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<nettime> Who is Lane McCotter? - Austin Chronicle -
eveline lubbers on Wed, 2 Jun 2004 11:12:30 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Who is Lane McCotter? - Austin Chronicle -



Of course, I should have guessed, the reform of the Iraq
prison system, the job to "rebuild [Iraq's] criminal justice system"  
was given to someone who was under investigation for torture
in his privatised prison in the States, after he had to leave his
job leading a state prison on similar charges.

Why am I not surprised, but nevertheless asthonished by these
facts?
gr
eveline

NB
got this from the MediaWatch UK list, which is covering a lot
of Iraq related stuff
http://lists.stir.ac.uk/mailman/listinfo/media-watch
-----------------

http://www.austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2004-05-28/cols_ventura.html

HOME: MAY 28, 2004: COLUMNS AND FEATURES: LETTERS AT 3AM

Letters at 3AM
Who's Lane McCotter?
BY MICHAEL VENTURA

Who is Lane McCotter, and what exactly was he doing in Iraq?

As of this writing, no congressional committee has asked that question, but
sooner or later, they'll have to. It is a question that may bring down the
Bush administration. This is why.

George W. Bush promises that all prisoners in Iraq are covered and protected
by the Geneva Convention, which states (Section 1, Article 17): "No physical
or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on
prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever.
Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or
exposed to unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind."

Yet someone identified by The New York Times (May 15) as a "senior military
official" at U.S. headquarters in Baghdad says, "There are reasonable people
and very intelligent people who can differ on what is authorized, what's
permissible under the Geneva Convention." No there aren't. Read it again:
"No physical or mental torture, or any other form of coercion ... unpleasant
or disadvantageous treatment of any kind." Another provision reads:
"Outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading
treatment shall be prohibited at any time." There's no room for argument.
The "senior military official" in Baghdad was dispensing disinformation -
lying.

In that vein, it is interesting that U.S. military lawyers were excluded
from determining procedures in Iraq, as the Los Angeles Times reported on
May 14. Scott Horton, former chairman of the New York City Bar Association
committee that filed a brief on Iraqi interrogations earlier this month,
said that senior military lawyers "were extremely upset. They said they were
being shut out of the process, and that civilian political lawyers, not the
military lawyers, were writing these new rules of engagement [for
interrogation]." Remember that the chief White House counsel called the
Geneva accords "obsolete." The LA Times goes on: "The military lawyers
complained that the Pentagon was 'creating an atmosphere of legal
ambiguity,' Horton said. 'What's happened is not an accident. It is exactly
what they [the military lawyers] were warning about a year ago.'"

Which brings us to Lane McCotter. Do a Web search on McCotter and you'll
come across an article in the March 4 newsletter The Utah Sheriff featuring
a photo taken last year of Lane McCotter giving a tour of the Abu Ghraib
prison to none other than Donald Rumsfeld's right-hand man Paul Wolfowitz.
So: Who's McCotter, and what was he doing in Iraq?

According to a NY Times report on May 8, Lane McCotter was an MP in Vietnam
who eventually rose to the rank of colonel. His last Army assignment was as
warden of the Army's central prison at Fort Leavenworth. In civilian life he
eventually became director of the Utah Department of Corrections, a post he
resigned under pressure 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." McCotter later became a top executive in a
private prison company that ran a Sante Fe jail that was "under
investigation by the Justice Department" for "unsafe conditions and lack of
medical care for inmates."

Here comes the good part:

While he and his company were under investigation by the Justice Department,
the department's chief, Attorney General John Ashcroft, hand-picked McCotter
to "rebuild [Iraq's] criminal justice system." (NY Times) Inhale that:
Ashcroft selected a man his own department was investigating, a man who had
to leave the top corrections post in Utah or face scrutiny for what can only
be called torture. And that's what inner-circle Republicans are so
frightened of: If the prison abuse investigation gets to Ashcroft, it gets
to the White House.

