Friday, August 05, 2005

Better late and too little than never and nothing at all...
The NCAA banned the use of American Indian mascots by sports teams during its postseason tournaments, but will not prohibit them otherwise. ...

Nicknames or mascots deemed "hostile or abusive" would not be allowed by teams on their uniforms or other clothing beginning with any NCAA tournament after Feb. 1...

Guidelines were not immediately available on which logos and nicknames would be considered "hostile or abusive."

The NCAA two years ago recommended that schools determine for themselves whether the Indian depictions were offensive.
It's a step in the right direction, at least. But, of course, we still have the football team in the nation's capital using a racist epithet for their name, not to mention that insanely offensive Cleveland baseball mascot... But still: a step in the right direction...


Lunchtime Kittens!

This should hold you while I go eat.


Downsizing Gitmo

The Bush administration is negotiating the transfer of nearly 70 percent of the detainees at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to three countries as part of a plan, officials said, to share the burden of keeping suspected terrorists behind bars.


No More "Operation Get Behind the Darkies"

I had to laugh when I read the phrase "special relationship":
The Iraq war is drying up at least part of a pool of recruits the Army has relied upon for decades: black Americans.

The Army has long enjoyed a special relationship with black Americans, who have filled its ranks at rates far beyond their share of the population since the draft was abolished in 1973.

But in a trend compounding the Army's recruiting woes, those days may be over.

"A lot of black kids, they don't want to be in it," said DeTorrian Rhone, 18, who recently graduated high school. He talked to Army recruiters but decided to go to Texas Southern University instead.

"Most of the kids say they don't want to fight for a country that's pickin' on other countries," he said. "I don't want to fight because this (Iraq) war was stupid, it wasted money. Army people are getting killed for nothing, and we should have stayed in our own business."

Rhone represents a trend that began before the war in Iraq but has worsened since: a steep drop in the percentage of black Army recruits.


Onward, Kittens!


Why Women Shouldn't Be Astronauts

They get all sentimental about, you know, the earth and stuff:
Commander Eileen Collins said astronauts on the shuttle Discovery had seen widespread environmental destruction on Earth and warned today that greater care was needed to protect natural resources.

"Sometimes you can see how there is erosion, and you can see how there is deforestation. It's very widespread in some parts of the world," Collins said in a conversation from space with Japanese officials in Tokyo, including Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

"We would like to see, from the astronauts' point of view, people take good care of the Earth and replace the resources that have been used," said Collins, who was standing with Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi in front of a Japanese flag and holding a colorful fan.


Batshit Crazy

Ah, Phelps. Narcissistic, yet paranoid:
Members of homophobic preacher Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas have rarely been seen protesting against gays this summer.

Instead they are targeting the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq.
Thursday in Princeton, Minnesota a handful of demonstrators stood in front of Immanuel Lutheran Church, where about 400 people turned out for a memorial service for Sgt. Bryan Opskar.

He was killed July 23 when a roadside bomb exploded.

The Phelps supporters held signs saying "God blew up the troops," "Thank God for IEDs," "America is doomed" and "God hates America."

The protestors said that American troops are dying in Iraq because God is punishing the United States for an unsolved bombing of the Phelps church in 1995 that left a child seriously injured.


Good Morning Kittens!


Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Man Is Sick

How much must you fear being hated when you have to spend government money to send people around to warn residents not to look out their fucking windows when you are nearby?
Roads were shut down Wednesday and residents living in nearby apartments between Dooley and Ruth Wall Roads were warned not to look out of their windows Wednesday. School busses from Grapevine-Colleyville ISD formed a perimeter around the site where President George W. Bush was scheduled to land. No one was going to get a glance of the president on his way to the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center.

On his way for summer vacation on his Crawford ranch, the president stopped at the American Legislative Exchange Council's 32nd annual meeting. The conservative organization of 2,400 members, mostly legislators, recognized the president with their highest honor, the Thomas Jefferson Freedom Award. The last recipient of the award was former President George H. W. Bush.


Laugh o' the Day

Can you say, "Disgruntled Worker"?
A bank has apologised to a customer after sending him a debit card bearing the name "Dick Head".

