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Torture themes

Torture, abuse, rights' violations
Indications of Abuse
Prisoner deaths
High-level complicity
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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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       Selected foreign terrorism suspects in custody of the United States government who are unresponsive to interrogations are covertly “rendered” to foreign countries for further questioning. [Washington Post, 3/11/2002; Washington Post, 5/11/2004; The New York Times, 3/9/2003 Sources: Unnamed US officials] The countries receiving the rendered suspects are often known human rights violators like Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, which have histories of using torture and other unlawful methods of interrogation. The rendition program often ignores local and international extradition laws. [Washington Post, 3/11/2002 Sources: Unnamed US officials] In fact, US officials have admitted that the justification for rendition is sometimes fabricated—the US requests that a suspect be rendered, and then the allied foreign government charges the person “with a crime of some sort.” [Washington Post, 12/26/2002; Los Angeles Times, 2/1/2003 Sources: Unnamed US officials] After a suspect is relocated to another country, US intelligence agents may “remain closely involved” in the interrogations, sometimes even “doing [them] together” with the foreign government's intelligence service. The frequency of renditions will increase dramatically after the September 11 attacks (see (September 11, 2001-2004)). [Washington Post, 3/11/2002; Washington Post, 5/11/2004; The New York Times, 3/9/2003 Sources: Unnamed US officials]
Countries involved in the practice of rendition -

Egypt - Amnesty International's 2003 annual report says that in Egypt, “Torture and ill-treatment of detainees continued to be systematic” during 2002. [Washington Post, 12/26/2002; Washington Post, 3/11/2002; Amnesty International, 2003]

Jordan - The State Department's 2001 annual human rights report states, “The most frequently alleged methods of torture include sleep deprivation, beatings on the soles of the feet, prolonged suspension with ropes in contorted positions and extended solitary confinement.” [Washington Post, 12/26/2002; Washington Post, 3/11/2002]

Morocco - Morocco “has a documented history of torture, as well as longstanding ties to the CIA.” [Washington Post, 12/26/2002; Washington Post, 3/11/2002]

Syria - Amnesty International's 2003 annual report notes: “Hundreds of political prisoners remained in prolonged detention without trial or following sentences imposed after unfair trials. Some were ill but were still held in harsh conditions. Ten prisoners of conscience were sentenced to up to 10 years' imprisonment after unfair trials before the Supreme State Security Court (SSSC) or the Criminal Court. There were fewer reports of torture and ill-treatment, but cases from previous years were not investigated. At least two people died in custody.” [Washington Post, 12/26/2002; Amnesty International, 2003]

 Additional Info 

August 21, 1996

       The War Crimes Act (HR 3680) becomes Public Law No: 104-192. It prohibits Americans—top officials and soldiers alike—from committing “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions. It states: “Whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, commits a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions,” provided that the perpetrator or the victim is a member of the US military or a national of the US, “shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.” [Newsweek, 11/5/2001 Sources: US 104th Congress, H. R. 3680]


       Talaat Fouad Qassem, 38, a known leader of the Islamic Group, an Egyptian extremist organization, is arrested and detained in Croatia as he travels from Bosnia to Denmark, where he has been granted political asylum. Qassem, allegedly an associate of Ayman Zawahiri, the “number-two man in Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network,” is questioned aboard a US ship off the Croatian coast and then sent to Cairo, Egypt “where a military tribunal has already sentenced him to death in absentia.” [Washington Post, 3/11/2002 Sources: Unnamed Egyptian lawyers]
People and organizations involved: Ayman Zawahiri, Talaat Fouad Qassem


       CIA officers working with police in Albania arrest and detain five members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad who the CIA suspects are planning to bomb the US Embassy in Tirana, Albania's capital. After only three days of interrogation, the five men are “flown to Egypt aboard a plane that [is] chartered by the CIA” where two of them are subsequently put to death. [Washington Post, 3/11/2002]


       Walter Schumm, a retired Army Reserve colonel, writes a piece in the Military Review making the observation that few military officers understand the legal requirements for handling prisoners. In one part of the essay he notes, “It only takes one improperly trained soldier among a thousand to commit an offense against the Geneva Conventions that would cause our nation considerable embarrassment.” [USA Today, 5/13/2004]
People and organizations involved: Walter Schumm

(September 11, 2001-2004)

       After the September 11 attacks, the frequency of US-requested “renditions” (see 1993-2004) increases, and by the end of 2002, the number of terrorism suspects sent to foreign countries is in the thousands. Many of the renditions involve captives from the US operation in Afghanistan. [Washington Post, 3/11/2002; Washington Post, 12/26/2002; Washington Post, 5/11/2004; Los Angeles Times, 2/1/2003 Sources: Unnamed Western diplomats, intelligence sources, officials] “There was a debate after 9/11 about how to make people disappear,” a former intelligence official will tell the New York Times in May 2004. [New York Times, 5/13/2004 Sources: Unnamed former administration official]
 Additional Info 

(Late September 2001)

       Shortly after the September 11 attacks, President George Bush signs a secret order authorizing the CIA to set up a network of secret detention and interrogation centers outside the United States where high value prisoners can be subjected to harsh interrogation tactics. [Newsweek, 5/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush

(October 2001-2004)

       US intelligence officers at a CIA-run interrogation center (see (October 2001-2004)) at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan use torture techniques to interrogate detainees. The captives—imprisoned in metal shipping containers—are subjected to a variety of “stress and duress” interrogation tactics. [Washington Post, 12/26/2002; The New York Times, 3/9/2003 Sources: Unnamed former intelligence sources and current US national security officials, several of whom have witnessed the actual handling of prisoners] The US captors force the detainees to stand or kneel for hours, wear black hoods or spray-painted goggles for long periods of time, and stand or sit in awkward and painful positions. They are also thrown into walls, kicked, punched, deprived of sleep and subjected to flashing lights and loud noises. [Washington Post, 12/26/2002; Amnesty International, 8/19/2003; The New York Times, 3/9/2003 Sources: Unnamed former intelligence sources and current US national security officials, several of whom have witnessed the actual handling of prisoners] Some detainees tell of being “chained to the ceiling, their feet shackled, [and being] unable to move for hours at a time, day and night.” [New York Times, 3/4/03] Psychological interrogation methods such as “feigned friendship, respect, cultural sensitivity” are used as well. For instance, female officers sometimes conduct the interrogations, a technique described as being “a psychologically jarring experience for men reared in a conservative Muslim culture where women are never in control.” [Washington Post, 12/26/2002 Sources: Unnamed former intelligence sources and current US national security officials, several of whom have witnessed the actual handling of prisoners] Human rights monitors are not permitted to visit the facility. [Washington Post, 12/26/2002; Agence France Presse, 12/29/2002] The US claims that the interrogation techniques used at Bagram do not violate international laws. “Our interrogation techniques are adapted,” General Daniel McNeil claims in early March 2003. “They are in accordance with what is generally accepted as interrogation techniques, and if incidental to the due course of this investigation, we find things that need to be changed, we will certainly change them.” [The Guardian, 3/7/2003]
People and organizations involved: Daniel McNeil

(October 2001-2004)

       The United States government creates a multi-layered international system of detention centers and prison camps where suspected terrorists, enemy combatants, and prisoners of war are detained and interrogated. [Washington Post, 3/11/2002] The Washington Post reports in May 2004: “The largely hidden array includes three systems that only rarely overlap: the Pentagon-run network of prisons, jails and holding facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and elsewhere; small and secret CIA-run facilities where top al-Qaeda and other figures are kept; and interrogation rooms of foreign intelligence services—some with documented records of torture—to which the US government delivers or ‘renders’ mid- or low-level terrorism suspects for questioning.... The detainees have no conventional legal rights: no access to a lawyer; no chance for an impartial hearing; and ... no apparent guarantee of humane treatment accorded prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions or civilians in US jails.” [Washington Post, 3/11/2002] One administration official tells the New York Times that some high-level detainees may be held indefinitely. [New York Times, 5/13/2004 Sources: Unnamed administration official] Secrecy permeates the system. For example, renditions are done covertly and the locations of the secret CIA-run interrogation centers are considered “so sensitive that even the four leaders of the House and Senate intelligence committees, who are briefed on all covert operations, do not know them.” [Washington Post, 3/11/2002] In May 2004, it is estimated that there are 10,000 prisoners being held is US facilities around the world. They come from a number of countries including the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Sweden, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and Yemen. [The New Zealand Herald, 5/13/2004]

(October 2001)

       The US negotiates “status of force” agreements with several foreign governments allowing the US to set up CIA-run interrogation facilities and granting immunity to US personnel and private contractors. The facilities were authorized by a secret presidential directive that had been issued shortly after September 11 (see (Late September 2001)). [Newsweek, 5/24/2004] The CIA-run centers are kept completely under wraps. Prisoners are secretly held in custody and hidden from International Human rights organizations. In these facilities, there are numerous incidents of abuse, torture and murder. [Washington Post, 3/11/2002; New York Times, 5/13/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs] Human rights organizations have identified several places where they secret detentions centers are located, including:
Afghanistan - Asadabad, Kabul, Jalalabad, Gardez, Khost, Bagram, Kabul (known as “the Pit”) [Human Rights First, 6/2004; Human Rights First, 6/17/2004]

