Thursday, May 20, 2004

Early on, we hired some really nice guys for the Iraqi prison system:

A number of former state prison commissioners chosen by the Bush administration to establish a prison system in Iraq left their old posts after allegations of neglect, brutality and inmate deaths, an investigation by ABCNEWS has found.

For example:

Last year, the former head of Utah's prison system, Lane McCotter, was hired by the U.S. government to help set up Iraq's new prison system and train guards.

He even led a tour of Abu Ghraib for U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who attended the reopening of the Baghdad prison.

But in 1997, guards at a Utah prison, then under McCotter's charge, made a videotape showing the abuse of Michael Valent, a mentally ill inmate who allegedly would not follow orders.

Valent was stripped naked, marched down the halls and, under an approved procedure at the time, placed in a special restraint chair, where he was left for 16 hours.

"By the time he was finally released from that restraint chair, he developed blood clotting and, through a pulmonary embolism, died," said Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson....

John Armstrong, another member of the team sent to Iraq, served as head of the Connecticut prison system from 1995 to 2003. The tactics used by prison guards during his tenure were blamed in three inmate deaths.

Videotapes made by guards showed prisoners who did not follow orders being restrained, smothered and beaten by guards during the time Armstrong ran the corrections department....

Read the story to find out more. (McCotter does note that he "was back in the United States before any inmates ever arrived" at Abu Ghraib.)

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