Saturday, May 08, 2004

Yesterday in his testimony before the US Senate, Donald Rumsfeld said,
It's important for the American people and the world to know that while these terrible acts were perpetrated by a small number of U.S. military, they were also brought to light by the honorable and responsible actions of other military personnel. There are many who did their duty professionally. . . .

Watch how Americans, watch how a democracy deals with wrongdoing and with scandal and the pain of acknowledging and correcting our own mistakes and our own weaknesses. And then, after they have seen America in action, then ask those who teach resentment and hatred of America if our behavior doesn't give the lie to the falsehood and the slander they speak about our people and about our way of life.
Presumedly the Secretary of Defense doesn't want the world to watch "America in action" in its domestic prisons. What does this say about our noble "way of life"??
Physical and sexual abuse of prisoners, similar to what has been uncovered in Iraq, takes place in American prisons with little public knowledge or concern, according to corrections officials, inmates and human rights advocates. . . .

In Pennsylvania and some other states, inmates are routinely stripped in front of other inmates before being moved to a new prison or a new unit within their prison. In Arizona, male inmates at the Maricopa County jail in Phoenix are made to wear women's pink underwear as a form of humiliation.

At Virginia's Wallens Ridge maximum security prison, new inmates have reported being forced to wear black hoods, in theory to keep them from spitting on guards, and said they were often beaten and cursed at by guards and made to crawl.

The corrections experts say that some of the worst abuses have occurred in Texas, whose prisons were under a federal consent decree during much of the time President Bush was governor because of crowding and violence by guards against inmates. Judge William Wayne Justice of Federal District Court imposed the decree after finding that guards were allowing inmate gang leaders to buy and sell other inmates as slaves for sex.

The experts also point out that the man who directed the reopening of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq last year and trained the guards there resigned under pressure as director of the Utah Department of Corrections in 1997 after an inmate died while shackled to a restraining chair for 16 hours. The inmate, who suffered from schizophrenia, was kept naked the whole time.
Abu Ghraib, Wallens Ridge, Marion, whatever.

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