News Datacide 15, pt.1: Endless War

Endless War
In April 2015, three mercenaries (Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard) of the American private military contractor previously known as Blackwater Security Consulting (now Academi) were sentenced each to 30 years and one mercenary (Nicholas Slatten) to life in prison for the Nisour Square massacre of September 16, 2007 in Baghdad. The jury in this federal criminal case found that the Blackwater contractors opened fire indiscriminately into the busy square, killing 17 Iraqi civilians and wounding 20 others, and were not provoked or in danger as the defendants had claimed. The investigation into the massacre and the subsequent trial were riddled with problems, while the fifth Blackwater mercenary (Jeremy Ridgeway) co-operated with the government and testified against others, and was sentenced to twelve months in prison. This is one of the few court cases in which American mercenaries were found criminally liable for manslaughter of civilians during the second Iraq war, despite widespread abuses, torture and murder.

The Pentagon continues in late December 2015 to stonewall a federal judge’s ruling to release to the public 2,100 photographs of detainee abuse and torture committed by US soldiers and contractors. On February 4, 2016, the Pentagon released only 198 photos which mostly show close-ups of bruises or small wounds on detainees’ bodies. The withheld photographs document torture at Abu Ghraib prison and 23 other locations including ‘black sites’, and are said to be even more sadistic than those made public in 2003. The Pentagon has ‘re-certified’ the rest of the photographs as ‘secret’ to prevent their release, and the government has filed a motion to have the judge’s order vacated. The Obama administration continues the Bush administration’s policies to keep evidence of abuse and torture ‘secret’ despite claiming to be ‘the most transparent administration ever’.

In December 2014, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a highly redacted executive summary (525 pages) of its full 6,700-page report on CIA abuse, torture and rendition programs. No one has been held legally or criminally liable for the abuse and torture detailed in the summary and the report, which included waterboarding; sleep depravation for long periods; forcing prisoners to stand on their broken legs/feet and/or in ‘stress positions’; non-stop interrogation for weeks; rape (including so-called forced ‘rectal feeding/hydration’); sexual abuse; death by hypothermia; the use of music/noise, light and darkness as torture; dragging on the floor naked, chained prisoners; stuffing naked prisoners into tiny boxes or coffins for days; threats of sexual abuse against relatives of the prisoners; conducting mock executions; ‘ice baths’, etc. [Read more →]