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Torture, rendition, and other abuses against captives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere

 
  

Project: Prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

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September/October 2002

       A CIA analyst visits Guantanamo and returns convinced that war crimes are being committed there. According to a former White House official, the analyst concludes that “if we captured some people who weren't terrorists when we got them, they are now.” The CIA agent estimates at least more than half of the prisoners at Guantanamo do not belong there. [The Guardian, 9/13/2004] John A. Gordon, Deputy National Security Adviser for combating terrorism, a former deputy director of the CIA and a retired four-star general, reads the highly critical report on Guantanamo by the CIA analyst in the early autumn of 2002. The analyst's account of US activities at Guantanamo, he says, is “totally out of character with the American value system.” He says he also believes “that if the actions at Guantanamo ever became public, it'd be damaging to the president.” He is convinced the report is important material. “We got it up to Condi [Condoleezza Rice],” he recalls. Gordon is most concerned about whether many of the prisoners at Guantanamo are not in fact innocent. “It was about how many more people are being held there that shouldn't be,” a former White House official tells Seymour Hersh. “Have we really got the right people?” The briefing for Rice does not center on the treatment of the prisoners, but on questions of practicality: “Are we getting any intelligence? What is the process for sorting these people?” The concerns are serious enough for Rice to call a meeting at the White House with Gordon and Rumsfeld. Rice allegedly says, “Let's get the story right.” Rumsfeld seems to be agreeing and looks willing to deal with the problem. However, according to the disappointed White House official, “The Pentagon went into a full-court stall.” He says, “I was naive enough to believe that when a cabinet member says he's going to take action, he will.” [The Guardian, 9/13/2004]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, John A. Gordon
          

February 2003

       Lt. Gen. Daniel K. McNeill, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan (Commander of Joint Task Force 180), announces an investigation into the deaths of Bagram prisoners Dilawar (see December 10, 2002) and Mullah Habibullah (see December 3, 2002). Nevertheless, he claims both prisoners died of natural causes. Dilawar, according to McNeill had an advanced heart condition with his coronary arteries 85 percent blocked. “We haven't found anything that requires us to take extraordinary action,” McNeill says. “We are going to let this investigation run its course.” But military pathologists have already determined both deaths were caused by beatings. Dilawar's death certificate, signed by Maj. Elizabeth A. Rouse, a pathologist with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, stated that Dilawar's cause of death was “blunt-force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease.” [The Guardian, 6/23/2004] When McNeill is asked whether the dead prisoners suffered injuries during detention, he denies this. “Presently, I have no indication of that,” he says. Later, McNeill claims that the prisoners had already suffered injuries before arriving at Bagram. When asked about the use of chains, Lt. Gen. McNeill replies: “We are not chaining people to the ceilings. I think you asked me that question before.” [New York Times, 9/17/2004]
People and organizations involved: Daniel K. McNeill, Dilawar, Elizabeth A. Rouse
          

Fall 2003

       Gen. Barbara Fast commissions an investigation to provide her with advice on improving intelligence and detention operations. A team is put together headed by retired Col. Stuart A. Herrington, a veteran of intelligence operations, and including a military intelligence officer and an Army intelligence official from the Pentagon. [Washington Post, 12/1/2004]
People and organizations involved: Barbara G. Fast, Stuart A. Herrington
          

(Early October 2003)

       Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez orders Maj. Gen. Marshal Donald Ryder to conduct a review of the prison system in Iraq and provide him with recommendations to improve it. [Washington Post, 5/8/2004; The New Yorker, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ricardo S. Sanchez, Donald J. Ryder
          

October 13, 2003

       Maj. Gen. Donald J. Ryder, Provost Marshal General of the Army, starts an investigation into the conditions of US-run prisons in Iraq. [Sources: Article 15-6 Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade]
People and organizations involved: Donald J. Ryder
          

November 5, 2003

       Major General Marshal Donald Ryder files a report on the prison system in Iraq, as requested by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez earlier in the fall (see (Early October 2003)). He concludes that there are potential systemic human rights, training, and manpower issues that need immediate attention at Abu Ghraib. But he also says that he found “no military police units purposely applying inappropriate confinement practices.” [Sources: Article 15-6 Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade] Ryder suggests that the problem may stem from methods used in Afghanistan where MPs have worked with intelligence operatives to “set favorable conditions for subsequent interviews.” He recommends that military police no longer participate in military intelligence supervised interrogations. Guidelines need to be drawn up that “define the role of military police soldiers ... clearly separating the actions of the guards from those of the military intelligence personnel,” he says. [The New Yorker, 5/17/2004; The New Yorker, 5/7/2004] An investigation by Gen. Antonio M. Taguba completed next year (see March 9, 2004) will come to the same conclusion. “I concur fully with MG Ryder's conclusion regarding the effect of AR 190-8. Military Police, though adept at passive collection of intelligence within a facility, should not participate in military intelligence supervised interrogation sessions. Moreover, Military Police should not be involved with setting ‘favorable conditions’ [emphasis by Taguba] for subsequent interviews. These actions ... clearly run counter to the smooth operation of a detention facility.” [Sources: Article 15-6 Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade] Ryder does not appear to report on actual instances of prisoner abuse and downplays the gravity of the situation, saying it has not yet reached a crisis point. [The New Yorker, 5/7/2004; The New Yorker, 5/17/2004]
People and organizations involved: Antonio M. Taguba, Donald J. Ryder, Ricardo S. Sanchez
          

