Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Murder by Plane Crash?

Senator Paul Wellstone was "the first 1960s radical elected to the U.S. Senate." In Senate Race 2002, the White House made defeating Wellstone priority #1. Karl Rove hand-picked arch-Republican Norm Coleman to run against him. Despite massive funding, Coleman was trailing the popular Wellstone less than two weeks before election day.

Then, tragedy struck. On the morning of October 25th, 2002, Wellstone was killed after a mysterious communication cut-out and crash of his small plane. He died alongside his wife Sheila, their daughter Marcia, three staff members, and two pilots, while trying to land at Minnesota’s Eveleth-Virginia airport.

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer insisted to his reporter at the scene that foul weather was the lethal factor in the crash, despite statements to the contrary from the CNN correspondent who was actually there. To this day, the public tends to blame the weather.

Ph.D. Professors James Fetzer and Don "Four Arrows" Jacobs present the harrowing truth. The plane was not responsible. The weather didn’t cause it to crash. Nor were the two pilots incompetent, as the indefensible report of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) would eventually claim.

The facts point elsewhere. The FBI arrived at the remote rural crash scene less than two hours after the crash. Could they have known about it in advance? The FBI forbade the ambulance and the fire teams to take photos. Even the AP photographer on hand was intimidated, delayed and then monitored. A member of the U.S. Capitol Police Dignitary Protection Division was present.

Did these representatives of law enforcement illegally remove evidence before the NTSB arrived to investigate, some eight hours later? Why did the FBI state that they were treating the site as a "crime scene" but also maintain that this was not the scene of a crime?

How could the FBI conclude and publicly announce, even before NTSB had arrived, that there was "no evidence of terrorism"? A determination of the cause of the crash would not be made for more than a year. So how could they possibly know?

AMERICAN ASSASSINATION confirms the worst fears of a nation. Senator Paul Wellstone was murdered for political purposes and the cause of the crash was covered up. This book explains who, why, and how it was done.

Both authors are decorated university professors. A Native American, Four Arrows (a.k.a. Dr. Don Jacobs) teaches educational leadership and is a staunch critic of US foreign policy. Dr. Jim Fetzer is a published expert on U.S. political assassinations and on the logic of science.

These two Ph.D.s point out the official story’s inconsistencies and what even appear to be its deliberate omissions. They assess its inadequacies and explain why it should not be taken seriously.

With methodical arguments, they present evidence of an official cover-up, a compelling motive for Wellstone’s assassination, and a more likely explanation of how the plane was downed. Some of the most important evidence they discuss includes:

• NTSB’s Carol Carmody handled the Wellstone case. A former CIA official, she is a damage-control expert who handled the NTSB’s investigation of the suspicious aircraft crash of Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan during his race against Senator John Ashcroft two years earlier.

• NTSB is legally mandated to take jurisdiction over a crash scene, yet they let the FBI take control. Yet in its official report, the NTSB failed to even mention any role by the FBI.

• There was never any distress call from the pilots. There was a cessation of communication commensurate with loss of control.

• Some witnesses heard the engines cutting out, a phenomenon not consistent with a stall.

• Others reported odd cell-phone and garage-door phenomena that were taking place about the same time the plane lost communications and control.

• The NTSB's own simulations, which replicated the weather, the flight, and the plane under similar conditions, were unable to bring it down—-even when they were conducted at abnormally slow speeds!

• One of the members who actually signed the report, Richard Healing, admitted that the NTSB really had no idea what had caused the plane to crash.

Since becoming active in this issue, local residents have contacted Dr. Fetzer and related strange electronic interference in the area at the time of the crash. One experienced an odd cell-phone phenomenon with a form of static he had never heard before. Its auditory pattern appears to be similar to that of "electro-magnetic pulse" (EMP) weapons recently developed by the Pentagon to take out computerized systems and wreak harm on human targets.

Reports of garage doors that mysteriously opened in the immediate vicinity are surfacing. And radar images from the time of the plane crashes of Senator Carnahan and of Senator Wellstone are suggestive of EMP imprints. These weapons could have disable its radio communications and caused at least a partial loss of control. But they can do even more damage to human beings by rendering them unconscious, incapable of muscle control, or bringing about their death.

In the wake of the crash, 69% of Minnesotans blamed a "GOP conspiracy" for Wellstone’s death. AMERICAN ASSASSINATION provides a rigorous argument based upon a thorough assessment of the evidence that makes the case that they were right.

The appendices present highlights from Wellstone’s agenda and his speech "On Iraq." His opposition to the rich and powerful helps us all to understand why he would be targeted for assassination. When you encounter this courageous man in his own words, you will absorb his vision and appreciate precisely why Senator Paul Wellstone must continue to inspire us.

Prepublication Reviews

“Gripping and compelling...With new evidence and scientific rigor, Drs. Fetzer and Jacobs systematically appraise the alternative explanations for the death of a United States Senator. Their conclusion--that Paul Wellstone was the target of an assassination--is very disturbing. It should motivate local authorities to launch a formal inquiry into the death of this remarkable American.”

-- Donald T. Phillips, Author, Lincoln on Leadership

“Meticulous research...rigorous analysis. Their efforts lead us to only one conclusion...much of the circumstantial evidence incriminates Vice - President Dick Cheney and other prominent figures in the Bush Administration as having some involvement in Wellstone’s death.

“This book represents a tremendous collaboration in courage. In chronicling yet another chapter in what has rapidly become one the darkest eras in the history of American democracy, this book deserves far more serious attention than it will likely receive from the mainstream of American journalism and scholarship.”

-- David Gabbard, Professor, East Carolina University Author, Knowledge and Power in the Global Economy

“By unraveling the conditions under which he died, Four Arrows and Jm Fetzer have not only paid tribute to Paul Wellstone, they've brought to light the facts surrounding yet another suspicious plane crash in a lineage that extends back to Governor Mel Carnahan, Senator John Tower, and Congressman Hale Boggs.”

-- Russ Wellen, Freezerbox.com

Target Wellstone
BOOKS | 9.7.2004

American Assassination: The Strange Death of Senator Paul Wellstone
By Four Arrows and Jim Fetzer
Vox Pop, 199 pages, $14.00

So fierce is the competition in the crime fiction market today that only the cozy genre of mystery can still get away with a single murder victim. In padding the body count, however, authors lose sight of the first rule of a good crime novel: reanimate the corpse. In other words, the reader must get to know and care about the deceased.

When the plane carrying Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone to the funeral of a state lawmaker's father crashed, his wife, daughter, three staff members, and two pilots died as well. By writing American Assassination: The Strange Death of Senator Paul Wellstone (on Sander Hicks's new Vox Pop imprint), Four Arrows and Jim Fetzer honor all the victims. But demonstrating that a crime--massacre actually--was committed requires showing how Wellstone's Senate career constituted a monument to humanitarianism that demanded to be toppled as sure as Saddam's statue in Firdos Square, Baghdad.

Unfortunately, sniping from the left that he failed to hew to the party line obscured Wellstone's achievements (documented in an appendix to the book). In fact, his comprehensive approach to progressive causes, from reforming American farm policy to opposing GATT and NAFTA, paralleled how the right leaves no stone unturned in its relentless quest to roll back any legislation that could conceivably be called enlightened.

In light of the suspicious circumstances under which he died, you can't help but think that the right saw him as not one, but a plague of gadflies that had to be eradicated. He was in fact exposed to aerial spraying--intentionally, the authors maintain--while inspecting the effect of glycophospate on Colombian coca fields. With each vote, Wellstone more and more resembled a man marching to his doom.

