If former Abu Ghraib prison guard Lyndee England ever wants to vacation in Russia, she is set to be disappointed – Russian President Vladimir Putin just banned her from ever entering the country.
England, who lives in Fort Ashby, WV since being paroled after serving time for torturing Iraqi prisoners and posing for photos, was added to the Russian list of U.S. officials, lawmakers, friends of President Obama, and Democratic donors who are banned from traveling to Russia. The list was announced Saturday in Russia in response to the latest round of U.S. sanctions on Russian defense, energy, and financial entities.
Putin also sanctioned Charles Graner – the father of England’s child – as well as Abu Ghraib prisoner abusers Ivan Frederick, Javal Davis, Sabrina Dawn Harman, Jeremy Sivits, and Israel Rivera. Janis Leigh Karpinsky, the commander of the prison at the time of the abuse, and Steven L. Jordan, who led the interrogations there, are also on Putin’s sanctions list.
Retired Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander of all U.S. forces in Iraq in 2003-2004, is now also banned from traveling to Russia, as is Rear Adm. Richard Butler, the current commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, the military command in charge of the Cuban prison.
Putin also sanctioned Senior Judge for the U.S. District Court Gladys Kessler, who the Kremlin said Saturday “recognized the legitimacy of forceful termination of the hunger strike in special prison ‘Guantanamo.’” But Moscow may have aimed its fire at the wrong person.
Kessler ruled on motions in 2006 and 2013 brought by Guantanamo prisoners on hunger strikes who argued that their force feeding constituted torture. While she ruled that she did not have jurisdiction to stop the force feeding, she urged the president to end the practice.
“The President of the United States, as Commander-in-Chief, has the authority—and power—to directly address the issue of force-feeding of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay," she wrote in her 2013 ruling. "It is perfectly clear from the statements of detainees, as well as statements from the organizations just cited, that force-feeding is a painful, humiliating and degrading process.”
Moscow knows the new sanctions on Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo officials won’t have much practical effect. But the fact the measures were made public shows that Putin is trying to bolster his argument that the U.S., rather than Russia, is the country that's egregiously violating human rights and international law.
“We are often told our actions are illegitimate, but when I ask, ‘Do you think everything you do is legitimate?’ they say ‘yes,’ Putin said at a press conference in March. “Then, I have to recall the actions of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, where they either acted without any UN sanctions or completely distorted the content of such resolutions, as was the case with Libya."
Putin added, "Our partners, especially in the United Sates, always clearly formulate their own geopolitical and state interests and follow them with persistence. Then, using the principle ‘You’re either with us or against us’ they draw the whole world in. And those who do not join in get ‘beaten’ until they do.”