Pakistan - Kohat (near the border of Afghanistan), Alizai. [Human Rights First, 6/2004; Human Rights First, 6/17/2004]

Britain - Diego Garcia (British Possession). [Human Rights First, 6/2004; Human Rights First, 6/17/2004]

Jordan - Al Jafr Prison. [Human Rights First, 6/2004; Human Rights First, 6/17/2004]

United States - USS Bataan, USS Peleliu. [Human Rights First, 6/2004; Human Rights First, 6/17/2004]


October 25, 2001

       Masked agents of Pakistan's intelligence agency arrest Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed, a Yemeni microbiology student, at the request of US authorities. Jamil, wanted for his suspected involvement in the bombing of the USS Cole, is then flown from Pakistan to Jordan on a US-registered Gulfstream jet. “The hand-over of the shackled and blindfolded student ... occurred in the middle of the night at a remote corner of the airport without extradition or deportation procedures,” The Washington Post will later report. [Associated Press, 10/28/2001; St. Petersburg Times, 10/28/2001; The Washington Post, 3/11/2002; Amnesty International, 6/20/2002] In September 2003, Amnesty International will report that US authorities have still provided no information about the Yemeni student. [Amnesty International, 8/19/03]
People and organizations involved: Jamil Qasim Saeed Mohammed  Additional Info 

November 2001

       Mohammed Haydar Zammar, a Syrian-born German national, is arrested in Morocco and interrogated by Moroccan and US authorities. He is then secretly sent to Syria, where according to a former prisoner interviewed by The Washington Post, he is tortured in the Far'Falastin detention center in Damascus, “a facility run by military intelligence where many prisoners remain held incommunicado.” [Amnesty International, 8/19/03; Washington Post, 1/31/2003]
People and organizations involved: Mohammed Haydar Zammar

November 5, 2001

       Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter writes: “We can't legalize physical torture; it's contrary to American values. But even as we continue to speak out against human-rights abuses around the world, we need to keep an open mind about certain measures to fight terrorism, like court-sanctioned psychological interrogation. And we'll have to think about transferring some suspects to our less squeamish allies, even if that's hypocritical. Nobody said this was going to be pretty.” [Newsweek, 11/5/2001]
People and organizations involved: Jonathan Alter

(Late 2001)

       US Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld authorizes the creation of a “special-access program,” or SAP, with “blanket advance approval to kill or capture and, if possible, interrogate ‘high value’ targets in the Bush administration's war on terror.” The operation, known as “Copper Green,” is approved by Condoleezza Rice and known to President Bush. [The New Yorker, 5/24/2004 Sources: Unnamed former US intelligence official] Less than two hundred operatives and officials, including Donald Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, are “completely read into the program.” The operatives are given advanced approval to carry out “instant interrogations—using force if necessary—at secret CIA detention centers scattered around the world.” Information obtained through the program is sent to the Pentagon in real-time. “The rules are ‘Grab whom you must. Do what you want,’ ” one former intelligence official will explain to journalist Seymour Hersh. [The New Yorker, 5/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Richard B. Myers, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice

Early January 2002

       The Central Intelligence Agency sends a request to Indonesia to arrest suspected 24-year-old al-Qaeda Operative Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni and extradite him to Egypt. The CIA had found his name in al-Qaeda documents obtained in Afghanistan. The agency believes that Iqbal, a Pakistani, has worked with Richard C. Reid, the Briton charged with attempting to blow up an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami on December 22 with explosives in his shoes. [The Washington Post, 3/11/2002 Sources: Unnamed Indonesian officials and foreign diplomats]
People and organizations involved: Richard C. Reid, Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni

(2002-March 2003)

       Neoconservatives in Washington discuss in their internal memos how Arabs are particularly vulnerable to sexual humiliation. They often cite a book by anthropologist Raphael Patai, titled, The Arab Mind, which notes Arab culture's conservative views about sex. In one section of the book, Patai wrote, “The segregation of the sexes, the veiling of the women ... and all the other minute rules that govern and restrict contact between men and women, have the effect of making sex a prime mental preoccupation in the Arab world.” [The New Yorker, 5/24/2004 Sources: Unnamed US government consultant] According to one academic source interviewed by Seymour Hersh, the book is “the bible of the neocons on Arab behavior.” Neoconservatives are convinced that “one, ... Arabs only understand force and, two, that the biggest weakness of Arabs is shame and humiliation.” [The New Yorker, 5/24/2004 Sources: Unnamed academic]

January 9, 2002

       Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni (see Early January 2002) is detained by Indonesian authorities at the request of the CIA. [The Washington Post, 3/11/2002]
People and organizations involved: Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni

January 9, 2002

       John Yoo of the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel coauthors a 42-page memo with another DOJ lawyer, Robert J. Delahunty, concluding that neither the Geneva Conventions nor any other set of laws regarding the conduct of war should be applied to the war in Afghanistan. The memo, entitled, “Application of treaties and laws to Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees,” is sent to William Haynes, the Pentagon's general counsel. Lawyers from the Army Judge Advocate General's office and the State Department are not consulted. When the State Department's lawyers read the memo, they are “horrified.” [Newsweek, 5/24/2004; New York Times, 5/21/2004 Sources: DOJ Memo, Application of Treaties and Laws to al Qaeda and Taliban Detainees, June 9, 2002]
People and organizations involved: Robert J. Delahunty, William A. Haynes, John Yoo

January 11, 2002

       “[W]ithout a court hearing or a lawyer,” Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni (see January 9, 2002) is “hustled aboard an unmarked, US-registered Gulfstream V jet parked at a military airport in Jakarta and flown to Egypt.” Indonesian authorities tell the local media that he has been sent to Egypt because of visa violations. [The Washington Post, 3/11/2002; The Guardian, 3/12/2002; Christian Science Monitor, 7/26/2002 Sources: Unnamed Indonesian officials]
People and organizations involved: Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni

January 15, 2002

       William Howard Taft IV, the State Department's chief legal adviser, responds to John Yoo's January 13 memo (see January 9, 2002) saying that Yoo's analysis is “seriously flawed.” He writes: “In previous conflicts, the United States has dealt with tens of thousands of detainees without repudiating its obligations under the Conventions. I have no doubt we can do so here, where a relative handful of persons is involved.” [Newsweek, 5/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: William Howard Taft IV

January 17, 2002

       Bosnian police turn five Algerians and a Yemeni over to US authorities, hours before they are to be released. The men were acquitted by Bosnia's Human Rights Chamber after the United States had refused to provide evidence in court that the men were tied to al-Qaeda. The US flies the suspects to Guantanamo. [Washington Post, 5/11/2004; CNN, 1/18/2004]

January 25, 2002

       White House lawyer Alberto Gonzales completes a draft memorandum to the President advising George Bush to declare Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters ineligible for prisoner of war status under the Geneva Conventions (see January 15, 2002) (see January 9, 2002). He explains that the Office of Legal Counsel has determined that the President has the authority to make this declaration on the premise that “the war against terrorism is a new kind of war” and “not the traditional clash between nations adhering to the laws of war that formed the backdrop for GPW [Geneva Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war].” Gonzales thus states: “In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.” Gonzales also says that by declaring the war in Afghanistan exempt from the Geneva Conventions, the President would “[s]ubstantially [reduce] the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act [of 1996](see November 5, 2001).” The President and other officials in the administration would then be protected from any future “prosecutors and independent counsels who may in the future decide to pursue unwarranted charges....” [Newsweek, 5/24/2004; New York Times, 5/21/2004 Sources: Draft memo to the President from Alberto Gonzales, January 25, 2004] When Powell reads the memo, he reportedly “hit[s] the roof” and immediately arranges for a meeting with the President. [Newsweek, 5/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: Alberto Gonzales, George W. Bush, Colin Powell

January 26, 2002

       US Secretary of State Colin Powell responds to Alberto Gonzales' January 25 draft memo to the President (see January 25, 2002). He argues that it does not provide the President with a balanced view on the issue of whether or not to apply the Geneva Conventions to the conflict in Afghanistan. Powell lists several problems that could potentially result from exempting the conflict from the Conventions as Gonzales recommends. For example, he notes that it would “reverse over a century of US policy and practice in supporting the Geneva conventions and undermine the protections of the law of war for our troops, both in this specific conflict and in general.” He also warns that it “may provoke some individual foreign prosecutors to investigate and prosecute our officials and troops.” Powell's note then summarizes the advantages of applying the Conventions to Afghanistan. The end of the memo consists of several rebuttals to points that Gonzales made in his memo. [Newsweek, 5/24/2004; New York Times, 5/21/2004 Sources: Memo to Condoleezza Rice from Colin Powell, January 26, 2004]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Alberto Gonzales

February 7, 2002

       The White House declares that the United States will apply the Geneva Conventions to the conflict in Afghanistan, but will not grant prisoner-of-war status to captured Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. [Newsweek, 5/24/2004; CNN, 2/7/2002]

