Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Court-Martial Of Willie Brand

Willie Brand told 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley what he did wasn’t torture, it was his training. The Bush administration also maintains we do not torture. Yet, Brand was charged with assault, maiming and manslaughter in the deaths of two men who died only days after they had been brought in on suspicion of being Taliban fighters. What did the medical examiner find?
Habibullah and Dilawar were found dead in their cells, hanging from their chains. The military medical examiner says Dilawar’s legs were pulpified. Both autopsy reports were marked "homicide." But the Army spokesman in Afghanistan told the media that both men had died of natural causes.
The pulpified legs were probably the result of one method soldiers used to control prisoners – "a knee to the common peroneal nerve in the leg, a strike with so much force behind it that the prisoner would lose muscle control and collapse in pain."
Medical experts say that Dilawar’s injuries were so severe that, if he had lived, both his legs would have required amputation. Even worse, one soldier testified that most of the interrogators thought Dilawar had been arrested only because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. They had come to believe he was just a cab driver.
Willie Brand was convicted of assault and maiming and faced 16 years in jail, but the jury of soldiers let him go with a reduction in rank. An additional 15 soldiers have been charged in the Bagram abuse so far with sentences ranging from letters of reprimand to five months in jail.

Brand continues to maintain he was trained to interrogate in that fashion and that his methods were condoned by his superior officers.
Retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, after serving 31 years in the Army, has drawn his own conclusions about how interrogation procedures were changed in Afghanistan and later in Iraq.

How did it go wrong?

"It went wrong because we had a secretary of defense who had never served on the ground a day in his life, who was arrogant and thought that he could release those twin pressures on the backs of his armed forces, the twin pressures being a wink and a nod, you can do a lot of things that you know don’t correspond to Geneva, don’t correspond to your code of conduct, don’t correspond to the Army field manual, and at the same time I want intelligence, I want intelligence, I want it now," says Wilkerson.
Rumsfeld's arrogance cost an innocent cab driver his life.

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