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Dublin - Event Notice
Thursday January 01 1970

Ex Abu Ghraib interrogator and member of Iraq Veterans Against the War[IVAW], Joshua Casteel speaks

category dublin | anti-war / imperialism | event notice author Wednesday July 12, 2006 13:00author by MichaelY - iawm Report this post to the editors

27 July 7:30pm ATGWU on Middle Abbey St.

He will be joined by Hani Lazin, Iraqi Democrats Against the Occupation and Shaho Zamani, Iranian exile.

In May a UN report stated that there were 28,700 detainees in Iraq, 1000s held in US-run prisons like Abu Ghraib. Many have been subjected to 'sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuse,' according to a secret report by US Major Gen. Antonio Taguba. Casteel was so sickened by what went on while he was at Abu Ghraib that he applied for conscientious objector status and now works in the US with IVAW. He will be speaking at meetings around the country for the IAWM.

author by SC - iawmpublication date Tue Jul 18, 2006 15:40author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Monday 24th July Limerick: 7.30pm Riddlers Bar, Sarsfield Bridge,

Tuesday 25th July Galway: 7.30pm Galway City Library

Wednesday 26th July Cork: 8pm, Metropole Hotel, Macurtain St

Thursday 27th July Dublin: 7.30pm ATGWU Hall 55 Middle Abbey St

Friday 28th July Waterford 8pm Marine Hotel Canada Sq

Tuesday 1st August Sligo: details to be announced

Wednesday 2nd August Derry: details to be announced

Thursday 3rd August Belfast: details to be announced

Friday 4th August Dundalk: details to be announced

author by MichaelY - iawmpublication date Tue Jul 18, 2006 15:46author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Joshua Casteel is a veteran of the Iraq War and an eight-year member of the U.S. Armed Forces. He has recently been granted status as a conscientious objector. While in Iraq, he worked as an interrogator and an Arabic linguist at Abu Ghraib Prison. The son of two ministers, and a member of a military family, Joshua joined the Delayed Enlistment Program in 1997, his junior year in high school. That summer, he attended Basic Training, where he was already uncomfortable with shouting the chants, "Kill! Kill! Kill, without mercy, Sergeant!" and "Blood! Blood! Bright red blood, Sergeant!" But, he says, he took this discomfort as a general aversion to violence on account of his Christian upbringing, and didn't pursue its deeper significance.
Joshua attended West Point for a year, but soon realized he would be more fit for a liberal arts college. He continued his education at the University of Iowa and Oxford University, during which time he began to study the history of the Christian Just War and pacifist traditions with zeal. By the time he was deployed to Iraq in June 2004, Joshua was already theologically certain of his pacifism. However, he believed that he had sworn himself to service, and therefore needed to fulfil his duty as a soldier.
In Iraq, Joshua underwent a "crystallization of conscience." He describes his journey as one in which, although he had already intellectually converted to Christian pacifism, he had "required a personal encounter, a historical benchmark which would forever confirm for me who I was - and who I could never be again."
Stationed at Abu Ghraib, Joshua had the opportunity to interrogate a Saudi Arabian jihadist. It was this experience that ultimately convinced him of his conscientious objection to war:
The entire interrogation seemed almost mythical. When I finished I actually had to confess to my section leader what had happened, and how badly I had lost my objectivity as an interrogator, thinking it probably better to transfer the case to a different interrogation team. We spent most of the interrogation discussing ethics, Islam and Christianity. The man was a self-professed jihadist, come from Saudi Arabia for the sole purpose of killing people like me. Yet the entire time we spoke, he talked to me with a gentle calmness and evangelical tone, whereby I genuinely believed he desired my good - as I truly desired his. He tried to convert me to Islam from start to finish, and coming from an Evangelical Christian background, I felt in familiar territory, as if I were speaking simply to my Muslim counterpart. Then, we began to discuss war and violence. I asked him why he came to kill, he asked me why did I. At that point I knew I could go no further, unless I wanted to get into a debate about which one of us had the “more just” cause.

Below are some excerpts of an interview with Rosalee Barker. The full interview can be accessed at: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0510/S00301.htm+