February 8, 2002

       Donald Rumsfeld says during a Pentagon press briefing that the US will “continue” to treat Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners humanely. “In short, we will continue to treat them consistent with the principles of fairness, freedom and justice that our nation was founded on, the principles that they obviously abhor and which they sought to attack and destroy. Notwithstanding the isolated pockets of international hyperventilation, we do not treat detainees in any manner other than a manner that is humane.” [US Department of State, 2/08/2002]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld

March 2002

       Retired Lieutenant-General Brent Scowcroft leads a presidential panel which proposes that control of the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency be transferred from the Department of Defense to the director of central intelligence (DCI). The plan is favored by the Congressional 911 commission but opposed by Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney. For years experts have argued that the US intelligence community's 13 disparate agencies— “85 percent of whose assets reside in the Defense Department” —should be consolidated under the DCI. [US News and World Report, 8/12/2002; The Washington Post, 8/19/2004]
People and organizations involved: Brent Scowcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney

March 11, 2002

       The Washington Post reveals that US intelligence is sending suspected terrorists abroad for interrogation by foreign governments with poor human rights records. The program is known as “rendition” (see 1993-2004) (see (September 11, 2001-2004)). [Washington Post, 3/11/2002]

March 11, 2002

       Human Rights Watch writes to President Bush about allegations of renditions and torture reported in The Washington Post (see March 11, 2002), asking that the allegations be investigated immediately. [Washington Post, 3/11/2002; Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Human Rights Watch

April 2002-April 2003

       Sayed Abassin, a 28-year-old Afghan taxi driver, is detained and sent to Bagram Air Base after his vehicle is stopped by authorities and one of his passengers is identified as a wanted suspect. At Bagram Air Base, he is “held in handcuffs and shackles, kept in 24-hour lighting, deprived of sleep, not given enough food, not allowed to talk or look at other detainees, and forced to stand or kneel for hours.” He is then sent to Guantanamo where he stays until April 2003. He is never given “access to a lawyer, court of law or other legal process.” [Amnesty International, 8/19/2003]
People and organizations involved: Mullah Habibullah

June 2002

       Omar al-Faruq, a top al-Qaeda senior operative in Southeast Asia, is captured by Indonesian agents after receiving a tip from the CIA. He is flown to the CIA interrogation center at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan where is subjected to months of intense interrogations . “It is likely, experts say, that ... Mr. Faruq [was] left naked most of the time, his hands and feet bound. [He] may also have been hooked up to sensors, then asked questions to which interrogators knew the answers, so they could gauge his truthfulness,” the New York Times will later report. One Western intelligence official will tell the newspaper that Mr. Faruq's interrogation was “not quite torture, but about as close as you can get.” For three months he is provided with very little food, subjected to sleep and light deprivation, prolonged isolation and temperatures ranging from 100 degrees to 10 degrees. After being softened up, Faruq provides information about “plans to drive explosives-laden trucks into American diplomatic centers [and] detailed information about people involved in those operations and other plots, writing out lengthy descriptions.” [The New York Times, 3/9/2003]
People and organizations involved: Omar al-Faruq

June 5, 2002

       At the Camp Whitehorse detention center near Nassiriya, Iraq, US marines beat and choke Najem Sa'doun Hattab, a former Ba'ath Party official, and then drag him by the neck to his cell. Hattab dies from his injuries. [San Diego Union Tribune, 2/3/2004; Human Rights Watch, 3/18/2004]
People and organizations involved: Najem Sa'doun Hattab

June 21, 2002

       Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sends his special assistant, Stephen A. Cambone, to the Armed Services Committee to deliver and explain a request that Congress create a new top-level Pentagon position—the undersecretary of defense for intelligence. The proposal is quietly slipped into the fiscal 2003 defense authorization bill as an amendment and approved by the Senate on August 1, by the Conference Committee on November 12 and signed by the President on December 2 (see December 2, 2002). The move is seen by some as an attempt to preempt the Scowcroft Plan (see March 2002). [US News and World Report, 8/12/2002; The Washington Post, 8/19/2004; USA Today, 10/24/2004] US News and World Report calls it a “bureaucratic coup” that “accomplishes many Pentagon goals in one fell swoop” and notes that “members of Congress aren't even aware it is happening, let alone what it means.” [US News and World Report, 8/12/2002] Intelligence expert James Bamford warns about the implications of creating this new post in an October 24 op-ed piece: “Creating a powerful new intelligence czar under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could shift [the] delicate balance [between CIA and the DoD] away from the more independent-minded Tenet and increase the chances that intelligence estimates might be ‘cooked’ in favor of the Pentagon.... [I]f the Pentagon runs the spy world, the public and Congress will be reduced to a modern-day Diogenes, forever searching for that one honest report.” [USA Today, 10/24/2004] In 1998, then-Deputy Defense Secretary John J. Hamre had proposed a similar idea, but Congress opposed the suggested reform “in part from concern at the CIA that the new Pentagon official would have too much power.” [The Washington Post, 8/19/2004]
People and organizations involved: James Bamford, John J. Hamre, Donald Rumsfeld, Stephen Cambone

August 1, 2002

       The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, sends a non-classified memo to White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, offering the opinion that a policy allowing suspected al-Qaeda members to be tortured abroad “may be justified.” The memo explains that as “Commander-in-Chief, the President has the constitutional authority to order interrogations of enemy combatants to gain intelligence information concerning the military plans of the enemy.” This judgment—which will be echoed in a March 2003 draft Pentagon report (see March 6, 2003) —ignores important past rulings such as the 1952 Supreme Court decision in Youngstown Steel and Tube Co v. Sawyer, which determined that the president, even in wartime, is subject to US laws. The DOJ memo asserts that international laws against torture “may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogation” conducted against alleged terrorists. The memo also attempts to provide a precise legal definition of torture. It says that physical torture “must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death” and psychological interrogation methods must result in harm lasting “months or even years” to rise to the level of torture. The memo responds to a CIA request for legal guidance on the interrogation of al-Qaeda leaders. [The Washington Post, 6/9/2004] After the memo's existence is revealed, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft denies senators' requests to release it and refuses to say if or how the president was involved in the discussion. “The president has a right to hear advice from his attorney general, in confidence,” he says. [The Washington Post, 6/9/2004; New York Times, 6/8/2004; Bloomberg, 6/8/2004] Responding to questions about the memo, White House press secretary Scott McClellan will reason that the memo “was not prepared to provide advice on specific methods or techniques,” but was “analytical.” But the 50-page memo seems to have been considered immensely important, given its length and the fact that it was signed by Jay S. Bybee, head of the Office Legal Counsel. “Given the topic and length of opinion, it had to get pretty high-level attention,” Beth Nolan, a former White House Counsel (1999-2001), will tell The Washington Post. This view is confirmed by another former Office of Legal Counsel lawyer who tells the newspaper that unlike documents signed by deputies in the Office of Legal Counsel, memorandums signed by the Office's head are considered legally binding. [The Washington Post, 6/9/2004]
People and organizations involved: Beth Nolan, Scott McClellan, Jay S. Bybee, Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft

September 26, 2002-October 6, 2003

       Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen, is detained by US immigration officials when he makes a stopover at JFK International Airport in New York on his way back home to Canada. Chained and shackled, he is flown in a small private plane to Washington and then on to Jordan were he is interrogated and beaten. He is then transferred to Syria in late October where he is “beaten with sticks and cables on the soles of his feet, ... forced into a car tire for hours, ... subjected to electric shocks and sleep deprivation” and kept in a shallow grave. The US government fails “to provide information on his whereabouts and of the date and circumstances of his removal from the USA.” Nor do the Americans notify Canada of his deportation. After ten months, he returns to Canada after much pressure is exerted on the US by human rights organizations and the Canadian government. [Amnesty International, 8/19/03; Washington Post, 5/11/2004; CNN, 1/18/2004; CBC News, 3/10/2004; Counterpunch, 11/6/2003; CBS, 1/22/2004]
People and organizations involved: Maher Arar

Late 2002-April 2003

       Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and Department of Defense general counsel William Haynes press “for looser interrogation rules and [win] approval for them from the administration's civilian lawyers....” Lawyers with the Army Judge Advocate General's office are opposed to the new rules. [USA Today, 5/13/2004; Los Angeles Times, 5/13/2004; Newsweek, 5/24/2004 Sources: Unnamed Indonesian officials and foreign diplomats]
People and organizations involved: William A. Haynes, Douglas Feith

December 2, 2002

       US President George Bush signs the 2003 Defense Authorization Act. [White House, 12/2/2002] One of the act's provisions creates the new Pentagon post of undersecretary of defense for intelligence (see June 21, 2002). [Sources: 2003 Defense Authorization Act, Sec. 901]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush

