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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: High-level complicity


Project: Prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

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(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)

       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 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]

(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

       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 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 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

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

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

(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 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

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

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

(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)

       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 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 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 

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

       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 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

       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 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

       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

(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 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)

       US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone decide that they will extend the scope of “Copper Green” (see (Late 2001)) to Abu Ghraib. According to Seymour Hersh, “The male prisoners could [now] be treated roughly, and exposed to sexual humiliation.” A former intelligence official will tell Hersh: “They weren't getting anything substantive from the detainees in Iraq. No names. Nothing that they could hang their hat on. Cambone says, I've got to crack this thing and I'm tired of working through the normal chain of command. I've got this apparatus set up—the black special-access program—and I'm going in hot. So he pulls the switch, and the electricity begins flowing last summer. And it's working. We're getting a picture of the insurgency in Iraq and the intelligence is flowing into the white world. We're getting good stuff. But we've got more targets [prisoners in Iraqi jails] than people who can handle them.... So here are fundamentally good soldiers—military-intelligence guys—being told that no rules apply. And, as far as they're concerned, this is a covert operation, and it's to be kept within Defense Department channels.” [The New Yorker, 5/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: Stephen Cambone, Donald Rumsfeld  Additional Info 

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

September 9, 2003

       Senator Patrick Leahy responds to William Haynes' letter of June 25, 2003 (see June 25, 2003). He asks him to explain how the standards he outlined are implemented and communicated to US soldiers and asks for assurances that other agencies, including the CIA, abide by the same standards as the US military. [Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Patrick Leahy, William A. Haynes

September 9, 2003

       Major General Geoffrey Miller files a classified report at the end of his 10-day visit (see August 31, 2003-September 9, 2003) to Iraq, demanding that Iraq's detention camps be used to collect “actionable intelligence” and that the military police at Abu Ghraib be trained to set “the conditions for the successful interrogation and exploitation of internees/detainees.” “Detention operations must act as an enabler for interrogation ... to provide a safe, secure and humane environment that supports the expeditious collection of intelligence,” he writes. [The New Yorker, 5/24/2004; The New Yorker, 5/17/2004; Washington Post, 5/15/2004] He leaves a list of acceptable interrogation techniques—based on what has been used in Guatanamo—posted on a wall in Abu Ghraib which says that long-term isolation, “working dogs,” sleep disruption, “environmental manipulation” and “stress positions” can be used to facilitate interrogations, but only with the approval of Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez on a case-by-case basis. [The Washington Post, 5/21/2004] He also suggests that the military close Camp Cropper in southern Iraq. Miller's recommendations are included in a memo that is sent for review to Lieutenant-General William Boykin, the deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence (see May 1, 2003). [Washington Post, 5/16/2004; The New Yorker, 5/24/2004]
People and organizations involved: William Boykin, Geoffrey Miller, Ricardo S. Sanchez

October 2003

       Several military lawyers make a second visit (see May 2003) to 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 April 16, 2003). “They were quite blunt,” Horton will say, recalling the two visits. “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” of the rules-drafting process. [Washington Post, 5/13/2004; The New Yorker, 5/24/2004; Newsday, 5/15/2004]
People and organizations involved: Scott Horton

October 2003-December 2003

       At the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, US soldiers, intelligence operatives, and at least two civilian contractors participate in “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” —including rape and murder—against Iraqi prisoners as part of a program to soften them up prior to interrogation. The worst of these atrocities are committed against prisoners being held in cell blocks 1A and 1B. Members of the 372nd Military Police Company, the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade (MI), the covert “Copper Green” special-access program, and the CIA are involved in the program. [The New Yorker, 5/10/2004; The New Yorker, 5/17/2004; The New Yorker, 5/24/2004; The Guardian, 5/12/2004; Newsweek, 5/24/2004; Washington Post, 5/8/2004; Washington Post, 5/21/2004 Sources: US Army Report on Iraqi Prisoner Abuse, Photos of tortured prisoners]
Evidence - The evidence for these crimes includes statements from witnesses, admissions, court documents, testimonies from detainees and thousands of photographs and videos later leaked to the military's Criminal Investigative Division (CID) in January (see January 13, 2004) and to the media in April (see Mid-April 2004). [The New Yorker, 5/10/2004; The New Yorker, 5/17/2004 Sources: Photos of tortured prisoners, Testimonies of detainees held in cell blocks 1A and 1B]