December 2, 2003

       The investigative team commissioned by Gen. Barbara Fast (see Fall 2003) arrives in Iraq for a week-long stay. Ten days later, Col. Stuart A. Herrington, who heads the team, delivers a report warning that rounding up innocent civilians in Iraq and mistreating them will be “counterproductive ... to win the cooperation of the Iraqi citizenry.” [Washington Post, 12/1/2004]
People and organizations involved: Stuart A. Herrington, Barbara G. Fast
          

December 12, 2003

       Col. Stuart A. Herrington, the head of an investigative commission charged with providing recommendations for improving intelligence and detention operations (see Fall 2003), issues a confidential 13-page report in which he documents several instances of abuse in Iraqi detention facilities. Herrington advises Gen. Barbara Fast that intelligence capabilities need to be significantly improved. Given that many detainees have been rounded up in Iraq, he concludes it is “disappointing that the opportunity to thoroughly and professionally exploit this source pool has not been maximized, in spite of your best efforts and those of several hundred MI [military intelligence] soldiers. Even one year ago, we would have salivated at the prospect of being able to talk to people like the hundreds who are now in our custody. Now that we have them, we have failed to devote the planning and resources to optimize this mission.” In addition, Herrington notices the practice of abusing prisoners. He specifically mentions Joint Task Force (JTF) 121. Some of its practices during arrest and detention, he writes, could “technically” be termed illegal. JTF-121 members are found to be abusing detainees throughout Iraq and to be using a secret interrogation facility. Captives delivered at Abu Ghraib have clearly been beaten. “Detainees captured by TF-121 have shown injuries that caused examining medical personnel to note that ‘detainee shows signs of having been beaten’.” Herrington concludes: “It seems clear that TF-121 needs to be reined in with respect to its treatment of detainees.” Sweeping roundups of Iraqis and their mistreatment will be “counterproductive ... to win the cooperation of the Iraqi citizenry.” The report also mentions the practice of “Other Government Agencies,” referring to the CIA, creating so-called “ghost detainees” by not formally registering them when they are taken into custody. [Washington Post, 12/1/2004]
People and organizations involved: Stuart A. Herrington, Barbara G. Fast
          

January 13, 2004

       The Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) agent who received the Abu Ghraib prison photographs from Spc. Joseph Darby (see January 13, 2004), calls his boss, a colonel, who takes them to Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez. [Signal Newspaper of Santa Clara, 7/4/2004] Within three days, a report on the photos makes its way to Donald Rumsfeld, who informs President Bush. [The New Yorker, 5/15/2004] Within the Pentagon, few people are informed—unusually few—according to Hersh, who will later write that knowledge of the abuses were “severely, and unusually restricted.” A former intelligence official will tell him: “I haven't talked to anybody on the inside who knew; nowhere. It's got them scratching their heads.” Rumsfeld and his civilian staff, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez and Gen. John P. Abizaid, reportedly try to suppress the issue during the first months of the year. “They foresaw major diplomatic problems,” according to a Pentagon official. [The New Yorker, 5/17/2004] According to one former intelligence official, the Defense Secretary's attitude is: “We've got a glitch in the program. We'll prosecute it.” The former official explains to Seymour Hersh, “The cover story was that some kids got out of control.” [The New Yorker, 5/15/2004]
People and organizations involved: John P. Abizaid, George W. Bush, The New Yorker, Criminal Investigation Division, Donald Rumsfeld, Seymour Hersh, Ricardo S. Sanchez
          

January 13, 2004

       Spc. Joseph Darby, a 24-year-old member of the 372nd MP Company at Abu Ghraib, slips an envelope under the door of the Army's Criminal Investigations Division. The envelope contains an anonymous note and a CD with roughly one thousand photographs of abuses that took place at the prison, mostly between October and December of the previous year. [Knight Ridder News, 5/10/2004; The New Yorker, 5/24/2004] Darby was collecting photographs from his tour in Iraq and received them inter alia from Spc. Graner. “It was just wrong,” Darby later declares. “I knew I had to do something.” He talked about it with Graner who allegedly replied: “The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, ‘I love to make a grown man piss himself.’ ” [Washington Post, 5/22/2004]
People and organizations involved: Joseph Darby
          

January 16, 2004

       US Central Command issues a short press release announcing that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez has ordered a criminal investigation “into reported incidents of detainee abuse at a coalition forces detention facility.” It is later learned that the facility in question is Abu Ghraib prison. [Associated Press, 1/16/2004] The fact that the investigation is reported to be initiated by the central US military command in Iraq rather than an individual unit, the BBC Pentagon correspondent calls unusual. “It suggests that senior commanders are taking the issue very seriously.” [BBC, 1/16/2004] At some point between January 16 and 21, the CID will begin taking sworn witness statements from detainees. [Washington Post, 5/21/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ricardo S. Sanchez
          

