- The radio is full of a story about that
US GI who terrorized some Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib. With dogs!
He is supposed to get 8 1/2 years in prison. I will believe it once
I see it enforced. The US has been notoriously lax when it comes
to dealing with US war crimes.
- But, Ingrid, that means this is one
serious crime according to US law. We are talking about US soldiers
in war, overseas, siccing their dogs on enemy prisoners they deem terrorists.
- How much more serious does it have to
be if in a US prison, like in Blount County Jail, [individuals] who wore
black uniforms, black balaclavas, flak jackets and laced, parachutist-like
boots, ski face masks revealing only their eyes, and helmets with these
fiber glass visors to boot, not identifiable to what police or prison
service these uniformed people belong, [were terrorizing inmates]!
They and their dogs were hysterical. 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. I 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 handycam
video cameras. Laughing!!!
- Ingrid, the news casts last night triggered
something in me that I had suppressed in my memory - because you know that
I was once before, in April 1985, involved in such a traumatic dog attack
after I was released from Canadian prison after my first conviction.
As I was lying on my prison bunk [in Mannheim], it came to me that I had
the names of two inmates and two lawyers who would have news or reports
about these inmates being terrorized by these dog handler terrorists -
that they were not prison guards. Our guards in Tennessee Blount
County had totally different, easy to identify uniforms! They were
not integrated with those dog teams or those women! They were not
from within our prison! They were outside units! (The weekends
when they came with those dog teams were 8 February and 15 February 2003)
- I told you that I shared a cell with
a chemical engineer from the Knoxville area. His name was [omitted].
He was the one who aggravated the prison guards at all hours of the day
and night be calling them on the intercom, sometimes at 2 or 3 a.m.
Well, one morning early, [guards] stormed into our cell. I was on
the top bunk. They shouted at me to get down, to take my mattress
and bedding and my miserable few belongings along and to get out of the
cell. They dragged this engineer off his bed, threw him on the floor,
started to punch him randomly while I was trying to get by them, wondering
about this behavior of US prison guards. An older, mid-fifties Mexican
captain by the name of Gonzales, or a name similar to it, turned to me
and actually apologized, leading me outside. He told me to wait in
the large range room where we would eat our meals and take our walks.
(I never got one minute's daylight or fresh air in the time I was there.)
- These six guards, most of them fat,
[blubbery] Whites, kept punching and kicking that poor screaming guy who
was trying to shield himself from the kicks and punches. There was
blood on the floor, on the wall, on his uniform. When he no longer
defended himself, they dragged him by his leg - like they had dragged me
to the dog handlers - in full view of other prisoners in the next range
which was separated by a wall with top-to-ceiling wood-framed glass panes.
We could see each other; thus, the other prisoners not only heard
the screams, saw the pounding, and saw this man dragged out of the range
all along the floor to some arrest cell, trailing blood, staining the floor
and the walls up to 5-6 " along the route.
- Since I had extremely high blood pressure,
each day I was taken to sick bay to have my blood pressure taken.
I was in a long line, shackled in thick metal link chains, with padlocks
around the waist, hands cuffed and feet in cuffs and painfully chained
to the other 7-8 prisoners, as we snaked along those blood-stained floors
and walls. I met [the engineer inmate] once being led away from the
doctor's office in the presence of a single guard. His face was black
and violet-blue, his eyes were blood-shot. He shouted to me he was
sueing the Blount County Jail. (S)
- There is another witness whom I befriended
there. He was a 22-23 year old, nice and skilled garage mechanic
who had his own shop in Maryville. He was 6-7 weeks away from release
at the time - some problem with stolen car parts, vehicles etc. His
name was [omitted]; he lived with his wife and baby at [omitted].
He will remember me well. I liked him; he was a decent kid
who got into hot water. He would know [the names] of the other inmates.
