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"Tell me, Daskal, when did we become the Nazis?"
— Koverchenko, Beast of War

juggernaut (jŭg'ər-nôt) n.

  1. Something, such as a belief or institution, that elicits blind and destructive devotion or to which people are ruthlessly sacrificed.
  2. An overwhelming, advancing force that crushes or seems to crush everything in its path

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"If we believe absurdities, we shall commit atrocities."
— Voltaire

"When you fight evil it can embrace you."
— Hiren Dessai, Baroda, India

"We had the moral right, we had the duty, to destroy the people who wanted to destroy us. We have fulfilled this most difficult duty for the love of our people. And our spirit, our soul, our character has not suffered injury from it."
— Heinrich Himmler, 1944

"It is our duty as Americans to use the military to go into the world and make the world like us."
— George Bush, State of the Union address, 2006

"The best political weapon is the weapon of terror. Cruelty commands respect. Men may hate us. But, we don't ask for their love; only for their fear."
— Heinrich Himmler

"I do not see why man should not be just as cruel as nature."
— Adolf Hitler

"There's no -- no one in this government, here or on the ground, is going to underreport what's happening. That's just terrible to think that. Even to suggest it is outrageous. Most certainly not!"
— Donald Rumsfeld

"This war has been advanced on lie upon lie. Iraq was not responsible for 9/11. Iraq was not responsible for any role al-Qaeda may have had in 9/11. Iraq was not responsible for the anthrax attacks on this country. Iraq did not tried to acquire nuclear weapons technology from Niger. This war is built on falsehood."
— Rep. Dennis Kucinich, 4/1/03


The General's Report

How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties
By Seymour M. Hersh
The New Yorker, 25 June 2007 Issue

Taguba knew his report would make him unpopular: "If I lie, I lose. And, if I tell the truth, I lose."
Photo: Mary Ellen Mark/The New Yorker

On the afternoon of May 6, 2004, Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba was summoned to meet, for the first time, with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in his Pentagon conference room. Rumsfeld and his senior staff were to testify the next day, in televised hearings before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees, about abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq. The previous week, revelations about Abu Ghraib, including photographs showing prisoners stripped, abused, and sexually humiliated, had appeared on CBS and in The New Yorker. In response, Administration officials had insisted that only a few low-ranking soldiers were involved and that America did not torture prisoners. They emphasized that the Army itself had uncovered the scandal.

If there was a redeeming aspect to the affair, it was in the thoroughness and the passion of the Army's initial investigation. The inquiry had begun in January, and was led by General Taguba, who was stationed in Kuwait at the time. Taguba filed his report in March. In it he found:

Numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees ... systemic and illegal abuse.

Taguba was met at the door of the conference room by an old friend, Lieutenant General Bantz J. Craddock, who was Rumsfeld's senior military assistant. Craddock's daughter had been a babysitter for Taguba's two children when the officers served together years earlier at Fort Stewart, Georgia. But that afternoon, Taguba recalled, "Craddock just said, very coldly, 'Wait here.' " In a series of interviews early this year, the first he has given, Taguba told me that he understood when he began the inquiry that it could damage his career; early on, a senior general in Iraq had pointed out to him that the abused detainees were "only Iraqis." Even so, he was not prepared for the greeting he received when he was finally ushered in.

"Here ... comes ... that famous General Taguba - of the Taguba report!" Rumsfeld declared, in a mocking voice. The meeting was attended by Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's deputy; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J.C.S.); and General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, along with Craddock and other officials. Taguba, describing the moment nearly three years later, said, sadly, "I thought they wanted to know. I assumed they wanted to know. I was ignorant of the setting."

In the meeting, the officials professed ignorance about Abu Ghraib. "Could you tell us what happened?" Wolfowitz asked. Someone else asked, "Is it abuse or torture?" At that point, Taguba recalled, "I described a naked detainee lying on the wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator shoving things up his rectum, and said, 'That's not abuse. That's torture.' There was quiet."

