- Before it was applied to Iraqi prisoners
in the notorious torture chambers of Abu Ghraib prison, the "nightmarish
form of psychological torture" using vicious dogs to terrorize prisoners
was practiced in U.S. county jails. But, who are the black-clad men and
women who tortured American detainees in U.S. county jails?
- Fifty men lie face down on the cold prison
floor with their manacled hands tightly bound and twisted behind their
backs while fierce attack dogs, Dobermans and German Shepherds, terrorize
the prisoners, lunging and snarling inches from their faces.
- Is this a description of another torture
scene from the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq? No. This is a scene
from a county jail in Tennessee in early 2003.
- While this outrageous scene sounds identical
to the now infamous U.S. military torture sessions at the Abu Ghraib prison
in Iraq, this incident, described in detail by a German eyewitness who
survived it, occurred in February 2003 in the Blount County Jail in Maryville,
- A bizarre videotaped torture session
using attack dogs to terrorize prisoners at the Blount County Jail was
witnessed by Ernst Zundel, a German citizen and historical revisionist
who was held in the jail at the time.
- Zundel had been taken from his home and
American wife in Tennessee on February 5, 2003, in what appears to have
been an extra-judicial rendition conducted by agents of the erstwhile Immigration
and Naturalization Service (INS), then part of the Dept. of Justice headed
by the former Attorney General John Ashcroft and his Israeli-American assistant,
- At the time of his arrest, Zundel's immigration
status was completely legal and he was in the process of obtaining his
permanent residency permit on the basis of his marriage to an U.S. citizen.
INS claims, incorrectly, that he had missed an interview, which his lawyer
had asked to be rescheduled in writing. Zundel has never been convicted
of any crime, in Canada, where he lived for 40 years, or the United States.
- Zundel's report about the use of vicious
attack dogs to terrorize American prisoners at the Blount County Jail,
and similar reports from county jails around the country, occurred prior
to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Because the reports of the psychological
torture using dogs in the jails is identical to what was later seen in
Iraq, it appears that the company or agency who used the dogs in the county
jails was practicing these methods first on American prisoners. It is thought
that these earlier sessions were videotaped for training purposes.
- Zundel's written testimony, which appears
in his 2004 book, Setting the Record Straight: Letters from Cell No. 7,
describes a group torture session that he witnessed in the Blount County
Jail on February 8, 2003. Another session occurred on February 15, 2003,
according to inmate reports, although Zundel, who was meeting with his
attorney at the time, was spared.
- Zundel's detailed description of the
use of dogs to terrorize the inmates at the county jail in Tennessee first
appeared in a full-page "Open Letter to the Members of the Senate
and Congress of the United States of America," which was published
in the Washington Times on September 7, 2003.
- Ingrid Rimland, Zundel's American wife,
placed three full-page informative ads about the extra-judicial arrest
and deportation of her husband in the Washington Times during the summer
of 2003, at a cost of some $20,000.
- Despite the explosive content of these
ads and Zundel's eyewitness description of torture using dogs on American
prisoners in a U.S. county jail, Ingrid said she did not get a single phone
call from anybody in response.
- "COME SUNDAY, I HEARD DOGSâ·"
- "Come Sunday, I heard dogs barking,"
Zundel wrote about the weekend torture session he witnessed in the Blount
County Jail. "We were all ordered into our cells while black-uniformed
SWAT teams with dogs went systematically from cell to cell, threw us on
the floor facedown, handcuffed, arms twisted behind our backs. They dragged
us outside the cells like sacks of potatoes while helmeted, visored, New
World Order-type cops hollered commands at us. They searched our pockets,
beds, and plastic bins.
- "The dogs, dripping saliva from
their snapping jaws, mainly Dobermans and German Shepherds, were kept on
chain leashes two feet from our bodies and faces. Young, pretty women in
skin-tight uniforms and tightly fitting flak jackets, all black in color,
kept climbing over the men who were curled up, face down, shaking, frightened
out of their wits. Some had tears streaming down their faces. The women
filmed these hapless prisoners with mini-camcorders close up, laughing
and joking, having themselves a ball. Why were those videos taken?"