Not only the mainstream, but also most of the independent media has used Wellstone campaign manager Jeff Blodgett's profession of certainty that pilot error was at fault to back off from allegations of foul play. In other words, don't let them tar you with that darn conspiracy theory label because when you try to peel it off your skin comes with it.

But conspiracy theories don't only play with the Generation X-Files crowd; now they're scrutinized by the ever-more-credentialed, such as Dr. David Ray Griffin, the author of The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11. Like Griffin, Jim Fetzer is a professor of philosophy (at the University of Minnesota, Duluth) and he's polished his philosopher's stone with three books on the death of JFK. Co-author Four Arrows is an associate professor at Northern Arizona University. (Though the authors fail to describe the division of duties, the interviews Arrows conducts suggests he's the leg man.)

Applying the principles of philosophy to the crime, Fetzer claims that when an investigator examining a hypothesis violates "the requirement of total evidence," "special pleading"--intentionally selecting evidence to create a biased result--occurs.

Excluding, and perhaps removing, evidence is exactly what official bodies seem to have set out to do. Only an hour after first responders arrived on the crash site at 11 a.m., the FBI materialized on the scene. In other words, they would have departed from St. Paul at 9:30--when Wellstone's plane was taking off.

After possibly spiriting away the cockpit voice recorder, the FBI announced the crash wasn't the work of terrorists. Meanwhile, the National Traffic Safety Board's lead investigator, Frank Hildrup, when asked why there was no public hearing, responded that they were reserved for "high profile cases."

As for the cause, at first the NTSB blamed icy conditions. However, when the plane didn't land at the Eveleth-Virginia (Minnesota) Airport, its assistant manager, Gary Ulman, had no qualms about immediately taking off to search for the crash site. Others, such as National Center for Atmospheric Research meteorologist Ben Bernstein, downplayed the icing theory as well.

Besides, the Beechcraft King Air A-10 boasted an elaborate de-icing system--you learn a lot about aviation in this book--such as pneumatic de-icing boots that inflate and deflate to break ice from the leading edges of the wing and tail. And when the King Air's maintenance records turned out to be in order, mechanical problems, along with the icy conditions, were disqualified as causes.

The NTSB then turned to the highly rated pilot, Richard Conry, a favorite of Wellstone's who had passed an FAA flight check two days before. Sixty seconds after his last conversation with the ground, during which he reported no problems, the King Air began drifting south, whereas a normal landing would have continued straight west. In other words, discounting his turn in the opposite direction before crashing, the NTSB adopted the conclusion that Conry and co-pilot Michael Guess's approach was too slow, stalling the plane and causing it to crash.

But even if the pilots failed to check airspeed and altitude--an almost unimaginable lapse--they would have been alerted by an alarm in plenty of time to regain speed. In other words, by arriving at this conclusion the NTSB demonstrated the same lack of concern for public scrutiny as the FBI did when it arrived early at the crash scene. More likely, the authors maintain, the King Air lost airspeed and altitude because the pilots were unable to control it.

Understanding the crash, they believe, requires establishing why the King Air suddenly stopped communicating. Another man on his way to the funeral, driving within a couple blocks of the airport at the time of the crash experienced otherworldly cell-phone interference. He reported hearing a sound "between a roar and loud humming voice...oscillating...screeching and humming noise."

Most responsible for narrowing the authors' search for a cause was the blue smoke typical of electrical fires that streamed out of the King Air's sheared fuselage for hours after the crash.

In an arresting passage, the authors cite a Time magazine article describing microwave weapons the US is developing to knock out enemy electronics. Supposedly they're capable of unleashing in an instant as much power as the Hoover Dam cranks out in a day. The authors report, among other accidents, an F-111 that crashed or aborted due simply to the radio transmissions (electromagnetic pulses) of other US military aircraft.

Suddenly the idea of electronic-jamming equipment sending a decoy VOR (landing guidance system) signal to the King Air becomes plausible. Obeying instrumentation that's tricked into believing the plane is several degrees off course, the pilot follows the signal straight into the ground.

Possible means mapped out, what about more specific motives than the general pugnaciousness of this former wrestler's progressivism? First, at the time of the crash the Republicans' Senate majority was in jeopardy because Vermont's Jim Jeffords had bolted the party. In an attempt to redress the balance, they threw all their support behind Norm Coleman, Wellstone's opponent in the upcoming election. When Wellstone voted against granting the president power to invade Iraq, his popularity surged.

Wellstone reported that before the Senate vote on Iraq, Dick Cheney had warned him that bucking the administration could result in severe consequences for both him and the state of Minnesota. Neither was the vice president happy about the legislation Wellstone had introduced to improve protection against asbestos poisoning. Cheney had left Halliburton in a position to be sued by its insurer for asbestos claims staggering in their potential for remuneration. Only his assumption of the vice presidency granted him immunity from deposition.

After Wellstone's funeral, you may remember how Republicans claimed the event was partisan, essentially garnering Democrats free campaign airtime. This, of course, stood in contrast, to the heartfelt way the Republican party grieved--by transferring money designated to fight Wellstone to defeating Democratic Georgia Senator Max Cleland. Corporate America was equally broken up: From the instant Wellstone's death was reported by AP--the rise in corporate fortunes that a Republican Senate signified needed no spelling out to investors--the Dow rose steadily.

By unraveling the conditions under which he died, Four Arrows and Jim Fetzer have not only paid tribute to Paul Wellstone, they've brought to light the facts surrounding yet another suspicious plane crash in a lineage that extends back to Governor Mel Carnahan and Senators John Tower and Hale Boggs.

Finally, let us recall the prescience Wellstone demonstrated in his statement to the Senate on Iraq: "The United States should unite the world against Saddam and not allow him to unite forces against us."

On Our Way to the Abyss

What Really Happened at Guantanamo Bay?
By Laura Flanders, AlterNet
Posted on May 24, 2005, Printed on May 24, 2005
In their first article in Newsweek since the magazine received a dressing-down by Scott McClellan, Michael Isikoff and Evan Thomas quote Defense Department spokesman Lawrence Di Rita, who alleges that Guantanamo commanders changed prison rules in response to prisoner complaints about treatment of the Qu'ran. But Di Rita's claims couldn't be further from the experience of Martin Mubanga, a recently freed Guantanamo Bay detainee who spoke to U.S. media for the first time this weekend.

Mubanga, a 32-year-old Londoner who was arrested in Zambia in 2002 and taken to Guantanamo, was released without charge in January 2005, after 33 months in captivity. He says that offensive treatment of the Qu'ran was ongoing, even routine, over the three years he was a prisoner. Mubanga says complaints by inmates about the desecration of the Qu'ran fell upon deaf ears, and often resulted in severe punishment, including pepper-spraying of prisoners.

Laura Flanders' exclusive interview with Martin Mubanga was produced by Christabel Nsiah-Buadi and broadcast on The Laura Flanders Show on Air America Radio on Sunday, May 22. What follows is an edited transcript of the interview.

Laura Flanders: Did Newsweek lie about abuse of the Qu'ran? What did you see?

Martin Mubanga: From my own personal experience and from what I know of what occurs in Guantanamo Bay, this is actually an ongoing thing for the past three years, so we don't need Newsweek to corroborate or substantiate these accusations. We who have been in Guantanamo Bay know that these and other things occur in degradation of our religion.

You described a situation where your cell was searched by six or seven military police and a Qu'ran was thrown to the ground. Can you explain why that was so offensive to you?