Rumsfeld was particularly concerned about how the classified report had become public. "General," he asked, "who do you think leaked the report?" Taguba responded that perhaps a senior military leader who knew about the investigation had done so. "It was just my speculation," he recalled. "Rumsfeld didn't say anything." (I did not meet Taguba until mid-2006 and obtained his report elsewhere.) Rumsfeld also complained about not being given the information he needed. "Here I am," Taguba recalled Rumsfeld saying, "just a Secretary of Defense, and we have not seen a copy of your report. I have not seen the photographs, and I have to testify to Congress tomorrow and talk about this." As Rumsfeld spoke, Taguba said, "He's looking at me. It was a statement."

At best, Taguba said, "Rumsfeld was in denial." Taguba had submitted more than a dozen copies of his report through several channels at the Pentagon and to the Central Command headquarters, in Tampa, Florida, which ran the war in Iraq. By the time he walked into Rumsfeld's conference room, he had spent weeks briefing senior military leaders on the report, but he received no indication that any of them, with the exception of General Schoomaker, had actually read it. (Schoomaker later sent Taguba a note praising his honesty and leadership.) When Taguba urged one lieutenant general to look at the photographs, he rebuffed him, saying, "I don't want to get involved by looking, because what do you do with that information, once you know what they show?"

Taguba also knew that senior officials in Rumsfeld's office and elsewhere in the Pentagon had been given a graphic account of the pictures from Abu Ghraib, and told of their potential strategic significance, within days of the first complaint. On January 13, 2004, a military policeman named Joseph Darby gave the Army's Criminal Investigation Division (C.I.D.) a CD full of images of abuse. Two days later, General Craddock and Vice-Admiral Timothy Keating, the director of the Joint Staff of the J.C.S., were e-mailed a summary of the abuses depicted on the CD. It said that approximately ten soldiers were shown, involved in acts that included:

Having male detainees pose nude while female guards pointed at their genitals; having female detainees exposing themselves to the guards; having detainees perform indecent acts with each other; and guards physically assaulting detainees by beating and dragging them with choker chains.

Taguba said, "You didn't need to 'see' anything - just take the secure e-mail traffic at face value."

I learned from Taguba that the first wave of materials included descriptions of the sexual humiliation of a father with his son, who were both detainees. Several of these images, including one of an Iraqi woman detainee baring her breasts, have since surfaced; others have not. (Taguba's report noted that photographs and videos were being held by the C.I.D. because of ongoing criminal investigations and their "extremely sensitive nature.") Taguba said that he saw "a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee." The video was not made public in any of the subsequent court proceedings, nor has there been any public government mention of it. Such images would have added an even more inflammatory element to the outcry over Abu Ghraib. "It's bad enough that there were photographs of Arab men wearing women's panties," Taguba said.

On January 20th, the chief of staff at Central Command sent another e-mail to Admiral Keating, copied to General Craddock and Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the Army commander in Iraq. The chief of staff wrote, "Sir: update on alleged detainee abuse per our discussion. DID IT REALLY HAPPEN? Yes, currently have 4 confessions implicating perhaps 10 soldiers. DO PHOTOS EXIST? Yes. A CD with approx 100 photos and a video - CID has these in their possession."

In subsequent testimony, General Myers, the J.C.S. chairman, acknowledged, without mentioning the e-mails, that in January information about the photographs had been given "to me and the Secretary up through the chain of command... . And the general nature of the photos, about nudity, some mock sexual acts and other abuse, was described."

Nevertheless, Rumsfeld, in his appearances before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees on May 7th, claimed to have had no idea of the extensive abuse. "It breaks our hearts that in fact someone didn't say, 'Wait, look, this is terrible. We need to do something,' " Rumsfeld told the congressmen. "I wish we had known more, sooner, and been able to tell you more sooner, but we didn't."

Rumsfeld told the legislators that, when stories about the Taguba report appeared, "it was not yet in the Pentagon, to my knowledge." As for the photographs, Rumsfeld told the senators, "I say no one in the Pentagon had seen them"; at the House hearing, he said, "I didn't see them until last night at 7:30." Asked specifically when he had been made aware of the photographs, Rumsfeld said:

There were rumors of photographs in a criminal prosecution chain back sometime after January 13th ... I don't remember precisely when, but sometime in that period of January, February, March... . The legal part of it was proceeding along fine. What wasn't proceeding along fine is the fact that the President didn't know, and you didn't know, and I didn't know.

