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Torture themes

Torture, abuse, rights' violations
Indications of Abuse
Prisoner deaths
High-level complicity
Rendition
Coverup
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Torture, rendition, and other abuses against captives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere: Cases of torture, abuse and other human rights violations

 
  

Project: Prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere

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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]
          

1998

       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
          

(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]
          

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
          

(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]
          

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
          

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
          

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
          

(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
          

(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 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
          

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]
          

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]
          

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 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

       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-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 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]
          

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

       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 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-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 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 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
          

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
          

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 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]
          

September 22, 2003

       A delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) interviews a 61-year-old Iraqi who has been imprisoned in Camp Bucca. The elderly man tells the ICRC that at the time of his arrest, he was “tied, hooded and forced to sit on the hot surface of what he surmised to be the engine of a vehicle....” The ICRC verifies his account noting that the presence of “large crusted lesions” on his buttocks were consistent with his allegation. [Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]
          

(September 30, 2003)

       Camp Cropper is closed, following the advice of Major General Geoffrey Miller (see September 9, 2003). [Washington Post, 5/8/2004]
People and organizations involved: Geoffrey Miller
          

October 2003

       A delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visits Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad and is appalled by the condition and treatment of the prisoners. The ICRC breaks “off [its] visit and [demands] an immediate explanation from the military prison authorities.” The delegation witnesses prisoners who are “completely naked in totally empty concrete cells and in total darkness.” According to its February 2004 report to Coalition Forces, “The military intelligence officer in charge of the interrogation explained that this practice was ‘part of the process.’ ” The ICRC subsequently complains to Coalition Forces. [New York Times, 5/11/2004 Sources: US Army Report on Iraqi Prisoner Abuse]
          

(October 2003)

       The CIA brings a hooded detainee, later identified as Manadel al-Jamadi, to Abu Ghraib. The man is brought directly to the showers where he is shackled and left alone to await interrogation. About an hour later, he dies from untreated headwounds that had been concealed by the sandbag on his head. Prison personnel will claim they were unaware of the man's head injuries and that he had not yet been interrogated. Staff Sergeant Ivan L. Frederick II will write to his family in the United States in November 2003 that the CIA had “stressed him out so bad that the man passed away. [Prison personnel] put his body in a body bag and packed him in ice for approximately twenty-four hours in the shower.... The next day the medics came and put his body on a stretcher, placed a fake IV in his arm and took him away.” The prisoner is never entered into the prison's inmate-control system and therefore there is no record of him being admitted to the facility. [The New Yorker, 5/7/2004; The Age, 5/21/2004]
People and organizations involved: Manadel al-Jamadi, Ivan L. Frederick II
          

October 2003

       The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) interviews a prisoner of war who has suffered severe burns as a result of being forced to lie face down on a hot surface. A February 2004 ICRC report (see February 24, 2004) recounts: “He had been hooded, handcuffed in the back, and made to lie face down on a hot surface during transportation. This had caused severe skin burns that required three months hospitalization. At the time of the interview he had been recently discharged from hospital. He had to undergo several skin grafts, the amputation of his right index finger, and suffered the permanent loss of the use of his left fifth finger secondary to burn-induced skin retraction. He also suffered extensive burns over the abdomen, anterior aspects of the lower extremities, the palm of his right hand and the sole of his left foot.” [Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]
          

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
          

Early October 2003

       Soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company, who since May (see (May 2003)) have been performing routine traffic and police duties, are reassigned to prison-guard duty at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. They are provided with no training or guidelines on prison management, though two members of the 372nd previously worked as civilian prison guards back in the United States. They are not given copies of the Geneva Conventions. [The New Yorker, 5/7/2004; Washington Post, 5/8/2004]
          

October 18, 2003

       The Associated Press submits a list of questions to US command about specific accounts from former detainees regarding torture, execution and poor living conditions at Coalition detention centers in Iraq. US command does not respond. [The Associated Press, 10/29/2004]
          

October 18, 2003-October 31, 2003

       Soon after the 372nd Military Police Company arrives at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski sends Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Phillabaum, who is in charge of the prison, to Kuwait for two weeks so that he can have “some relief from the pressure he was experiencing.” [Washington Post, 5/8/2004 Sources: US Army Report on Iraqi Prisoner Abuse]
People and organizations involved: Janis Karpinski, Jerry L. Phillabaum
          

