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General Topic Areas

Rendition (35)
legalProceedings (41)
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Coverup (48)
Impunity
Prisoner deaths (20)
High-level decisions and actions (131)
Indications of Abuse (36)
Statements/writings about torture (8)
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Types of abuses performed by Americans

Use of dogs (11)
Forced confessions (9)
Mental abuse (7)
Sexual humiliation (34)
Physical assault (73)
Stress positions (22)
Electrodes (3)
Intimidation/threats (22)
Sleep deprivation (23)
Poor conditions (18)
Suppression Religion (7)
Medical services denied (7)
Abrogation of rights (7)
Involuntary drugs (4)
Deception (1)
Isolation (16)
Extreme temperatures (16)
Insufficient food (11)
Dangerous conditions (5)
Ghost detainees (5)
Sexual temptation (2)

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Presidential directives (3)
Internal memos/reports (33)

Specific Events

Qala-i-Janghi massacre (20)

US Bases and Interrogation Centers

Guantanamo (141)
Abu Ghraib (145)
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Ariana (1)
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Camp Whitehorse (2)
Packhorse (1)

People who have been detained

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Tarek Dergoul (11)
Ahmed Agiza (2)
Muhammed Al-Zery (2)
Abdul Razaq (2)
Noor Aghah (1)
Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni (5)
6 men in Bosnia (4)
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Mohamedou Oulad Slahi (1)
Mamdouh Habib (4)
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Mohammed Haydar Zammar (2)
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Saif ur-Rahman (1)
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Ibrahim Habaci (3)
Arif Ulusam (3)
Faha al Bahli (3)
Mahmud Sardar Issa (3)
Khalifa Abdi (3)
Saeed Abou Taleb (1)
Sohail Karimi (1)
Adil Al-Jazeeri (1)
Abed Hamed Mowhoush (4)
Saddam Salah al-Rawi (8)
Manadel al-Jamadi (3)
Bisher al-Rawi (4)
Jamil al-Banna (4)
Abdullah El-Janoudi (2)
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Abdurahman Khadr (2)
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Hiwa Abdul Rahman Rashul (3)
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Mohamed al-Khatani (4)
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David Hicks (3)
Feroz Abbasi (3)
Salim Ahmed Hamdan (6)
Ali Hamza Ahmad Sulayman al-Bahlul (2)
Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi (2)
Adullah Almalk (1)
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Assad (3)
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Hashiem (1)
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A.Z. (1)
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Wesam Abdulrahman Ahmed Al Deemawi (1)
Hussein Abdelkadr Youssouf Mustafa (3)
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Asif Iqbal (21)
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Alif Khan (2)
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Sahim Alwan (3)
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Faysal Galab (3)
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Yaseinn Taher (3)
Abdul Jabar (1)
Mullah Rocketti (1)
Mohammed Ahmed al-Kandari (1)
Thamir Issawi (0)
Haydar Sabbar Abed (1)
Abd al-Rahim al Nashiri (1)
Jan Baz Khan (1)
Unnamed prisoners (42)
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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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May 8, 2003

       Capt. Carolyn A. Wood receives her second Bronze Star. [Knight-Ridder, 8/21/2004] Wood was previously in charge of the US air base at Bagram, where detainees have alleged torture and where at least two detainees died as a result of physical abuse (see December 3, 2002) (see December 26, 2002) (see December 5, 2002).
People and organizations involved: Carolyn A. Wood
          

July 23, 2003

       Amnesty International sends a memorandum to the US government and Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) titled, “Memorandum on concerns relating to law and order,” which states that the organization “has received a number of reports of torture or ill-treatment by Coalition Forces not confined to criminal suspects.” The memo explains that Coalition troops are using a number of methods, including “prolonged sleep deprivation; prolonged restraint in painful positions, sometimes combined with exposure to loud music; prolonged hooding; and exposure to bright lights.” Amnesty makes it very clear that these actions constitute “torture or inhuman treatment” and are prohibited by the Fourth Geneva Convention and by international human rights law. [Sources: Iraq: Memorandum on concerns relating to law and order] The memorandum also informs the CPA that there are reports that prisoners have been killed by Coalition Forces. “Amnesty International has received a number of reports of cases of detainees who have died in custody, mostly as a result of shooting by members of the Coalition Forces. Other cases of deaths in custody where ill-treatment may have caused or contributed to death have been reported.” [Sources: Iraq: Memorandum on concerns relating to law and order] The Coalition Provisional Authority does not provide any response to Amnesty International's memo or provide any indication that the allegations will be investigated. [Amnesty International, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Amnesty International
          

