Iraqi Beheading; HRC's Apology?
Last month at the Human Rights Campaign's Equality Center in Washington, DC, a gay Iraqi refugee who uses the alias "Hussam," made a presentation alleging atrocities were committed by US armed forces personnel against Iraqi gays. The Washington Blade provided excellent coverage of the event at HRC's HQ, the fallout from it, and in this story, reported on an investigation by the US Army into the matter.
Today, the US Army emailed me to announce their findings:
The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s (USACIDC) Special Agents have looked into allegations that U.S. service members were involved in committing atrocities against gays in Iraq and have found no credible evidence that the allegations have merit.
In a sworn statement to Special Agents, the individual giving the presentation at the 24 July fundraiser said his words were taken out of context, he was misunderstood due to language barriers, and he was misquoted.
He stated that although he did show disturbing photographs at the event, the photographs of sectarian violence were in no way linked to U.S. service members.
He also said he never witnessed any actions of U.S. Soldiers that he would classify as criminal or any evidence of U.S. service members targeting Iraqi men or women because of their sexual orientation.
Based on the description of one photograph allegedly shown depicting what appeared to be an American Soldier guarding several naked Iraqi men, it was determined that in 2004, when the picture was allegedly taken, removing detainee’s clothing was a force protection measure authorized within the Rules of Engagement due to suicide vests being worn by insurgents.
As always with USACIDC investigations, if new credible information is discovered, we will investigate.
Hope this helps and thanks for contacting me.
Chief of Public Affairs
USA Criminal Investigation Command (CID)
Ft. Belvoir, Virginia
I'm not the least bit surprised the Army found no credibility behind the claims of Hussam, nor does it surprise me that despite his highly-developed command of the English language he alleges a language barrier was a contributing factor leading to the investigation. Hussam is one slick operator, who, in emails and phone conversations with me, threw out every excuse he could think of to absolve himself of any real responsibility to prove his outlandish allegations.
With the military's investigation over, I feel HRC must at this point issue an explicit apology to our US troops, and the LGBT community, for allowing their facilities to be used by Hussam as the platform from which he threw out his lies.
If HRC, and the LGBT Bar Association, both of which sponsored the July 24 presentation, had performed minimal vetting of Hussam and his photographs, they may not have allowed him to use their HQ.
HRC and the LGBT Bar Association should issue a joint apology today.