Ashcroft's Connection to Abu Ghraib
The New York Times reports Saturday on the routine mistreatment of prisoners in America. After setting out numerous sickening examples, the article reverts back to Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and we learn that the man who was responsible for directing the re-opening of the Abu Ghraib prison after the U.S. invaded Iraq, and for training the guards, was Lane McCotter of Utah, who was selected for the job by none other than Attorney General John Ashcroft.
[McCotter] resigned under pressure as director of the Utah Department of Corrections in 1997 after an inmate died while shackled to a restraining chair for 16 hours. The inmate, who suffered from schizophrenia, was kept naked the whole time.....McCotter later became an executive of a private prison company, one of whose jails was under investigation by the Justice Department when he was sent to Iraq as part of a team of prison officials, judges, prosecutors and police chiefs picked by Attorney General John Ashcroft to rebuild the country's criminal justice system....In Utah, in addition to the death of the mentally ill inmate, Mr. McCotter also came under criticism for hiring a prison psychiatrist whose medical license was on probation and who was accused of Medicaid fraud and writing prescriptions for drug addicts.
Mr. McCotter, 63, is director of business development for Management & Training Corporation, a Utah-based firm that says it is the third-largest private prison company, operating 13 prisons. In 2003, the company's operation of the Santa Fe jail was criticized by the Justice Department and the New Mexico Department of Corrections for unsafe conditions and lack of medical care for inmates. No further action was taken.
McCotter reports he left Abu Ghraib after training the guards and cutting the ribbon at the opening ceremony last September. As for Ashcroft, who picked McCotter,
When Mr. Ashcroft announced the appointment of the team to restore Iraq's criminal justice system last year, including Mr. McCotter, he said, "Now all Iraqis can taste liberty in their native land, and we will help make that freedom permanent by assisting them to establish an equitable criminal justice system based on the rule of law and standards of basic human rights."
Then there's this quote, which turns out to be quite prescient:
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