Joined: 18 Jan 2006
|Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 1:41 pm Post subject: Insurgents Capture US General --Beat, Suffocate to Death
Captured U.S. General Beaten, Suffocated to Death by Insurgents
by Fintan Dunne, BreakForNews.com
26th January, 2006
A U.S. military spokesperson has condemned Iraqi insurgents as "barbaric thugs," after the scarred body of a senior U.S. military officer was discovered today in a house in Baghdad.
The apparently badly beaten remains are those of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey R. Wilkinson, Columbus, Oh. of the 18th Airborne Division, who disappeared with two other soldiers four days ago in Baghdad.
The two soldiers captured with him are now free after a routine house search patrol in the city caused the insurgents to abandon their captives and flee. According to the soldiers accounts, Maj. Gen. Wilkinson was badly beaten over a number of days, before being asphyxiated, as insurgents attempted to elicit from him details of U.S. security structures, operational plans and procedures.
The three had become separated from fellow members of a patrol over the weekend, after being lured into a courtyard by the apparent sight of an Iraqi woman caught in a distressing childbirth. They were quickly overpowered by around a dozen insurgents who sprang from hiding places. Under a news blackout, search parties had been scouring the north-west of the city for days before an unrelated routine patrol scared off their captors.
"We utterly condemn the brutal actions of the barbaric thugs who murdered Maj. Gen. Wilkinson," US military spokesman Tim Keefe said in the capital, Baghdad. "They respect neither human dignity nor any civilized code of wartime military conduct. A loyal officer had been killed in cold blood by mere low criminals."
The U.S. military say a preliminary examination revealed many large bruises all over general's body and at least five broken ribs, which would have been painful and would have made walking and even breathing very difficult. Marks consistent with cords were found on his wrists, ankles and around the neck. A formal autopsy had yet to determine cause of death, but the accounts of the soldiers indicate the general was suffocated during the course of his last interrogation by insurgents.
HUNG OFF ROOF
The two soldiers recounted the harrowing details of their incarceration to journalists in a briefing held in the fortified Green Zone earlier today. Both were physically assaulted a number of times during their captivity, but neither was badly injured. They were held in the same room as the general at many times, but they say the insurgents had focused their attention of the senior officer.
"They would come in and hold Maj. Wilkinson down while two or three of them beat him about the body," Staff Sgt. Dennis Smith told reporters. "It would last a few minutes and they would return a few hours later and do it again. "I think it was the second or third day he said to me he thought they were going to kill him," Smith said.
"He was naturally quite scared," he said. "I could see the fear in his eyes. They had taken him up on the roof earlier and he told me they hung him over the edge and threatened to drop him off."
"They put him through a living hell," said Smith, who had to pause a number of times during the briefing, distraught and unable to continue.
The other soldier held with Maj. Gen Wilkinson, Spc. Peter Scott confirmed the grueling ordeal of the captured officer.
"They took him into another room for the serious beatings," he said. "I could hear his screams and thuds, then silence."
"He told me they had tied him up and put a sack over his head", said Scott. "Then two or three of them would sit on him and they would cover his mouth so he could not breathe."
"When the patrol found us, we discovered him like that in the next room." Scott said. "He was dead. I can't imagine what it must be like for him, or for his family now. My heart goes out to them. The way he died will haunt them forever. Nobody deserves to die like that"
US forces are still engaged in house to house enquiries in the area where the three were held, in an effort to track down or identify the captors. They fled just minutes before the patrol arrived at the three-storied house where the U.S. general meet his death. But so far their enquiries have been fruitless.
"It's very unlikely that the people who carried out these inhuman acts will ever be brought to justice", admitted US military spokesman Tim Keefe. "But we are leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to find them and make them fully accountable for their brutality."
A White House spokesperson reiterated that commitment, but declined to elaborate in detail.
"Out of respect for the family of the deceased we will not be commenting at length, said Scott McClellan. "But, I think that the facts in this case speak volumes about what is really going on in Iraq and why we will be there for quite some time to come."
The above fictional account of the capture and brutal treatment
a senior US officer is based on the published allegations of the
circumstances and death of Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush,
formerly of the Iraqi Army. The details of the interrogation of the
US officer are based on the treatment of this former senior Iraqi
officer at the hands of the US military.
Our "photograph" of Wilkinson is a constructed photo montage.
The purpose of writing the above article was to enable us to view the
actions of the U.S. military in Iraq without judging them through the
cultural lens of our own bias. I hope it makes clear the barbarity of
U.S. policies --which are not excused in any way by the actions of
"enemy" forces. The same logic applies as aplied to inhuman acts
by any of the participants in World War II.
