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Commentary :: Human Rights
BTL:Long History of U.S. Torture Precedes Current Pentagon Abuse Scandals
26 Feb 2006
Interview with Jennifer Harbury, human rights activist, conducted by Between the Lines' Scott Harris
Long History of U.S. Torture Precedes Current Pentagon Abuse Scandals

Interview with Jennifer Harbury, human rights activist, conducted by Scott Harris

Although the torture scandal at Iraq's infamous Abu Ghraib prison erupted in April 2004, thus far only enlisted military personnel have been prosecuted with no charges brought against officers or government officials.

A new set of photos illustrating the brutal forms of abuse practiced at Abu Ghraib during 2003 were published by on Feb. 16th re-igniting widespread anger at the U.S.

A flood of disclosures about similar torture techniques inflicted on U.S. detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba and secret prisons has aroused public outrage around the world. Although U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona successfully sponsored congressional legislation prohibiting cruel and degrading treatment of detainees, critics say that several major loopholes in the bill protects would-be torturers.

A United Nations human rights panel issued a report Feb. 15 calling for the immediate closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison facility, labeling it effectively a torture camp where prisoners have no access to justice. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with human rights activist Jennifer Harbury, whose husband -- Guatemalan resistance fighter Efraim Bamaca Velasquez -- was tortured to death by military forces on the payroll of the CIA in the early 1990s. Harbury, author of the book, "Truth, Torture and the American Way," examines long-standing U.S. policies permitting torture and the damage she maintains is done to the nation as a result.

Jennifer Harbury currently works with the organization Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International or TASSC. Contact the group by calling (202) 529-2991 or visit their website at

Related links: Exclusive: The Abu Ghraib files, by Mark Benjamin,, Feb. 16, 2006. Includes never-before published images from the internal Abu-Ghraib investigation.

LISTEN to this week's half-hour program of Between The Lines by clicking on one of the links below:
"Between The Lines" is a half-hour syndicated radio news magazine that each week features a summary of under-reported news stories and interviews with activists and journalists who offer progressive perspectives on international, national and regional political, economic and social issues. Because "Between The Lines" is independent of all publications, media networks or political parties, we are able to bring a diversity of voices to the airwaves generally ignored or marginalized by the major media. For more information on this week's topics and to check out our text archive listing topics and guests presented in previous programs visit:
"Between the Lines," WPKN 89.5 FM's weekly radio news magazine can be heard Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. ET; Wednesdays at 8 a.m. ET and Saturdays at 2 p.m. ET (Wednesday's show airs at 7:30 a.m. ET during fundraising months of April and October).
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Weekly Summary" which features a RealAudio link to the week's program for Between The Lines, send an email to btlsummary-subscribe (at)
For an email subscription of "Between The Lines Q&A" which features a RealAudio link and weekly transcript to one of the interviews featured on Between The Lines, send an email to btlqa-subscribe (at)
betweenthelines (at)
Distributed by Squeaky Wheel Productions
©2006 Between The Lines. All Rights Reserved.
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