NatWest said it had launched an inquiry after Chris Lancaster, 18, of Tiptree, Essex, received a cash card with the wording: "Mr C Lancaster Dick Head".

Mr Lancaster said he did not spot the insult until he was handing over the card in a supermarket to pay for something a few days after it arrived in the post.

"I couldn't believe it," he said.

"When I got the card out I saw the name embossed on it. I was so embarrassed I put it back in my wallet.

"I know I've been overdrawn a few times but I've done nothing to deserve this.
"The bank said it must have been a worker with a grudge."


Roberts: Pro-Gay?

An odd twist on the new Supreme Court nominee:
President Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court reportedly was instrumental in winning a landmark 1996 gay civil rights case before the high court.

The Los Angeles Times reports that John G. Roberts Jr. worked behind the scenes for a coalition of gay-rights groups, helping them prepare their arguments to present to the court.

The case was Romer vs. Evans, which sought to have struck down a voter-approved 1992 Colorado initiative allowing employers and landlords to exclude gays from jobs and housing.

The coalition won the case in a 6-3 decision.

At the time gay rights leaders activists described it as the movement's most important legal victory.

The three dissenting justices were Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas - the three jurists to whom Roberts is frequently likened for their conservative ideology.

The Times reports that Roberts was in private practice at Hogan & Hartson specializing in appeals court case at the time and took the case as part of the firm's pro bono service.

He neither argued the case before the Supreme Court nor did he write the legal briefs but several lawyers involved in the case told the Times that Roberts he was instrumental in reviewing the filings and helping them prepare the oral arguments.


American Gulag, Cont'd

The sad part is that I have absolutely no hope of America's shadow jail system ending anytime soon:
Two Yemeni men claim they were held in secret, underground US jails for more than 18 months without being charged, Amnesty International has said.

The human rights group has called on the US to reveal details of the alleged secret detention of suspects abroad.

Amnesty fears the case is part of a "much broader picture" in which the US holds prisoners at secret locations.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It's Not a Struggle, Dammit!

The war on semantics continues. Let's just call it a "Scrum for Decency" and be done with it, shall we?
President Bush publicly overruled some of his top advisers on Wednesday in a debate about what to call the conflict with Islamic extremists, saying, "Make no mistake about it, we are at war."

In a speech here, Mr. Bush used the phrase "war on terror" no less than five times. Not once did he refer to the "global struggle against violent extremism," the wording consciously adopted by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other officials in recent weeks after internal deliberations about the best way to communicate how the United States views the challenge it is facing.


Most Americans Have (Some) Sense!

How's that for a man-bites-dog headline?
Support among American voters for same-sex marriage has rebounded to its highest point since July 2003 and for the first time, a majority favors giving gay and lesbian couples many of the same rights as married couples.

Sure, people are still hung up on semantic fetishism, but still:
While 53% of those polled by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press oppose gay marriage, 35 percent said they favor gay marriage. That is the highest number of people supporting same-sex marriage since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court took up the marriage issue in 2003, ultimately ruling in November that year that gay couples could wed.

Following the ruling support for gay unions plummeted and in last year's election 11 states banned same-sex unions in their constitutions.

But, as the pollsters note, the bigger news is the growing support for civil unions and legal protections for gay couples.

Fifty-three percent, the same number as oppose gay marriage, would permit gays and lesbians to enter into legal arrangements that would give them many of the same rights as married couples.

"This is exactly what the right wing is afraid of," Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage matters told


Cherokee Gay Marriage

The way has been cleared. I do like the fact that the court's decision is based on the logic of "Why don't you just mind your own damn business?":
A tribal court has dismissed a lawsuit that held up a lesbian couple's effort to have their marriage recognized by the Cherokee Nation.

In a ruling filed Wednesday, the tribe's Judicial Appeals Tribunal said that Todd Hembree, the tribe member and attorney whose lawsuit blocked the filing of a tribal-issued marriage certificate issued to Dawn McKinley and Kathy Reynolds, had no standing to sue and could not show that he suffered any harm by the couple's attempt to be recognized as a married couple.

The women haven't decided whether they will try to refile the certificate in order to have their union officially certified by the Cherokee Nation. Because of tribal sovereignty, Cherokee Nation marriage certificates are recognized just like Oklahoma marriage licenses.