Abuses - Prisoners held in cell bocks 1A and 1B are subjected to the following abuses: detainees are hooded, shackled and deprived of sleep; male detainees are forced to engage in simulated homosexual activities and made to masturbate in front of one another and female MPs; detainees are kicked and punched; at least one male detainee is raped by an Army translator; at least one male detainee is sodomized with a chemical light and a nightstick; detainees are forced to crawl on the ground with MPs riding on their backs; at least one detainee is made to crawl on broken glass, female detainees are forced to strip; some female detainees are raped multiple times by multiple MPs; detainees are intimidated by unmuzzled dogs and at least one man is bitten; male detainees are forced to walk around naked with women's underwear on their heads; male detainees are forced to wear women's underwear; detainees are deprived of medical attention; detainees are forced to retrieve their meals from toilets tossed there by MPs; male detainees are fondled by female soldiers and one male detainee is forced to have sex with a female soldier; detainees are dragged by MPs on a leash and forced to bark like a dog; detainees are hooded and forced to stand on a box with their arms spread and wires dangling from their fingers, toes and penis and told that if they fall of the box they would be electrocuted and at least one is shocked three times; at least one male detainee is made fun of because of his deformed hand; and at least one detainee is forced to denounce Islam and “Thank Jesus that I'm alive.” [The New Yorker, 5/10/2004; The New Yorker, 5/17/2004; The New Yorker, 5/24/2004; The Guardian, 5/12/2004; Newsweek, 5/24/2004; Washington Post, 5/8/2004; Washington Post, 5/21/2004; The Guardian, 5/20/2004; The Age, 5/21/2004; Time, 6/20/2004]
One prisoner, Manadel al-Jamadi, dies from injuries inflicted by prison personnel or by the CIA officers who brought him there (see (October 2003)). These tactics reportedly have a severe psychological effect on some of the detainees. The International Committee of the Red Cross will report in February 2004: “The ICRC medical delegate examined persons deprived of their liberty presenting signs of concentration difficulties, memory problems, verbal expression difficulties, incoherent speech, acute anxiety reactions, abnormal behavior and suicidal tendencies. These symptoms appeared to have been caused by the methods and duration of interrogation. One person held in isolation that the ICRC examined was unresponsive to verbal and painful stimuli. His heart rate was 120 beats per minute and his respiratory rate 18 per minute. He was diagnosed as suffering from somatoform (mental) disorder, specifically a conversion disorder, most likely due to the ill-treatment he was subjected to during interrogation.”
High-level compilicity - After the torture scandal is reported in the press, the Bush administration will claim the abuses had been the work of only a few rogue MPs—without the knowledge or approval of intelligence. But evidence will clearly indicate otherwise. A few of the pictures will show that non-uniformed military intelligence officers and civilian contractors were present during some of the abuses. [The New Yorker, 5/17/2004; The New Zealand Herald, 5/13/2004 Sources: US Army Report on Iraqi Prisoner Abuse, Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]
Additionally, MPs will say that the orders were coming directly from military intelligence. Sergeant Javal Davis, one of the MPs, later explains: “I witnessed prisoners in the MI hold section ... being made to do various things that I would question morally ... In Wing 1A we were told that they had different rules.” Military Intelligence reportedly told the MPs “ ‘Loosen this guy up for us.’ ‘Make sure he has a bad night.’ ‘Make sure he gets the treatment.’ ” When the MPs did as they were told, MI would say things like, “Good job, they're breaking down real fast. They answer every question. They're giving out good information.” [The New Yorker, 5/10/2004; Washington Post, 5/8/2004 Sources: US Army Report on Iraqi Prisoner Abuse] A prisoner's account will also indicate that the orders were coming from above (see November 29, 2003-March 28, 2004).
Interrogations - The interrogations take place at two facilities within Abu Ghraib known as the Wood Building and the Steel Building. But it is unclear precisely who is in charge. In addition to the known involvement of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, there is evidence suggesting that CIA and SAP operatives (see (Mid-September 2003-October 2003)) are also involved. Two civilian contractors—Steven Stephanowicz, an interrogator working for Virginia-based CACI International, and John B. Israel who works for SOS Interpreting Ltd.—also play a leading part in the interrogations. Unlike their counterparts in MI, they are not bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, though they are required to obey civilian law (it is not clear whether they are bound by US or Iraq law). Little is known about the two civilians. [The New Yorker, 5/10/2004; The New Yorker, 5/17/2004; The Signal, 6/2/2004]
After the torture scandal is revealed in the press, Stephanowicz is rumored to be CIA [Knight Ridder, 5/8/2004]
People and organizations involved: Steven Stephanowicz, John B. Israel