They were all local - car thieves, drivers without licences, drinking while
under suspension etc. There would be lots of witnesses to corroborate
- There was one chiropracter there, from
Sevierville or Pigeon Forge, a somewhat greasy type of darker complexion.
He was on the floor, same room, trussed like me, on the other side of the
range. Scared like everybody! His name is [omitted] (S)
- All we need is witnesses to corroborate
my story with the dogs!
- [Our reporter friend] could blow the
lid off a national scandal larger than Abu Ghraib if it is handled properly.
It would make that man and his paper world famous and help us nail these
creeps who think they are unreachable. If a US soldier is already
found guilty overseas in a war zone, imagine how the media will like this
- I will try to send you photocopies out
of German newspapers of the cells in Abu Ghraib, the dogs, the orange-suited
prisoners in Guantanamo, the cells there, which were exactly like mine
in Thorold and in Toronto - Ingrid, down to the yellow-cream color and
orange T-shirts etc. Only in Guantanomo, they had better pillows
than I had!
- What a life for me, Ingrid! Amazing!
- One thing important for [the reporter]
to understand is the hostage dimension. Rendition is one crime;
dogs to terrorize prisoners is quite another - but to do it in the way
it was done and for the purposes it was done makes this one of the most
callous, in-your-face chutzpah crimes these people have pulled off in broad
daylight! It's only because our own people on our side of the political
spectrum are such utter failures and incompetents in utilizing the political
processes available to us that these people have, so far, gotten away with
it. I realize each time I speak to the lawyers what you told me years
ago - I always thought you were exaggerating - that you had never met anyone
with a better overview and grip on the situation. Only now do I [realize]
that you actually were right. Ingrid, it is painful to me to have
to be a school master to lecture [people] on the international implications
and connections - how it all fits together. Why each part in each
country fits together in an overall pattern and picture. (S)
- I am finally beginning to understand
what it is that so unnerved these people for so long in so many cases and
places. Which also means that now that they have their prey in their
claws, they are not going to let go easily!
- But you see? Every once in a while,
issues come up, like this soldier [with the dogs], or these US renditions
and overflights, which will give us a chance [to explain to press people]
what really are the underlying reasons to what is going on.
- What do you think? The t r u t h o u
t Town Meeting is in progress. Join the debate!
- 9/11 Detainees
in New Jersey Say They Were Abused With Dogs
- By Nina Bernstein
- The New York
- Monday 03
- The photograph, seen
worldwide, is one of the defining images from Abu Ghraib: a dog strains
at its leash, lunging at a terrified prisoner in an orange jumpsuit. One
United States military dog handler was recently convicted of abusing detainees
at Abu Ghraib, the prison in Iraq, and the court-martial of another is
to start in May.
- But for Ibrahim Turkmen
and Akhil Sachdeva, the image evokes something closer to home: the dogs
used inside the Passaic County Jail in New Jersey. The two men, plaintiffs
in a pending class-action lawsuit known as Turkmen v. Ashcroft, were among
hundreds of immigrant detainees held in the Passaic jail for months after
9/11 before they were cleared of links to terrorism and deported on visa
- Until now, lawsuits
brought by former detainees against top American officials have focused
attention on the maximum security unit of a federal detention center in
Brooklyn where the Justice Department's inspector general found widespread
abuse. But today in Toronto, as Mr. Sachdeva, a Canadian citizen born in
India, gives his first deposition for the class-action lawsuit, the spotlight
will shift to the New Jersey jail.
- There, about 400
of the 762 mainly Muslim detainees rounded up in the United States after
9/11 were held. The lawsuit charges that the detainees' confinement was
arbitrary, illegally based on their religion or national origin, and that
guards routinely terrorized them with aggressive dogs.
- In November 2004,
federal officials who oversee the detention of immigrants facing deportation
said they would no longer send detainees to jails that used dogs to patrol
inside. That decision by the Department of Homeland Security came a day
after National Public Radio broadcast an investigative report saying that
the dogs had been used over a three-year period to intimidate, attack and,
in at least two cases, bite immigrant detainees in the Passaic County Jail.