September 7, 2003-Late November 23, 2003

       An Iraqi man from Tikrit is arrested and held for three days at Camp Iron Horse. Plain-clothed Americans take him out of his cell to another location where they hit him in the head and stomach. The soldiers then tie him to a chair. “After they tied me up in the chair,” the Iraqi later states, “then they dislocate my both arms. [sic]” One interrogator, according to the detainee, “asked to admit before I kill you then he beat again and again. [sic]” At one point a gun is stuck in his mouth and the trigger pulled, but no shot is fired as the gun is not loaded. “He asked me: ‘Are you going to report me? You have no evidence.’ Then he hit me very hard on my nose, and then he stepped on my nose until he broken [sic] and I started bleeding.” A rope is used to make him choke until he looses consciousness. Later, the detainee alleges, a soldier hits his leg with a baseball bat. The case is investigated but is stopped shortly after November 23, when a US soldier forces him to sign a statement denouncing any claims or be kept in detention indefinitely. According to the Iraqi, the soldier says, “You will stay in the prison for a long time, and you will never get out until you are 50 years old.” After it is revealed in the press that serious abuse has taken place at Abu Ghraib, the case is reopened. The investigation confirms that Task Force 20 interrogators questioned the detainee and wore plain clothes. A medical examination reveals that he indeed had a broken nose, scars on his stomach, and a fractured leg. But in October 2004, the investigation is closed because it “failed to prove or disprove” the allegations. [Sources: Memo, US Department of Army, 10/15/2004]
          

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
          

March 22, 2004

       The Pentagon announces Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller is to be replaced by Brig. Gen. Jay W. Hood as commander, Joint Task Force Guantanamo. Miller will become deputy commander for detainee operations in Iraq. [Department of Defense, 3/22/2004] He will assume his new function on April 15.
People and organizations involved: Geoffrey D. Miller, Jay W. Hood
          

May 2004

       The Pentagon suspends Gen. Janis Karpinski, but without officially notifying her or telling her why. She tells CNN on May 26: “I don't know [what the reasons are] because I've never been officially notified. I found out, as everybody knows, through the media, initially.” She also says, “It can certainly have an impact, a dramatic impact, on my career.” [CNN, 5/26/2004]
People and organizations involved: Janis L. Karpinski
          

July 14, 2004

       The FBI's Assistant Director for Counterterrorism, Thomas J. Harrington, informs Maj. Gen. Donald J. Ryder, the Army's Provost Marshal General, of incidents of abuse that a team of FBI investigators under his command witnessed at Guantanamo at the end of 2002 (see End of 2002). Harrington urges Ryder to take “appropriate action.” [Financial Times, 12/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Donald J. Ryder, Thomas J. Harrington
          

August 24, 2004

       During a pre-trial hearing for Sgt. Javal Davis held at a US military tribunal in Mannheim, Germany, Judge Col. James L. Pohl denies a motion by Davis' attorney to have Rumsfeld testify. Pohl says the defense failed to link the actions of the accused with Rumsfeld's orders and actions. [CNN, 8/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, James L. Pohl, Javal Davis
          

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 30, 2004

       At Fort Bragg, defense attorneys for Pfc. Lynndie England rely upon the two Pentagon reports (see August 24, 2004) (see August 25, 2004) released the previous week to argue that their client and other low-ranking MPs were following approved military intelligence procedures. The hearing is being held to investigate the nineteen charges against England and to determine whether she should face a court-martial. Thirteen of her charges relate to the abuse of detainees, while the others concern possession of sexually explicit photos. If convicted, England faces up to thirty-eight years in prison. [Associated Press, 8/30/2004]
People and organizations involved: Lynndie England
          

October 21, 2004

       Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick tells Judge Col. James L. Pohl during his court-martial that he never thought of reporting the abuse he witnessed at Abu Ghraib. “I didn't think anyone cared about what happened to detainees as long as they didn't die,” he says. In addition, he feared his comrades' reaction. “I was afraid of retaliation by other soldiers. We all walked around with loaded weapons. It was very high stress.” [Los Angeles Times, 10/21/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ivan L. Frederick II
          

October 21, 2004

       Before a US military court in Baghdad, Sgt. Ivan Frederick, an MP formerly stationed at Abu Ghraib, pleads guilty to eight counts of abusing prisoners, [New York Times, 10/21/2004] including assault, maltreatment, indecent acts, dereliction of duty, and conspiracy. Frederick had struck a plea bargain, promising cooperation in future courts-martial in exchange for prosecutors agreeing to drop other charges. [Los Angeles Times, 10/21/2004] He is sentenced to eight years imprisonment.
People and organizations involved: Ivan L. Frederick II
          

