Military autopsy reports provide indisputable proof that detainees
are being tortured to death while in US military custody. Yet the corporate
media of the United States (US) is covering it with the seriousness of a garage
sale for the local Baptist Church, media research organisation Project Censored
According to Prof Peter Phillips, director, Project Censored, a press
release on these deaths by torture was issued by the American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU) on October 25, 2005 and was immediately picked up by Associated
Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI) wire services, making the story
available to the US corporate media. A thorough check of Nexus-Lexus and Proquest
electronic data bases, using the keywords ACLU and autopsy, showed that at least
95 per cent 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; Telegraph-Herald,
Dubuque Iowa; Charleston Gazette; Advocate, Baton Rouge; 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 its website. MSNBC posted
the story to its 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, Phillips
What little attention the news of the US torturing prisoners to death did get
has completely disappeared as context for the torture stories now appearing
in corporate media. A Nexus-Lexus search November 30, 2005 of the major papers
in the US using the word torture turned up over 1,000 stories in the last 30
days. None of these included the ACLU report as supporting documentation on
The Project Censored director wondered, "How can the American public understand
the gravity of the torture that is currently being committed in our name when
the issue is being reported with no reference to the extent to which these crimes
against humanity have gone? Has the Internet become the only source of real
news for mainstream Americans while the corporate media only tells us what they
want us to know?"
Project Censored is a media research group out of Sonoma State University which
tracks the news published in independent journals and newsletters. From these,
Project Censored compiles an annual list of 25 news stories of social significance
that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the country's
major national news media.
According to Phillips, a recent American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posting
of one of forty-four US military autopsy reports read 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
added, "These documents present irrefutable evidence that US operatives
tortured detainees to death during interrogations."
Additionally, ACLU reported that in April 2003, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorised
the use of "environmental manipulation" as an interrogation technique
in Guantánamo Bay. In September 2003, Lt Gen Sanchez also authorised
this technique for use in Iraq. So responsibility for these human atrocities
went directly to the highest levels of power, Phillips said.