December 3, 2002

       Mullah Habibullah, a 30-year-old Afghan from the Oruzgan province, dies while being held at Bagram Air Base. Officially, he dies of pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in the lung. [New York Times, 3/4/03; Guardian, 3/7/03; Washington Post, 3/5/03; BBC, 3/6/03] His death certificate specifies homicide as the cause of death and rules that he died, in part, from blunt force injuries. [Washington Post, 3/5/03]
People and organizations involved: Mullah Habibullah

December 5, 2002

       Dilawar, a 22-year-old Afghan farmer and part-time taxi driver from the small village of Yakubi in eastern Afghanistan, is picked up by local authorities and turned over to US soldiers on suspicions that he was involved in a missile attack on the American base at Khost. He is then sent to Bagram Air Base. Witnesses will later tell the New York Times that Dilawar appeared weak and unhealthy upon his arrival. Five days later, Dilawar will be found dead in his cell (see December 10, 2002). [New York Times, 3/4/03; Guardian, 3/7/03; Independent 3/7/03 Sources: Unnamed witnesses who are later interviewed by the New York Times]
People and organizations involved: Dilawar

December 10, 2002

       Dilawar, the Afghan farmer that was detained by US troops on December 5 (see December 5, 2002), is found dead in his cell. The pathologist who records his death, Maj. Elizabeth A. Rouse, writes on Dilawar's death certificate that he died from “blunt force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease.” She marks “homicide” as the cause of death. Months later, New York Times reporter, Carlotta Gall, learns of and investigates Dilawar's death and confirms the death certificate's authenticity with the US military. She also interviews Dilawar's family and friends who describe the 22-year-old farmer as being young and inexperienced. “He had never spent a night away from his father and mother,” his brother says. Dilawar was married and the father of a 2-year-old girl. [New York Times, 3/4/03; Washington Post, 3/5/03; BBC, 3/6/03; Guardian, 3/7/03; Independent 3/7/03]
People and organizations involved: Carlotta Gall, Dilawar

December 26, 2002

       The Washington Post reports on the US intelligence program of rendition (see 1993-2004) and reveals that US agents are using “stress and duress” techniques to interrogate captives detained in Afghanistan. Persons being held in the CIA interrogation center at Bagram Air Base who refuse to cooperate “are sometimes kept standing or kneeling for hours in black hoods or spray-painted goggles, .... held in awkward, painful positions and deprived of sleep with a 24-hour bombardment of lights' subject to what are known as ‘stress and duress’ techniques,” the report says. [Washington Post, 12/26/2002; Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004] Each of the ten current national security officials who were interviewed for the article “defended the use of violence against captives as just and necessary.” [Washington Post, 12/26/2002] The report quotes one official who reasons, “If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job.... I don't think we want to be promoting a view of zero tolerance on this.” [Washington Post, 12/26/2002; Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004] Likewise, another official acknowledged that “our guys may kick them around a little bit in the adrenaline of the immediate aftermath.” A different source commented, with reference to the medical services provided for captives, that “pain control [in wounded patients] is a very subjective thing.” [Washington Post, 12/26/2002] Finally, in a very explicit remark, one of the officials interviewed by the Post, who is described as being directly involved in the rendition of captives, explained the program's logic: “We don't kick the shit out of them. We send them to other countries so they can kick the shit out of them.” [Washington Post, 12/26/2002; Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004] After the report is published, Maj. Stephen Clutter, the deputy spokesman at Bagram, denies the allegations, claiming that The Washington Post article was “false on several points, the first being that there is no CIA detention facility on Bagram.” He says, “The accusation of inhumane treatment is something that I can clearly refute. The things that they talked about, the inhumane conditions ... are things that do not go on here.” [Agence France Presse, 12/29/2002] “There is a facility run by the US Army, however, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that persons under control of the US Army have been mistreated,” he explains. “A doctor examines them daily. They have access to medical care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They have dental care. They sleep in a warm facility and have three meals a day that are prepared according to Islamic cultural and religious norms. When they arrive, they go through an interview process to determine whether they are enemy combatants or have information that can help us prevent terrorist attacks against Americans or attacks against US forces. During this interview process, they are treated as humanely as possible. We routinely allow visits, about once a week, from the International Committee of the Red Cross to ensure their treatment is humane. If they are deemed to be enemy combatants or pose a danger, they become detainees. If they are not, they are ultimately released.” [Reuters, 12/28/2002]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Clutter

December 27, 2002

       Human Rights Watch writes to President Bush about the allegations of torture reported in The Washington Post (see December 26, 2002), asking that the allegations be investigated immediately. [Human Rights Watch 12/26/02; BBC 12/26/02; The News 12/27/02; Washington Post 12/28/02; Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004] White House spokesman Scott McClellan denies that US interrogation practices violate international law and indicates no interest on the part of the administration to investigate the allegations. “We are not aware we have received the letter. ... [W]e believe we are in full compliance with domestic and international law, including domestic and international law dealing with torture.” He adds that combatants detained by the US are always treated “humanely, in a manner consistent with the third Geneva Convention.” [Washington Post 12/28/02]
People and organizations involved: Human Rights Watch, Scott McClellan  Additional Info 

January 2003

       US forces arrest and detain an Iraqi for possession of explosive devices. The man is held at FOB Rifles Base in Asad, Iraq, and eventually placed in an isolation cell for questioning by members of the US Special Forces' Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) who shackle him to a pipe that runs along the ceiling. When the Iraqi lunges toward a US soldier, grabbing his shirt, “[t]he three ODA members [punch] and [kick] [him] in the stomach and ribs for approximately one to two minutes.” Three days later, the man escapes but is recaptured on January 9. The prisoner is then subjected to another round of questioning, but does not cooperate. When he refuses to be quiet, the soldiers tie his hands to the top of his cell door and then gag him. Five minutes later, a soldier notices that the Iraqi is “slumped down and hanging from his shackles” dead. [Denver Post, 5/18/2004]

(Early 2003)

       Abdul Qayyum, an Afghan, is captured by US forces and detained for two months and five days. He is held in a large hall with about 100 other prisoners. The hall is divided into cubicles cordoned off with sheets of wire mesh. Each cubicle contains 10 people. Rahman later complains to the Associated Press that he was subjected to sleep deprivation, was forced to stand for long periods of time, and endured humiliating verbal abuse from female soldiers who screamed at him from outside his cell. [Associated Press, 3/14/03] When the Associated Press asks the US military about Qayyum's detention and that of another detainee (see (February 2003)), spokesman Roger King denies that the two Afghans were tortured, saying that for the most part, their accounts are “completely bogus.”
People and organizations involved: Abdul Qayyum, Roger King

(Mid-September 2003-October 2003)

       The interrogations at Abu Ghraib are taken over by the special-access program, “Copper Green” (see (Late 2001)). “Hard-core special operatives, some of them with aliases,” are sent to the prison. SAP operatives, CIA operatives, civilian contractors, and officers from the 205th Military Brigade are now in charge. At their request, MPs of the 372nd Military Police Brigade “soften up” prisoners by subjecting them to intense physical, mental and sexual abuse. Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, who is presumably in charge of Iraq's prisons and detention camps, does not understand what is going on at Abu Ghraib. “I thought most of the civilians there were interpreters, but there were some civilians that I didn't know,” Karpinski will later explain to Seymour Hersh. “I called them the disappearing ghosts. I'd seen them once in a while at Abu Ghraib and then I'd see them months later. They were nice—they'd always call out to me and say, ‘Hey, remember me? How are you doing?’ [They were] always bringing in somebody for interrogation or waiting to collect somebody going out.” But the CIA quickly grows weary of the program. A former intelligence official will later explain to Hersh: “They said, ‘No way. We signed up for the core program in Afghanistan—pre-approved for operations against high-value terrorist targets—and now you want to use it for cabdrivers, brothers-in-law, and people pulled off the streets.’ ... The CIA's legal people objected” and ended the SAP program at Abu Ghraib. [The New Yorker, 5/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: Janis Karpinski  Additional Info 

January 14, 2003

       Executive directors of leading human rights organizations write to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz urging that the Bush administration publicly denounce the use of torture in any form and pledge not to seek intelligence obtained through torture in a third country. The letters also ask the US to provide clear guidelines to US forces. [Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Paul Wolfowitz

January 28, 2003

       George Bush says in his State of the Union address: “[M]ore than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Put it this way, they're no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.” [The White House, 1/28/2003]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush

January 31, 2003

       Executive directors of human rights organizations write to President George Bush demanding clear statements from administration officials against torture in any form and statements ensuring that any US official found to have used or approved of torture would be held accountable. The organizations also demand that the administration take steps to inform US interrogators of international laws and treaties which define the limits of lawful interrogation methods. [Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush

(February 2003)

       Saif-ur Rahman, an Afghan who has been fighting against the Taliban, is taken prisoner by US troops in Kunar. He is first taken to Jalalabad, where two US soldiers throw a bucket of ice-cold water on him as he stands naked in his cell on a sheet of ice. Later, he is forced to lie naked spread-eagle on a sheet of ice with chairs placed on his hands and feet. For 20 straight days, Rahman is handcuffed, except for at mealtime when his constraints are relaxed. Rahman later complains to the Associated Press that he was subjected to sleep deprivation, was forced to stand for long periods of time, and endured humiliating verbal abuse from female soldiers who screamed at him from outside his cell. [Associated Press, 3/14/03] When the Associated Press asks the US military about Rahman's detention and that of another detainee (see (Early 2003)), spokesman Roger King denies that the two Afghans were tortured, saying that for the most part, their accounts are “completely bogus.”
People and organizations involved: Roger King, Saif-ur Rahman