In our religion, firstly, the Qu'ran is believed to be the word of God, who we refer to as Allah in our religion. Basically the Qu'ran is supposed to be treated with respect and most people believe that the Qu'ran should be placed in a high place in a house or only taken with respect in a certain condition of purification or ablution. It's never to be placed on a floor, on a dirty floor or to be treated or to be mishandled in any way.

What did those six or seven military police do?

At the time, there was a story going around that I was supposed to be a top-notch fighter, as they said, and they tried to provoke me in many ways to see what I could do. This was one of the methods that was used to see if I would fight and I believe that's why they chose me on this particular occasion and threw the Qu'ran on the floor.

So, they came in, they threw the Qu'ran on the floor, then what happened?

Well, as I was saying, there were two on either side of me, holding my wrists as I was kneeling down, and they had me in wristlocks. And one of the three that were searching took my Qu'ran. And instead of replacing it, to its place, he threw that on the floor... Rahul [Ahmed, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, who was returned to Britain on March 9, 2004] from Tipton witnessed this and he was in the cage next to me. And he remonstrated the soldier, the MP who did this, which they ignored. They wanted to see if they could provoke a strong reaction from me. And obviously, I was not able to do anything at that time.

So what happened after that?

If you report it to the bloc MCO, like the commanding officer on the block or to the captain, it's maybe just words. They say that they will look into the matter and discipline will be taken, but you will not be informed of any particular action that has been taken. So you know, even after that, another brother from Saudi [Arabia], who is also a British resident from South London, tried to organize various brothers to take a stance and try to get the general -- at the time who was General Miller -- to have placed at each and every bloc, a notice stating that no MP should touch or search the Qu'ran. This, however was refused point blank by General Miller and the hierarchy in Guantanamo Bay. Subsequently, this brother and other brothers thought that they should do some sort of actions to show their anger and to try and reverse this decision, which resulted in many people being "earthed."

"Earthed" is basically when the minimum of five military policemen dressed in riot gear, with riot shields, would come in and manhandle you and put you to the floor. On occasion, you would be pepper-sprayed, you'd be tied and carried out. In this protest that took place, some brothers would be beaten, for refusing to go to interrogation, for refusing to go to shower and rec or for refusing to come out of their cell for the search and all they asked for in return was that our Qu'ran, the book of our religion, be treated with respect and that it not be searched or touched or desecrated in any way.

What other repercussions were there for detainees who tried to stand up for respectful treatment of the Qu'ran?

The officials or the hierarchies would punish us by shaving our hair or shaving our beards, or even going to the point, there was a particular bloc Qubec Bloc and Romeo Bloc, which is in Camp Three of Delta Camp, where they would give shorts to brothers. In our religion, you are not permitted to pray while your knees are uncovered. There should be a minimum amount of bodily parts that should be covered while praying. And they failed to respect this particular ruling in our religion by giving our brothers shorts to wear for 24 hours. And also on other occasions, you could lose your clothing and your mattress and your bedding for failing to comply with camp rules. And all of this could have been avoided if they showed respect for our religion, its concept and its rulings.

You had plenty of time to figure it out... can you say now, why you think the soldiers were behaving as they were? Were they just bigots? Were they receiving orders? Did they believe that they would get information from you if they pressured you around your religion? How do you make sense of it?

From my personal opinion it's about politics. Bush and those with him in the American government and around the world were just looking for scapegoats and someone to blame. And they had to put someone in the picture. Having gone to the methods, or rather the extremes that they had gone to, they had to be seen to be getting a result.

Would you say that the soldiers themselves were motivated by a hatred of religion, or what?

In my personal opinion, I would say that some of the soldiers were naïve, some of the soldiers were receiving orders and some had hatred for the religion. There were a few who were quite simply following orders and rightly or wrongly they would follow those orders because they saw no alternative other than themselves being remonstrated or reprimanded. You know, there were a few who had a hatred for the Islamic religion and the Islamic way of life and people from the East, and had a general ignorance toward the religion and anything that was not American. I mean, there were quite a few MPs who had the attitude that simply because they were born in America, they were better than everybody else.

Is it possible they genuinely thought that you were in some way responsible for killing Americans? Was that what they said to you, that they thought you were a killer, that they felt you were a high-placed terrorist? Would this explain their behavior?

There were a few MPs who had that opinion of me. I think far more, for my personal experience, that they failed to understand why I was in Cuba. Many MPs would come to me and ask about my story and ask why I was there. Quite a few saw me as being similar to themselves, being from the UK. But they had a very negative attitude toward brothers from the East -- from Saudi, from Yemen, even from Russia and China, brothers who were classified as "Eastern Muslims" or "Muslims from the East."

How has this affected you physically, psychologically?

Well, coming back to the UK, there are things that I still have to get used to and that will take some time. But I am trying to put aside those things which are causing me some pain and are causing me some distress and some discomfort. Basically, I feel it's my duty to speak out about the things that happened to me and happened to other people at this moment in time, in Cuba and around the world.

Do you have physical injuries from your time?

I have slight injury from my time, but I wish to not discuss it, but there are some things that aren't quite right. And I am currently seeking medical assistance for those things

And what about politically? The effect on your political feelings and opinions or attitudes toward the United States, toward your religion, toward this whole so-called war on terrorism?

As far as I am concerned, I have never been against the United States. However, I am not in agreement with Bush and those who are with him. I think it's fair to say that we stand at opposite sides of the fence! I don't feel that they are the right people to be in power. I don't feel that they will bring about any true justice, or that their motives are pure. And I feel that the power should be in someone else's hands; someone more worthy.

Were you a very religious person before you were picked up?

I suppose it would depend on what you would define as being religious, but definitely, my experience in Guantanamo Bay has made me understand my religion more and appreciate my religion more, and made me turn to my faith that much more.

Martin, is there anything else you would like to say to Americans in particular who might be listening to this, trying to make sense of what is being done in their name in Guantanamo, in this week of discussion about Newsweek?

What I would say basically is that, we have to ask ourselves, as individuals, why things are being done and why certain stories are arriving at this moment in time. I think basically that there is more to this story than meets the eye.

You spoke outside the U.S. embassy on Friday; can you describe the scene there? How many people were protesting?

There were a few hundred there protesting. Basically, I feel that the message was clear and the feelings of those who participated were clear. And I feel that there would have been many more except that people are afraid. And people don't want to be in detention without trial, as could be the case here. And even here we have one Muslim brother, Ahmed [Babar Ahmed, a computer programmer who has been accused by the U.S. of using websites to raise funds for the Taliban and other terrorists], who is facing extradition to the United States without any evidence being presented. So I think quite clearly that people are intimidated and are afraid to speak out. But there are some who are willing to put that on the line, as it were.

Laura Flanders is author of Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species. For more upbeat, progressive talk about the issues that matter, tune into the Laura Flanders Show every weekend evening between 7-10pm EST on Air America Radio.

© 2005 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/22078/

Bob Herbert and Paul Krugman Speak Truth to Power

May 23, 2005
The Rumsfeld Stain
How does Donald Rumsfeld survive as defense secretary?

Much of what has happened to the military on his watch has been catastrophic. In Iraq, more than 1,600 American troops have died and many thousands have been maimed in a war that Mr. Rumsfeld mishandled from the beginning and still has no idea how to win. The generals are telling us now that the U.S. is likely to be bogged down in Iraq for years, and there are whispers circulating about the possibility of "defeat."

