Imagine you live in the Middle East.
You are a retired general who served for the Iran Special Forces after having been imprisoned for criticizing Saddam’s regime. U.S. troops are settled throughout your city and they become aware of your former military position.
You fear every day that they may come for you.
One night it happens. From a helicopter, U.S. soldiers storm into your house. Your children are tied up, choking on the cords tied around their necks. One son is punched by a soldier for screaming.
You are then arrested and the following morning initiated into the Iraqi prison of Abu Ghraib, while your six-month pregnant wife is miscarrying your child in a hospital after the chaos of the raid.
This was the reality for Abu Maan, who spent 11 months of his life in Abu Ghraib. The world saw Maan’s mistreatment in Abu Ghraib when pictures leaked, revealing the tactics being used within the facility.
“Lifting the Hood,” a documentary produced by SBS Dateline, looks at the treatment of Maan and two other inmates during their stay at the Iraqi detention center.
Abu Ghraib was a prison originally used by Saddam Hussein, but reopened for U.S. military purposes. The U.S. military was using intelligence, rather than force, to combat the terrorists in Iraq.
To obtain that intelligence, it must be extracted from suspects — suspects such as Munadel al-Jumeili.
According to the documentary, the CIA alleged that Jumeili supplied explosives to several terrorist attacks. Jumeili’s daughter argues that the suggestions are lies told by an informant.
Jumeili died five hours after being arrested and taken to Abu Ghraib. The autopsy report stated the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the chest, breaking five ribs, paired with asphysiation by a hood on his head and the straining position he was tied in.
In the documentary, Jumeili’s daughter holds a photo of a soldier smiling over her father’s dead corpse, and asks, “Who can do this? Is this a human being? Isn’t he human like him (the soldier)?”
No one has been charged in the apparent homicide.
Nine of the guards and soldiers from Abu Ghraib were arrested on unrelated charges after many images of prisoner mistreatment were leaked. The most severe sentence was 10 years in prison.
Another prisoner, Haj Ali, was held in Abu Ghraib for three months. During his first four days, Ali said he was deprived of food, sexually assaulted with a rifle, and underwent psychological trauma that was worst of all.
He was interrogated by water boarding and felt what it was like to have a loaded gun to his head.
A hand injury he received before being arrested was used as an interrogation tactic, Ali said. A guard made him lay on the floor with his hand in front of him. When the soldier brought his boot heavily down on the broken wrist, Ali said he passed out from the pain.
After four months, Ali was hooded, put into a trunk, and dropped off in public. He was never told what his charges were.
Now, Ali said he is looking for a surgeon to fix his disfigured hand.
In 2009, President Barrack Obama revealed four Bush-era memos that allowed extended maltreatment to Iraqi prisoners.
These top-secret CIA memos were intended for Guantanamo Bay and other secret detention centers around the world. Some of the treatment includes throwing prisoners into walls, shackling them to the ceiling for hours, water boarding, sleep deprivation for up to 11 days, and placing prisoners in coffin-like boxes with insects.
Is torture becoming a part of the American way? I thought the point of the Middle East war was to bring democracy to the innocent civilians, not to lead a terrorist witch hunt where innocents can be tortured.
Arrests without charges and interrogations with torture are two things that would never be condoned in our country, and certainly shouldn’t be condoned in foreign policy, either. If the U.S. wishes to bring democracy to Iraq, why not start by exemplifying what democracy entails.