January 16, 2004

       Gen. Janis Karpinski is informed of the abuses depicted in the photographs turned in by Spc. Joseph Darby a few days before (see January 13, 2004). She is an hour and a half away from Baghdad engaged in some kind of “security mission.” The Criminal Investigation Division (CID) commander informs her by e-mail “almost as if he thought of me as an after-fact or an afterthought,” she later says. [Signal Newspaper of Santa Clara, 7/4/2004]
People and organizations involved: Criminal Investigation Division, Janis L. Karpinski
          

January 19, 2004

       Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez orders a high level administrative investigation into the 800th Military Police Brigade apart from the criminal investigation that was announced three days earlier (see January 16, 2004). He appoints Major General Antonio M. Taguba to conduct the inquiry and limits the scope of the investigation to the conduct of the military police brigade. Taguba's report will be filed on February 26 (see February 26, 2004). [New York Times, 5/10/2004; Sydney Morning Herald, 5/4/2004 Sources: Article 15-6 Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade] As preparations for investigation are underway, investigators reportedly give the MPs at Abu Ghraib “a week's notice before inspecting their possessions.” [Sources: Several unnamed soldiers] Whether it is an attempt to sabotage the investigation, or a matter of clumsiness on the part of the military leadership or the CID, the result may well be that evidence of abuse is deliberately destroyed. “That shows you how lax they are about discipline. ‘We are going to look for contraband in here, so hint, hint, get rid of the stuff,’ that's the way things work in the Guard,” MP Ramone Leal will say. [Reuters, 5/6/2004]
People and organizations involved: Antonio M. Taguba, Ramone Leal, Ricardo S. Sanchez
          

January 21, 2004

       CNN reports that US male and female soldiers posed for photographs with partially unclothed Iraqi prisoners and that the focus of the Army's investigation is Abu Ghraib. [CNN, 1/21/2004]
          

January 31, 2004

       The investigation of the Abu Ghraib abuse case is taken up by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba. Taguba is the deputy commanding general of the Third Army and of the CFLCC in Kuwait, a post he was assigned in July 2003. [New York Times, 5/11/2004] He is administratively a direct superior of Karpinski.
People and organizations involved: Antonio M. Taguba
          

Late January 2004

       The final report of an investigation into the death of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush (see November 26, 2003) is completed. It concludes that Mowhoush died from asphyxia after being suffocated and sat upon by his interrogators. It also reveals that approximately 24 to 48 hours before his death, he was questioned by “other governmental agency officials.” Statements suggest that he was beaten during that interrogation, the report says. [Human Rights Watch, 6/2004; Denver Post, 5/19/2004] The interrogating soldiers are subsequently reprimanded and barred from conducting further interrogations. [Denver Post, 5/19/2004]
People and organizations involved: Abed Hamed Mowhoush
          

February 12, 2004

       Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, is interviewed by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba and admits that intelligence officers have instructed the military police at Abu Ghraib to shackle and strip naked detainees prior to interrogation. He also says that the Military Intelligence Brigade has no formal mechanisms in place to prevent abuses. [New York Times, 5/18/2004]
People and organizations involved: Thomas M. Pappas, Antonio M. Taguba
          

February 26, 2004

       Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba files a 53-page classified report which finds that between October and December of 2003, members of the 372nd Military Police Company and US intelligence community engaged in numerous incidents of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” against prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. As evidence, he cites “detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence.” The photographs—which are later leaked to the press (see Mid-April 2004), causing an enormous international public outcry—are not included in the report. [The New Yorker, 5/10/2004; The New Yorker, 5/17/2004 Sources: Article 15-6 Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade] Taguba also takes issue with the November 5 (see November 5, 2003) Ryder report which concluded that the military police units had not intentionally used inappropriate confinement practices. “Contrary to the findings of MG [Maj. Gen.] Ryder's report, I find that personnel assigned to the 372nd MP Company, 800th MP Brigade were directed to change facility procedures to ‘set the conditions’ for MI interrogations.” Army intelligence officers, CIA agents, and private contractors “actively requested that MP guards set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses.” [The New Yorker, 5/10/2004 Sources: Article 15-6 Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade] He presents his report to his commander on March 3 (see March 3, 2004).
People and organizations involved: Antonio M. Taguba  Additional Info 
          

March 3, 2004

       Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba out-briefs the findings of his investigation to Gen. David McKiernan. [New York Times, 5/10/2004; Slate, 5/5/2004]
People and organizations involved: Peter Pace, Donald Rumsfeld, David D. McKiernan, Antonio M. Taguba
          