"And, as a result, somebody just sent a secret report to the press, and there they are," Rumsfeld said.

Taguba, watching the hearings, was appalled. He believed that Rumsfeld's testimony was simply not true. "The photographs were available to him - if he wanted to see them," Taguba said. Rumsfeld's lack of knowledge was hard to credit. Taguba later wondered if perhaps Cambone had the photographs and kept them from Rumsfeld because he was reluctant to give his notoriously difficult boss bad news. But Taguba also recalled thinking, "Rumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. There's no way he's suffering from C.R.S. - Can't Remember Shit. He's trying to acquit himself, and a lot of people are lying to protect themselves." It distressed Taguba that Rumsfeld was accompanied in his Senate and House appearances by senior military officers who concurred with his denials.

"The whole idea that Rumsfeld projects - 'We're here to protect the nation from terrorism' - is an oxymoron," Taguba said. "He and his aides have abused their offices and have no idea of the values and high standards that are expected of them. And they've dragged a lot of officers with them."

In response to detailed queries about this article, Colonel Gary Keck, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an e-mail, "The department did not promulgate interrogation policies or guidelines that directed, sanctioned, or encouraged abuse." He added, "When there have been abuses, those violations are taken seriously, acted upon promptly, investigated thoroughly, and the wrongdoers are held accountable." Regarding early warnings about Abu Ghraib, Colonel Keck said, "Former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has stated publicly under oath that he and other senior leaders were not provided pictures from Abu Ghraib until shortly before their release." (Rumsfeld, through an aide, declined to answer questions, as did General Craddock. Other senior commanders did not respond to requests for comment.)

During the next two years, Taguba assiduously avoided the press, telling his relatives not to talk about his work. Friends and family had been inundated with telephone calls and visitors, and, Taguba said, "I didn't want them to be involved." Taguba retired in January, 2007, after thirty-four years of active service, and finally agreed to talk to me about his investigation of Abu Ghraib and what he believed were the serious misrepresentations by officials that followed. "From what I knew, troops just don't take it upon themselves to initiate what they did without any form of knowledge of the higher-ups," Taguba told me. His orders were clear, however: he was to investigate only the military police at Abu Ghraib, and not those above them in the chain of command. "These M.P. troops were not that creative," he said. "Somebody was giving them guidance, but I was legally prevented from further investigation into higher authority. I was limited to a box."

General Taguba is a slight man with a friendly demeanor and an unfailingly polite correctness. "I came from a poor family and had to work hard," he said. "It was always shine the shoes on Saturday morning for church, and wash the car on Saturday for church. And Saturday also for mowing the lawn and doing yard jobs for church."

His father, Tomas, was born in the Philippines and was drafted into the Philippine Scouts in early 1942, at the height of the Japanese attack on the joint American-Filipino force led by General Douglas MacArthur. Tomas was captured by the Japanese on the Bataan peninsula in April, 1942, and endured the Bataan Death March, which took thousands of American and Filipino lives. Tomas escaped and joined the underground resistance to the Japanese before returning to the American Army, in July, 1945.

Taguba's mother, Maria, spent much of the Second World War living across the street from a Japanese-run prisoner-of-war camp in Manila. Taguba remembers her vivid accounts of prisoners who were bayonetted arbitrarily or whose fingernails were pulled out. Antonio, the eldest son (he has six siblings), was born in Manila in 1950. Maria and Tomas were devout Catholics, and their children were taught respect and, Taguba recalls, "above all, integrity in how you lived your life and practiced your religion."

In 1961, the family moved to Hawaii, where Tomas retired from the military and took a civilian job in logistics, preparing units for deployment to Vietnam. A year after they arrived, Antonio became a U.S. citizen. By then, as a sixth grader, he was delivering newspapers, serving as an altar boy, and doing well in school. He went to Idaho State University, in Pocatello, with help from the Army R.O.T.C., and graduated in 1972. As a newly commissioned second lieutenant, he was five feet six inches tall and weighed a hundred and twenty pounds. His Army service began immediately: he led troops at the platoon, company, battalion, and brigade levels at bases in South Korea, Germany, and across America. (He married in 1981, and has two grown children.) In 1986, Taguba, then a major, was selected to attend the College of Naval Command and Staff at the Naval War College, in Newport, Rhode Island. While there, he wrote an analysis of Soviet ground-attack planning that became required reading at the school. He was promoted, ahead of his peers, to become a colonel and then a general. On the way, Taguba earned three master's degrees - in public administration, international relations, and national-security studies.