"We're excited, we're happy," Kathy Reynolds said Wednesday. "We're determining what our next step is going to be."


Japanese Revisionism

Rather dispiriting:
Japanese MPs have overwhelmingly passed a resolution that plays down the country's militarist policies in World War II, less than two weeks before ceremonies take place around the world marking the 60th anniversary of the war's end on August 15.

Though expressing regret for the wartime past, the resolution omitted the references to "invasion" and "colonial rule" that were in the version passed on the 50th anniversary.

China and Japan's other Asian neighbours are expected to see the action as further proof of growing nationalism in Toyko.


Holiday in Guantanamo

I mean, really. Guantanamo is actually a pleasure prison?
Rep. Jon Porter returned from a one-day visit with positive reviews of the detention camp for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Porter, R-Nev., said the military-run camp compares favorably to Nevada prisons, and that many of the captives "are happy to be there," where they can get medical and dental care.
"Many of these detainees have never had dental treatment ever," Porter said. "Now they have anesthesia and they have all the modern technology treatments, so a lot of them are actually very pleased because they are living better than they ever have. Many of them are happy to be there."

Of course, there are always a few malcontents, even in such edenic surroundings:
About 150 detainees, the lawmakers were told, "are very aggressive," Porter said.

"They are full of so much anger for the American people," Porter said, adding some have thrown body fluids on their interrogators.


U.S. Back in the Land Mine Business

Once more, America charges frantically away from humane decision-making, and threatens to unleash these vile devices upon the world at a phenomenal rate:
The Bush Administration appears poised to resume the production of antipersonnel mines, Human Rights Watch said today in a new briefing paper.

The United States, which has not manufactured antipersonnel mines since 1997, will make a decision in December whether to begin production of a new antipersonnel mine called Spider. The Pentagon has requested a total of $1.3 billion for development and production activities for another new antipersonnel mine called the Intelligent Munitions System, with a full production decision expected in 2008.

Human Rights Watch said that these developments are the result of the Bush administration’s landmine policy announced in February 2004 under which the U.S. abandoned its long-held objective of joining the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which comprehensively prohibits the use, production, trade or stockpiling of antipersonnel mines.

“We are beginning to see the bitter fruit of the new Bush administration landmine policy,” said Steve Goose, director of Human Rights Watch’s Arms division. “The U.S. appears well on the way to resuming production of antipersonnel mines. Renewed export and renewed use of these inhumane weapons may not be far behind.”

Link via the freshly blogrolled Devizes Melting Pot.


Catholics Are Pro-Birth-Control!

Well, in very specific circumstances. Hold on to your hats, readers, here comes some mind-blowing hypocrisy:
In 1994, then-Archbishop of Portland William Levada offered a simple answer for why the archdiocese shouldn't have been ordered to pay the costs of raising a child fathered by a church worker at a Portland, Ore., parish.

In her relationship with Arturo Uribe, then a seminarian and now a Whittier priest, the child's mother had engaged "in unprotected intercourse … when [she] should have known that could result in pregnancy," the church maintained in its answer to the lawsuit.

The legal proceeding got little attention at the time. And the fact that the church — which considers birth control a sin — seemed to be arguing that the woman should have protected herself from pregnancy provoked no comment. Until last month.

That's when Stephanie Collopy went back into court asking for additional child support. A Times article reported the church's earlier response. Now liberal and conservative Catholics around the country are decrying the archdiocese's legal strategy, saying it was counter to church teaching.

"On the face of it, [the argument] is simply appalling," said Michael Novak, a conservative Catholic theologian and author based in Washington, D.C.

That the "unprotected intercourse" argument was offered in Levada's name made it especially shocking to some Catholics. The former archbishop is now chief guardian of Catholic doctrine worldwide. The archbishop's new post as prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was last held by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — now Pope Benedict XVI.

William Donohue, president of the conservative Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights based in New York, said the legal language was "simply code for, 'What's wrong with you, honey, aren't you smart enough to make sure condoms were used?'"

And that, he notes, is completely counter to the church's teachings, which hold that using contraceptives is "intrinsically evil."