Q: You were in the Army deployed in Iraq, as a translator?
A: My primary job was an interrogator, and I was also trained as an Arabic linguist.
Q: You were trained as an Arabic linguist after you joined the Army? Like, you went to Monterey to the school there?
A: Yes, I went to the Defense Language Institute.
Q: I'm curious how that served you. Do you feel that you were trained to the point that your language skills were an asset and not a hindrance? You know, giving you a false sense that you were understanding something that you didn't understand?
A: Well, we used translators constantly. Native linguists. Even those of us who went to training. Because we didn't have the mastery of dialect that was necessary in order to really do the job. It gave us a sense of kind of control, or a sense of security that we could usually understand what they were saying, the more that we were in the country and sort of picking up the idioms. But being able to communicate to them in an efficient way was very difficult. So we always used translators. Translation was a huge problem, constantly. Some of it had--I mean, we were able to get the words mapped from language to language, that kind of thing, usually. But there'd be plenty of other instances where the cultural underpinning to an expression or something, just wouldn't translate. Even those of us who went through a year and a half of training and getting a bit of an understanding of Arab culture, as an interrogator in Iraq, you're in such an immersed--an area of such deep suspicion and doubt and fear, that when you hear things, you hear things from the Arabs that you're interrogating as possible threats, as modes of evasion: "They're trying to lie to you. You can't trust them." This is what's constantly going through your mind.
And coming from a more Western framework, constantly interrogators were saying things like, "Why don't these people understand law? Why don't they understand logic?" And there's a very different understanding of values and social importance and what's wrong. Like, is breaking the law wrong or is shaming your family and friends wrong? And which is more wrong? That kind of a thing. Those kind of things were highly unknown to the Americans that were in theatre.
Or issues like the difference between terrorism, political insurgency, and the tribal system.
Q: Can you clarify those for me?
A: Sure. All of those things get communicated to the press as "the insurgency." Or as "terrorism." They get mushed together. And generals would come in and say that we had the sanction to "kill or capture all anti-democratic forces." Which is a huge, nebulous, amorphous category.
Q; Right.
A: I had interactions with Sunni leaders who would tell their people that, in the absence of a security force that they trusted, to rely upon the tribal system for their protection. Which was not political insurgency. Which was not terrorism. But it did involve arms. So an 18-year-old Marine at an American checkpoint sees a man wearing a headwrap and he's got a gun in his hand, and he thinks to himself, "That's a terrorist." When it's probably simply a person from the Jamali tribe guarding a back alleyway because he doesn't trust the police.
…….
Q: Okay. So then it falls into the purview of "you've got a right to--"
A: To kill or capture.
Q: Right. So there was no gray areas? In other words, there was not shading of--
A: I'm sure that there are people in the U.S. government who are aware of some of these complexities and are trying to work things in a more equitable and judicial fashion, but on the ground, it's not there. The foot soldiers who are the forefront of American foreign policy are uneducated, basically--they're 18-year-old Marines and the 20-year-old kids that I went to language school with, who would cry themselves to sleep at night because they couldn't comprehend the magnitude of their job as interrogators.
Q: You were at Abu Ghraib, I believe. And you interrogated people there?
A: Yeah
Q: You want to talk about that at all?
A: Sure. I mean, a quick snapshot of what the process was like is that I can count on the one hand the number of people who I thought were really doing terrible heinous things. Killing people regularly, that kind of thing. The bulk of my interrogation involved local workers, schoolboys, young fathers, imams, veterans of previous Iraqi wars. We were interrogating what we referred to as Average Ahmed.
Q: Average Ahmed?
A: Like Joe Schmo. And those were the people who allegedly were the face of the insurgency, and these were just everyday normal people.
……
Q: Was there a kind of a waiting--by the numbers that you're saying, it seems to me that people would have been incarcerated for some time before they ever--their turn came around to be--
A: Interrogated. Yeah. Yeah. Quick.
Q: How long do you think it would take? You took days? Hours? Weeks? What's "quick"?
A: Definitely not less than days, because there was a 72-hour period before they ever got to us.
Q: And who looked after them before they got to you?
A: People that were far away from the cameras that were pointed at Abu Ghraib. Combat units. Infantry. Marines. Special Forces.
Q: Okay. Actually there at the prison?
A: No. Those were people out of the prison, who were doing the acquisition of people, of individuals.
…….
Q: And, I guess, would capture people. What would happen to the people? Are you saying that those people would then, subsequently, they would be held there and then they would be moved to Abu Ghraib to be interrogated? Or just interrogated.
A: Typically, yeah.
Q: Really?
A: Doctrine dictates that people who are acquired at the battlefield are supposed to be what's called "sped to the rear."
Q: People who are what on the battlefield?
A: Acquired. In the battlefield. People that are detained or incarcerated or about to be incarcerated, they're supposed to be sped to the rear quickly, and usually that wasn't happening, and they would end up having quite a bit of time with the combat units that acquired them. People that probably just saw how their buddies just get killed on the street, who had a whole lot of anger and animosity against these people that they think are in charge of--who are responsible for killing their buddy. Which leads for a lot of bad things to happen.
Q: And also they're still--the people who are incarcerated are still within their local area, so, like--what I'm trying to connect here, or find out here, is there a connection between--when you see that there's roadside bombs going off in the Western part of Iraq, is it partly because local people are locally incarcerated and that kind of wound is very fresh, and the Americans who have done that are very close?
A: I don't have any eye-witness accounts of these kinds of things. But this is the general understanding of the procedure. Because I spent all my time at the prison itself. We'd get the files that were created by the units that did the detaining. So it would be usually always days before they made it to prison, but sometimes--
Q: Okay. How were they transported? By helicopter?
A: Various means. Helicopters. Humvees. Buses.
Q: Right. So it would be days before they got there?
A: Yeah, and sometimes people would wait months in prison before they were ever interrogated. Even sometimes people that were thought to be High Value Targets. And they would just sit in prison, sometimes for months, before I ever talked to them.
………..
Q: How many?
A: Way too many. Breeding terrorism. And the more that that happened, the more that they thought that this was intentional on the part of the U.S. government. That we were *trying* to persecute them. And then the vast majority of people--who had done nothing wrong--who perhaps got into an altercation after a cousin got killed in a bombing or something like that--they get brought in and have all sorts of angst and animosity, and then end up sitting in jail with people who perhaps are connected to terrorist organizations, and get fed an ideology. They have all this experience saying "These people want us dead. They think that we're nothing." And it's just a breeding ground for fundamentalism.
Q: How do they get back? The people that you talked to that weren't High Value Targets and didn't prove to be of any use, or, you know, they turned out to be your average person, how did they go back to their homes?
A: After a long process that I was never able to oversee myself. We would write memos recommending release, but we did not have the power--the interrogators--to do the release. Only the commanding general had that final say. It was a long process to get through and sometimes we would rewrite those memos three and four times. It was not a quick expedite. It was not an easy process to get released from prison.
Q: And then physically? Did they have to find their own way back after having been--
A: I don't know, I don't know. I'm pretty sure that they--if they were released and thought to be not a threat to coalition forces--which was the issue: Are they a threat to coalition forces? Not: Are they guilty of acts of terrorism? Are they a threat to coalition forces? Which allows for a lot of vagary and ambiguity.
Sometimes they would be given like a menial amount of money and then just let off at the prison, let off at the front gates, where they would be taken in a bus to some place and let off in a city square or something.