"I'll talk to you about discrimination," he said one morning, while discussing, without bitterness, his early years as an Army officer. "Let's talk about being refused to be served at a restaurant in public. Let's talk about having to do things two times, and being accused of not speaking English well, and having to pay myself for my three master's degrees because the Army didn't think I was smart enough. So what? Just work your ass off. So what? The hard work paid off."

Taguba had joined the Army knowing little about his father's military experience. "He saw the ravages and brutality of war, but he wasn't about to brag about his exploits," Taguba said. "He didn't say anything until 1997, and it took me two years to rebuild his records and show that he was authorized for an award." On Tomas's eightieth birthday, he was awarded the Bronze Star and a prisoner-of-war medal in a ceremony at Schofield Barracks, in Hawaii. "My father never laughed," Taguba said. But the day he got his medal "he smiled - he had a big-ass smile on his face. I'd never seen him look so proud. He was a bent man with carpal-tunnel syndrome, but at the end of the medal ceremony he stood himself up and saluted. I cried, and everyone in my family burst into tears."

Richard Armitage, a former Navy counter-insurgency officer who served as Deputy Secretary of State in the first Bush term, recalled meeting Taguba, then a lieutenant colonel, in South Korea in the early nineteen-nineties. "I was told to keep an eye on this young guy - 'He's going to be a general,' " Armitage said. "Taguba was discreet and low key - not a sprinter but a marathoner."

At the time, Taguba was working for Major General Mike Myatt, a marine who was the officer in charge of strategic talks with the South Koreans, on behalf of the American military. "I needed an executive assistant with brains and integrity," Myatt, who is now retired and living in San Francisco, told me. After interviewing a number of young officers, he chose Taguba. "He was ethical and he knew his stuff," Myatt said. "We really became close, and I'd trust him with my life. We talked about military strategy and policy, and the moral aspect of war - the importance of not losing the moral high ground." Myatt followed Taguba's involvement in the Abu Ghraib inquiry, and said, "I was so proud of him. I told him, 'Tony, you've maintained yourself, and your integrity.' "

Taguba got a different message, however, from other officers, among them General John Abizaid, then the head of Central Command. A few weeks after his report became public, Taguba, who was still in Kuwait, was in the back seat of a Mercedes sedan with Abizaid. Abizaid's driver and his interpreter, who also served as a bodyguard, were in front. Abizaid turned to Taguba and issued a quiet warning: "You and your report will be investigated."

"I wasn't angry about what he said but disappointed that he would say that to me," Taguba said. "I'd been in the Army thirty-two years by then, and it was the first time that I thought I was in the Mafia."

The Investigation

Taguba was given the job of investigating Abu Ghraib because of circumstance: the senior officer of the 800th Military Police Brigade, to which the soldiers in the photographs belonged, was a one-star general; Army regulations required that the head of the inquiry be senior to the commander of the unit being investigated, and Taguba, a two-star general, was available. "It was as simple as that," he said. He vividly remembers his first thought upon seeing the photographs in late January of 2004: "Unbelievable! What were these people doing?" There was an immediate second thought: "This is big."

Taguba decided to keep the photographs from most of the interrogators and researchers on his staff of twenty-three officers. "I didn't want them to prejudge the soldiers they were investigating, so I put the photos in a safe," he told me. "Anyone who wanted to see them had to have a need-to-know and go through me." His decision to keep the staff in the background was also intended to insure that none of them suffered damage to his or her career because of involvement in the inquiry. "I knew it was going to be very sensitive because of the gravity of what was in front of us," he said.