November 10, 2004

       President Bush names Alberto Gonzales to succeed Ashcroft as the new attorney general. Ashcroft submitted a letter of resignation on November 2. [Bloomberg, 11/10/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Alberto R. Gonzales, John Ashcroft  Additional Info 
          

November 24, 2004

       The Pentagon announces that Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller will be replaced as head of US-run prisons in Iraq by Maj. Gen. William H. Brandenburg. Miller will become Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management in Washington, D.C. [Department of Defense, 11/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: William H. Brandenburg, Geoffrey D. Miller
          

December 1, 2004

       The New York Times says in an editorial, “The White House, the Pentagon, and the Justice Department clearly have no intention of addressing the abuse.” [New York Times (Editorial), 12/1/2004]
People and organizations involved: Gordon England
          

December 5, 2004

       The Washington Post says in an editorial that “Congress has shirked its responsibility.” It points out that no hearings on prisoner abuse have been held since August, no policymaker has been held accountable, and “no legislation has corrected the administration's twisted interpretation of torture or the Geneva Conventions.” The Post says that “the worst aspect of the Abu Ghraib scandal” has been that the system of abuses has “survived its public exposure.” [Washington Post (Editorial), 12/5/2004]
People and organizations involved: US Congress, Washington Post
          

December 7, 2004

       Responding to questions about a June 25 memo (see June 25, 2004) to Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen A. Cambone revealing prisoner abuse by clandestine Task Force 6-26, Lt. Col. John A. Skinner, a Pentagon spokesman, says, “There have been more than 50,000 detainees and only around 300 or so allegations of abuse,” many of which “turn out to be unsubstantiated once investigated.” [Washington Post, 12/8/2004]
People and organizations involved: John A. Skinner, Stephen A. Cambone
          

January 6, 2005

       Alberto R. Gonzales tells the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings that there had been some discussion within the administration about trying to rewrite the Geneva Conventions. “We are fighting a new type of enemy and a new type of war,” he says. “Geneva was ratified in 1949 ... and I think it is appropriate to revisit whether or not Geneva should be revisited. Now I'm not suggesting that the principles of Geneva regarding basic treatment—basic decent treatment of human beings—should be revisited .... That should always be the basis on which we look at this. But I am aware there's been some very preliminary discussion as to whether or not—is this something that we ought to look at.” [Los Angeles Times, 1/7/2005] During the hearing, Gonzales is grilled on his involvement in the administration's decision to allow aggressive interrogations of terrorism detainees. Critics believe the interrogation policy developed by Gonzales and his colleagues created the conditions that allowed abuses, such as those at Abu Ghraib, to occur. Senator Edward Kennedy tells Gonzales: “It appears that legal positions that you have supported have been used by the administration, the military, and the CIA to justify torture and Geneva Convention violations by military and civilian personnel.” [Associated Press, 1/6/2006] Retired Adm. John Hutson, a former Navy judge advocate general (JAG) who testifies as a witness at the hearing, says, “I believe that the prisoners' abuses that we've seen ... found their genesis in the decision to get cute with the Geneva convention.” [Reuters, 1/7/2005] At certain points during the hearing, Gonzales demonstrates an apparent lack of understanding about US and international law. When he is asked if he thinks other world leaders can legitimately torture US citizens, he answers, “I don't know what laws other world leaders would be bound by.” On another occasion he is asked whether “US personnel [can] legally engage in torture under any circumstances,” to which he answers, “I don't believe so, but I'd want to get back to you on that.” He also asked whether he agrees with John Ashcroft's judgment that torture should not be used because it produces nothing of value. Gonzales responds: “I don't have a way of reaching a conclusion on that.” [Washington Post (Editorial), 1/7/2005]
People and organizations involved: John Ashcroft, Alberto R. Gonzales, John D. Hutson, Edward Kennedy
          

February 17, 2005

       The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) obtains 988 pages of files of investigative records from the Army Criminal Investigation Division, through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. They include accounts of photographs that were destroyed (see Early July 2004) showing US troops abusing detainees in Afghanistan. “These raise the question of how many other allegations of abuse were buried in the same way,” says Jameel Jaffer of the ACLU, adding, “[M]aybe there is a whole layer of abuse that we haven't seen.” He also claims the files show that the military investigators closed cases too quickly, often stating a lack of evidence as a reason. “What we do see here is more evidence of a pattern in which the government failed to aggressively investigate credible allegations of abuse,” he says. [Boston Globe, 2/18/2005]
People and organizations involved: Criminal Investigation Division, American Civil Liberties Union, Jameel Jaffer
          


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