March 9, 2004

       Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba submits the final version of his report (see February 26, 2004) on the investigation into prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib by MPs. He concludes that military intelligence personnel played a part in the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. But due to the fact that his investigation was limited to the conduct of MPs (see January 19, 2004), he did not investigate military intelligence conduct. Another investigation (see August 25, 2004), however, is launched that will examine military intelligence's role in the abuses. It will be conducted by Maj. Gen. George R. Fay, the Army's deputy chief of staff for intelligence. But the scope of this investigation is also limited from the outset, for two reasons. First, as a two-star general, he cannot hold any officer of his own rank or higher accountable. Second, Fay is appointed by Lt. Col. Ricardo S. Sanchez and therfore the scope of investigation is limited to the people under Sanchez's command. [Newsweek, 6/7/2004] Additionally, Fay may be less inclined to report negatively on military intelligence personnel, since his superior, Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, head of Army Intelligence, has already stated that the abuse at Abu Ghraib was committed by “a group of undisciplined military police” who were acting on their own, and not upon instructions from military intelligence officers. [Truthout, no date]
People and organizations involved: George R. Fay, Ricardo S. Sanchez, Antonio M. Taguba, Keith Alexander
          

March 12, 2004

       Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba presents his report (see February 26, 2004) on prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib to his commanders. [Truthout, no date] The report is “very closely held” among the Army's senior leadership and the report is only accessible to top officials on a secure computer network. Congress is not informed of the report or its findings. [Baltimore Sun, 5/6/2004] It is classified as “Secret / No Foreign Dissemination.” Neither the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, nor the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will later say they know why the report was classified when asked at a Pentagon press briefing on May 4. Such a classification may be in violation of US law. Section 1.7 of Executive Order 12958 reads: “In no case shall information be classified in order to ... conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error [or to] prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency ....” [Secrecy News, 5/5/2004]
People and organizations involved: Antonio M. Taguba, Peter Pace, US Congress, Donald Rumsfeld
          

May 2004

       In a 134-page report, the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL) says some tactics used during the arrests of suspected persons in Iraq seem to “alienate common Iraqis who initially supported the coalition.” [Washington Post, 12/1/2004]
          

May 6-7, 2004

       Vice Adm. Albert T. Church III, the navy inspector general, visits Guantanamo Bay in order “to ensure that [Donald Rumsfeld's] orders with respect to detainees at GTMO [Guantanamo] and Charleston were being carried out” (see May 3, 2004) He conducts over 100 interviews among Guantanamo prison staff and does 43 at random under oath testimonies. Questions asked include: “Have you seen any abuse, have you heard of any abuse, do you know anybody who has seen abuse, would you report abuse if you saw it, would you feel free to come forward if you see anything that doesn't look right.” [US Department of Defense, 5/12/2004]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Albert T. Church III
          

May 12, 2004

       Vice Adm. Albert T. Church III reports to journalists the results of his review of prison operations at Guantanamo conducted the week before (see May 6-7, 2004). He finds: “There is a very, we have a very professional organization in place. With very detailed and understood roles and responsibilities. Strong leadership, strong chain of command, and a very positive command climate. The directions to the secretary of defense with respect to humane treatment of detainees and the interrogation techniques were being carried out as best we could determine.” Over a period going back to 2002, he only finds eight cases of mistreatment, which he repeatedly refers to as “minor infractions.” Four of the eight cases involved guards; three involved interrogators; and one involved a barber who gave a prisoner an “unauthorized” Mohawk-style haircut. Punishments, Church says, “ranged from admonishment to reduction in rate, and some cases maybe more.” One person, he says, was court-martialed. But, he says, “We found no evidence of current abuse ....” Church says he is “very impressed” with the small amount of infractions by prison guards and interrogators, when taking into account the stressful conditions they were working under, “particularly when you look at the other side, the 14 incidents against the guards weekly.” He says he was told that each week on average prison personnel are the victim of about 14 acts of abuse by prisoners against guards: “verbal harassment, throwing of excrement, that type of thing.” [US Department of Defense, 5/12/2004] Church did not interview a single detainee during the course of his investigation. [Human Rights Watch, 6/2004]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Albert T. Church III
          

May 22, 2004

       The Pentagon orders Army Brig. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. to conduct an investigation of detention operations in Afghanistan. [Associated Press, 5/23/2004]
People and organizations involved: Charles H. Jacoby Jr.
          

May 24, 2004

       When the Taguba report (see March 9, 2004), which together with all its 106 annexes includes 6,000 pages, is delivered by the Pentagon to the Senate Armed Services Committee, some 2,000 pages are missing, withheld by the Defense Department. Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita calls this an “oversight.” [Associated Press, 5/24/2004] Nevertheless, the missing pages contain key documents, internal Army memos and e-mails, sworn statements by soldiers, officers, contractors, and prisoners. It also includes the final section of Taguba's interview with Col. Thomas M. Pappas. [Newsweek, 6/7/2004] The missing annexes of the Taguba report hold evidence that the abuse was not conducted solely by a few MPs acting on their own, but instead at the instigation and with the involvement of military intelligence personnel.
People and organizations involved: US Congress, Thomas M. Pappas, Larry DiRita
          

July 2004

       Army Brig. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. files his 21-page classified report on his investigation of detention operations in Afghanistan. According to three unnamed officials later interviewed by the Washington Post, Jacoby finds that US detention facilities in Afghanistan are plagued with many of the same problems present in Iraq. He also finds that rectal examinations are being used unnecessarily to search for contraband, while magnetic wands should be used instead. He reports also that only half of the some two dozen US prisons in Afghanistan have written guidelines posted that list approved interrogation practices. [Washington Post, 12/3/2004] But Lt. Col. Pamela Keeton, spokeswoman for the US military in Afghanistan, will later claim Jacoby “found no evidence of abuse taking place ... nor ... any evidence of leaders authorizing or condoning abuse.” [BBC, 12/13/2004]
People and organizations involved: Pamela Keeton, Charles H. Jacoby Jr.
          