Frances Kissling, president of Catholics for a Free Choice, a group that supports abortion rights, said Levada's defense was an example of how, "if something will cost the bishops money, they will use any argument whatsoever — like any other corporate entity — that will get them off the hook. It's a disgrace."

In light of these proceedings, I propose that asserting that a woman's failure to use birth control means she's not entitled to child support shall henceforth be known as "The Slut Should Go to Hell" Defense.


Fourteen More

These "dead-enders" seem to be becoming more and more effective at killing American soldiers (as predicted):
Fourteen marines were killed early today when their troop carrier struck a gigantic roadside bomb in the western town of Haditha, marking one of the single deadliest attacks on American troops since the invasion here in March 2003. An Iraqi civilian interpreter working with the marines was also killed in the blast.


Don't Forget Poland!

Somehow, I doubt we'll ever be hearing Bush say that again:
Poland's prime minister said Monday that postwar nation-building efforts in Iraq have "failed totally," but expressed hope that the country's different religious groups can work together to build an independent nation.
"It failed totally," Belka said at a panel discussion on nation-building at an international forum in Sweden. "Many mistakes, major mistakes, have been committed."


Worse and Worse

More American atrocities:
Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush was being stubborn with his American captors, and a series of intense beatings and creative interrogation tactics were not enough to break his will. On the morning of Nov. 26, 2003, a U.S. Army interrogator and a military guard grabbed a green sleeping bag, stuffed Mowhoush inside, wrapped him in an electrical cord, laid him on the floor and began to go to work. Again.

It was inside the sleeping bag that the 56-year-old detainee took his last breath through broken ribs, lying on the floor beneath a U.S. soldier in Interrogation Room 6 in the western Iraqi desert. Two days before, a secret CIA-sponsored group of Iraqi paramilitaries, working with Army interrogators, had beaten Mowhoush nearly senseless, using fists, a club and a rubber hose, according to classified documents.


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Wisconsin Bans Birth Control from Campuses

Sheerest madness:
College campuses have emerged as the latest battlefield in the nation’s war on women’s reproductive rights. Wisconsin has passed a bill entitled UW Birth Control Ban-AB 343. This bill prohibits University of Wisconsin campuses from prescribing, dispensing and advertising all forms of birth control and emergency contraceptives. Wisconsin State Rep. Dan LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, introduced this bill based on the belief that “dispensing birth control and emergency contraceptives leads to promiscuity.”


Deja Vu

The more things are smashed into bits, the more they remain the same:
Iraq - Iraqi legislators accused Kuwait of stealing their oil as well as chipping away at their national territory on the border — allegations similar to those used by Saddam Hussein to justify his invasion of Kuwait that began 15 years ago Tuesday.



Rough day for American capitalism. First, China decides that our politics are so screwed up that investing here is too risky, and now a new study shows that, well, people just don't like Americans, or American stuff, the way they're supposed to...
The US is increasingly viewed as a "culture-free zone" inhabited by arrogant and unfriendly people, according to study of 25 countries' brand reputations.

The findings, published online today, will add to concerns that anti-Americanism is hurting companies whose products are considered to be distinctly "American".
The US ranked 11th in the Brands Index, which asks people around the world to rate 25 countries according to their cultural, political and investment potential and other criteria.

Australia received the highest overall score, with respondents expressing "an almost universal admiration of its people, landscapes and living and working environment", according to the report.

Although the US received high marks for its popular culture, it ranked last in cultural heritage, a measure of a country's "wisdom, intelligence, and integrity", according to Mr Anholt.

That the world takes a dim view of the US people will surprise most Americans themselves: the study's American respondents consistently placed the US at the top of all six categories polled.

Americans? Clueless? Never!


I Sense a Shift...

In the global centers of power:
Nearly 10,000 troops are to take part in unprecedented joint military exercises by China and Russia this month aimed at strengthening ties between the armed forces of two powers that were once bitter foes.

Chinese state media said yesterday the “Peace Mission 2005” exercises would be held from August 18-25 in and around the Russian far eastern port of Vladivostok and the Chinese coastal province of Shandong.

The scale of the exercises, which will involve land, air, naval, paratroop and marine forces, underlines the determination of Beijing and Moscow to expand a military relationship that has blossomed over the past 15 years.