Potential recruits are staying away from the armed forces in droves. Most Americans want no part of the administration's hapless venture in Iraq. A woman in Connecticut with two college-age sons said to me recently: "My boys should die in Baghdad? For what?"

Parents from coast to coast are going out of their way to dissuade their children from joining the military. Recruiters, desperate and in many cases emotionally distraught after repeatedly missing their monthly goals, began abandoning admission standards and signing up individuals who were physically, mentally or morally unfit for service.

The abuses became so widespread that the Army suspended recruiting on Friday so recruiters could spend the day being retrained in the legal and ethical standards they are supposed to maintain. The Army is going through its toughest year for recruiting since the nation went to an all-volunteer military in 1973.

The military spent decades rebuilding its reputation and regaining the respect of the vast majority of the American people after the debacle in Vietnam. Under Mr. Rumsfeld, that hard-won achievement is being reversed. He invaded Iraq with too few troops, and too many of them were poorly trained and inadequately equipped. The stories about American troops dying on the battlefield because of a lack of protective armor have now been widely told.

The insurgency in Iraq appeared to take Mr. Rumsfeld completely by surprise. He expected to win the war in a walk. Or, perhaps, a strut.

Now the military is in a fix. Many of the troops have served multiple tours in Iraq and are weary. The insurgency remains strong, and the Iraq military has proved to be a disappointing ally.

A senior American officer, quoted last week in The Times, said that while he still believed the effort in Iraq would succeed, it could take "many years."

As if all this were not enough, there is also the grotesque and deeply shameful issue that will always be a part of Mr. Rumsfeld's legacy - the manner in which American troops have treated prisoners under their control in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. There is no longer any doubt that large numbers of troops responsible for guarding and interrogating detainees somehow loosed their moorings to humanity, and began behaving as sadists, perverts and criminals.

The catalog of confirmed atrocities is huge. Consider just one paragraph from a long and horrifying story on Friday by Tim Golden of The Times about the torture and brutal deaths of two Afghan inmates at the hands of U.S. troops:

"In sworn statements to Army investigators, soldiers describe one female interrogator with a taste for humiliation stepping on the neck of one prostrate detainee and kicking another in the genitals. They tell of a shackled prisoner being forced to roll back and forth on the floor of a cell, kissing the boots of his two interrogators as he went. Yet another prisoner is made to pick plastic bottle caps out of a drum mixed with excrement and water as part of a strategy to soften him up for questioning."

These were among the milder abuses to come to light. The continuum of bad behavior that has been a hallmark of the so-called war on terror extends from this kind of activity to incidents of extreme torture and death.

Neither the troops nor the American public signed on for a war in Iraq that would last many years. And I can't believe there are many Americans who wanted their military sullied by the wanton behavior of the torture crowd.

The troops who do their jobs honestly and diligently, and who fight bravely when they have to, have been betrayed by leaders who encouraged abusive behavior and allowed atrocities to flourish.

Mr. Rumsfeld has driven the military into a ruinous quagmire, and there is no evidence at all that he's capable of finding a serviceable route out.

E-mail: bobherb@nytimes.com

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May 20, 2005
In U.S. Report, Brutal Details of 2 Afghan Inmates' Deaths
Even as the young Afghan man was dying before them, his American jailers continued to torment him.

The prisoner, a slight, 22-year-old taxi driver known only as Dilawar, was hauled from his cell at the detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan, at around 2 a.m. to answer questions about a rocket attack on an American base. When he arrived in the interrogation room, an interpreter who was present said, his legs were bouncing uncontrollably in the plastic chair and his hands were numb. He had been chained by the wrists to the top of his cell for much of the previous four days.

Mr. Dilawar asked for a drink of water, and one of the two interrogators, Specialist Joshua R. Claus, 21, picked up a large plastic bottle. But first he punched a hole in the bottom, the interpreter said, so as the prisoner fumbled weakly with the cap, the water poured out over his orange prison scrubs. The soldier then grabbed the bottle back and began squirting the water forcefully into Mr. Dilawar's face.

"Come on, drink!" the interpreter said Specialist Claus had shouted, as the prisoner gagged on the spray. "Drink!"

At the interrogators' behest, a guard tried to force the young man to his knees. But his legs, which had been pummeled by guards for several days, could no longer bend. An interrogator told Mr. Dilawar that he could see a doctor after they finished with him. When he was finally sent back to his cell, though, the guards were instructed only to chain the prisoner back to the ceiling.

"Leave him up," one of the guards quoted Specialist Claus as saying.

Several hours passed before an emergency room doctor finally saw Mr. Dilawar. By then he was dead, his body beginning to stiffen. It would be many months before Army investigators learned a final horrific detail: Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time.

The story of Mr. Dilawar's brutal death at the Bagram Collection Point - and that of another detainee, Habibullah, who died there six days earlier in December 2002 - emerge from a nearly 2,000-page confidential file of the Army's criminal investigation into the case, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.

Like a narrative counterpart to the digital images from Abu Ghraib, the Bagram file depicts young, poorly trained soldiers in repeated incidents of abuse. The harsh treatment, which has resulted in criminal charges against seven soldiers, went well beyond the two deaths.

In some instances, testimony shows, it was directed or carried out by interrogators to extract information. In others, it was punishment meted out by military police guards. Sometimes, the torment seems to have been driven by little more than boredom or cruelty, or both.

In sworn statements to Army investigators, soldiers describe one female interrogator with a taste for humiliation stepping on the neck of one prostrate detainee and kicking another in the genitals. They tell of a shackled prisoner being forced to roll back and forth on the floor of a cell, kissing the boots of his two interrogators as he went. Yet another prisoner is made to pick plastic bottle caps out of a drum mixed with excrement and water as part of a strategy to soften him up for questioning.

The Times obtained a copy of the file from a person involved in the investigation who was critical of the methods used at Bagram and the military's response to the deaths.

Although incidents of prisoner abuse at Bagram in 2002, including some details of the two men's deaths, have been previously reported, American officials have characterized them as isolated problems that were thoroughly investigated. And many of the officers and soldiers interviewed in the Dilawar investigation said the large majority of detainees at Bagram were compliant and reasonably well treated.

"What we have learned through the course of all these investigations is that there were people who clearly violated anyone's standard for humane treatment," said the Pentagon's chief spokesman, Larry Di Rita. "We're finding some cases that were not close calls."

Yet the Bagram file includes ample testimony that harsh treatment by some interrogators was routine and that guards could strike shackled detainees with virtual impunity. Prisoners considered important or troublesome were also handcuffed and chained to the ceilings and doors of their cells, sometimes for long periods, an action Army prosecutors recently classified as criminal assault.

Some of the mistreatment was quite obvious, the file suggests. Senior officers frequently toured the detention center, and several of them acknowledged seeing prisoners chained up for punishment or to deprive them of sleep. Shortly before the two deaths, observers from the International Committee of the Red Cross specifically complained to the military authorities at Bagram about the shackling of prisoners in "fixed positions," documents show.

Even though military investigators learned soon after Mr. Dilawar's death that he had been abused by at least two interrogators, the Army's criminal inquiry moved slowly. Meanwhile, many of the Bagram interrogators, led by the same operations officer, Capt. Carolyn A. Wood, were redeployed to Iraq and in July 2003 took charge of interrogations at the Abu Ghraib prison. According to a high-level Army inquiry last year, Captain Wood applied techniques there that were "remarkably similar" to those used at Bagram.