July 2004

       Scott Horton of the New York City Bar Association says that investigations by the Pentagon “have a reputation for tending to whitewash, but even taking this into account, the current investigations seem to be setting new standards.” He adds: “Rumsfeld has completely rigged the investigations. My friends say we should expect something much akin to the army inspector general's report— ‘just a few rotten apples.’ ” [The Guardian, 9/13/2004]
People and organizations involved: Scott Horton, Donald Rumsfeld
          

July 2004

       Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld reportedly pressures the Army to conclude the investigations (see August 25, 2004) of Generals George Fay and Anthony R. Jones by late August, before the Republican Convention in New York. [The Guardian, 9/13/2004 Sources: Scott Horton]
People and organizations involved: George R. Fay, Donald Rumsfeld, Anthony R. Jones
          

July 9, 2004

       In an e-mail announcing a “special inquiry,” Steve McCraw, the assistant director of the FBI's Office for Intelligence, asks more than 500 FBI agents who have been stationed at Guantanamo to report whether they have observed “aggressive treatment, interrogations, or interview techniques” that violate FBI guidelines. Twenty-six of the 478 responding agents report having witnessed mistreatment by personnel of other US agencies. FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni later determines 17 of these 26 pertain to “approved DOD techniques.” The others are marked for further investigation. [American Civil Liberties Union, 1/5/2005]
People and organizations involved: American Civil Liberties Union
          

Morning July 22, 2004

       The US Army's inspector general, Lt. Gen. Paul T. Mikolashek, presents a 300-page report listing 94 documented cases of prisoner abuse to the Senate Armed Services Committee. [Washington Post, 7/23/2004] Of the 94 cases cited in the report, 39 are deaths. Twenty of those are suspected homicides. [Los Angeles Times, 10/15/2004] In preparing the report, Mikolashek's team visited more than two dozen US military installations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the US. Unlike previous investigations, Mikolashek did not look at individual cases. Instead, his team reviewed records of reported cases and the findings of previous investigations. Team members also interviewed 650 soldiers and officers and looked at broad Army doctrine and training. [Washington Post, 7/23/2004] Mikolashek's report concludes that abuses were not due to “systemic” problems. [Washington Post, 7/23/2004] For example, it found no evidence that there was a “pattern of abuse” in the central command's area of responsibility. [New York Times, 6/6/2004] The report's conclusions are made in spite of the fact that the investigative team identified numerous problems at the prison stemming from poorly trained US military personnel, inadequate supervision, and vague and contradictory policies and orders. According to Mikolashek, documented cases of abuse were “aberrations” that did not follow from Army doctrine but from the “the failure of individuals to follow known standards of discipline and Army values and, in some cases, the failure of a few leaders to enforce those standards of discipline.” They were, the report stressed, “unauthorized actions taken by a few individuals.” The conduct of most of the soldiers, however, exhibited “military professionalism, ingrained Army values, and moral courage,” the report insisted. [Washington Post, 7/23/2004] The report's conclusions stand in stark contrast to the Red Cross's report (see February 24, 2004), released in late February, which concluded that problems in the US detention system were widespread and systemic. Though the report will be heavily criticized for its conclusion that military and administration officials should not be blamed for the atrocities, it does contain an abundant amount of evidence that they created an environment that encouraged the abuses to happen. For example, Mikolashek's team found:
The military hired private contractors to interrogate detainees because the military had too few translators and interrogators in the field. More than a third of these private contractors were not sufficiently trained. [Washington Post, 7/23/2004]

Almost two thirds of the prisoners were kept in makeshift prison camps, or collection points, for as many as 30 days—60 times the 12-hour limit set by Army doctrine. [Washington Post, 7/23/2004]

Preventive medical services were insufficient. Not one of the US-run facilities visited by the team met the Army's medical screening requirements. [Washington Post, 7/23/2004]

Copies of the Geneva Conventions in the detainees' native languages were present at only four of the 16 facilities visited by Mikolashek's team, in contravention of international law. There was not a single US-run facility in Afghanistan that had a copy. [Washington Post, 7/23/2004]

At Abu Ghraib, the conditions were extremely unsanitary. The prison was seriously overcrowded, lacked an adequate supply of potable water, and had garbage and sewage strewn on the grounds of the outdoor camps. There were only 12 showers available for 600 to 700 detainees. Meals provided to the detainees were often contaminated with dirt and rodent droppings. [Washington Post, 7/23/2004]

The Bagram base in Afghanistan had a leaking roof and no sanitary system. “Human waste spills were frequent on the main floor,” the reports says. Sections of the base were contaminated with toxic chemicals leftover from previous airport operations. [Washington Post, 7/23/2004]