Russia is now China's leading source of high-technology weaponry, while the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has become an important source of foreign currency for the crumbling Russian military industrial complex. “The drills mainly aim to deepen Sino-Russian mutual trust, promote mutual friendship and enhance the co-operation and co-ordination of the two armed forces in the areas of defence and security,” China's official Xinhua news agency said.


About Damn Time

The position presently espoused by the California Medical Association is so obviously unjust, they should be ashamed of themselves:
The California Medical Association is reportedly reconsidering its position that doctors and medical clinics have the right to refuse treatment on moral grounds.

The CMA had submitted a brief in support of the position in a case before the California Court of Appeal in San Diego.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the medical association is considering withdrawing the brief. The paper, quoting Peter Warren, a spokesperson for the CMA, says that the Association did not realize at the time that the suit involved the denial of service to a lesbian couple.

The details, Warren tells the Chronicle, did not become known to the CMA until it learned that one of the doctors being sued had testified under oath that she would not inseminate "a gay couple."

"We're re-examining (our brief) based on additional facts that came to light," Warren told the Chronicle. "The important thing is for us to make the right decision here and determine whether to be involved in the case."

But, the nature of the case was in the public record long before the CMA made its decision to submit the brief.


China Backs Off

American oil assets just aren't worth the hassle, it seems:
China’s CNOOC Ltd. said Tuesday it has withdrawn its $18.5 billion cash offer for Unocal Corp., stating it considered raising its bid, and “would have done so but for the political environment in the U.S.”

CNOOC’s withdrawal frees the way for Chevron Corp. to clinch its $17.4 billion bid for El Segundo, Calif.-based Unocal.

Late last week, reports said Hong Kong-based CNOOC was trying to decide between raising its bid for Unocal to as much as $20 billion or to drop it entirely due to objections by critics who contend the acquisition might imperil U.S. energy security.
In a statement Tuesday, the Chinese oil company said “the unprecedented political opposition that followed the announcement of our proposed transaction was regrettable and unjustified. This is especially the case in light of CNOOC’s purely commercial objectives and the extensive commitments that CNOOC was prepared to make to address any legitimate concerns U.S. officials may have had regarding our acquisition.”

The company said that the political environment created “a level of uncertainty that presents an unacceptable risk to our ability to secure this transaction.”



American casualties in Iraq thus far, counting these today:
Six American Marines were killed in action in western Iraq, the U.S. command said Tuesday.


More WMD-Related-Program-Activity Lies

What was that eloquent quip of Bush's about not being fooled again?
A major U.S. intelligence review has projected that Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years, according to government sources with firsthand knowledge of the new analysis.

The carefully hedged assessments, which represent consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies, contrast with forceful public statements by the White House. Administration officials have asserted, but have not offered proof, that Tehran is moving determinedly toward a nuclear arsenal. The new estimate could provide more time for diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. President Bush has said that he wants the crisis resolved diplomatically but that "all options are on the table."


Monday, August 01, 2005

Tenth Planet, Maybe

Catchy name, too:
US astronomers have discovered a new world of rock and ice in the farthest reaches of the solar system that they say should be designated the tenth planet to orbit our sun.

The discovery, announced in the early hours of yesterday morning, is of an object some 2700km across, which makes it larger than Pluto and the biggest object found in the solar system since Neptune was discovered in 1846.

“Get out your pens and start rewriting the textbooks today,” said Michael Brown, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology and one of three Nasa-backed researchers to discover the object.

He labelled the body the tenth planet, but the astronomical world is already divided over whether Pluto really is a planet and similar doubts are likely to be raised over this latest discovery. The announcement is expected to reignite the debate of just what constitutes a planet, since no official definition exists.

What is not in doubt is that the body currently known as 2003 UB313 represents the most distant object ever detected orbiting the sun.


Idiocy Compounded

This man really just needs to stop talking, for his own good:
A leading black leader in the nation's capital has "apologized" for a tirade against lesbians that delivered from his pulpit, but it has failed to quell the anger among LGBT activists.