Zundel asked in 2003.
- "They and their dogs were hysterical,"
Zundel wrote recently. "They were constantly shouting at us prisoners,
[who were] lying face down, hands cuffed with Israeli-type plastic handcuffs
behind our backs. A dog, about two feet away from me, was so vicious and
angry that it kept rearing upon its hind legs, his paws in the front stabbing
in the air, jerking wildly on the leash. It had no muzzle. It was so close
I could see and hear the dog's teeth excitedly crash together in an awful
sound. I saw his wild eyes and his frothing, drooling mouth. His spittle
dripped on the floor next to me; some hit my arm, my prison uniform, and
collected on the floor.
- "There were dog handlers at each
end of the 'range' where about 50 prisoners - all civilians, all Americans
- were lying on the floor, trussed like turkeys, [who] were being terrorized
by these dog handlers, much to the amusement of black-uniformed women filming
us with their handy cam video cameras â·" laughing!"
- Vicky Flynn, the Maryville-based spokesperson
for Rep. John J. Duncan (R-2nd), who represents the Knoxville area where
the Blount County Jail is located, said she had never heard of such reports.
- Asked about the reports of the use of
dogs at the jail, Marian O'Briant, spokesperson for the Blount County facility,
would only say, "No comment." The Blount County Jail is managed
by Sheriff James L. Berrong and Chief Ron Dunn, who held these positions
at the time of the reported torture sessions.
- Berrong refused to answer the phone and,
like O'Briant, Dunn would only say, "No comment."
- "To hear about the use of dogs in
this way within the United States is truly shocking," Jonathan Turley,
a professor of national security and constitutional law at George Washington
University, told The New York Times. "But Abu Ghraib didn't spring
from the head of Zeus."
- The same form of psychological torture
using dogs occurred at the Passaic County Jail in New Jersey in the fall
and winter of 2001, The New York Times reported on April 3, 2006.
- The dogs at the Passaic jail were used
in a "nightmarish form of psychological torture," according to
two detainees who experienced the torture: Ibrahim Turkmen from Konya,
Turkey, and Akhil Sachdeva from Toronto. Like Zundel, Turkmen and Sachdeva
were detained due to visa issues and had not committed any crime.
- Two years after returning to Turkey,
Turkmen said he saw a news report about the use of dogs at Abu Ghraib prison
in Iraq. "I told my children that this exact form of torture is what
I experienced," he said.
- Two or three times a week, the men said,
around 3 a.m. when the detainees were fast asleep in dormitory cells housing
about 50 men, the electronic doors would open and 10 to 20 officers would
rush in with four to six unmuzzled, barking dogs on leashes. The dogs,
mostly German shepherds, would strain to within inches of the detainees'
faces, they said.
- "The guards would barely be able
to hold the dogs back," Turkmen said. Sachdeva said that he found
himself trembling uncontrollably, and that some detainees started to cry.
- "The guards who were holding the
dogs used to always laugh," he said. "There were like four or
five dogs, barking, terrorizing, and the officers shouting: 'Get up! Raise
your hands! Against the wall!' One time the dog was so close his tongue
- It was worst, they said, for detainees
who, like Turkmen, lacked English to understand the officers. Sachdeva
said a Pakistani man of 51 who did not speak a word of English was beaten
bloody by guards because he had stayed on his bed after twice being ordered
- Photo: The use of attack dogs to threaten
and psychologically torture prisoners was first practiced on American inmates
in several U.S. county jails, notably Blount County Jail in Maryville,
Tennessee, and the Passaic County Jail in New Jersey.
- The big question is WHO are these black-clad
men and women who ran these torture sessions and whose idea was it to let
them practice in U.S. county jails?