The military's interrogation policy was confusing and instructions were often conflicting. “While the language of the approved policies could be viewed as a careful attempt to draw the line between lawful and unlawful conduct, the published instructions left considerable room for misapplication.” This could “create settings in which unsanctioned behavior, including detainee abuse, could occur,” the report's authors conclude. [Washington Post, 7/23/2004]

People and organizations involved: Paul T. Mikolashek, International Committee of the Red Cross
          

Late July 2004

       The report (see August 25, 2004) resulting from the investigation by Gen. George R. Fay is finalized. [Sunday Telegraph, 8/15/2004]
People and organizations involved: George R. Fay
          

August 2004

       Portions of the Fay report (see August 25, 2004) are leaked to the Baltimore Sun. It is quickly characterized as a deliberate cover-up to protect senior military and civilian officials. [Sunday Telegraph, 8/15/2004]
          

August 2004

       Referring to the forthcoming Fay report (see August 25, 2004), an unnamed Pentagon adviser tells the Telegraph of London: “Some of the military lawyers are incandescent. There's been a deliberate attempt to make sure the buck stops well before it gets to the doors of the civilian hierarchy.” [Sunday Telegraph, 8/15/2004]
          

August 2004

       A lawyer, who has been in regular communication with military officials about the problem of prisoner abuse, tells the Telegraph of London that the soon-to-be-released Fay report (see August 25, 2004) is a whitewash: “This is a whitewash—a carefully orchestrated one. People in the Pentagon have been coming to me in a fury because of the way this has been handled. By naming military intelligence officials as well as the seven military police who have been charged, it will look like action has been taken. But basically it's still the same storyline of just a few bad apples, way down the food chain.” [Sunday Telegraph, 8/15/2004]
          

Shortly before August 24, 2004

       An unnamed Defense Department official tells the Washington Post that the soon-to-be-released Fay report (see August 25, 2004), authored by Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones and Maj. Gen. George R. Fay, will demonstrate that the prisoner abuses “were bad, illegal, unauthorized, and some of it was sadistic.” But the report will conclude that they were “the actions of a few; actions that went unnoticed because of leadership failures.” [Washington Post, 8/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: Anthony R. Jones, George R. Fay
          

Shortly before August 24, 2004

       An unnamed Army officer, interviewed by the Washington Post, says that an incident involving two MP dog handlers who were competing to be the first to make juvenile detainees urinate on themselves had “nothing to do with interrogation.” Rather, “It was just them on their own being weird,” he contends. [Washington Post, 8/24/2004]
          

August 24, 2004

       The four-member Independent Panel to Review Department of Defense Detention Operations completes its final report on its investigations into the prisoner abuses that are known to have taken place in US-run detention centers throughout Iraq and Afghanistan. The investigative panel, which includes James R. Schlesinger, Harold Brown, Tillie K. Fowler, and Gen. Charles A. Horner, finds that a failure of leadership, leading all the way to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, contributed to the abuse of prisoners. Like the Fay report (see August 25, 2004), to be released the following day, and the February 2004 Taguba report (see March 9, 2004), the Schlesinger report concludes that a lack of oversight and supervision allowed incidents, such as that which occurred at Abu Ghraib, to occur. Unlike preceding investigations, the Schlesinger Panel takes issue with the notion that abuses resulted from the actions of a few bad apples and were not widespread, charging that there is “both institutional and personal responsibility at higher levels.” The panel however does not name names. Notwithstanding their criticisms of the secretary, all four members say that Rumsfeld's mistakes were comparably less significant than those made by uniformed officers. The panel, appointed by the secretary himself, recommends against removing Rumsfeld from office. [New York Times, 8/25/2004] In sum, the panel finds:
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his aides failed to anticipate significant militant resistance to the US invasion and did not respond quickly enough to it when its strength became apparent. [New York Times, 8/25/2004]

The Department of Defense created confusion when it issued, retracted, and then re-issued its policy on interrogation methods. [New York Times, 8/25/2004]

The failure to adequately staff Abu Ghraib contributed to the poor conditions and abuses that took place at the prison. The ratio of military police to prisoners at the facility was 75 to one. [New York Times, 8/25/2004]

Responsibility for the abuses that took place at Abu Ghraib go beyond the handful of MPs present in the photographs. “We found a string of failures that go well beyond an isolated cellblock in Iraq,” panelist Tillie K. Fowler explains during a Pentagon press conference. “We found fundamental failures throughout all levels of command, from the soldiers on the ground to the Central Command and to the Pentagon. These failures of leadership helped to set the conditions which allowed for the abusive practice to take place.” [New York Times, 8/25/2004; Department of Defense, 8/24/2004]

Rumsfeld's decision (see December 2, 2002) on December 2, 2002 to authorize 16 pre-approved additional interrogation procedures for use at the Guantanamo facility; his subsequent decision (see January 15, 2003) to rescind that authority, and the final April 16, 2003 decision (see April 16, 2003) providing a final list of approved techniques was “an element contributing to uncertainties in the field as to which techniques were authorized.” The methods on the list eventually “migrated to Afghanistan and Iraq where they were neither limited nor safeguarded.” [New York Times, 8/25/2004]