Last October, the Army's Criminal Investigation Command concluded that there was probable cause to charge 27 officers and enlisted personnel with criminal offenses in the Dilawar case ranging from dereliction of duty to maiming and involuntary manslaughter. Fifteen of the same soldiers were also cited for probable criminal responsibility in the Habibullah case.

So far, only the seven soldiers have been charged, including four last week. No one has been convicted in either death. Two Army interrogators were also reprimanded, a military spokesman said. Most of those who could still face legal action have denied wrongdoing, either in statements to investigators or in comments to a reporter.

"The whole situation is unfair," Sgt. Selena M. Salcedo, a former Bagram interrogator who was charged with assaulting Mr. Dilawar, dereliction of duty and lying to investigators, said in a telephone interview. "It's all going to come out when everything is said and done."

With most of the legal action pending, the story of abuses at Bagram remains incomplete. But documents and interviews reveal a striking disparity between the findings of Army investigators and what military officials said in the aftermath of the deaths.

Military spokesmen maintained that both men had died of natural causes, even after military coroners had ruled the deaths homicides. Two months after those autopsies, the American commander in Afghanistan, then-Lt. Gen. Daniel K. McNeill, said he had no indication that abuse by soldiers had contributed to the two deaths. The methods used at Bagram, he said, were "in accordance with what is generally accepted as interrogation techniques."

The Interrogators

In the summer of 2002, the military detention center at Bagram, about 40 miles north of Kabul, stood as a hulking reminder of the Americans' improvised hold over Afghanistan.

Built by the Soviets as an aircraft machine shop for the operations base they established after their intervention in the country in 1979, the building had survived the ensuing wars as a battered relic - a long, squat, concrete block with rusted metal sheets where the windows had once been.

Retrofitted with five large wire pens and a half dozen plywood isolation cells, the building became the Bagram Collection Point, a clearinghouse for prisoners captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere. The B.C.P., as soldiers called it, typically held between 40 and 80 detainees while they were interrogated and screened for possible shipment to the Pentagon's longer-term detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The new interrogation unit that arrived in July 2002 had been improvised as well. Captain Wood, then a 32-year-old lieutenant, came with 13 soldiers from the 525th Military Intelligence Brigade at Fort Bragg, N.C.; six Arabic-speaking reservists were added from the Utah National Guard.

Part of the new group, which was consolidated under Company A of the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, was made up of counterintelligence specialists with no background in interrogation. Only two of the soldiers had ever questioned actual prisoners.

What specialized training the unit received came on the job, in sessions with two interrogators who had worked in the prison for a few months. "There was nothing that prepared us for running an interrogation operation" like the one at Bagram, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the interrogators, Staff Sgt. Steven W. Loring, later told investigators.

Nor were the rules of engagement very clear. The platoon had the standard interrogations guide, Army Field Manual 34-52, and an order from the secretary of defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, to treat prisoners "humanely," and when possible, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. But with President Bush's final determination in February 2002 that the Conventions did not apply to the conflict with Al Qaeda and that Taliban fighters would not be accorded the rights of prisoners of war, the interrogators believed they "could deviate slightly from the rules," said one of the Utah reservists, Sgt. James A. Leahy.

"There was the Geneva Conventions for enemy prisoners of war, but nothing for terrorists," Sergeant Leahy told Army investigators. And the detainees, senior intelligence officers said, were to be considered terrorists until proved otherwise.

The deviations included the use of "safety positions" or "stress positions" that would make the detainees uncomfortable but not necessarily hurt them - kneeling on the ground, for instance, or sitting in a "chair" position against the wall. The new platoon was also trained in sleep deprivation, which the previous unit had generally limited to 24 hours or less, insisting that the interrogator remain awake with the prisoner to avoid pushing the limits of humane treatment.

But as the 519th interrogators settled into their jobs, they set their own procedures for sleep deprivation. They decided on 32 to 36 hours as the optimal time to keep prisoners awake and eliminated the practice of staying up themselves, one former interrogator, Eric LaHammer, said in an interview.

The interrogators worked from a menu of basic tactics to gain a prisoner's cooperation, from the "friendly" approach, to good cop-bad cop routines, to the threat of long-term imprisonment. But some less-experienced interrogators came to rely on the method known in the military as "Fear Up Harsh," or what one soldier referred to as "the screaming technique."

Sergeant Loring, then 27, tried with limited success to wean those interrogators off that approach, which typically involved yelling and throwing chairs. Mr. Leahy said the sergeant "put the brakes on when certain approaches got out of hand." But he could also be dismissive of tactics he considered too soft, several soldiers told investigators, and gave some of the most aggressive interrogators wide latitude. (Efforts to locate Mr. Loring, who has left the military, were unsuccessful.)

"We sometimes developed a rapport with detainees, and Sergeant Loring would sit us down and remind us that these were evil people and talk about 9/11 and they weren't our friends and could not be trusted," Mr. Leahy said.

Specialist Damien M. Corsetti, a tall, bearded interrogator sometimes called "Monster" -he had the nickname tattooed in Italian across his stomach, other soldiers said - was often chosen to intimidate new detainees. Specialist Corsetti, they said, would glower and yell at the arrivals as they stood chained to an overhead pole or lay face down on the floor of a holding room. (A military police K-9 unit often brought growling dogs to walk among the new prisoners for similar effect, documents show.)

"The other interrogators would use his reputation," said one interrogator, Specialist Eric H. Barclais. "They would tell the detainee, 'If you don't cooperate, we'll have to get Monster, and he won't be as nice.' " Another soldier told investigators that Sergeant Loring lightheartedly referred to Specialist Corsetti, then 23, as "the King of Torture."

A Saudi detainee who was interviewed by Army investigators last June at Guantánamo said Specialist Corsetti had pulled out his penis during an interrogation at Bagram, held it against the prisoner's face and threatened to rape him, excerpts from the man's statement show.

Last fall, the investigators cited probable cause to charge Specialist Corsetti with assault, maltreatment of a prisoner and indecent acts in the incident; he has not been charged. At Abu Ghraib, he was also one of three members of the 519th who were fined and demoted for forcing an Iraqi woman to strip during questioning, another interrogator said. A spokesman at Fort Bragg said Specialist Corsetti would not comment.

In late August of 2002, the Bagram interrogators were joined by a new military police unit that was assigned to guard the detainees. The soldiers, mostly reservists from the 377th Military Police Company based in Cincinnati and Bloomington, Ind., were similarly unprepared for their mission, members of the unit said.

The company received basic lessons in handling prisoners at Fort Dix, N.J., and some police and corrections officers in its ranks provided further training. That instruction included an overview of "pressure-point control tactics" and notably the "common peroneal strike" - a potentially disabling blow to the side of the leg, just above the knee.

The M.P.'s said they were never told that peroneal strikes were not part of Army doctrine. Nor did most of them hear one of the former police officers tell a fellow soldier during the training that he would never use such strikes because they would "tear up" a prisoner's legs.

But once in Afghanistan, members of the 377th found that the usual rules did not seem to apply. The peroneal strike quickly became a basic weapon of the M.P. arsenal. "That was kind of like an accepted thing; you could knee somebody in the leg," former Sgt. Thomas V. Curtis told the investigators.

A few weeks into the company's tour, Specialist Jeremy M. Callaway overheard another guard boasting about having beaten a detainee who had spit on him. Specialist Callaway also told investigators that other soldiers had congratulated the guard "for not taking any" from a detainee.

One captain nicknamed members of the Third Platoon "the Testosterone Gang." Several were devout bodybuilders. Upon arriving in Afghanistan, a group of the soldiers decorated their tent with a Confederate flag, one soldier said.

