Covering American abuse: A tough sell for Dan Rather

Posted: Oct 05, 2004 12:00 AM

Dear Dan:

I am sure you would agree that American citizens should be treated with the same respect that we give to captured terrorists.  The national media went amuck over photos of interrogation of suspected terrorists in Iraq, but there is barely a mention of a videotapes likely showing similar abuse of an American citizen.

I know that you have heard of his case, Mr. Rather. His name is Dr. Charles Thomas (Tom) Sell, and he has been held in jail for about seven years without a trial.  He is a member of the Army Reserve who was summoned in 1993 for the Waco raid in Texas. He now says that he was targeted for prosecution based on his outspokenness against what happened.

For years the government tried to drug Dr. Sell on the premise that mind-altering medications would render him fit for trial on fraud and conspiracy charges.  The government psychologists claimed that he was mentally unfit for trial, and that only forced drugging of him could enable a trial to go forward.

One reason for claiming that Dr. Sell was incompetent was disbelief of his allegations of bizarre abuse similar to that uncovered by the press concerning the Iraqi prisons.  Long before the sadomasochism in Iraq came to light, Dr. Sell described similar treatment of himself.

Dr. Sell has long alleged a videotaped humiliation of his being stripped naked and then tormented by scalding water for ten minutes in front of a female onlooker.  He even identified the date of this atrocity as February 19, 2000.  For years he has sought release of this and similar videotapes to the public so that people could become aware of the injustice.

He alleged that this occurred repeatedly, but the government responded by calling him paranoid and delusional.  He said there were videotapes to prove his claims. The government at first insisted that the videotapes no longer existed until they suddenly reappeared.

Has the bizarre psychiatric sadism against the Iraqi prisoners been used against our own citizen? Are taxpayer dollars being spent to take every step possible to keep these videotapes a secret? If so, isn?t this case every bit as newsworthy as the one involving the captured Iraqis, many of whom killed American soldiers?

The seven-year imprisonment of Dr. Sell has been kept from greater publicity by an extraordinary sealing of key records in the case.  When Dr. Sell's attorneys were finally allowed to view the videotapes of his abuse, the judge even gagged them by ordering them not to tell others what the tapes reveal.

Millions of dollars are being spent on prosecuting our soldiers in Iraq, many of whom were probably just following orders.  Yet no one is lifting a finger to hold any government official accountable for the treatment of Dr. Sell.

Instead, all the stops have been pulled to cover up the videos capturing abusive treatment of Dr. Sell.  On August 12th Judge Donald Stohr denied motions filed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and others to release the videotaped abuse.

Since Dr. Sell himself favors release of the videotapes, what is the legitimate reason for hiding them from the public?  The only plausible basis for the government to hide the tapes is to conceal its own wrongdoing.

Judge Stohr had even withheld from the public many of the documents filed in the case.  He did finally unseal some of the documents, but not the videotapes themselves.

There has been endless outcry about holding terrorists offshore for a few years without a trial.  Yet Dr. Sell has been incarcerated far longer than any terrorist, and barely a murmur is ever heard about it.

One reason is that the public cannot criticize what it does not know.  Concealing documents in the case from the public has allowed injustice to fester.  Withholding the videotapes also permits egregious misconduct to go unpunished.

Dr. Sell's attorneys, after viewing the videotapes, brought a motion requesting that Judge Stohr himself view the videotapes.  But he refused, perhaps thinking that he would rather not know what abuses have occurred at the hands of his fellow government employees.

Shocked by prison abuse of Iraqi terrorists, voters would be truly incensed to see such abusive treatment of a presumed-innocent American.  Every indication is that the Dr. Sell videotapes captured similar abuse in a federal prison and that they are being withheld from the public.

Right now, you have lost all of your credibility with the public, Mr. Rather. Isn?t this a great opportunity to show us that you care about our citizens, just as much as you care about Iraqi prisoners of war? Wouldn?t it be nice to take a short break from criticizing ?Bush?s war in Iraq? to help a fellow citizen?

Mike S. Adams ( will be speaking at the University of Georgia on Wednesday October 6th. The speech will be held in the Tate Student Center Reception Room (at 7:30 p.m.), followed by a book signing at 8:30 p.m.

Dr. Adams will be at Georgia Tech on Thursday October 7th. The speech will be held in Room 321 of the Student Center (at 11 a.m.), followed by a book signing at noon. He will travel to the University of Alabama that evening for a 7:30 p.m. speech, which will be held in Room #40 in Alston Hall.

Finally, he will be doing a book signing at Mississippi State University on Saturday October 9th (from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the MSU campus bookstore).