October 12, 2003

       Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez writes a classified memo calling for a “harmonization” of policing and intelligence tasks at Abu Ghraib in order to ensure “consistency with the interrogation policies ... and maximize the efficiency of the interrogation.” [Washington Post, 5/15/2004] The memo instructs intelligence is to work more closely with the military police in order to “manipulate an internee's emotions and weaknesses” by controlling the detainee's access to “lighting, heating ... food, clothing, and shelter.” [The Washington Post, 5/21/2004] It says that “it is imperative that interrogators be provided reasonable latitude to vary their approach” according to the prisoner's background, strengths, resistance and other factors. [Washington Post, 5/15/2004] The memo is a revision of General Geoffrey Miller's September 9 memo (see September 9, 2003), which included a list of acceptable interrogation techniques. Sanchez's memo, however, drops the list replacing it with a general statement that “anything not approved, you have to ask for,” [The Washington Post, 5/21/2004] and adding that the detainees must be treated humanely and that any dogs used during the interrogations must be muzzled. [Washington Post, 5/15/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ricardo S. Sanchez

November 2003

       Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, at the request of George J. Tenet, orders military officials in Iraq to keep a high-value detainee being held at Camp Cropper off the records. The order is passed down to Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then to Gen. John P. Abizaid, the commander of American forces in the Middle East, and finally to Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the ground commander in Iraq. “At each stage, lawyers reviewed the request and their bosses approved it,” the New York Times will report. “This prisoner and other ‘ghost detainees’ were hidden largely to prevent the International Committee of the Red Cross from monitoring their treatment, and to avoid disclosing their location to an enemy,” the newspaper will report citing top officials. The prisoner—in custody since July 2003—is suspected of being a senior officer of Ansar al-Islam, an Islamic group with ties to al-Qaeda. Shortly after being captured by US forces, he was judged to be an “enemy combatant” and thus denied protection under the Geneva conventions. Up until this point, the prisoner has only been interrogated once. As a result of being kept off the books, the prison system looses track of the detainee who will spend the next seven months in custody. “Once he was placed in military custody, people lost track of him,” a senior intelligence official will tell the New York Times. “The normal review processes that would keep track of him didn't.” [New York Times, 6/17/2004; Reuters, 6/17/2004; Fox News, 6/17/2004]
People and organizations involved: Richard B. Myers, George Tenet, Donald Rumsfeld, Ricardo S. Sanchez, John P. Abizaid

November 2003

       Fran Townsend, deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism, visits Abu Ghraib for approximately two hours. She is given a tour of the prison by Army Lt. Col. Steven Jordan. Townsend will later say that the purpose of her visit was to learn more about resistance against the US occupation and to ensure that information coming from the facility would be shared effectively among the various intelligence agencies. She will also say that she did not discuss interrogation methods, pressure military prison personnel to produce more intelligence, or witness any incidents of abuse. [USA Today, 6/17/2004]
People and organizations involved: Steven Jordan, Fran Townsend

November 19, 2003

       The office of General Sanchez formally puts Colonel Thomas M. Pappas of 205th Military Intelligence Brigade in charge of cell blocks 1A and 1B in the Abu Ghraib prison. As General Taguba will note in his February 26, 2004 (see February 26, 2004) report, the order “effectively made an MI Officer, rather than an MP officer, responsible for the MP units conducting detainee operations at that facility. This is not doctrinally sound due to the different missions and agenda assigned to each of these respective specialties.” [The New Yorker, 5/17/2004; New York Times, 5/12/2004; Washington Post, 5/15/2004; Newsweek, 5/24/2004] Major General Antonio M. Taguba will also note: “[T]he intelligence value of detainees held at ... Guantanamo is different than that of the detainees/internees held at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities in Iraq.... There are a large number of Iraqi criminals held at Abu Ghraib. These are not believed to be international terrorists or members of al-Qaeda.” The report will say also that the order was in conflict with existing military regulations and suggests that Sanchez's recommendation had influenced the conditions at Abu Ghraib.
People and organizations involved: Ricardo S. Sanchez, Antonio M. Taguba, Thomas M. Pappas

November 30, 2003

       Col. Thomas M. Pappas sends a classified cable to Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez requesting permission to use more intense interrogation methods on a 31-year-old Syrian suspected of having knowledge about the illegal flow of money, arms and foreign fighters into Iraq. Pappas says in the cable that the interrogators at Abu Ghraib would like to use the “fear up harsh” method, which according to military documents means “significantly increasing the fear level in a security detainee.” The Washington Post will later report that the plan's details were as follows: “First, the interrogators were to throw chairs and tables in the man's presence at the prison and ‘invade his personal space.’ Then the police were to put a hood on his head and take him to an isolated cell through a gantlet of barking guard dogs; there, the police were to strip-search him and interrupt his sleep for three days with interrogations, barking and loud music....” [Washington Post, 5/15/2004]
People and organizations involved: Thomas M. Pappas, Ricardo S. Sanchez