Some of the same M.P.'s took a particular interest in an emotionally disturbed Afghan detainee who was known to eat his feces and mutilate himself with concertina wire. The soldiers kneed the man repeatedly in the legs and, at one point, chained him with his arms straight up in the air, Specialist Callaway told investigators. They also nicknamed him "Timmy," after a disabled child in the animated television series "South Park." One of the guards who beat the prisoner also taught him to screech like the cartoon character, Specialist Callaway said.

Eventually, the man was sent home.

The Defiant Detainee

The detainee known as Person Under Control No. 412 was a portly, well-groomed Afghan named Habibullah. Some American officials identified him as "Mullah" Habibullah, a brother of a former Taliban commander from the southern Afghan province of Oruzgan.

He stood out from the scraggly guerrillas and villagers whom the Bagram interrogators typically saw. "He had a piercing gaze and was very confident," the provost marshal in charge of the M.P.'s, Maj. Bobby R. Atwell, recalled.

Documents from the investigation suggest that Mr. Habibullah was captured by an Afghan warlord on Nov. 28, 2002, and delivered to Bagram by C.I.A. operatives two days later. His well-being at that point is a matter of dispute. The doctor who examined him on arrival at Bagram reported him in good health. But the intelligence operations chief, Lt. Col. John W. Loffert Jr., later told Army investigators, "He was already in bad condition when he arrived."

What is clear is that Mr. Habibullah was identified at Bagram as an important prisoner and an unusually sharp-tongued and insubordinate one.

One of the 377th's Third Platoon sergeants, Alan J. Driver Jr., told investigators that Mr. Habibullah rose up after a rectal examination and kneed him in the groin. The guard said he grabbed the prisoner by the head and yelled in his face. Mr. Habibullah then "became combative," Sergeant Driver said, and had to be subdued by three guards and led away in an armlock.

He was then confined in one of the 9-foot by 7-foot isolation cells, which the M.P. commander, Capt. Christopher M. Beiring, later described as a standard procedure. "There was a policy that detainees were hooded, shackled and isolated for at least the first 24 hours, sometimes 72 hours of captivity," he told investigators.

While the guards kept some prisoners awake by yelling or poking at them or banging on their cell doors, Mr. Habibullah was shackled by the wrists to the wire ceiling over his cell, soldiers said.

On his second day, Dec. 1, the prisoner was "uncooperative" again, this time with Specialist Willie V. Brand. The guard, who has since been charged with assault and other crimes, told investigators he had delivered three peroneal strikes in response. The next day, Specialist Brand said, he had to knee the prisoner again. Other blows followed.

A lawyer for Specialist Brand, John P. Galligan, said there was no criminal intent by his client to hurt any detainee. "At the time, my client was acting consistently with the standard operating procedure that was in place at the Bagram facility."

The communication between Mr. Habibullah and his jailers appears to have been almost exclusively physical. Despite repeated requests, the M.P.'s were assigned no interpreters of their own. Instead, they borrowed from the interrogators when they could and relied on prisoners who spoke even a little English to translate for them.

When the detainees were beaten or kicked for "noncompliance," one of the interpreters, Ali M. Baryalai said, it was often "because they have no idea what the M.P. is saying."

By the morning of Dec. 2, witnesses told the investigators, Mr. Habibullah was coughing and complaining of chest pains. He limped into the interrogation room in shackles, his right leg stiff and his right foot swollen. The lead interrogator, Sergeant Leahy, let him sit on the floor because he could not bend his knees and sit in a chair.

The interpreter who was on hand, Ebrahim Baerde, said the interrogators had kept their distance that day "because he was spitting up a lot of phlegm."

"They were laughing and making fun of him, saying it was 'gross' or 'nasty,' " Mr. Baerde said.

Though battered, Mr. Habibullah was unbowed.

"Once they asked him if he wanted to spend the rest of his life in handcuffs," Mr. Baerde said. "His response was, 'Yes, don't they look good on me?' "

By Dec. 3, Mr. Habibullah's reputation for defiance seemed to make him an open target. One M.P. said he had given him five peroneal strikes for being "noncompliant and combative." Another gave him three or four more for being "combative and noncompliant." Some guards later asserted that he had been hurt trying to escape.

When Sgt. James P. Boland saw Mr. Habibullah on Dec. 3, he was in one of the isolation cells, tethered to the ceiling by two sets of handcuffs and a chain around his waist. His body was slumped forward, held up by the chains.

Sergeant Boland told the investigators he had entered the cell with two other guards, Specialists Anthony M. Morden and Brian E. Cammack. (All three have been charged with assault and other crimes.) One of them pulled off the prisoner's black hood. His head was slumped to one side, his tongue sticking out. Specialist Cammack said he had put some bread on Mr. Habibullah's tongue. Another soldier put an apple in the prisoner's hand; it fell to the floor.

When Specialist Cammack turned back toward the prisoner, he said in one statement, Mr. Habibullah's spit hit his chest. Later, Specialist Cammack acknowledged, "I'm not sure if he spit at me." But at the time, he exploded, yelling, "Don't ever spit on me again!" and kneeing the prisoner sharply in the thigh, "maybe a couple" of times. Mr. Habibullah's limp body swayed back and forth in the chains.

When Sergeant Boland returned to the cell some 20 minutes later, he said, Mr. Habibullah was not moving and had no pulse. Finally, the prisoner was unchained and laid out on the floor of his cell.

The guard who Specialist Cammack said had counseled him back in New Jersey about the dangers of peroneal strikes found him in the room where Mr. Habibullah lay, his body already cold.

"Specialist Cammack appeared very distraught," Specialist William Bohl told an investigator. The soldier "was running about the room hysterically."

An M.P. was sent to wake one of the medics.

"What are you getting me for?" the medic, Specialist Robert S. Melone, responded, telling him to call an ambulance instead.

When another medic finally arrived, he found Mr. Habibullah on the floor, his arms outstretched, his eyes and mouth open.

"It looked like he had been dead for a while, and it looked like nobody cared," the medic, Staff Sgt. Rodney D. Glass, recalled.

Not all of the guards were indifferent, their statements show. But if Mr. Habibullah's death shocked some of them, it did not lead to major changes in the detention center's operation.

Military police guards were assigned to be present during interrogations to help prevent mistreatment. The provost marshal, Major Atwell, told investigators he had already instructed the commander of the M.P. company, Captain Beiring, to stop chaining prisoners to the ceiling. Others said they never received such an order.

Senior officers later told investigators that they had been unaware of any serious abuses at the B.C.P. But the first sergeant of the 377th, Betty J. Jones, told investigators that the use of standing restraints, sleep deprivation and peroneal strikes was readily apparent.

"Everyone that is anyone went through the facility at one time or another," she said.

Major Atwell said the death "did not cause an enormous amount of concern 'cause it appeared natural."

In fact, Mr. Habibullah's autopsy, completed on Dec. 8, showed bruises or abrasions on his chest, arms and head. There were deep contusions on his calves, knees and thighs. His left calf was marked by what appeared to have been the sole of a boot.

His death was attributed to a blood clot, probably caused by the severe injuries to his legs, which traveled to his heart and blocked the blood flow to his lungs.

The Shy Detainee

On Dec. 5, one day after Mr. Habibullah died, Mr. Dilawar arrived at Bagram.

Four days before, on the eve of the Muslim holiday of Id al-Fitr, Mr. Dilawar set out from his tiny village of Yakubi in a prized new possession, a used Toyota sedan that his family bought for him a few weeks earlier to drive as a taxi.

