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General Topic Areas

Rendition (35)
legalProceedings (41)
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Coverup (48)
Impunity (21)
Prisoner deaths (20)
High-level decisions and actions (131)
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Types of abuses performed by Americans

Use of dogs (11)
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Qala-i-Janghi massacre (20)

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Salim Ahmed Hamdan (6)
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Sahim Alwan (3)
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Faysal Galab (3)
Yahya Goba (3)
Yaseinn Taher (3)
Abdul Jabar (1)
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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 10, 2004

       Islam Online stresses the viewpoint of one former Abu Ghraib prisoner, with the pseudonym of Abu Abdul Rahman, that “the afflictions of the US occupiers dwarfed the torture and oppression of the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein.” [Islam Online, 5/10/2004]
People and organizations involved: Saddam Hussein, Abu Abdul Rahman
          

August 4, 2004

       Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski tells the BBC: “I have been told there's a reliable witness who's made a statement ... indicating that not only was I not included in any of the meetings discussing interrogation operations, but specific measures were taken to ensure I would not have access to those facilities, that information or any of the details of interrogations at Abu Ghraib or anywhere else.” Who that witness was, she does not reveal. When asked if she thinks there is a conspiracy at a senior level to keep her in the dark, she answers: “Correct. From what I understand ... it was people that had full knowledge of what was going on out at Abu Ghraib who knew that they had to keep Janis Karpinski from discovering any of those activities.” When she is asked whether she believes the conspiracy reaches up to the Pentagon or the White House, she responds: “The indication is that it may have.” [Associated Press, 8/4/2004]
People and organizations involved: Janis L. Karpinski
          

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
          


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