February 4, 2003

       US President George Bush announces his intention to nominate Stephen Cambone to the new Pentagon position of undersecretary of defense for intelligence (see June 21, 2002). [White House, 2/4/2003]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Stephen Cambone

February 5, 2003

       Representatives of major human rights organizations meet with Department of Defense General Counsel William Haynes asking that the US government develop clear standards to prevent the mistreatment of prisoners of war. [Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: William A. Haynes

February 6, 2003

       Newsday reports that Vincent Cannistraro, a former intelligence official, told reporters, “Better intelligence has come from a senior al-Qaeda detainee who had been held in the US base at Guantanamo, Cuba, and was ‘rendered’ to Egypt after refusing to cooperate. ‘They promptly tore his fingernails out and he started to tell things.’ ” [Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Vince Cannistraro

(March 3, 2003)

       An unnamed US law enforcement official tells the Wall Street Journal, “[B]ecause the [Convention Against Torture] has no enforcement mechanism, as a practical matter, ‘you're only limited by your imagination.’ ” A detainee “isn't going to be near a place where he has Miranda rights or the equivalent of them,” the official says. “God only knows what they're going to do to him. You go to some other country that'll let us pistol whip this guy.” [Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004; The Wall Street Journal, 3/4/2003]

March 6, 2003

       A working group appointed by the Defense Department's general counsel, William J. Haynes II, completes a 100-page-plus classified report justifying the use of torture on national security grounds. The group—headed by Air Force General Counsel Mary Walker and including top civilian and uniformed lawyers from each military branch—consulted representatives of the Justice Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Defense Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies in drafting the report. It was prepared for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and meant to respond to complaints from commanders working at the Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba who claimed that conventional interrogation tactics were inadequate. The conclusions in the report are similar to those of an August 1, 2003 Department of Justice memo (see August 1, 2002). [Wall Street Journal, 6/7/2004 Sources: March 16 draft Working Group Report on Detainee Intertogations in the Global War on Terorrism]
Conclusions of the report -

One of the main conclusions of the report is that the President's authority as commander-in-chief permits him during times of war to approve almost any physical or psychological interrogation method—including torture—irrespective of any domestic or international law. The draft report clearly states that neither Congress, the courts nor international law has jurisdiction over the President's actions when the country is waging war. The report asserts that “without a clear statement otherwise, criminal statutes are not read as infringing on the president's ultimate authority” to wage war. Furthermore, “any effort by Congress to regulate the interrogation of unlawful combatants would violate the Constitution's sole vesting of the commander-in-chief authority in the president.” According to the document, the federal Torture Statute simply does not apply. “In order to respect the president's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign ... (the prohibition against torture) must be construed as inapplicable to interrogations undertaken pursuant to his commander-in chief authority,” the report states (The parenthetical comment is in the original document). A career military lawyer will later tell the Wall Street Journal that many lawyers disagreed with these conclusions, but that their concerns were overridden by the political appointees heading the drafting of the report. The lawyer explains that instead, military lawyers focused their efforts on limiting the report's list of acceptable interrogation methods. [Wall Street Journal, 6/7/2004]

The draft report lists several possible arguments that US civilian or military personnel might use to defend themselves against charges of torture or other war crimes. According to the administration's lawyers, one argument would be that such actions were “necessary” in order to prevent an attack. This rational however seems to ignore very clear statements in The Convention Against Torture—ratified by the US in 1994—which states that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.” Another line of defense, the report says, would be to claim that the accused had been acting under “superior orders” and that therefore no “moral choice was in fact possible.” Likewise, the report cites a Justice Department opinion, which the draft report says “concluded that it could not bring a criminal prosecution against a defendant who had acted pursuant to an exercise of the president's constitutional power.” However, as The Wall Street Journal notes, this contradicts the Convention against Torture which states that orders from superiors “may not be invoked as a justification of torture.” The authors of the report also suggest in the draft report that accused officials could argue that they had “mistakenly relied in good faith on the advice of lawyers or experts,” adding, “Good faith may be a complete defense.” Lastly, the authors conclude that “constitutional principles” precluded the possibility that officials could be punished “for aiding the president in exercising his exclusive constitutional authorities” and neither Congress nor the courts had the authority to “require or implement the prosecution of such an individual.” [Wall Street Journal, 6/7/2004]

The document attempts to define the parameters of lawful interrogation methods in terms of the degree of pain or psychological manipulation they cause. The report states that the infliction of physical or mental suffering does not constitute torture. Suffering must be “severe,” the lawyers advise, noting that according to a dictionary definition, this would mean that the pain “must be of such a high level of intensity that ... [it] is difficult for the subject to endure.” But under certain circumstances, the lawyers explain, the US would be justified in resorting to illegal measures like torture or homicide. They argue that such measures should be considered “self-defense” in cases where officials “honestly believe” that such actions would prevent an imminent attack against the US. “Sometimes the greater good for society will be accomplished by violating the literal language of the criminal law,” the draft document says. [Wall Street Journal, 6/7/2004]

People and organizations involved: Mary Walker, William A. Haynes, Donald Rumsfeld  Additional Info 

March 7, 2003

       The US Senate confirms the nomination of Stephen A. Cambone as undersecretary of defense for intelligence, a new Pentagon position that was created by the 2002 Defense Authorization Act (see December 2, 2002). [Department of Defense, 4/15/2004] Cambone now oversees “assets that used to belong elsewhere, most notably a secret intelligence organization [code-named ‘Gray Fox’] that specializes in large-scale ‘deep penetration’ missions in foreign countries, especially tapping communications and laying the groundwork for overt military operations.” Asked by the Washington Post about the transfer of Gray Fox a few months later, Cambone responds, “We won't talk about those things.” [The Washington Post, 4/20/2003] Cambone is not well-liked among the military and civilian intelligence bureaucrats in the Pentagon, “essentially because he [has] little experience in running intelligence programs,” The New Yorker will later report. [The New Yorker, 5/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Cambone

March 9, 2003

       A New York Times article reports that the US government is rendering suspects abroad (see 1993-2004) and that “stress and duress” techniques are being used at the secret CIA interrogation center located in a hangar at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan (see (October 2001-2004)). “Intelligence officials ... acknowledged that some suspects had been turned over to security services in countries known to employ torture. There have been isolated, if persistent, reports of beatings in some American-operated centers,” the report explains. [The New York Times, 3/9/2003; Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]

March 14, 2003

       When an Associated Press reporter asks the US military to comment on the accounts of two former Afghan detainees (see (Early 2003)) (see (February 2003)), spokesman Roger King claims their accounts are mostly untrue. “Some of the stuff they are saying sounds like partial truths, some of it's completely bogus,” he says. “They were stripped naked probably to prevent them from sneaking weapons into the facility. That's why someone may be stripped.... We do force people to stand for an extended period of time.... Disruption of sleep has been reported as an effective way of reducing people's inhibition about talking or their resistance to questioning....They are not allowed to speak to one another. If they do, they can plan together or rely on the comfort of one another. If they're caught speaking out of turn, they can be forced to do things—like stand for a period of time—as payment for speaking out.” [Associated Press, 3/14/03]
People and organizations involved: Roger King

(late March 2003)

       Stephen Cambone, the new undersecretary of defense for intelligence, acquires control of all of the Pentagon's special-access programs (SAPs) related to the war on terrorism. SAPs, also known as “black” programs, are so secret that “some special-access programs are never fully briefed to Congress.” SAPs were previously monitored by Kenneth deGraffenreid, who unlike Cambone (see February 4, 2003), had experience in counter-intelligence programs. [The New Yorker, 5/24/2004 Sources: Unnamed former intelligence officials]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Cambone, Kenneth deGraffenreid

April 2003-2004

       The US establishes a loose network of prisons and detention centers in Iraq where Iraqi prisoners of war are held and interrogated. Iraqis detained by Coalition Forces are usually first brought to facilities at US military compounds where they are subjected to initial and secondary interrogations, ranging from a period of one week for initial interrogations and up to one month for secondary interrogations. During this period the detainees are not permitted to contact relatives or seek legal counsel. The prisoners are then sent to one of ten major Coalition prison facilities, at which point their names and information are supposed to be entered into the Coalition's central database. The major facilities include: Abu Ghraib Prison (Baghdad Central Correctional Facility or BCCF), the largest; Camp Bucca, in Umm Qasr; Talil Air force Base (Whitford Camp), located south of Baghdad; Al-Rusafa (formerly the Deportations' Prison or Tasfirat), in Baghdad; Al-Kadhimiyya, in Baghdad, for women only; Al-Karkh, in Baghdad, for juveniles only; Al-Diwaniyya Security Detainee Holding Area; the Tikrit detention facility; the Mosul detention facility; and MEK (Ashraf Camp), near al-Ramadi. [Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]

