Military autopsy reports provide indisputable proof that detainees
are being tortured to death while in US military custody. Yet the US corporate
media are covering it with the seriousness of a garage sale for the local Baptist
A recent American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posting of one of forty-four US
military autopsy reports reads as follows: "Final Autopsy Report: DOD 003164,
(Detainee) Died as a result of asphyxia (lack of oxygen to the brain) due to strangulation
as evidenced by the recently fractured hyoid bone in the neck and soft tissue
hemorrhage extending downward to the level of the right thyroid cartilage. Autopsy
revealed bone fracture, rib fractures, contusions in mid abdomen, back and buttocks
extending to the left flank, abrasions, lateral buttocks. Contusions, back of
legs and knees; abrasions on knees, left fingers and encircling to left wrist.
Lacerations and superficial cuts, right 4th and 5th fingers. Also, blunt force
injuries, predominately recent contusions (bruises) on the torso and lower extremities.
Abrasions on left wrist are consistent with use of restraints. No evidence of
defense injuries or natural disease. Manner of death is homicide. Whitehorse Detainment
Facility, Nasiriyah, Iraq."
The ACLU website further reveals how: "a 27-year-old Iraqi male died while
being interrogated by Navy Seals on April 5, 2004, in Mosul, Iraq. During his
confinement he was hooded, flex-cuffed, sleep deprived and subjected to hot
and cold environmental conditions, including the use of cold water on his body
and hood. The exact cause of death was "undetermined" although the
autopsy stated that hypothermia may have contributed to his death.
Another Iraqi detainee died on January 9, 2004, in Al Asad, Iraq, while being
interrogated. He was standing, shackled to the top of a doorframe with a gag
in his mouth, at the time he died. The cause of death was asphyxia and blunt
So read several of the 44 US military autopsy reports on the ACLU website -evidence
of extensive abuse of US detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan 2002 through 2004.
Anthony Romero, Executive Director of ACLU stated, "There is no question
that US interrogations have resulted in deaths." ACLU attorney Amrit Sing
adds, "These documents present irrefutable evidence that US operatives
tortured detainees to death during interrogations."
Additionally, ACLU reports that in April 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld authorized
the use of "environmental manipulation" as an interrogation technique
in Guantánamo Bay. In September 2003, Lt. Gen. Sanchez also authorized
this technique for use in Iraq. So responsibility for these human atrocities
goes directly to the highest levels of power.
A press release on these deaths by torture was issued by the ACLU on October
25, 2005 and was immediately picked up by Associated Press and United Press
International wire services, making the story available to US corporate media
nationwide. A thorough check of Nexus-Lexus and Proquest electronic data bases,
using the keywords ACLU and autopsy, showed that at least 95percent of the daily
papers in the US didn't bother to pick up the story. The Los Angeles Times covered
the story on page A-4 with a 635-word report headlined "Autopsies Support
Abuse Allegations." Fewer than a dozen other daily newspapers including:
Bangor Daily News, Maine, page 8; Telegraph-Herald, Dubuque Iowa, page 6; Charleston
Gazette, page 5; Advocate, Baton Rouge, page 11; and a half dozen others actually
covered the story. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Seattle Times buried
the story inside general Iraq news articles. USA Today posted the story on their
website. MSNBC posted the story to their website, but apparently did not consider
it newsworthy enough to air on television.
"The Randi Rhodes Show," on Air America Radio, covered the story.
AP/UPI news releases and direct quotes from the ACLU website appeared widely
on internet sites and on various news-based listservs around the world, including
Common Dreams, Truthout, New Standard, Science Daily, and numerous others.
Peter Phillips is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State
University and Director of Project