the least bit troubled by this, notes:

Notice: a CIA interrogator [ordered this abuse] — not some free-lance goon on the night shift. We need to know and we need to know now whether this technique — Palestinian hanging — was approved for use by the CIA. There’s a memo that will let us know. The White House won’t release it. Where is the Congress? Where, for example, is John McCain? If he won’t stand up against sanctioned torture by the CIA, who will?

Why is that detail so important (that it was a CIA interrogator who ordered the abuse)? Because the Dubya Squad have been trying hard to distinguish the ostensibly unauthorized torture that we have photographic evidence of — the shenanigans at Abu Ghraib — from the “our lawyers tell us it’s not torture” that they’ve authorized the CIA to conduct or oversee.

If the CIA was running interrogations at Abu Ghraib itself using techniques that have already been ruled torture by international courts (Turkey got caught using the “Palestinian hanging” technique) — there goes that attempt at an excuse.

But the Dubya Squad’s main strategy in all of this has been neither obfuscation nor secrecy — the size of the tip of the iceberg that’s already leaked out amazes me. Nope: their strategy is to assume that even if the truth comes out, the American people and the other branches of government probably won’t make a big deal about it. So far, it’s working.