Early April 2003

       Abdallah Khudhran al-Shamran, a Saudi Arabian national, is arrested and detained with six others of different nationalities in al-Rutba by US and allied Iraqi forces as he is traveling from Syria to Baghdad. The captives are relieved of their possessions and blindfolded. Their hands are bound behind their backs and they are forced to walk for three hours to an unknown location. Shamran is accused of being a terrorist and subjected to various means of torture, including beatings, electric shocks, “being suspended from his legs and having his penis tied, and ”sleep deprivation through constant loud music. Four days after arriving at this site, he is again blindfolded and then moved to a camp hospital in Um Qasr for three days, where he is treated, interrogated and released. But without his passport and money, he is forced to sleep on the streets until he finally decides to seek help from a British soldier eight days later. He is then detained a second time, taken to a military field hospital with two other detainees, and again interrogated and tortured. He later explains to two Amnesty International investigators: “He stuck the pen he was holding into my right shoulder. The scar is still fresh and visible.... They tied my hands behind my back and put me exposed in the sun from noon to early evening. Then they transferred me to a container and locked me in. The next morning they put me in the sun until about 10 am.” He is subsequently sent to a hospital where he receives treatment and is finally permitted to speak with representatives of the ICRC to help him recover his passport. He is then interrogated by a British officer who accuses him of being a member of Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen and threatens to execute him. [Inter Press Service, 5/16/2003; The Observer, 3/17/2003; BBC, 3/16/2003; Associated Press, 3/16/2003 Sources: Iraq: Memorandum on concerns relating to law and order] This incident is described in a memorandum to the Coalition Provisional Authority on July 23.(see July 23, 2003)
People and organizations involved: Abdallah Khudhran al-Shamran

April 2003-2004

       Captured Iraqi “insurgents” and suspected terrorists are brought to the ultra-secret Battlefield Interrogation Facilities (BIF) in Baghdad run by Delta Force. NBC will report that “it is the scene of the most egregious violations of the Geneva Conventions in all of Iraq's prisons.” BIF is described as a “place where the normal rules of interrogation don't apply.” Prisoners “are kept in tiny dark cells. And in the BIF's six interrogation rooms, Delta Force soldiers routinely drug prisoners, hold a prisoner under water until he thinks he's drowning, or smother them almost to suffocation.” Pentagon officials will deny that prisoners held at the facility are subjected to illegal interrogation tactics. [NBC News, 5/20/2004; CNN, 5/21/2004 Sources: Two unnamed top US government sources]

April 2003

       An Iraqi prisoner of war is beaten while being interrogated by members of the Naval Special Warfare Team at the LSA Diamondback facility in Mosul, Iraq. He is later found dead in his sleep. The death report will conclude that the man died from “blunt-force trauma to the torso and positional asphyxia.” [Denver Post, 5/18/2004]

(April 2003)

       An unnamed intelligence source tells reporter Thomas Ricks of The Washington Post, “Rumsfeld is in a death fight with DCI (the director of Central Intelligence) to get control” of intelligence assets. [The Washington Post, 4/20/2003]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld

(April 2003)

       The Justice Department advises in a set of legal memorandums that if “government officials ... are contemplating procedures that may put them in violation of American statutes that prohibit torture, degrading treatment or the Geneva Conventions, they will not be responsible if it can be argued that the detainees are formally in the custody of another country.” That is because, according to one official, “It would be the responsibility of the other country.” The memos seem to suggest that top government officials may be concerned that they are in violation of international laws. One administration figure involved in discussions about the memos tells the New York Times in May 2004: “The criminal statutes only apply to American officials. The question is how involved are the American officials.” [New York Times, 5/13/2004]

April 16, 2003

       The finalized version of a March 6 Pentagon draft report (see March 6, 2003) on acceptable interrogation tactics is completed and approved by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The report approves a list of interrogation methods, called the 72-point matrix, for use against prisoners being held in Iraq. The list sets the boundaries for using so-called “stress and duress” techniques. [Washington Post, 5/11/2004; The Age, 5/13/2004; Washington Post, 5/13/2004; Newsweek, 5/24/2004; Los Angeles Times, 5/22/2004; Wall Street Journal, 6/7/2004 Sources: Human Rights letter to National Security Advisor, May 3, 2004, Unnamed US intelligence officials and other US officials] According to US officials, though the tactics simulate torture, they stop short of causing serious injury. Several of the techniques listed are ones that the US military trains Special Forces to prepare for in the event that they are captured by enemy forces. [New York Times, 5/13/2004 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence officials and other US officials] The list is divided into two classes: tactics which are authorized for use on all prisoners and special “enhanced measures” which require the approval of Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez. The latter category of methods includes tactics which “could cause temporary physical or mental pain” like “sensory deprivation,” “stress positions,” “dietary manipulation,” forced changes in sleep patterns, isolated confinement and the use of dogs. [Washington Post, 5/11/2004; Washington Post, 5/13/2004 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence officials and other US officials] The 72-point matrix is purportedly “vetted by the Pentagon's lawyers, the Justice Department and approved by the National Security Council's general counsel.” One US official explains, “There are very specific guidelines that are thoroughly vetted. Everyone is on board. It's legal.” However in May 2004, it will be learned that there had in fact been opposition to the new guidelines. Pentagon lawyers from the Army Judge Advocate General's office had objected (see May 2003) (see October 2003) and many officials quietly expressed concerns that they might have to answer for the policy at a later date (see (April 2003)). [Washington Post, 5/11/2004; Washington Post, 5/13/2004 Sources: Unnamed US intelligence officials and other US officials] After the prison photos scandal, CIA officers involved in the interrogations will become increasingly nervous about the potential fallout of the policy. “Some people involved in this have been concerned for quite a while that eventually there would be a new president, or the mood in the country would change, and they would be held accountable,” one intelligence source will tell the New York Times. “Now that's happening faster than anybody expected.”
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, Ricardo S. Sanchez  Additional Info 

April 30, 2003-May 9, 2003

       Khreisan Khalis Aballey, a 39-year-old Iraqi man, is arrested at his home with his 80-year-old father by US soldiers who are looking for 'Izzat al-Duri, a senior member of the Ba'ath Party. His brother is shot during the operation and never seen again. On July 23 (see July 23, 2003), Amnesty international will include an account of his detention in a memo to the Coalition Provisional Authority, which reads: “During his interrogation, he was made to stand or kneel facing a wall for seven-and-a-half days, hooded, and handcuffed tightly with plastic strips. At the same time a bright light was placed next to his hood and distorted music was playing the whole time. During all this period he was deprived of sleep (though he may have been unconscious for some periods). He reported that at one time a US soldier stamped on his foot and as a result one of his toenails was torn off. The prolonged kneeling made his knees bloody, so he mostly stood; when, after seven-and-a-half days he was told he was to be released and told he could sit, he said that his leg was the size of a football. He continued to be held for two more days, apparently to allow his health to improve, and was released on 9 May. His father, who was released at the same time, was held in the cell beside his son, where he could hear his son's voice and his screams.” [Sources: Iraq: Memorandum on concerns relating to law and order]
People and organizations involved: Khreisan Khalis Aballey

(May 2003)

       Soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company arrive in Iraq and are assigned to routine traffic and police duties. [The New Yorker, 5/7/2004]

(May 2003-May 2004)

       At “various times throughout this period,” Colin Powell, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld relay the Red Cross' concerns about the Coalition's treatment of prisoners directly to President George Bush. [Baltimore Sun, 5/12/2004 Sources: Unnamed aid to Colin Powell]
People and organizations involved: Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld

(May 2003)

       In a homemade video journal, an unidentified female US soldier at Camp Bucca prison in Iraq candidly speaks of how she and her colleagues have shot and killed prisoners. “If we shoot any more of the Iraqis, or attack any of them, they're gonna supposedly come in and attack the camp.... But we'll believe that when it actually happens, because we've already killed another Iraqi just last night when I was working. So I don't know what's going on...” She does not describe under what circumstances the shootings had taken place. In another part of the video she admits to antagonizing the captives. “I actually got in trouble the other day because I was throwing rocks at them.” [CBS News, 3/12/2004]

(May 2003-July 2003)

       An unnamed Iraqi is taken into custody by Coalition Forces and then subjected to severe abuse in the Military Intelligence section of Camp Cropper. The International Committee of the Red Cross will later interview the person and report the prisoner's allegations to Coalition Forces once in early July and then again in February 2004 (see February 24, 2004). The latter report will explain: “In one illustrative case, a person deprived of his liberty arrested at home by the CF [Coalition Forces] on suspicion of involvement in an attack against the CF, was allegedly beaten during interrogation in a location in the vicinity of Camp Cropper. He alleged that he had been hooded and cuffed with flexi-cuffs, threatened to be tortured and killed, urinated on, kicked in the head, lower back and groin, force-fed a baseball which was tied into the mouth using a scarf and deprived of sleep for four consecutive days. Interrogators would allegedly take turns ill-treating him. When he said he would complain to the IRC he was allegedly beaten more. An ICRC medical examination revealed haematoma in the lower back, blood in the urine, sensory loss in the right hand due to tight handcuffing with flexi-cuffs, and a broken rib.” [New York Times, 5/11/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