November 2003

       Iraqi Major General Abed Hamed Mowhoush, who previously headed Saddam Hussein's air force, turns himself in for questioning. He is sent to the Al Qaim detention facility northwest of Baghdad. Two weeks into his detention, on November 27, he is interrogated by two soldiers with the 66th Military Intelligence Company. They force him head-first into a sleeping bag and question him as they roll him back and forth. One of the soldiers then sits on the Iraqi general's chest and covers his mouth. The prisoner dies of affixation. An internal government document later recounts: “During this interrogation, the [general] became non-responsive, medics were called and he was later pronounced dead. The preliminary report lists the cause of death as asphyxia due to smothering and chest compressions.” Later that day, US military officials issue a statement saying that a prisoner has died of natural causes during questioning. “Mowhoush said he didn't feel well and subsequently lost consciousness,” the statement reads. “The soldier questioning him found no pulse, then conducted CPR and called for medical authorities. According to the on-site surgeon, it appeared Mowhouse died of natural causes.” [Combined Joint Task Force, 11/27/2003; Denver Post, 5/18/2004]
People and organizations involved: Abed Hamed Mowhoush
          

November 18, 2003

       In an interview with the St. Petersburg Times, Army Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski says that for many of the prisoners “living conditions now are better in prison than at home. At one point we were concerned they wouldn't want to leave.” But when asked for details on the detention of top Baath Party officials, she would only say that they were being detained under “appropriate arrangements.” [St. Petersburg Times, 12/14/2003]
People and organizations involved: Janis Karpinski
          

November 29, 2003-March 28, 2004

       In downtown Baghdad, Saddam Saleh Aboud, a 29-year-old Iraqi Sunni Muslim, reports to an Iraqi police officer that he believes a car on Saddoun Street is wired with explosives. The Iraqi officer immediately hands the man over to US soldiers and after brief stays at two small detention centers, Aboud ends up in cell block 1A of Abu Ghraib in cell No.42 on December 1. During his stay in the prison he is subjected to beatings and torture. [New York Times, 5/14/2004; The Guardian, 5/13/2004; Independent, 5/14/2004] On the first night of his stay in Abu Ghraib—hooded and with his hands tied behind his back—he is instructed to stand on a box. “I stood like this for an hour, or an hour and a quarter. Then some American soldiers came and they were laughing and some were beating me. They were beating me on my back and my legs. They were beating and laughing. I couldn't bear it and then I fell from the box against the wall and then on to the ground.” The soldiers then removed his hood. “They were talking and then one of them started to urinate on me. Then they started to drop cold water on me.” [New York Times, 5/14/2004; The Guardian, 5/13/2004] According to Aboud, the orders seem to be coming from above. In fact at one point during his detention he asks a soldier, “Why do you torture us?” The soldier responds, “It's not in our control.” [New York Times, 5/14/2004] After 18 days, the torture ends and the interrogation begins. A man named Steve—probably a reference to Steven Stephanowicz, the civilian employee of a private contractor who works in the prison as a professional interrogator—says to him, “If you do not confess, I will have my soldiers rape you.” Aboud subsequently answers all of his interrogators' questions, but provides them with bogus information. “Whatever they asked me, I said yes. They told me I was from Ansar al-Islam [a militant Iraqi group] and I said yes. I told them the leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad [another Iraqi militant group] was my cousin. They asked me about Zarqawi [a Jordanian militant thought to be in Iraq] and al-Qaeda and I said yes even though I don't know who they are.” [New York Times, 5/14/2004; The Guardian, 5/13/2004] Some time later, prisoners in Aboud's cell block are told that the Red Cross will be coming by to inspect the facility. They are told by the translator not to reveal how they had been abused. “Look all of you. The Red Cross will come to you today and if you say anything more than what is allowed then you will see a very, very dark day today and tomorrow will be darker and so on and so on,” Aboud will later recall the translator saying. Prior to the expected visit, several prisoners are relocated elsewhere in the prison. When the Red Cross arrives, Aboud says nothing. “I couldn't say anything to her [the Red Cross human rights monitor] because there was a translator and an American soldier standing behind her.” [The Guardian, 5/13/2004] When Aboud finally leaves the prison, he is warned: “One of the soldiers told me: ‘You were inside the prison and you saw some good things and some bad things. Forget the bad things and remember only the good.’ ”
People and organizations involved: Steven Stephanowicz, Saddam Saleh Aboud
          