I hope this also makes clear why such acts --which sow the seeds of
a longer conflict costing needless lost lives on both sides-- are in
truth ultimately counterproductive and represent a failure of
military and civilian command.
--Fintan Dunne, BreakForNews.com 26th January, 2006
Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, shown with his grandson in
a family photo, died last November in American custody in Iraq.
Denver Post staff columnist, Jim Spencer has written the best mainstream
media account of the nature and implications of these events and the
ludicrous sentence handed down to Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr.
That penalty: a derisory recommended forfeiture of $6,000 in salary and
confinement to barracks except to work and worship.
If torture is standard, we're in for it
By Jim Spencer, Denver Post Staff Columnist
Every American should be forced to see the autopsy pictures of Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush now on display at the trial of Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr.
Welshofer is charged with murdering the Iraqi general during a November 2003 interrogation. But what's playing out in a Fort Carson courtroom is a nation's shame, not just an individual's.
The autopsy photos of Mowhoush make the now-infamous images from Abu Ghraib prison look like a costume party. Bruises and welts cover Mowhoush's dead body. Doctors ruled that Mowhoush was smothered. Officials charge that Welshofer stuffed him inside a sleeping bag, bound him with an electric cord, sat on his chest and covered his mouth. Still, there is no question that Mowhoush also was savagely beaten.
The United States, which sanctimoniously lectures the rest of the world about human rights, did this. America's political and military hierarchy approved harsher handling of military detainees after the 9/11 attacks. This is what we got.
The prosecution and defense in Welshofer's trial continue to argue about who bears responsibility. Capt. Elana Matt, a prosecutor, claimed Welshofer "abandoned the moral high ground" in his handling of Mowhoush. As testimony drones on, it looks increasingly like America's moral high ground has turned to quicksand.
Welshofer deserves punishment for killing Mowhoush. But the presidential administration and Army chain of command that lets military prisoners be stuffed in sleeping bags or wall lockers or held down to have water poured down their mouths and noses won't get their due. The "non-military" folks (read CIA) whom a witness said beat Mowhoush two days before he died have not even been charged.
Welshofer's company commander knew he was using the so-called "sleeping-bag technique."
Mowhoush probably was a "high-value facilitator of the insurgency in Western Iraq," to use the intelligence-speak of the chief prosecution witness, Chief Warrant Officer Jefferson Williams. But, as military judge Col. Mark Toole reminded everyone, "the victim is not on trial."
American principles are. Williams testified after prosecutors dropped his murder charge in Mowhoush's death. Testifying, as Williams did, under a grant of immunity, Sgt. Justin Lamb, the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment's
chief interrogator, talked about "fear up" inquisitions. That's why he invented the sleeping-bag trick. Along with packing prisoners in wall lockers, he used it to induce claustrophobia.
You slip the end of a sleeping bag over the prisoner's head and tie the bag in place, Lamb explained. Then you roll the prisoner back and forth while asking questions.
And, allegedly, if you're Lewis Welshofer, when the prisoner doesn't give you what you want, you also sit on his chest and cover his mouth.
Prosecutors claimed this was not business as usual, that it was the cowboy misbehavior of a lone outlaw. Then their star witness, Williams, took the stand and described how the sleeping-bag technique was no more extreme than many other interrogation techniques he had witnessed. Williams also said he walked away from the eight to 10 "spooks" as they started to clobber Mowhoush with rubber hoses two days before the general died. Williams admitted to hearing screams after he left. He also said he saw "four to five men" carrying the general back to his "cage" afterward.
Similarly, when Welshofer invited Williams to be part of the eventually fatal interrogation of Mowhoush, Williams agreed, but said he had to get a cup of coffee first. Williams went for a second cup of Joe as Welshofer lowered the sleeping bag over Mowhoush's head.
It was, apparently, no big thing.
For as long as it isn't, this question about the humane treatment of military prisoners remains open for all Americans:
If the sleeping-bag technique was used against your soldiers, would you consider it wrong?
Jim Spencer's column appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 303-820-1771 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
One final comment comes appropriately from the Iraqi general's 18-year-old son:
|The son of the Iraqi general killed during an interrogation by U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr. said Tuesday that the punishment for the Fort Carson soldier is "not fair."
"This man, Lewis Welshofer, has killed someone, and he must be punished more harder than that," Mohammed Mowhoush said in a telephone interview from Iraq.
Interrogation violated Geneva Convention, says lawyer
Lawyer: interrogation techniques approved
Court martial reprimand raises value-of-life debate
Observers: Light Sentence May Tarnish U.S.
Abuse of Captives More Widespread, Says Army Survey
||All times are GMT - 5 Hours
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