The team spent much of February, 2004, in Iraq. Taguba was overwhelmed by the scale of the wrongdoing. "These were people who were taken off the streets and put in jail - teen-agers and old men and women," he said. "I kept on asking these questions of the officers I interviewed: 'You knew what was going on. Why didn't you do something to stop it?' "

Taguba's assignment was limited to investigating the 800th M.P.s, but he quickly found signs of the involvement of military intelligence - both the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, commanded by Colonel Thomas Pappas, which worked closely with the M.P.s, and what were called "other government agencies," or O.G.A.s, a euphemism for the C.I.A. and special-operations units operating undercover in Iraq. Some of the earliest evidence involved Lieutenant Colonel Steven L. Jordan, whose name was mentioned in interviews with several M.P.s. For the first three weeks of the investigation, Jordan was nowhere to be found, despite repeated requests. When the investigators finally located him, he asked whether he needed to shave his beard before being interviewed - Taguba suspected that he had been dressing as a civilian. "When I asked him about his assignment, he says, 'I'm a liaison officer for intelligence from Army headquarters in Iraq.' " But in the course of three or four interviews with Jordan, Taguba said, he began to suspect that the lieutenant colonel had been more intimately involved in the interrogation process - some of it brutal - for "high value" detainees.

"Jordan denied everything, and yet he had the authority to enter the prison's 'hard site' " - where the most important detainees were held - "carrying a carbine and an M9 pistol, which is against regulations," Taguba said. Jordan had also led a squad of military policemen in a shoot-out inside the hard site with a detainee from Syria who had managed to obtain a gun. (A lawyer for Jordan disputed these allegations; in the shoot-out, he said, Jordan was "just another gun on the extraction team" and not the leader. He noted that Jordan was not a trained interrogator.)

Taguba said that Jordan's "record reflected an extensive intelligence background." He also had reason to believe that Jordan was not reporting through the chain of command. But Taguba's narrowly focussed mission constrained the questions he could ask. "I suspected that somebody was giving them guidance, but I could not print that," Taguba said.

"After all Jordan's evasiveness and misleading responses, his rights were read to him," Taguba went on. Jordan subsequently became the only officer facing trial on criminal charges in connection with Abu Ghraib and is scheduled to be court-martialled in late August. (Seven M.P.s were convicted of charges that included dereliction of duty, maltreatment, and assault; one defendant, Specialist Charles Graner, was sentenced to ten years in prison.) Last month, a military judge ruled that Jordan, who is still assigned to the Army's Intelligence and Security Command, had not been appropriately advised of his rights during his interviews with Taguba, undermining the Army's allegation that he lied during the Taguba inquiry. Six other charges remain, including failure to obey an order or regulation; cruelty and maltreatment; and false swearing and obstruction of justice. (His lawyer said, "The evidence clearly shows that he is innocent.")

Taguba came to believe that Lieutenant General Sanchez, the Army commander in Iraq, and some of the generals assigned to the military headquarters in Baghdad had extensive knowledge of the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib even before Joseph Darby came forward with the CD. Taguba was aware that in the fall of 2003 - when much of the abuse took place - Sanchez routinely visited the prison, and witnessed at least one interrogation. According to Taguba, "Sanchez knew exactly what was going on."

Taguba learned that in August, 2003, as the Sunni insurgency in Iraq was gaining force, the Pentagon had ordered Major General Geoffrey Miller, the commander at Guantánamo, to Iraq. His mission was to survey the prison system there and to find ways to improve the flow of intelligence. The core of Miller's recommendations, as summarized in the Taguba report, was that the military police at Abu Ghraib should become part of the interrogation process: they should work closely with interrogators and intelligence officers in "setting the conditions for successful exploitation of the internees."

Taguba concluded that Miller's approach was not consistent with Army doctrine, which gave military police the overriding mission of making sure that the prisons were secure and orderly. His report cited testimony that interrogators and other intelligence personnel were encouraging the abuse of detainees. "Loosen this guy up for us," one M.P. said he was told by a member of military intelligence. "Make sure he has a bad night."

The M.P.s, Taguba said, "were being literally exploited by the military interrogators. My view is that those kids" - even the soldiers in the photographs - "were poorly led, not trained, and had not been given any standard operating procedures on how they should guard the detainees."

Surprisingly, given Taguba's findings, Miller was the officer chosen to restore order at Abu Ghraib. In April, 2004, a month after the report was filed, he was reassigned there as the deputy commander for detainee operations. "Miller called in the spring and asked to meet with me to discuss Abu Ghraib, but I waited for him and we never did meet," Taguba recounted. Miller later told Taguba that he'd been ordered to Washington to meet with Rumsfeld before travelling to Iraq, but he never attempted to reschedule the meeting.