December 12, 2003

       A battalion commander in Iraq is fined $5,000 for firing his pistol near the head of an Iraqi prisoner after his soldiers had punched the detainee. [Seattle Times, 12/13/2003; Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
          

(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
          

January 12, 2004

       Human Rights Watch writes to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “to express concern about incidents in which US forces stationed in Iraq detained innocent, close relatives of wanted suspects in order to compel the suspects to surrender, which amounts to hostage-taking, classified as a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.” [Human Rights Watch, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: Donald Rumsfeld
          

January 16, 2004

       The US military releases a statement announcing that Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez has ordered a criminal investigation “into reported incidents of detainee abuse at a coalition forces detention facility.” It is later learned that the facility in question is Abu Ghraib prison. [Associated Press, 1/16/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ricardo S. Sanchez
          

January 19, 2004

       Lieutenant-General Ricardo Sanchez orders a high level administrative investigation into the 800th Military Police Brigade apart from the criminal investigation that was announced three days earlier (see January 16, 2004). He appoints Major General Antonio M. Taguba to conduct the inquiry and limits the scope of the investigation to the conduct of the military police brigade. Taguba's report will be filed on February 26 (see February 26, 2004) and presented on March 3 (see March 3, 2004-March 9, 2004). [Sydney Morning Herald, 5/4/2004; New York Times, 5/10/2004]
People and organizations involved: Ricardo S. Sanchez, Antonio M. Taguba
          

Late January 2004

       A 52-year-old Iraqi farmer and his 26-year-old son are detained and beaten by US soldiers after an explosion near their home. [Electronic Iraq, 2/19/2004]
          

February 2, 2004

       During a hearing on the June 2003 death of Najem Sa'doun Hattab at Camp Whitehorse detention center near Nassiriya, Iraq, a former US marine, granted immunity for testifying, says that it was common for Coalition forces “to kick and punch prisoners who did not cooperate—and even some who did.” [San Diego Union Tribune, 2/3/2004; Human Rights Watch, 3/18/2004]
People and organizations involved: Najem Sa'doun Hattab
          

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
          

February 24, 2004

       The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) files a report with Coalition Authorities complaining that its soldiers and intelligence officers have been arresting and detaining Iraqis without cause, routinely using excessive force during the initial stages of detention, and subjecting prisoners to extreme physical and emotional abuse. The report is based on 29 visits to 14 detention centers in Iraq between March 31 and October 24, 2003, during which time ICRC workers privately interviewed thousands of prisoners. [Washington Post, 5/10/2004; New York Times, 5/11/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs] Among its findings:
According to “certain CF (Coalition Forces) military intelligence officers,” 70 to 90 percent of the detainees being held in captivity had been “arrested by mistake.” [Washington Post, 5/10/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

Captives were not informed of the reason for their arrest or provided with access to legal counsel. “They were often questioned without knowing what they were accused of. They were not allowed to ask questions and were not provided with an opportunity to seek clarification about the reason for their arrest.” [Washington Post, 5/10/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

There were eight instances in which American guards shot at their captives resulting in seven prisoner deaths and 18 injuries. [Washington Post, 5/10/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

During the initial stages of captivity, prisoners were subjected to brutality which sometimes caused serious injury or death. [Washington Post, 5/10/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

Prisoners were subjected to physical and psychological coercion, which in “some cases was tantamount to torture.” [Washington Post, 5/10/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

Prisoners were kept in prolonged solitary confinement in cells in complete darkness. [Washington Post, 5/10/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

Prison guards and soldiers used excessive and disproportionate use of force. [Washington Post, 5/10/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

Prisoners being held in Unit 1A of Abu Ghraib were kept “completely naked in totally empty concrete cells and in total darkness.” Some of the prisoners were forced into “acts of humiliation such as being made to stand naked against the wall of the cell with arms raised or with women's underwear over the [sic] heads for prolonged periods—while being laughed at by guards, including female guards, and sometimes photographed in this position.” [New York Times, 5/11/2004; Washington Post, 5/10/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

