Sunday, June 18, 2006


I haven’t seen the “Formica report” (or as much of it as wasn’t censored) yet (why isn’t it on the ACLU website?), but on Saturday there was a story about it on the Pentagon website, which quoted various military officials praising the secret report as showing “that [DoD] is committed to transparency.” Those officials were speaking anonymously. One said that the report “is not new news.” You don’t really get to say that after keeping it secret a year and a half. Saying that its recommendations had all been implemented, he/she said, “This is an excellent example of the [Defense Department] doing the right thing; an excellent example of the department implementing the recommendations. You can’t ask for more from your government.” Except maybe not torturing & abusing prisoners in the first place. But then in all this talk, if the DOD is “transparent,” the prisoners are actually invisible. Gen. Formica himself seems to have interviewed only “soldiers, commanders and medical personnel.” Iraqis are evidently only worth listening to when they’re speaking between screams of pain.

Formica’s approach to various forms of abuse is time-dependent. He says that keeping prisoners in cells too small (4 X 4") to stand up or lie down in is okay for two days, but not for seven. Good to know. He says that keeping a prisoner on bread & water for 17 days is too long, but not so long as to create major medical problems. Incidentally, I was wondering about those “cells,” specifically whether US forces had actually built them for this purpose, but it seems that they were actually crates of some kind.

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