If they had spoken, Taguba said, he would have reminded Miller that at Abu Ghraib, unlike at Guantánamo, very few prisoners were affiliated with any terrorist group. Taguba had seen classified documents revealing that there were only "one or two" suspected Al Qaeda prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Most of the detainees had nothing to do with the insurgency. A few of them were common criminals.

Taguba had known Miller for years. "We served together in Korea and in the Pentagon, and his wife and mine used to go shopping together," Taguba said. But, after his report became public, "Miller didn't talk to me. He didn't say a word when I passed him in the hallway."

Despite the subsequent public furor over Abu Ghraib, neither the House nor the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings led to a serious effort to determine whether the scandal was a result of a high-level interrogation policy that encouraged abuse. At the House Committee hearing on May 7, 2004, a freshman Democratic congressman, Kendrick Meek, of Florida, asked Rumsfeld if it was time for him to resign. Rumsfeld replied, "I would resign in a minute if I thought that I couldn't be effective... . I have to wrestle with that." But, he added, "I'm certainly not going to resign because some people are trying to make a political issue out of it." (Rumsfeld stayed in office for the next two and a half years, until the day after the 2006 congressional elections.) When I spoke to Meek recently, he said, "There was no way Rumsfeld didn't know what was going on. He's a guy who wants to know everything, and what he was giving us was hard to believe."

Later that month, Rumsfeld appeared before a closed hearing of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which votes on the funds for all secret operations in the military. Representative David Obey, of Wisconsin, the senior Democrat at the hearing, told me that he had been angry when a fellow subcommittee member "made the comment that 'Abu Ghraib was the price of defending democracy.' I said that wasn't the way I saw it, and that I didn't want to see some corporal made into a scapegoat. This could not have happened without people in the upper echelon of the Administration giving signals. I just didn't see how this was not systemic."

Obey asked Rumsfeld a series of pointed questions. Taguba attended the closed hearing with Rumsfeld and recalled him bristling at Obey's inquiries. "I don't know what happened!" Rumsfeld told Obey. "Maybe you want to ask General Taguba."

Taguba got a chance to answer questions on May 11th, when he was summoned to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Under-Secretary Stephen Cambone sat beside him. (Cambone was Rumsfeld's point man on interrogation policy.) Cambone, too, told the committee that he hadn't known about the specific abuses at Abu Ghraib until he saw Taguba's report, "when I was exposed to some of those photographs."

Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, tried to focus on whether Abu Ghraib was the consequence of a larger detainee policy. "These acts of abuse were not the spontaneous actions of lower-ranking enlisted personnel," Levin said. "These attempts to extract information from prisoners by abusive and degrading methods were clearly planned and suggested by others." The senators repeatedly asked about General Miller's trip to Iraq in 2003. Did the "Gitmo-izing" of Abu Ghraib - especially the model of using the M.P.s in "setting the conditions" for interrogations - lead to the abuses?

Cambone confirmed that Miller had been sent to Iraq with his approval, but insisted that the senators were "misreading General Miller's intent." Questioned on that point by Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, Cambone said, "I don't know that I was being told, and I don't know that General Miller said that there should be that kind of activity that you are ascribing to his recommendation."

Reed then asked Taguba, "Was it clear from your reading of the [Miller] report that one of the major recommendations was to use guards to condition these prisoners?" Taguba replied, "Yes, sir. That was recommended on the report."

At another point, after Taguba confirmed that military intelligence had taken control of the M.P.s following Miller's visit, Levin questioned Cambone:

LEVIN: Do you disagree with what the general just said?

CAMBONE: Yes, sir.

LEVIN: Pardon?


Taguba, looking back on his testimony, said, "That's the reason I wasn't in their camp - because I kept on contradicting them. I wasn't about to lie to the committee. I knew I was already in a losing proposition. If I lie, I lose. And, if I tell the truth, I lose."

