This is the impact of Frago 242. A frago is a "fragmentary order" which summarises a complex requirement. This one, issued in June 2004, about a year after the invasion of Iraq, orders coalition troops not to investigate any breach of the laws of armed conflict, such as the abuse of detainees, unless it directly involves members of the coalition. Where the alleged abuse is committed by Iraqi on Iraqi, "only an initial report will be made … No further investigation will be required unless directed by HQ".
Frago 242 appears to have been issued as part of the wider political effort to pass the management of security from the coalition to Iraqi hands. In effect, it means that the regime has been forced to change its political constitution but allowed to retain its use of torture.
The systematic viciousness of the old dictatorship when Saddam Hussein's security agencies enforced order without any regard for law continues, reinforced by the chaotic savagery of the new criminal, political and sectarian groups which have emerged since the invasion in 2003 and which have infiltrated some police and army units, using Iraq's detention cells for their private vendettas.
Hundreds of the leaked war logs reflect the fertile imagination of the torturer faced with the entirely helpless victim – bound, gagged, blindfolded and isolated – who is whipped by men in uniforms using wire cables, metal rods, rubber hoses, wooden stakes, TV antennae, plastic water pipes, engine fan belts or chains. At the torturer's whim, the logs reveal, the victim can be hung by his wrists or by his ankles; knotted up in stress positions; sexually molested or raped; tormented with hot peppers, cigarettes, acid, pliers or boiling water – and always with little fear of retribution since, far more often than not, if the Iraqi official is assaulting an Iraqi civilian, no further investigation will be required.
Most of the victims are young men, but there are also logs which record serious and sexual assaults on women; on young people, including a boy of 16 who was hung from the ceiling and beaten; the old and vulnerable, including a disabled man whose damaged leg was deliberately attacked. The logs identify perpetrators from every corner of the Iraqi security apparatus – soldiers, police officers, prison guards, border enforcement patrols.
There is no question of the coalition forces not knowing that their Iraqi comrades are doing this: the leaked war logs are the internal records of those forces.
If anything, WikiLeaks and Frago 242 have made very public what critics of the war and whose who demanded that the Obama administration investigate these Bush-era abuses were saying all along, that we turned a blind eye to torture in order to keep the country together as a whole...and the reason the country was flying apart was because we invaded them in the first damn place over non-existent ties to 9/11 and decades-old mustard gas artillery shells.
Frago 242 meant pretending none of this was happening. But it did happen, and the documents are there to record the incidents. This went on all over the country...no wonder the Bush administration had no issues with doing much the same to our own captured "suspects" in order to "win" Bush's bloody mess of a war.
It is monstrous. And now, the UN wants Obama's DoJ to investigate the human rights violations...and possible war crimes.
The United Nations' point man on torture is calling on the Obama administration to open a full investigation into newly-released documents that suggest the US may have turned a blind eye to torture in Iraq.
Manfred Nowak, the UN's special rapporteur on torture, told the BBC Saturday that the US has an "obligation" to look into reports of torture within the nearly 400,000 war documents released by WikiLeaks on Friday.
The documents chronicle numerous allegations of torture by Iraqi forces against their own citizens, as well as what appears to have been a standing order in the US military to ignore the allegations -- potentially a violation of international conventions on torture.
"There is an obligation to investigate whenever there are credible allegations torture has happened – and these allegations are more than credible – and then it is up to the courts," Nowak, an Austrian human rights lawyer, said, as quoted at the Telegraph.
I don't see how Obama has much of a choice here. What's left of our credibility as a country is at stake here. If we do nothing, then we're no better than all the rogue states we complain about.
Probably why I expect him to do nothing. No President would.