It would seem that McCotter was chosen not in spite of his record but
because of it. It's likely that Ashcroft and Wolfowitz, and the people they
report to (Rumsfeld and Bush), knew exactly who they were hiring and what
was expected of him. It was McCotter who, in the parlance of The NY Times,
"directed Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq last year and trained the guards." The
guards McCotter trained did the infamous things, took the infamous
photographs. What did Ashcroft say when he appointed McCotter? This: "Now
all Iraqis can taste liberty in their native land, and we will help make
that freedom permanent by assisting them to establish an equitable justice
system based on the rule of law and standards of basic human rights." Orwell
would chortle. When The NY Times (May 8) queried why McCotter was hired even
though he was under investigation, the Justice Department didn't return the
calls. Hard to blame them. What could Justice possibly say?

Twelve days later, Justice lamely told ABC News that "the department was
aware of the background of the men [McCotter and John J. Armstrong, who has
an even worse record]. ... The official said they were among the few who
were willing to go."

The hiring of McCotter sheds more light on what Gen. Janis Karpinski,
nominally in charge of Abu Ghraib, told Aaron Brown on CNN, May 10: "I don't
think there was anything improper done. Because there wasn't a violation of
procedure. This was something they [the guards] were instructed to do as a
new procedure." A general officer in the U.S. Army said that. Those gruesome
photos record a procedure the guards were trained to do. By military
intelligence? By McCotter? Both? Eventually, McCotter and Ashcroft must be
called to testify. Wolfowitz, too. What did he learn on McCotter's tour? If
Wolfowitz knew, Rumsfeld did, but what and how much? What Rumsfeld and
Ashcroft knew, Bush knew or (just as bad) should have known.

And then other pieces fall into place. The NY Times, May 7: Amnesty
International, Human Rights Watch, and Human Rights First all report that
they complained of Iraqi prisoner maltreatment to Coalition Provisional
Authority boss L. Paul Bremer III and Condoleezza Rice, who shined them on -
which again takes the abuse case straight to the White House. The LA Times,
May 9: "[T]he recently resigned, handpicked Iraqi human rights minister was
quoted as saying that he notified L. Paul Bremer III, head of the Coalition
Provisional Authority, in November of possible prisoner abuse, 'but there
was no answer.' The minister was not even allowed to visit the prisons."
Bremer knew what he would see. When our top commanders in Iraq, Gens.
Abizaid and Sanchez, testified to Congress on May 19 that they knew nothing
of the Red Cross reports, either they were lying, or top-level civilians
like Rice and Bremer kept the reports from them.

And our poor troops? The disregard for our soldiers by this administration
is in some ways the greatest disgrace of all. The NY Times, May 9: "Army
doctrine calls for a military brigade to handle about 4,000 prisoners. But a
single battalion - about a third of the size of a brigade - was handling
6,000 to 7,000 prisoners at Abu Ghraib." That's what happens when Bush
refuses to commit the necessary number of troops to Iraq because it would
look bad politically. The pressure on our people in uniform was horrendous.
Undertrained and mal-trained, and under fire the whole time - Abu Ghraib was
regularly the target of bombardments - they were ordered to do the
impossible. Instead, they did the unthinkable. And it will hang over them
all their lives, as it should, while the people they trusted, the people who
put this system in place - Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Bush, Cheney, Rice, Bremer -
spout platitudes and avoid accountability ... so far.

The LA Times, May 11: "Most Arrested by 'Mistake' - Coalition Intelligence
Put Numbers at 70% to 90% of Iraqi prisoners." The Red Cross, which "made 29
visits to Coalition-run prisons and camps between late March and November of
last year, said it repeatedly presented its reports of mistreatment to
prison commanders, U.S. military officials in Iraq and members of the Bush
administration in Washington." (Why hasn't the Red Cross been called to
testify?) In a separate story the same day: "US Army officials have
acknowledged detaining women in hopes of persuading male relatives to
provide information. ... Interrogators sometimes threatened to kill [the
innocent women] detainees."

Kidnapping and threatening people's wives. Blackmail. Indiscriminate
arrests. Torture. But when Rumsfeld and his generals are asked who, exactly,
was in real command of Abu Ghraib, they claim not to know even that, while
their so-called commander in chief claims complete ignorance of every issue
in this affair.

If that's the truth, they're incompetent. If it's not, they're war
criminals.



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