The panel seemingly concludes that the interrogation methods approved for use in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo are lawful, fully agreeing that the Third Geneva Convention does not apply to detainees considered enemy combatants. The panel does not question whether the military was justified in classifying the detainees, or “terrorists,” as such. “The Panel accepts the proposition that these terrorists are not combatants entitled to the protections of Geneva Convention III. Furthermore, the Panel accepts the conclusion the Geneva Convention IV and the provisions of domestic criminal law are not sufficiently robust and adequate to provide for the appropriate detention of captured terrorists.” [August 2004, p. 83]

The panel says that Gen. Ricardo Sanchez's decision to classify some prisoners in Iraq as enemy combatants was “understandable,” even though Combined Joint Task Force 7 “understood there was no authorization to suspend application of the Geneva Conventions ... .” [August 2004, p. 83]

Abuses at Abu Ghraib involved both MPs and military intelligence personnel. “We now know these abuses occurred at the hands of both military police and military intelligence personnel,” the report says. “The pictured abuses, unacceptable even in wartime, were not part of authorized interrogations nor were they even directed at intelligence targets. They represent deviant behavior and a failure of military leadership and discipline. However, we do know that some of the egregious abuses at Abu Ghraib which were not photographed did occur during interrogation sessions and that abuses during interrogation sessions occurred elsewhere. ... We concur with the Jones/Fay investigation's (see August 25, 2004) conclusion that military intelligence personnel share responsibility for the abuses at Abu Ghraib with the military police soldiers cited in the Taguba investigation.” [New York Times, 8/25/2004]

In Guantanamo, roughly one-third of all abuses were interrogation related. [New York Times, 8/25/2004]

Contradicting the conclusions of the Red Cross report (see May 7, 2004), the Schlesinger report demonstrates that abuses were widespread. “Abuses of varying severity occurred at differing locations under differing circumstances and context,” the report's authors write. “They were widespread and, though inflicted on only a small percentage of those detained ... .” [New York Times, 8/25/2004]

The abusive practices were not sanctioned by the military's interrogation policy. “No approved procedures called for or allowed the kinds of abuse that in fact occurred. There is no evidence of a policy of abuse promulgated by senior officials or military authorities.” [New York Times, 8/25/2004]

The panelists believe the abuses occurring during the night shift in Cell Block 1 of Abu Ghraib “would have been avoided with proper training, leadership and oversight.” [New York Times, 8/25/2004]
Critics will say the report is a “whitewash,” noting that the panel cannot be considered independent given that it was appointed by Rumsfeld himself. Months before the panel completed its work, panelist Tillie Fowler said Rumsfeld should not be blamed for the abuses. “The secretary is an honest, decent, honorable man, who'd never condone this type of activity,” she said referring to the abuse at Abu Ghraib. “This was not a tone set by the secretary.” [New York Times, 6/6/2004]
People and organizations involved: Harold Brown, Donald Rumsfeld, Charles A. Horner, Tillie K. Fowler, International Committee of the Red Cross, James R. Schlesinger, George R. Fay
          