Earlier this month Rev. Willie Wilson, pastor of Union Temple Baptist Church warned his congregation that "Sisters making more money than brothers and it’s creating problems in families … that’s one of the reasons many of our women are becoming lesbians.” (story)

In the July 3 sermon entitled “You’ve Got to Fight to Be Free” he also said, “Lesbianism is about to take over our community. I'm talking about young girls. My son in high school last year tried to go to the prom. He said, 'Dad, I ain't got nobody to take to the prom because all the girls in my class are gay. Ain't but two of 'em straight, and both of them ugly.’”
Wilson went on to say, “I ain’t homophobic because everybody here got something wrong with him,” he said. “But … women falling down on another woman, strapping yourself up with something, it ain’t real. That thing ain’t got no feeling in it. It ain’t natural. Anytime somebody got to slap some grease on your behind and stick something in you, it’s something wrong with that. Your butt ain’t made for that.

“No wonder your behind is bleeding,” he said. “You can’t make no connection with a screw and another screw. The Bible says God made them male and female.”

Wilson, who is also national executive director of the Millions More Movement to mark the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March in October, has until now resisted all demands from LGBT activists to apologize.

But, over the weekend Wilson began to backtrack, issuing a statement saying he is not homophobic.

"In retrospect I admit that some of the language I used in my sermon was intemperate and offended some of my brothers and sisters," Wilson said in the statement.

"To any and all whom I offended because of this language I sincerely and most profusely apologize. But I do not apologize for bringing to the forefront a very critical and crucial issue facing our young girls as well as the survival of the black family."

Wilson then went on to say: "All of us should be aware that there is a severe crisis in the Black community concerning our young girls. The situation is so grave that it should be declared a national emergency.

"The very survival of the Black family is being threatened by this crisis. For the last 10 years or so the Black community has been lamenting the fact that so many of our young black men are in jail that there will be few men for our daughters to marry.

"The incarceration rate is not getting any better, only worse. Over 1/3 of our Black men are now involved in the criminal justice system. Now we add to the equation the fact that our girls, some as young as 10 and 11 years of age are engaging in same sex relations. This is occurring at an alarming rate all over the nation. At a recent local school, I am told that girls were asked to report to the gymnasium. A survey was conducted to decipher how many girls were involved in same-sex relations, the number indicating that they were outnumbered those who had not by a 10 to 1 count."


They Knew

No surprise there:
The Central Intelligence Agency was told by an informant in the spring of 2001 that Iraq had abandoned a major element of its nuclear weapons program, but the agency did not share the information with other agencies or with senior policy makers, a former C.I.A. officer has charged.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court here in December, the former C.I.A. officer, whose name remains secret, said that the informant told him that Iraq's uranium enrichment program had ended years earlier and that centrifuge components from the scuttled program were available for examination and even purchase.

The officer, an employee at the agency for more than 20 years, including several years in a clandestine unit assigned to gather intelligence related to illicit weapons, was fired in 2004.

In his lawsuit, he says his dismissal was punishment for his reports questioning the agency's assumptions on a series of weapons-related matters. Among other things, he charged that he had been the target of retaliation for his refusal to go along with the agency's intelligence conclusions.


Sunday, July 31, 2005

Gratuitous Kitten!


Prosecute the Bastards

That's what I say, and this one agrees:
An FBI agent warned superiors in a memo three years ago that U.S. officials who discussed plans to ship terror suspects to foreign nations that practice torture could be prosecuted for conspiring to violate U.S. law, according to a copy of the memo obtained by NEWSWEEK.


Rape Rooms

American atrocities:
It was early last October that Kasim Mehaddi Hilas says he witnessed the rape of a boy prisoner aged about 15 in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. “The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets,” he said in a statement given to investigators probing prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib. “Then, when I heard the screaming I climbed the door … and I saw [the soldier’s name is deleted] who was wearing a military uniform.” Hilas, who was himself threatened with being sexually assaulted in Abu Graib, then describes in horrific detail how the soldier raped “the little kid”.

In another witness statement, passed to the Sunday Herald, former prisoner Thaar Salman Dawod said: “[I saw] two boys naked and they were cuffed together face to face and [a US soldier] was beating them and a group of guards were watching and taking pictures and there was three female soldiers laughing at the prisoners. The prisoners, two of them, were young.”