Prisoners' hands were often bound with flexi-cuffs so tightly that the captive incurred skin wounds and nerve damage. [Washington Post, 5/10/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

Soldiers pressed prisoners' faces into the ground with their combat boots. [Washington Post, 5/10/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

Prisoners were beaten with pistols and rifles and were slapped, punched or kicked with knees or boots. [Washington Post, 5/10/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

Prisoners were threatened with execution and transferred to Guantanamo. Some captives were told that their family members would be harmed. [Washington Post, 5/10/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

Prisoners were deprived of adequate sleep, food, water and access to open air. [Washington Post, 5/10/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

Prisoners were subjected to forced and prolonged exposure to hot sun on days when the temperature exceed 120 degrees. [Washington Post, 5/10/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

Interviews with military intelligence officers confirmed that “methods of physical and psychological coercion used by the interrogators appeared to be part of the standard operating procedures by military intelligence personnel to obtain confessions and extract information.” [Washington Post, 5/10/2004 Sources: Report of the ICRC on the treatment by Coalition Forces of POWs]

          

February 26, 2004

       Major General Antonio M. Taguba files a fifty-three-page classified report which finds that between October and December of 2003 (see October 2003-December 2003), members of the 372nd Military Police Company and US intelligence community engaged in numerous incidents of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” against prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. As evidence, he cites “detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence.” The photographs—which are later leaked to the press (see Mid-April 2004), causing an enormous international public outcry—are not included in the report. [The New Yorker, 5/10/2004; The New Yorker, 5/17/2004 Sources: US Army Report on Iraqi Prisoner Abuse] Taguba also takes issue with the November 5 (see November 5, 2003) Ryder report which concluded that the military police units had not intentionally used inappropriate confinement practices. “Contrary to the findings of MG Ryder's report, I find that personnel assigned to the 372nd MP Company, 800th MP Brigade were directed to change facility procedures to ‘set the conditions’ for MI interrogations.” Army intelligence officers, CIA agents, and private contractors “actively requested that MP guards set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses.” [The New Yorker, 5/10/2004 Sources: US Army Report on Iraqi Prisoner Abuse] He presents his report to his commander on March 3 (see March 3, 2004-March 9, 2004).
People and organizations involved: Antonio M. Taguba  Additional Info 
          

March 3, 2004-March 9, 2004

       Major General Antonio M. Taguba presents his February 26 report to General McKiernan. [New York Times, 5/10/2004] The report is “very closely held” among the Army's senior leadership and the report is only accessible to top officials on a secure computer network. Congress is not informed of the report or its findings. [Baltimore Sun, 5/6/2004]
People and organizations involved: Antonio M. Taguba, David D. McKiernan
          

April 2004

       The Denver Post reports that three US Army soldiers from a military-intelligence battalion have been fined “at least five hundred dollars and demoted in rank” after an investigation into an incident involving the assault of a female Iraqi prisoner at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. [The New Yorker, 5/17/2004]
          

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 4, 2004

       Major General Geoffrey Miller says during a Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing that while physical contact between the interrogator and detainees is prohibited, “sleep deprivation and stress positions and all that could be used—but they must be authorized.” (see April 16, 2003) But as Amnesty International later notes in a letter to George Bush, “The United Nations Committee against Torture, the expert body established by the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment has expressly held that restraining detainees in very painful positions, hooding, threats, and prolonged sleep deprivation are methods of interrogation which violate the prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” [Amnesty International, 5/7/2004]
People and organizations involved: George W. Bush, Amnesty International, Geoffrey Miller
          

May 14, 2004

       Amnesty International publishes a report titled, “Iraq: One year on the human rights situation remains dire,” which documents a pattern of human rights violations being committed by US forces in Iraq. “Many detainees have alleged they were tortured and ill-treated by US and UK troops during interrogation,” the report says. “Methods often reported include prolonged sleep deprivation; beatings; prolonged restraint in painful positions, sometimes combined with exposure to loud music; prolonged hooding; and exposure to bright lights. Virtually none of the allegations of torture or ill-treatment has been adequately investigated.” [Sources: Iraq: One year on the human rights situation remains dire]
People and organizations involved: Amnesty International
          


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