May 2003

       Infantry units from the Florida National Guard arrive at the Assad airbase located northwest of Baghdad. They are assigned the task of overseeing a detention center that has been set up in an aircraft hangar. The cells of this makeshift prison are separated with concertina wire. The US soldiers are “instructed to use sleep deprivation on prisoners, and taught to perform mock executions.” The interrogators are “not in regular army uniform, and the soldiers never [learn] their real names.” Camilo Mejia, a member of the Florida National Guard, will later tell The Guardian: “We had a sledgehammer that we would bang against the wall, and that would create an echo that sounds like an explosion that scared the hell out of them. If that didn't work we would load a 9mm pistol, and pretend to be charging it near their head, and make them think we were going to shoot them. Once you did that, they did whatever you wanted them to do basically.” Mejia, the son of a famous Nicaraguan political songwriter and folksinger who later applies for status as a conscientious objector, will say that many soldiers were uncomfortable with these tactics. “The way we treated these men was hard even for the soldiers, especially after realizing that many of these ‘combatants’ were no more than shepherds.” Mejia will also say that when his platoon leader objected to using these techniques, he was told that his refusal to do so could end his military career. [The Guardian, 5/15/2004]

May 1, 2003

       President Bush, donning a custom-made flight suit, is ferried in a Navy S-3B Viking jet to the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln anchored off the coast of San Diego where he declares the cessation of major combat operations in Iraq. A banner unfurled behind the President reads, “Mission Accomplished.” [CNN, 5/2/2003] US military officials will subsequently say that the event meant that captives being held in Iraq would no longer be treated as prisoners of war under the third article of the Geneva Conventions, but instead as civilians being held by an occupying power under the fourth article of the Geneva Conventions—which allows long-term detentions for prisoners deemed a threat to governing authorities. [The Washington Post, 5/21/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush

May 2003

       The International Committee of the Red Cross sends a memorandum to Coalition Forces reporting that it has recorded roughly 200 allegations of mistreatment and abuse from prisoners of war being held at various detention facilities in Iraq. The report notes that the allegations are supported by medical examinations of the prisoners. [New York Times, 5/13/2004 Sources: Iraq: Memorandum on concerns relating to law and order]

May 2003

       Eight high-ranking military lawyers from the Army Judge Advocate General's office—which historically has ensured that interrogators do not violate prisoners' rights—visit Scott Horton, head of the New York State Bar Association's committee on international law, and ask him to persuade the Pentagon to reverse its policy on using “stress and duress” interrogation techniques (see Late 2002-April 2003) (see April 16, 2003). “They were quite blunt,” Horton will recall. “They were extremely concerned about how the political appointees were dealing with interrogation issues. They said this was a disaster waiting to happen and that they felt shut out” from the rules-drafting process. [Washington Post, 5/13/2004; Los Angeles Times, 5/14/2004; The New Yorker, 5/24/2004; Newsday, 5/15/2004] The lawyers describe the new interrogation rules as “frightening,” with the potential to “reverse 50 years of a proud tradition of compliance with the Geneva Conventions.” [USA Today, 5/13/2004] The military lawyers will make another visit to Horton's office in October (see May 2003).
People and organizations involved: Scott Horton

May 12, 2003

       Four soldiers from the 320th Military Police Battalion severely beat prisoners after transporting them to Camp Bucca in southern Iraq. Soldiers spread the legs of some prisoners while others kick them in the groin. The incident is reported by MPs of another unit. After the soldiers are charged, one of the soldiers being investigated writes to his relatives to explain the charges: “A few of my MPs were assaulted by the enemy prisoners, and we had to use force to regain control, all justifiable.” [Associated Press, 7/27/2003; Washington Post, 5/9/2004]

May 25, 2003

       The Mail on Sunday reports that according to Major-General Geoffrey Miller, the US is considering plans to build an execution chamber at Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay where suspected terrorists, convicted by a secret military tribunal for capital crimes, would be put to death. “Prisoners would be tried, convicted and executed without leaving its boundaries, without a jury and without right of appeal.” [The Mail on Sunday, 5/25/2003 cited in Courrier Mail, 5/26/2003] Britain claims that it is unaware of the US plans. [Courrier Mail, 5/26/2003]
People and organizations involved: Geoffrey Miller  Additional Info 

June 2003

       An Iraqi prisoner is bound to a chair and interrogated by soldiers at a “classified interrogation facility” in Baghdad. He later dies. The autopsy will report that the man was “subjected to both physical and psychological stress” and died from a “hard, fast blow” to the head. [Denver Post, 5/18/2004]

June 2003

       Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski—a reservist with no experience managing prisons—is made commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade and put in charge of three large jails, eight battalions, and thirty-four hundred Army reservists. Her office is located at Baghdad Airport. [The New Yorker, 5/7/2004; Washington Post, 5/8/2004]
People and organizations involved: Janis Karpinski

June 2003-August 2003

       Abd al-Rahman, a minor official at the agriculture ministry in Baghdad, is taken into custody by Coalition Forces and held for three months during which time he is “beaten frequently, given shocks with an electric cattle-prod and [has] one of his toenails prised off.” Rations are often laced with pork, which is forbidden to Muslims, and the area around his tent is infested with scorpions. [The Sunday Times, 1/18/2004; Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Abd al-Rahman

June 2003

       Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, sends letters to the White House, the CIA and the Pentagon with complaints about the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan and “other locations outside the United States.” He writes that according to unnamed officials, the prisoners are being subjected to beatings, lengthy sleep- and food-deprivation and other “stress and duress” techniques (see April 16, 2003). He asks if these techniques are indeed being employed and urges the administration to issue a clear statement that cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of detainees will not be tolerated. The Pentagon and CIA deny that the United States is torturing its prisoners. [USA Today, 5/13/2004; Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Patrick Leahy

(June 8, 2003)

       Detainees at Camp Cropper in southern Iraq riot after one of the prisoners hits an MP. When things calm down, a US soldier removes his shirt and flexes his muscles in front of the prisoners, provoking another riot. After a soldier is struck in the head by a rock and another is hit by a tent pole, the MPs open fire, wounding five or six prisoners. The incident is later investigated by US authorities who conclude that the soldiers' actions were justified. [Washington Post, 5/8/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

June 12, 2003

       Prisoners being held at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq hold demonstrations protesting their living conditions. In response to the protest, prison authorities promise to inform each of the prisoners about the status and expected length of their detention the following day. [Amnesty International, 6/30/2003] Additionally, two people attempting to escape the facility are shot. One dies of his wounds after being taken to a hospital. [Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

June 13, 2003

       Prisoners being held at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq hold another demonstration after prison authorities fail to follow through on a promise (see June 12, 2003) to provide the detainees with information about their status. Some of the demonstrators throw bricks and poles at the soldiers, but remain within the razor wire fence surrounding the tents and are not a threat to the soldiers. In response, the prison guards fire into the detention area, killing 22-year-old Ala' Jassem Sa'ad, who is in one of the tents. Seven others who are sharing the tent are injured. [Amnesty International, 6/30/2003]
People and organizations involved: Ala' Jassem Sa'ad

June 24, 2003

       US government agents secretly render five men out of Malawi in complete violation of that country's laws. Amnesty International later reports that according to its sources, the arrests were carried out by Malawi's National Intelligence Bureau working together with the Central Intelligence Agency. [Amnesty International, 8/19/03]

June 24, 2003

       Executive directors of human rights groups write to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice asking that the US provide human rights monitors access to US prisoners and detention facilities in Iraq to verify conditions of detention. [Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Condoleezza Rice

June 25, 2003

       US Senator Arlen Specter writes to Condoleezza Rice asking for “clarification about numerous stories concerning alleged mistreatment of enemy combatants in US custody” and requesting that she explain how the administration ensures that detainees rendered to other countries are not tortured. [Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Arlen Specter, Condoleezza Rice

June 25, 2003

       Department of Defense General Counsel William Haynes responds to a letter from Senator Patrick Leahy which asked for clarification on the administration's interrogation policy (see June 2003). Haynes replies that “it is the policy of the United States to comply with all its legal obligations in its treatment of detainees [and] ... to treat all detainees and conduct all interrogations, wherever they may occur” in a manner consistent with US obligations under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment. He adds that the US “does not permit, tolerate or condone any such torture by its employees under any circumstances.” He also says that the Fifth, Eighth, and/or Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution require the US “to prevent other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture.” Notably, he does not provide information about the specific interrogation tactics that US forces are permitted to use. “It would not be appropriate to catalogue the interrogation techniques used by US personnel thus we cannot comment on specific cases or practices,” Haynes says. [Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004; Wall Street Journal, 6/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: William A. Haynes, Patrick Leahy