Mr. Dilawar was not an adventurous man. He rarely went far from the stone farmhouse he shared with his wife, young daughter and extended family. He never attended school, relatives said, and had only one friend, Bacha Khel, with whom he would sit in the wheat fields surrounding the village and talk.

"He was a shy man, a very simple man," his eldest brother, Shahpoor, said in an interview.

On the day he disappeared, Mr. Dilawar's mother had asked him to gather his three sisters from their nearby villages and bring them home for the holiday. But he needed gas money and decided instead to drive to the provincial capital, Khost, about 45 minutes away, to look for fares.

At a taxi stand there, he found three men headed back toward Yakubi. On the way, they passed a base used by American troops, Camp Salerno, which had been the target of a rocket attack that morning.

Militiamen loyal to the guerrilla commander guarding the base, Jan Baz Khan, stopped the Toyota at a checkpoint. They confiscated a broken walkie-talkie from one of Mr. Dilawar's passengers. In the trunk, they found an electric stabilizer used to regulate current from a generator. (Mr. Dilawar's family said the stabilizer was not theirs; at the time, they said, they had no electricity at all.)

The four men were detained and turned over to American soldiers at the base as suspects in the attack. Mr. Dilawar and his passengers spent their first night there handcuffed to a fence, so they would be unable to sleep. When a doctor examined them the next morning, he said later, he found Mr. Dilawar tired and suffering from headaches but otherwise fine.

Mr. Dilawar's three passengers were eventually flown to Guantánamo and held for more than a year before being sent home without charge. In interviews after their release, the men described their treatment at Bagram as far worse than at Guantánamo. While all of them said they had been beaten, they complained most bitterly of being stripped naked in front of female soldiers for showers and medical examinations, which they said included the first of several painful and humiliating rectal exams.

"They did lots and lots of bad things to me," said Abdur Rahim, a 26-year-old baker from Khost. "I was shouting and crying, and no one was listening. When I was shouting, the soldiers were slamming my head against the desk."

For Mr. Dilawar, his fellow prisoners said, the most difficult thing seemed to be the black cloth hood that was pulled over his head. "He could not breathe," said a man called Parkhudin, who had been one of Mr. Dilawar's passengers.

Mr. Dilawar was a frail man, standing only 5 feet 9 inches and weighing 122 pounds. But at Bagram, he was quickly labeled one of the "noncompliant" ones.

When one of the First Platoon M.P.'s, Specialist Corey E. Jones, was sent to Mr. Dilawar's cell to give him some water, he said the prisoner spit in his face and started kicking him. Specialist Jones responded, he said, with a couple of knee strikes to the leg of the shackled man.

"He screamed out, 'Allah! Allah! Allah!' and my first reaction was that he was crying out to his god," Specialist Jones said to investigators. "Everybody heard him cry out and thought it was funny."

Other Third Platoon M.P.'s later came by the detention center and stopped at the isolation cells to see for themselves, Specialist Jones said.

It became a kind of running joke, and people kept showing up to give this detainee a common peroneal strike just to hear him scream out 'Allah,' " he said. "It went on over a 24-hour period, and I would think that it was over 100 strikes."

In a subsequent statement, Specialist Jones was vague about which M.P.'s had delivered the blows. His estimate was never confirmed, but other guards eventually admitted striking Mr. Dilawar repeatedly.

Many M.P.'s would eventually deny that they had any idea of Mr. Dilawar's injuries, explaining that they never saw his legs beneath his jumpsuit. But Specialist Jones recalled that the drawstring pants of Mr. Dilawar's orange prison suit fell down again and again while he was shackled.

"I saw the bruise because his pants kept falling down while he was in standing restraints," the soldier told investigators. "Over a certain time period, I noticed it was the size of a fist."

As Mr. Dilawar grew desperate, he began crying out more loudly to be released. But even the interpreters had trouble understanding his Pashto dialect; the annoyed guards heard only noise.

"He had constantly been screaming, 'Release me; I don't want to be here,' and things like that," said the one linguist who could decipher his distress, Abdul Ahad Wardak.

The Interrogation

On Dec. 8, Mr. Dilawar was taken for his fourth interrogation. It quickly turned hostile.

The 21-year-old lead interrogator, Specialist Glendale C. Walls II, later contended that Mr. Dilawar was evasive. "Some holes came up, and we wanted him to answer us truthfully," he said. The other interrogator, Sergeant Salcedo, complained that the prisoner was smiling, not answering questions, and refusing to stay kneeling on the ground or sitting against the wall.

The interpreter who was present, Ahmad Ahmadzai, recalled the encounter differently to investigators.

The interrogators, Mr. Ahmadzai said, accused Mr. Dilawar of launching the rockets that had hit the American base. He denied that. While kneeling on the ground, he was unable to hold his cuffed hands above his head as instructed, prompting Sergeant Salcedo to slap them back up whenever they began to drop.

"Selena berated him for being weak and questioned him about being a man, which was very insulting because of his heritage," Mr. Ahmadzai said.

When Mr. Dilawar was unable to sit in the chair position against the wall because of his battered legs, the two interrogators grabbed him by the shirt and repeatedly shoved him back against the wall.

"This went on for 10 or 15 minutes," the interpreter said. "He was so tired he couldn't get up."

"They stood him up, and at one point Selena stepped on his bare foot with her boot and grabbed him by his beard and pulled him towards her," he went on. "Once Selena kicked Dilawar in the groin, private areas, with her right foot. She was standing some distance from him, and she stepped back and kicked him.

"About the first 10 minutes, I think, they were actually questioning him, after that it was pushing, shoving, kicking and shouting at him," Mr. Ahmadzai said. "There was no interrogation going on."

The session ended, he said, with Sergeant Salcedo instructing the M.P.'s to keep Mr. Dilawar chained to the ceiling until the next shift came on.

The next morning, Mr. Dilawar began yelling again. At around noon, the M.P.'s called over another of the interpreters, Mr. Baerde, to try to quiet Mr. Dilawar down.

"I told him, 'Look, please, if you want to be able to sit down and be released from shackles, you just need to be quiet for one more hour."

"He told me that if he was in shackles another hour, he would die," Mr. Baerde said.

Half an hour later, Mr. Baerde returned to the cell. Mr. Dilawar's hands hung limply from the cuffs, and his head, covered by the black hood, slumped forward.

"He wanted me to get a doctor, and said that he needed 'a shot,' " Mr. Baerde recalled. "He said that he didn't feel good. He said that his legs were hurting."

Mr. Baerde translated Mr. Dilawar's plea to one of the guards. The soldier took the prisoner's hand and pressed down on his fingernails to check his circulation.

"He's O.K.," Mr. Baerde quoted the M.P. as saying. "He's just trying to get out of his restraints."

By the time Mr. Dilawar was brought in for his final interrogation in the first hours of the next day, Dec. 10, he appeared exhausted and was babbling that his wife had died. He also told the interrogators that he had been beaten by the guards.

"But we didn't pursue that," said Mr. Baryalai, the interpreter.

Specialist Walls was again the lead interrogator. But his more aggressive partner, Specialist Claus, quickly took over, Mr. Baryalai said.

"Josh had a rule that the detainee had to look at him, not me," the interpreter told investigators. "He gave him three chances, and then he grabbed him by the shirt and pulled him towards him, across the table, slamming his chest into the table front."