Taguba had been scheduled to rotate to the Third Army's headquarters, at Fort McPherson, Georgia, in June of 2004. He was instead ordered back to the Pentagon, to work in the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. "It was a lateral assignment," Taguba said, with a smile and a shrug. "I didn't quibble. If you're going to do that to me, well, O.K. We all serve at the pleasure of the President." A retired four-star Army general later told Taguba that he had been sent to the job in the Pentagon so that he could "be watched." Taguba realized that his career was at a dead end.

Later in 2004, Taguba encountered Rumsfeld and one of his senior press aides, Lawrence Di Rita, in the Pentagon Athletic Center. Taguba was getting dressed after a workout. "I was tying my shoes," Taguba recalled. "I looked up, and there they were." Rumsfeld, who was putting his clothes into a locker, recognized Taguba and said, "Hello, General." Di Rita, who was standing beside Rumsfeld, said sarcastically, "See what you started, General? See what you started?"

Di Rita, who is now an official with Bank of America, recalled running into Taguba in the locker room but not his words. "Sounds like my brand of humor," he said, in an e-mail. "A comment like that would have been in an attempt to lighten the mood for General Taguba." (Di Rita added that Taguba had "my personal respect and admiration" and that of Rumsfeld. "He did a terrific job under difficult circumstances.") However, Taguba was troubled by the encounter, and later told a colleague, "I'm now the problem."


A dozen government investigations have been conducted into Abu Ghraib and detainee abuse. A few of them picked up on matters raised by Taguba's report, but none followed through on the question of ultimate responsibility. Military investigators were precluded from looking into the role of Rumsfeld and other civilian leaders in the Pentagon; the result was that none found any high-level intelligence involvement in the abuse.

An independent panel headed by James R. Schlesinger, a former Secretary of Defense, did conclude that there was "institutional and personal responsibility at higher levels" for Abu Ghraib, but cleared Rumsfeld of any direct responsibility. In an August, 2004, report, the Schlesinger panel endorsed Rumsfeld's complaints, citing "the reluctance to move bad news up the chain of command" as the most important factor in Washington's failure to understand the significance of Abu Ghraib. "Given the magnitude of this problem, the Secretary of Defense and other senior DoD officials need a more effective information pipeline to inform them of high-profile incidents," the report said. Schlesinger and his colleagues apparently were unaware of the early e-mail messages that had informed the Pentagon of Abu Ghraib.

The official inquiries consistently provided the public with less information about abuses than outside studies conducted by human-rights groups. In one case, in November, 2004, an Army investigation, by Brigadier General Richard Formica, into the treatment of detainees at Camp Nama, a Special Forces detention center at Baghdad International Airport, concluded that detainees who reported being sodomized or beaten were seeking sympathy and better treatment, and thus were not credible. For example, Army doctors had initially noted that a complaining detainee's wounds were "consistent with the history [of abuse] he provided... . The doctor did find scars on his wrists and noted what he believed to be an anal fissure." Formica had the detainee reëxamined two days later, by another doctor, who found "no fissure, and no scarring... . As a result, I did not find medical evidence of the sodomy." In the case of a detainee who died in custody, Formica noted that there had been bruising to the "shoulders, chest, hip, and knees" but added, "It is not unusual for detainees to have minor bruising, cuts and scrapes." In July, 2006, however, Human Rights Watch issued a fifty-three-page report on the "serious mistreatment" of detainees at Camp Nama and two other sites, largely based on witness accounts from Special Forces interrogators and others who served there.

Formica, asked to comment, wrote in an e-mail, "I conducted a thorough investigation ... and stand by my report." He said that "several issues" he discovered "were corrected." His assignment, Formica noted, was to investigate a unit, and not to conduct "a systematic analysis of Special Operations activities."

The Army also protected General Miller. Since 2002, F.B.I. agents at Guantánamo had been telling their superiors that their military counterparts were abusing detainees. The F.B.I. complaints were ignored until after Abu Ghraib. When an investigation was opened, in December, 2004, General Craddock, Rumsfeld's former military aide, was in charge of the Army's Southern Command, with jurisdiction over Guantánamo - he had been promoted a few months after Taguba's visit to Rumsfeld's office. Craddock appointed Air Force Lieutenant General Randall M. Schmidt, a straight-talking fighter pilot, to investigate the charges, which included alleged abuses during Miller's tenure.