(Mid-January 2004)

       Staff Sergeant Ivan L. Frederick II, a member of the 372nd Military Police Company who will be a central figure in the prison photos scandal, sends a letter to relatives back home. In his letter he says: “I questioned some of the things that I saw ... such things as leaving inmates in their cell with no clothes or in female underpants, handcuffing them to the door of their cell-and the answer I got was, ‘This is how military intelligence (MI) wants it done.’ ... MI has also instructed us to place a prisoner in an isolation cell with little or no clothes, no toilet or running water, no ventilation or window, for as much as three days.” Frederick goes on to say that the military-intelligence officers have “encouraged and told us, ‘Great job,’ they were now getting positive results and information. CID has been present when the military working dogs were used to intimidate prisoners at MI's request.” When Frederick asked his superior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Phillabaum, the commander of the 320th M.P. Battalion, about the abuse of the prisoners, “His reply was ‘Don't worry about it.’ ” [The New Yorker, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ivan L. Frederick II, Jerry L. Phillabaum

February 12, 2004

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

April 28, 2004

       CBS “60 Minutes II” airs the Abu Ghraib prison photos (see October 2003-December 2003). Bush reportedly first learns about these photos from the television report. [CBS, 5/6/2004; Sydney Morning Herald, 5/6/2004; Baltimore Sun, 5/6/2004; St. Petersburg Times, 5/9/2004] Most of the photos show prisoners being forced to engage in humiliating sexual acts. For example in one photo a hooded naked man is forced to masturbate as a grinning female MP, Lynndie England, looks on, giving a thumbs-up. Another photo shows two naked hooded men, one standing, while the other is kneeling in front of him, simulating oral sex. The Bush administration will portray these forced acts of humiliation as the immature pranks of low ranking soldiers. But others will argue that the acts were ordered from above with the intent to exploit Arab culture's conservative views with regard to sex and homosexuality (see (2002-March 2003)). [The New Yorker, 5/10/2004; The New Yorker, 5/17/2004] A different picture shows a hooded-man with his arms spread and wires dangling from his fingers, toes and penis. He was apparently told that if he fell of the box he would be electricuted. The tactic is known as the “The Vietnam,” an “arcane torture method known only to veterans of the interrogation trade” that had been first used by Brazilians in the 1970s. [Newsweek, 5/24/2004; Seattle Times, 5/14/2004 Sources: Darius Rejali] Another picture is of a dead man who was killed after being “stressed” too much. [The New Yorker, 5/10/2004; The New Yorker, 5/17/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush

May 2004

       An unnamed government consultant tells New Yorker Magazine that the pictures of Iraqi prisoners of war being subjected to sexual humiliation may have been part of an effort to create an “army of informants” made up of people who— “motivated by fear of exposure” —would provide the US with intelligence on Iraq's domestic militant resistance. “I was told that the purpose of the photographs was to create an army of informants, people you could insert back in the population.” [The New Yorker, 5/24/2004]

May 11, 2004

       US Secretary of State Colin Powell says, “We kept the president informed of the concerns that were raised by the ICRC and other international organizations as part of my regular briefings of the president, and advised him that we had to follow these issues, and when we got notes sent to us or reports sent to us ... we had to respond to them, and the president certainly made it clear that that's what he expected us to do.” (see (May 2003-May 2004)) [Baltimore Sun, 5/12/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Colin Powell

May 18, 2004

       Sgt. Samuel Provance of the 302nd Military Intelligence Battalion tells ABC News that the US military is engaged in a cover-up of the Abu Ghraib abuses. “There's definitely a cover-up,” he says. “People are either telling themselves or being told to be quiet.” He also says the MPs seen in the photos with naked Iraqi prisoners at the prison were acting under orders from Military Intelligence. “Anything [the MPs] were to do legally or otherwise, they were to take those commands from the interrogators.... One interrogator told me about how commonly the detainees were stripped naked, and in some occasions, wearing women's underwear. If it's your job to strip people naked, yell at them, scream at them, humiliate them, it's not going to be too hard to move from that to another level.” [ABC News, 5/18/2004; The Washington Post, 5/20/2004] After his interview, Provance is stripped of his security clearance, transferred to a different platoon, and informed that he may be prosecuted for speaking out because his comments were “not in the national interest.” Additionally, his record is officially “flagged,” making him ineligible for promotion or receiving any awards or honors. [ABC News, 5/21/2004]
People and organizations involved: Samuel Provance

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