- "To hear about
the use of dogs in this way within the United States is truly shocking,"
said Jonathan Turley, a professor of national security and constitutional
law at George Washington University, who is not involved in the case. "But
Abu Ghraib didn't spring from the head of Zeus."
- Mr. Turley, an expert
in prison law, said in an interview on Friday that the use of the dogs
to frighten detainees in the New Jersey jail underscored "the trickle-down
effect" of the disregard for immigrants' civil rights that top government
officials showed after 9/11. "It trickled down through military intelligence,
through low-level personnel and to sheriffs," he said. "Suddenly
people who were predisposed to the use of such harsh measures thought they
had license to use them, and 9/11 gave them a great appetite."
- While dozens of jails
and prisons that house federal immigrant detainees use dogs, largely to
search for drugs, only seven used them to control prisoners. Jail officials
defended the dog patrols, which were used before 9/11 and continue for
control of other inmates. Bill Maer, a spokesman for the Passaic County
sheriff, Jerry Speziale, denied that the post-9/11 detainees had been mistreated
and said that the dog teams are used "strictly for security and contraband
detection purposes" and "act in a professional manner when interacting
- But the dogs were
described as part of a nightmarish form of psychological torture by the
two plaintiffs, who spoke in separate telephone interviews last week -
Mr. Turkmen from Konia, Turkey, and Mr. Sachdeva from Toronto.
- Two or three times
a week, they said, often 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," said Mr. Turkmen, who
could not come for his scheduled deposition because he was denied a visa
by the Canadian government, without explanation. "The day of judgment
would begin for me - that's what it would feel like."
- Mr. 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 recalled. "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 touched me."
- It was worst, they
said, for detainees who, like Mr. Turkmen, lacked English to understand
the officers. Once, Mr. 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 off.
- Government officials
will not discuss the lawsuit, brought in 2002 by the Center for Constitutional
Rights. But when the Justice Department's inspector general criticized
the post-9/11 detentions of immigrants in a scathing 2003 report, John
Ashcroft, then the attorney general, said he had "no apologies"
for measures taken to protect the public.
- Nevertheless, after
the inspector general's report, "there were changes made and new detention
standards issued nationwide," said Dean Boyd, a spokesman for Immigration
and Customs Enforcement, part of Homeland Security.
- The report found
conditions at Passaic considerably less harsh than those at the Metropolitan
Detention Center in Brooklyn, where solitary confinement was the norm and
beatings of shackled detainees were caught on videotape. But it criticized
Passaic for mingling immigrant detainees with felons, and it said that
immigration officials had failed to properly monitor the jail and to investigate
complaints of abuse.
- It told of a detainee
with a black eye and a limp who told investigators that he had been assaulted
by guards and put in an isolation cell, where guards brought a dog. He
said the guards told him "that if he did not get out of bed by the
next day, they were going to 'let the dog loose.' "
- The report criticized
the way federal authorities swept up immigrants after 9/11 as "indiscriminate
- Mr. Turkmen, who
has four daughters, now 7 to 19, had overstayed a tourist visa to work
at a gas station in West Babylon, N.Y., when federal agents came to his
apartment. Though an immigration judge agreed to let him leave voluntarily,
a standard option in minor immigration violations, he was held for four
- Two years after his
return to Turkey, he said, he saw a news report about Abu Ghraib and the
dogs. "I told my children that this exact form of torture is what
I experienced," he said through a translator. "All my children
were completely shocked."
- Mr. Sachdeva, who
is Hindu, had returned to the United States to complete his divorce from
an American woman who owned a gas station in Port Washington, N.Y., when
F.B.I agents came there looking for someone else.
- "At this point
I have no faith in the system," said Mr. Sachdeva, 34, who said he
was now self-employed as a metals trader because his arrest and deportation
made it impossible to get a job. "I'm glad at least I can speak what