When Mr. Dilawar was unable to kneel, the interpreter said, the interrogators pulled him to his feet and pushed him against the wall. Told to assume a stress position, the prisoner leaned his head against the wall and began to fall asleep.

"It looked to me like Dilawar was trying to cooperate, but he couldn't physically perform the tasks," Mr. Baryalai said.

Finally, Specialist Walls grabbed the prisoner and "shook him harshly," the interpreter said, telling him that if he failed to cooperate, he would be shipped to a prison in the United States, where he would be "treated like a woman, by the other men" and face the wrath of criminals who "would be very angry with anyone involved in the 9/11 attacks." (Specialist Walls was charged last week with assault, maltreatment and failure to obey a lawful order; Specialist Claus was charged with assault, maltreatment and lying to investigators. Each man declined to comment.)

A third military intelligence specialist who spoke some Pashto, Staff Sgt. W. Christopher Yonushonis, had questioned Mr. Dilawar earlier and had arranged with Specialist Claus to take over when he was done. Instead, the sergeant arrived at the interrogation room to find a large puddle of water on the floor, a wet spot on Mr. Dilawar's shirt and Specialist Claus standing behind the detainee, twisting up the back of the hood that covered the prisoner's head.

"I had the impression that Josh was actually holding the detainee upright by pulling on the hood," he said. "I was furious at this point because I had seen Josh tighten the hood of another detainee the week before. This behavior seemed completely gratuitous and unrelated to intelligence collection."

"What the hell happened with that water?" Sergeant Yonushonis said he had demanded.

"We had to make sure he stayed hydrated," he said Specialist Claus had responded.

The next morning, Sergeant Yonushonis went to the noncommissioned officer in charge of the interrogators, Sergeant Loring, to report the incident. Mr. Dilawar, however, was already dead.

The Post-Mortem

The findings of Mr. Dilawar's autopsy were succinct. He had had some coronary artery disease, the medical examiner reported, but what caused his heart to fail was "blunt force injuries to the lower extremities." Similar injuries contributed to Mr. Habibullah's death.

One of the coroners later translated the assessment at a pre-trial hearing for Specialist Brand, saying the tissue in the young man's legs "had basically been pulpified."

"I've seen similar injuries in an individual run over by a bus," added Lt. Col. Elizabeth Rouse, the coroner, and a major at that time.

After the second death, several of the 519th Battalion's interrogators were temporarily removed from their posts. A medic was assigned to the detention center to work night shifts. On orders from the Bagram intelligence chief, interrogators were prohibited from any physical contact with the detainees. Chaining prisoners to any fixed object was also banned, and the use of stress positions was curtailed.

In February, an American military official disclosed that the Afghan guerrilla commander whose men had arrested Mr. Dilawar and his passengers had himself been detained. The commander, Jan Baz Khan, was suspected of attacking Camp Salerno himself and then turning over innocent "suspects" to the Americans in a ploy to win their trust, the military official said.

The three passengers in Mr. Dilawar's taxi were sent home from Guantánamo in March 2004, 15 months after their capture, with letters saying they posed "no threat" to American forces.

They were later visited by Mr. Dilawar's parents, who begged them to explain what had happened to their son. But the men said they could not bring themselves to recount the details.

"I told them he had a bed," said Mr. Parkhudin. "I said the Americans were very nice because he had a heart problem."

In late August of last year, shortly before the Army completed its inquiry into the deaths, Sergeant Yonushonis, who was stationed in Germany, went at his own initiative to see an agent of the Criminal Investigation Command. Until then, he had never been interviewed.

"I expected to be contacted at some point by investigators in this case," he said. "I was living a few doors down from the interrogation room, and I had been one of the last to see this detainee alive."

Sergeant Yonushonis described what he had witnessed of the detainee's last interrogation. "I remember being so mad that I had trouble speaking," he said.

He also added a detail that had been overlooked in the investigative file. By the time Mr. Dilawar was taken into his final interrogations, he said, "most of us were convinced that the detainee was innocent."

Ruhallah Khapalwak, Carlotta Gall and David Rohde contributed reporting for this article, and Alain Delaqueriere assisted with research.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

May 23, 2005
America Wants Security
It was a carefully staged Norman Rockwell scene. The street was lined with American flags; a high school band played "God Bless America."

Then, under the watchful gaze of Wal-Mart's chief operating officer, Maryland's governor vetoed a bill that would have obliged large businesses to spend more on employee health care.

The news here isn't that some politicians wrap their deference to corporate interests in the flag. The news, instead, is that Maryland's State Legislature passed a pro-worker bill in the first place. In fact, the bill passed by a veto-proof majority in the Maryland Senate, and fell just short of that margin in the House.

After November's election, the victors claimed a mandate to unravel the welfare state. But the national election was about who would best defend us from gay married terrorists. At the state level, where elections were fought on bread-and-butter issues, voters sent a message that they wanted a stronger, not weaker, social safety net.

I'm not just talking about the shift in partisan alignment, in which Democrats made modest gains in state legislatures, and achieved a few startling successes. I'm also talking about specific issues, like the lopsided votes in both Florida and Nevada for constitutional amendments raising the minimum wage.

Since the election, high-profile right-wing initiatives, at both the federal and state level, have run into a stone wall of public disapproval. President Bush's privatization road show seems increasingly pathetic. In California, the conservative agenda of Arnold Schwarzenegger, including an attempt to partially privatize state pensions, has led to demonstrations by nurses, teachers, police officers and firefighters - and to a crash in his approval ratings.

There's a very good reason voters, when given a chance to make a clear choice, increasingly support a stronger, not a weaker, social safety net: they need that net more than ever. Over the past 25 years the lives of working Americans have become ever less secure. Jobs come without health insurance; 401(k)'s vanish; corporations default on their pension obligations; workers lose their jobs more often, and unemployment lasts much longer than it used to.

The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll showed what the pollsters called an "angry electorate." By huge margins, voters think that politicians are paying too little attention to their concerns, especially health care, jobs and gas prices.

At the state level, many, though by no means all, politicians are responding to those concerns. The push to raise the minimum wage is a useful political barometer: seven states have raised the minimum in just the last two years.

True, there are limits on what state governments can do: they fear that if they do too much for workers, they'll drive business and jobs away. I'd argue that the fear is often exaggerated. For example, Wal-Mart may avoid states that force it to provide health insurance, but given the hidden subsidies the company receives - one way or another, taxpayers end up paying a lot for uninsured workers - this may not be such a bad thing. Still, any major strengthening of the safety net will have to come at the federal level.

Why, then, is Washington so out of touch?

At a gala dinner in his honor, Tom DeLay cited his party's recent achievements: "bankruptcy reform, class-action reform, energy, border security, repealing the death tax." All of these measures are either irrelevant to or actively hostile to the economic security of working Americans.

Yet as Mr. DeLay boasted, many Democratic members of Congress also voted in support of these measures. In so doing, they undermined their party's ability to claim that it stands for something different.

So where will change come from?

Everyone loves historical analogies. Here's my thought: maybe 2004 was 1928. During the 1920's, the national government followed doctrinaire conservative policies, but reformist policies that presaged the New Deal were already bubbling up in the states, especially in New York.

In 1928 Al Smith, the governor of New York, was defeated in an ugly presidential campaign in which Protestant preachers warned their flocks that a vote for the Catholic Smith was a vote for the devil. But four years later F.D.R. took office, and the New Deal began.

Of course, the coming of the New Deal was hastened by a severe national depression. Strange to say, we may be working on that, too.

E-mail: krugman@nytimes.com

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