author by anonpublication date Tue Jul 18, 2006 15:53author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Those venues are hilarious. There's no iawm in most of those places. Oddly enough though, the swp have a presence in each place listed.

Well done to the swp for organising this national tour. And btw, that's seriously meant! Sounds like a very interesting speaker and meetings well worth attending.

author by ?publication date Tue Jul 18, 2006 20:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If, as you say, you are glad to see this tour and it is clear that the IAWM organised it, then clearly there ARE anti-war people in all those towns who are putting the tour together. What more can they do?

author by SP Member - SPpublication date Fri Jul 28, 2006 16:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I was at the GAMA premiere which clashed with this. Any reports?

author by anonymouspublication date Fri Jul 28, 2006 16:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

About 100 people. Boyd Barrett chaired. Speakers varied in quality but averaged as good. The uneasiest moment was when the member of the IAWM steering committee who was speaking argued that Iran should be allowed to tool up with nukes. Eyebrows raised across the hall, though people politely didn't bring it up during the discussion afterwards.

The US soldier was very good. The lebanonese speaker was good, though his English was poor. Not sure about his line that we should be and are supporting the Lebanon government. Good apart from that, though. He has a grandfather in Lebanon whose 106!! Usual speeches from the floor with only two unusual moments - one when an activist slammed the IAWM because of its name and its obsession with marches, and, two, a dude who seemed to think the Israelis are just defending themselves. Everybody else supportive. About 50% or more of speakers from the floor were SWP. Guess they just got their hands up first.

author by dunkpublication date Fri Jul 28, 2006 17:44author email fuspey at yahoo dot co dot ukauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

4 of the ploughshares were present, i intended to get in for all event but arrived only for end at questions from the floor

it seemed there had been some discussion regarding different approaces and their effectiveness ; direct action and/ or mass marches. it is a pity more direct action and anarchist people were not or do not attend these IAWM and SWP events, not to cause trouble but to put out alternative ideas then the ones that are presently heard at these events - unity and mutual support is needed. fair play to SWP/ IAWM,?, for getting joshua and the bolivian dude over. they do succeed in bringing in more than the usual heads to talks. last night had a large muslim presence, which is good, the more diverse the better.

an audio guy recorded event, he said that recording will be available soon

i was late as i was putting together a comment with links to essays and audio pieces i hope people will take time to check out.
a few points on how the global networks that we are part of ARE changing the world
http://www.indymedia.ie/article/77460&comment_limit=0&c...61103

from that emails have been circulating on lists and to anti war groups and individuals about direct action, building understanding, solidarity to "Kick the US military out of Shannon.”‘, reports of that are on above link, and requests have been made to all contributors to extend those thoughts out into the public realm for wider discussion

a proposal for a teach in for the weekend Friday 11th - Sunday 13th including IAWM S23 Shannon Mobilisation has been put out

there are a lot of eyes on this little island, we are known for disrupting the run of empires, we've done it before so.......................................

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