August 25, 2004

       Generals George Fay and Anthony R. Jones release a final report describing the findings of their combined investigation of the abuses committed by US soldiers against detainees being held at Abu Ghraib. The investigation was initially ordered by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, commander of CJTF-7, who charged Fay with determining whether the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade “requested, encouraged, condoned, or solicited Military Police (MP) personnel to abuse detainees and whether MI [military intelligence] personnel comported with established interrogation procedures and applicable laws and regulations.” Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones joined the investigation in June and was instructed to determine if “organizations or personnel higher” than the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade chain of command were involved in the Abu Ghraib abuses. [Sources: AR 15-6 Investigation of the Abu Ghraib Detention Facility and 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, 8/23/2004] The report provides detailed descriptions of 44 separate incidents of abuse perpetrated by US soldiers against Abu Ghraib detainees beginning in September 2003. The abuses described include acts of sodomy, beatings, nudity, lengthy isolation, and the use of unmuzzled dogs aimed at making detainees urinate and defecate in fear. “The abuses spanned from direct physical assault, such as delivering head blows rendering detainees unconscious, to sexual posing and forced participation in group masturbation,” the authors say in the report. “At the extremes were the death of a detainee ... an alleged rape committed by a US translator and observed by a female soldier, and the alleged sexual assault of an unknown female.” [Washington Post, 8/26/2005] Parts of the report are classified because, according to Army officials, they include references to secret policy memos. But when these classified sections are leaked to the New York Times by a senior Pentagon official, they do not appear to contain any sensitive material about interrogation methods or details of official memos. Instead, the secret passages demonstrate how interrogation practices from Afghanistan and Guantanamo were introduced to Abu Ghraib and how Sanchez played a major part in that process. [New York Times, 8/27/2004] Though the report lays most of the blame on MPs and a small group of military intelligence, civilian, and CIA interrogators, it does recommend disciplinary action for Col. Thomas M. Pappas and Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan. “The primary causes are misconduct (ranging from inhumane to sadistic) by a small group of morally corrupt soldiers and civilians, a lack of discipline on the part of the leaders and soldiers of the 205 MI BDE [Military Intelligence Brigade] and a failure or lack of leadership by multiple echelons within CJTF-7.” Lt. Gen. Sanchez, the commander of Combined Joined Task Force (CJTF) 7, though mildly criticized, is still praised in the report as having performed “above expectations.” [Washington Post, 8/26/2005 Sources: AR 15-6 Investigation of the Abu Ghraib Detention Facility and 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, 8/23/2004] Jones portrays the abuse as being only coincidentally linked to interrogations. “Most, though not all, of the violent or sexual abuses occurred separately from scheduled interrogations and did not focus on persons held for intelligence purposes.” Gen. Fay on the other hand writes that the majority of the victims of abuse were military intelligence holds, and thus held for intelligence purposes. In addition, he concludes that “confusion and misunderstanding between MPs and MI [military intelligence]” also contributed to acts of abuse. Military intelligence personnel ordered MPs to implement the tactic of “sleep adjustment.” “The MPs used their own judgment as to how to keep them awake. Those techniques included taking the detainees out of their cells, stripping them, and giving them cold showers. Cpt. [Carolyn A.] Wood stated she did not know this was going on and thought the detainees were being kept awake by the MPs banging on the cell doors, yelling, and playing loud music.” [Sources: AR 15-6 Investigation of the Abu Ghraib Detention Facility and 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, 8/23/2004]
Nearly 50 people were involved in the 44 incidents of abuse listed in the report: 27 military intelligence soldiers, 10 military police officers, four civilian contractors, and a number of other intelligence and medical personnel who failed to report the abuse. [Washington Post, 8/26/2005; Washington Post, 8/26/2005]
Military intelligence soldiers were found to have requested or encouraged 16 of the 44 incidents. [Washington Post, 8/26/2005; Washington Post, 8/26/2005]
The incidents of abuse included torture. “Torture sometimes is used to define something in order to get information,” Fay tells reporters. “There were very few instances where in fact you could say that was torture. It's a harsh word, and in some instances, unfortunately, I think it was appropriate here. There were a few instances when torture was being used.” [Washington Post, 8/26/2005]

Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez and his staff “contributed indirectly to the questionable activities regarding alleged detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib” and failed “to ensure proper staff oversight of detention and interrogation operations.” [Washington Post, 8/26/2005 Sources: AR 15-6 Investigation of the Abu Ghraib Detention Facility and 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, 8/23/2004]
For example, Sanchez endorsed the use of stress positions, nudity, and military working dogs (see October 12, 2003), even though they had not been approved by Rumsfeld. [Washington Post, 8/26/2005] In spite of this, the executive summary of the report asserts that “the CJTF-7 Commander and staff performed above expectations ... .” [Washington Post, 8/26/2005 Sources: AR 15-6 Investigation of the Abu Ghraib Detention Facility and 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, 8/23/2004]
Senior officers in Iraq failed to provide “clear, consistent guidance” for handling detainees. [Washington Post, 8/26/2005 Sources: AR 15-6 Investigation of the Abu Ghraib Detention Facility and 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, 8/23/2004]

There is no evidence that policy or instructions provided by senior US authorities sanctioned the types of abuses that occurred at Abu Ghraib. [Washington Post, 8/26/2005; Washington Post, 8/26/2005]

CIA officials in the prison hid “ghost detainees” from human rights groups in violation of international law. [Washington Post, 8/26/2005]

People and organizations involved: Steven L. Jordan, George R. Fay, Thomas M. Pappas, Anthony R. Jones, Ricardo S. Sanchez, Carolyn A. Wood
          

September 10, 2004

       During the presentation and discussion of the Schlesinger report (see August 24, 2004) before the House Armed Services Committee, most Republicans, including its chairman, Representative Duncan Hunter of California, say the investigation shows that only a handful of US soldiers were responsible for the abuses. Democrats however, like Representative Ike Skelton of Missouri, disagree. “We must not continue to call this the work of just a few bad apples,” Skelton says. [New York Times, 9/10/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ike Skelton, Duncan Hunter
          

October 2004

       More than one-and-a-half years after the deaths of the Afghan detainees Mullah Habibullah (see December 3, 2002) and Dilawar (see December 10, 2002), the US Army Criminal Investigation Command completes its investigation of the two cases. It finds that 28 military personnel, including two captains, were involved in the incident. The perpetrators could be charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault, and conspiracy. A Pentagon official says five or six of the soldiers will likely be charged with the most serious offences. The investigation concludes that “multiple soldiers” beat Dilawar and Habibullah, using mostly their knees. It is likely, according to Pentagon officials, that the beatings were concentrated on the legs of the detainees, so that wounds would be less visible. Amnesty International severely criticizes the long duration of the investigation. “The failure to promptly account for the prisoners' deaths indicates a chilling disregard for the value of human life and may have laid the groundwork for further abuses in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere,” says Jumana Musa of Amnesty International USA. [New York Times, 10/15/2004]
People and organizations involved: Dilawar, Mullah Habibullah, Patrick J. Brown, Jumana Musa
          


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