Charley Reese — Mar 6, 2007
Odd, isn’t it? Sometimes, a truly startling piece of news will grab the world’s attention for a day or so – and then the story vanishes down the memory hole, never to be seen again.
One such “disappeared” news item concerns the tortures conducted at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, now the subject of an important new documentary called The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib. For a while, the Rush Limbaughs of the world tried to pretend that the prisoner abuses amounted to nothing much worse than fraternity pranksterism. Administration apologists claimed that all of the persons detained in that facility were terrorists, even though they were actually locked up for a variety of reasons — some had been nabbed for vehicle registration violations. Today, most Americans agree that the name Abu Ghraib will adorn one of the more shameful pages in our history books.
Shortly after the tales of prisoner abuse gained widespread public notice, an unlikely news source, the right-wing NewsMax, broke a remarkable angle: Israeli agents appear to have participated in — and may even have directed — the Abu Ghraib abuses.
What the hell were Israelis doing in that place?
It was explained that the Israelis involved have been assigned as “civilian contractors” to work with Coalition forces in interrogating Iraqi POWs.
The “contractors” are said to be veterans of Israel’s domestic intelligence unit, Shin Bet, as well as the more famous international intelligence agency, the Mossad.
“Who has better experience in dealing with the Arabs than Israel?” one source asked.
It was explained that several of the “interrogation” techniques used by U.S. forces in Iraq have in fact been used by Israel “for years.”
Word in NYC diplomatic circles is that some of the “civilians” seen in recent Iraq prison photos are in fact Israeli nationals “advising” U.S. forces.
For a brief period, other news organs carried this remarkable tale. This BBC report quotes an unimpeachable source, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski. She told the BBC that she personally encountered Israeli interrogators at the notorious prison. The Israeli government denied all such allegations, of course.
Gen Karpinski was in charge of the military police unit that ran Abu Ghraib and other prisons when the abuses were committed. She has been suspended but not charged.
She told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme she met a man claiming to be Israeli during a visit to an intelligence centre with a senior coalition general.
“I saw an individual there that I hadn’t had the opportunity to meet before, and I asked him what did he do there, was he an interpreter – he was clearly from the Middle East,” she said in the interview.
“He said, ‘Well, I do some of the interrogation here. I speak Arabic but I’m not an Arab; I’m from Israel.’”
Seymour Hersh chimed in, claiming that the Israelis had hoped to interrogate intelligence agents who belonged to Saddam Hussein’s anti-Israel units.
And then the story disappeared into the ether.
Over the past three years, we have continued to hear much about Abu Ghraib. The nation and the world continues to discuss and decry what occurred there. But why did all talk of Israeli involvement vanish? Why would Israeli Shin Bet and Mossad officers be working alongside our own? Did the Israelis actually have a role in “teaching” naive an easily-manipulated young American soldiers to forego all sense of decency?