June 26, 2003

       Amnesty International sends a letter to Paul Bremer, head of the Office of the Coalition Provisional Authority (OCPA). The letter specifically mentions the poor conditions at Abu Ghraib prison and calls attention to a June 13 incident (see June 13, 2003) where one Iraq detainee, Ala' Jassem Sa'ad, was shot dead and seven others were wounded when US soldiers fired into the air during a prisoners' demonstration protesting conditions and broken promises. [Amnesty International, 6/30/2003]
People and organizations involved: Ala' Jassem Sa'ad, Paul Bremer

June 26, 2003

       An official of the Malawian government writes to Amnesty International about the transfer of five men in US custody (see June 24, 2003), explaining: “From the time the arrests were made, the welfare of the detainees, their abode and itinerary for departure were no longer in the hands of the Malawian authorities. Thus as a country we did not have the means to stop or delay the operation. The issue of terrorism has regrettably spurred worldwide erosion of fundamental principles of human rights not only in the world but also in the USA itself.... Malawi has had to cooperate with the USA on this request as we are under obligations internationally to assist. In Malawi we do not know where these people are but they are in hands of the Americans who took them out of the country using a chartered aircraft. They should now be going through investigations at a location only known by the USA.” It is later learned that the five men were sent to Zimbabwe and then to Sudan, where they were finally released in late July 2003 after investigators could find no evidence linking the men to terrorism. [Amnesty International, 8/19/03]

June 26, 2003

       In honor of United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, President Bush releases a statement saying that the US is “committed to the world-wide elimination of torture and [is] leading this fight by example.” Bush calls on all nations to join the US in “prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent cruel and unusual punishment.” In his speech he also condemns countries who have refused to admit international human rights monitors into their facilities. “Notorious human rights abusers, including, among others, Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Zimbabwe, have long sought to shield their abuses from the eyes of the world by staging elaborate deceptions and denying access to international human rights monitors.” [Whites House, 6/26/2003; Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush

Early July 2003

       The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) sends the Coalition Forces a working paper reporting 50 allegations of mistreatment in the military intelligence section of Camp Cropper. Among the allegations reported in the memo are: “threats (to intern individuals indefinitely, to arrest other family members, to transfer individuals to Guantanamo) against persons deprived of their liberty or against members of their families (in particular wives and daughters); hooding; tight handcuffing; use of stress positions (kneeling, squatting, standing with arms raised over the head) for three or four hours; taking aim at individuals with rifles, striking them with rifle butts, slaps, punches, prolonged exposure to the sun, and isolation in dark cells.” The report says that medical examinations of the prisoners supported their allegations. [New York Times, 5/11/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

July 1, 2003-November 3, 2003

       Two Iranian journalists, Saeed Abou Taleb and Sohail Karimi, who are filming a documentary video in Iraq, are arrested and detained. Upon being released 126 days later, they say that they were subjected to “severe torture.” “The detention was unimaginable,” Taleb says to Iranian state television after the two make it back into Iran. “The first 10 days were like a nightmare. We were subjected to severe torture.” [Agence France Presse, 11/4/2003] When a US spokesman is asked about the allegations, he responds, “The coalition does not mistreat anyone in its custody—full stop.” [Agence France Presse, 11/4/2003]
People and organizations involved: Sohail Karimi, Saeed Abou Taleb

July 13, 2003

       Al-Qaeda suspect Adil Al-Jazeeri is transferred over to US authorities from Pakistan after being subjected to “tough questioning” by Pakistani agents. The Americans then fly Al-Jazeeri “blindfolded and bound to an unknown location for interrogation in US custody.” [Amnesty International, 8/19/03; CBS, 7/14/2003]
People and organizations involved: Adil Al-Jazeeri

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

July 27, 2003

       The Pentagon announces that four US soldiers from a Pennsylvania-based Army Reserve have been charged with punching, kicking and breaking the bones of Iraqi captives at Camp Bucca near Umm Qasr in connection with the May 12 incident (see May 12, 2003). This is the first known case where US soldiers are charged for alleged illegal treatment toward prisoners of war. [Associated Press, 7/27/2003] By January 2004, the soldiers will have all been discharged after Brig. Gen. Ennis Whitehead III determines that they had kicked prisoners or encouraged others to do so. [Associated Press, 11/25/2003; Associated Press, 1/16/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ennis Whitehead III

August 2003

       An unnamed US soldier witnesses two interrogators pull an Iraqi man, gasping for air, from the trunk of a black Mercedes after having driven around with him in the back for some time. “They kind of had to prop him up to carry him in. He looked like he had been there for a while,” the soldier later tells The Guardian. The soldier also notes that it had been extremely hot that day. According to the soldier, the torture tactic is referred to as the “bitch in a box.” [The Guardian, 5/14/2004]

(August 2003)

       There is a growing realization within the Department of Defense that the militant resistance in Iraq against the US and British occupation has been underestimated. An internal Pentagon document notes: “Their ability to attack convoys, other vulnerable targets and particular individuals has been the result of painstaking surveillance and reconnaissance. Inside information has been passed on to insurgent cells about convoy/troop movements and daily habits of Iraqis working with coalition from within the Iraqi security services, primarily the Iraqi Police force which is rife with sympathy for the insurgents, Iraqi ministries and from within pro-insurgent individuals working with the CPA's so-called Green Zone.... Politically, the US has failed to date. Insurgencies can be fixed or ameliorated by dealing with what caused them in the first place. The disaster that is the reconstruction of Iraq has been the key cause of the insurgency. There is no legitimate government, and it behooves the Coalition Provisional Authority to absorb the sad but unvarnished fact that most Iraqis do not see the Governing Council as the legitimate authority. Indeed, they know that the true power is the CPA.” The report emphasizes that intelligence on the people involved in Iraq's domestic uprising is insufficient. “Human intelligence is poor or lacking ... due to the dearth of competence and expertise.... The intelligence effort is not coordinated since either too many groups are involved in gathering intelligence or the final product does not get to the troops in the field in a timely manner.” [The New Yorker, 5/24/2004] The study is a contributing factor in the decision by the civilian leadership of the Pentagon to seek “actionable intelligence” from detainees being held in Iraq's detention facilities (see August 31, 2003-September 9, 2003). [The New Yorker, 5/24/2004]

August 4, 2003

       The US military reopens the Abu Ghraib prison facility in Baghdad. Lt. Col. Jerry L. Phillabaum, a reservist who commands the 320th Military Police Battalion, is put in charge of the prison. He reports directly to Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski. [Washington Post, 5/8/2004]
People and organizations involved: Jerry L. Phillabaum, Janis Karpinski

August 18, 2003

       Donald Rumsfeld directs his undersecretary of defense for intelligence, Stephen Cambone, to send Major General Geoffrey Miller to Iraq to review the US military prison system in Iraq and make suggestions on how the prisons can be used to obtain “actionable intelligence” from detainees. Cambone passes the order on to his deputy Lieutenant-General William Boykin who meets with Miller to plan the trip. [Newsweek, 5/24/2004; The Washington Post, 5/21/2004]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld, William Boykin, Stephen Cambone, Geoffrey Miller

August 31, 2003-September 9, 2003

       Major General Geoffrey Miller, who oversees the prison at Guantanamo, is sent to Iraq with a team “experienced in strategic interrogation” “to review current Iraqi theater ability to rapidly exploit internees for actionable intelligence” and to review the arrangements at the US military prisons in Iraq. [The New Yorker, 5/17/2004; Washington Post, 5/8/2004; Washington Post, 5/9/2004] During his trip, he informs military commanders of Defense's plan to glean intelligence from the prisoners and briefs them on the Pentagon's current interrogation policies (see April 16, 2003). [The New Yorker, 5/17/2004] “He came up there and told me he was going to ‘Gitmoize’ the detention operation,” turning it into a hub of interrogation, Brig. Gen. Janis L. Karpinski, later recalls. [The Washington Post, 5/8/2004] The Pentagon's decision to dispatch Miller on this mission had been influenced by the military's growing concern that the failure of Coalition Forces to quell resistance against the occupation was linked to a dearth in “actionable intelligence” (see (August 2003)). [The New Yorker, 5/24/2004] Shortly after the visit, there is a noticeable increase in the frequency of interrogations at Abu Ghraib. “The operation was snowballing,” Samuel Provance, a US military intelligence officer will recall. “There were more and more interrogations. The chain of command was putting a lot of resources into the facility.” And Karpinski will later say that she was being shut out of the process at about this time. “They continued to move me farther and farther away from it.” [The Washington Post, 5/20/2004]
People and organizations involved: Samuel Provance, Janis Karpinski, Geoffrey Miller

September 2003

       Army Col. Thomas Pappas tells Army Lt. Col. Steven Jordan, a soldier overseeing interrogations at Abu Ghraib, that the White House wants interrogators to “pull the intelligence out” of the detainees. Pappas tells him at least twice “that some of the [intelligence] reporting was getting read by (Secretary of Defense Donald) Rumsfeld, folks out at Langley, some very senior folks.” [USA Today, 6/17/2004]
People and organizations involved: Steven Jordan, Thomas M. Pappas
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