Torture in Iraq From Homophobia at Home

The world is outraged at the treatment of Iraqi men who were humiliated, sexually assaulted and tortured in Abu Ghraib prison by United States Army personnel charged with detaining and interrogating prisoners of war. The notorious prison is the detention site where Saddam Hussein’s torturers murdered thousands of Iraqis during his regime.

At its core, the occupation of Iraq is based on an insidious betrayal of the American public trust and a usurpation of fundamental constitutional principles protecting the civil liberties of every American that includes the right to a speedy trial and protection from undue punishment. In light of April’s catastrophic loss of young American service members during the ill-fated assault on Falluja, this betrayal is particularly gruesome.

Are not Iraqis worthy of those civil liberties protections?

It appears that none of the Iraqi men tortured by American soldiers had access to counsel, nor due process, other than the whimsical deprivations of a sadistic cadre of miscreants with some rather twisted predilections.

This newspaper has published the name of every dead service member who has died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Undoubtedly, in the nearly 900 dead, as well as over 4,000 wounded, there are gay and lesbian soldiers, sailors and Marines who answered their sworn duty to serve in combat and rendered the ultimate sacrifice. The publication of their names is not a saber rattling, chauvinistic gesture, as some readers have suggested, but rather a straightforward recognition that the highest cost of these conflicts, far beyond their impact on the national treasury, is the blood of so many young men and women who will never again get the chance to enjoy the fruits of liberty.

Undoubtedly, as the Iraqi insurgency continues in Falluja, and elsewhere, American troops captured in combat or now held hostage, may well become victims of vengeance due to the horrific acts visited upon some Iraqi detainees tortured by a small group of military intelligence and police officers stationed at Abu Ghraib.

The vast majority of American forces have not mistreated the vast majority of the thousands of Iraqi prisoners captured thus far.

How bitterly ironic, therefore, is the sordid tale of how a handful of those soldiers, charged with ensuring the safety of prisoners—perhaps the greatest test of protecting civil liberties a republic’s army could face—have engaged in nothing less than virulently racist, homophobic assaults upon men worthy of the protection of those universal liberties which over nearly 900 American troops have died to enshrine.

According to the official investigative report prepared in February by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, a U.S. civilian contractor, Mr. Adel L. Nakla, was questioned about the treatment of several Iraqi detainees accused of rape. Nakla said (sic): “They (detainees) were all naked, a bunch of people from [military intelligence], the [military police] were there that night and the inmates were ordered by [Sergeant] Granier and [Sergeant] Frederick ordered the guys while questioning them to admit what they did.  They made them do strange exercises by sliding on their stomach, jump up and down, throw water on them and made them some wet, called them all kinds of names such as ‘gays’ do they like to make love to guys, then they handcuffed their hands together and their legs with shackles and started to stack them on top of each other by insuring that the bottom guys penis will touch the guy on tops butt.”   

Gay men around the world are familiar with such treatment. In fact, it is an all too common occurrence in American society. How telling, therefore, that rather than exporting democracy to Iraq, a select few have taken it upon themselves to transport this form of hate. With a commander in chief who regularly demonizes gay and lesbian Americans for political gain, it is no wonder that certain military police officers feel empowered to “gay” bash, regardless of the sexuality of the victim.

The nation’s commander in chief, George W. Bush, is ultimately responsible for the welfare of America’s men and women in uniform. He is now also responsible, as Secretary of State Colin Powell warned him before the invasion, for the welfare of every Iraqi living under a U.S.-controlled government, including the Abu Ghraib victims of sexual torture.

By the way, what were these Iraqi men being detained for in the first place?


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