"I followed the bread-crumb trail," Schmidt, who retired last year, told me. "I found some things that didn't seem right. For lack of a camera, you could have seen in Guantánamo what was seen at Abu Ghraib."

Schmidt found that Miller, with the encouragement of Rumsfeld, had focussed great attention on the interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi who was believed to be the so-called "twentieth hijacker." Qahtani was interrogated "for twenty hours a day for at least fifty-four days," Schmidt told investigators from the Army Inspector General's office, who were reviewing his findings. "I mean, here's this guy manacled, chained down, dogs brought in, put in his face, told to growl, show teeth, and that kind of stuff. And you can imagine the fear."

At Guantánamo, Schmidt told the investigators, Miller "was responsible for the conduct of interrogations that I found to be abusive and degrading. The intent of those might have been to be abusive and degrading to get the information they needed... . Did the means justify the ends? That's fine... . He was responsible."

Schmidt formally recommended that Miller be "held accountable" and "admonished." Craddock rejected this recommendation and absolved Miller of any responsibility for the mistreatment of the prisoners. The Inspector General inquiry endorsed Craddock's action. "I was open with them," Schmidt told me, referring to the I.G. investigators. "I told them, 'I'll do anything to help you get the truth.' " But when he read their final report, he said, "I didn't recognize the five hours of interviews with me."

Schmidt learned of Craddock's reversal the day before they were to meet with Rumsfeld, in July, 2005. Rumsfeld was in frequent contact with Miller about the progress of Qahtani's interrogation, and personally approved the most severe interrogation tactics. ("This wasn't just daily business, when the Secretary of Defense is personally involved," Schmidt told the Army investigators.) Nonetheless, Schmidt was impressed by Rumsfeld's demonstrative surprise, dismay, and concern upon being told of the abuse. "He was going, 'My God! Did I authorize putting a bra and underwear on this guy's head and telling him all his buddies knew he was a homosexual?' "

Schmidt was convinced. "I got to tell you that I never got the feeling that Secretary Rumsfeld was trying to hide anything," he told me. "He got very frustrated. He's a control guy, and this had gotten out of control. He got pissed."

Rumsfeld's response to Schmidt was similar to his expressed surprise over Taguba's Abu Ghraib report. "Rummy did what we called 'case law' policy - verbal and not in writing," Taguba said. "What he's really saying is that if this decision comes back to haunt me I'll deny it."

Taguba eventually concluded that there was a reason for the evasions and stonewalling by Rumsfeld and his aides. At the time he filed his report, in March of 2004, Taguba said, "I knew there was C.I.A. involvement, but I was oblivious of what else was happening" in terms of covert military-intelligence operations. Later that summer, however, he learned that the C.I.A. had serious concerns about the abusive interrogation techniques that military-intelligence operatives were using on high-value detainees. In one secret memorandum, dated June 2, 2003, General George Casey, Jr., then the director of the Joint Staff in the Pentagon, issued a warning to General Michael DeLong, at the Central Command:

CIA has advised that the techniques the military forces are using to interrogate high value detainees (HVDs) ... are more aggressive than the techniques used by CIA who is [sic] interviewing the same HVDs.

DeLong replied to Casey that the techniques in use were "doctrinally appropriate techniques," in accordance with Army regulations and Rumsfeld's direction.

The Task Forces

Abu Ghraib had opened the door on the issue of the treatment of detainees, and from the beginning the Administration feared that the publicity would expose more secret operations and practices. Shortly after September 11th, Rumsfeld, with the support of President Bush, had set up military task forces whose main target was the senior leadership of Al Qaeda. Their essential tactic was seizing and interrogating terrorists and suspected terrorists; they also had authority from the President to kill certain high-value targets on sight. The most secret task-force operations were categorized as Special Access Programs, or S.A.P.s.

The military task forces were under the control of the Joint Special Operations Command, the branch of the Special Operations Command that is responsible for counterterrorism. One of Miller's unacknowledged missions had been to bring the J.S.O.C.'s "strategic interrogation" techniques to Abu Ghraib. In special cases, the task forces could bypass the chain of command and deal directly with Rumsfeld's office. A former senior intelligence official told me that the White House was also briefed on task-force operations.

The former senior intelligence official said that when the images of Abu Ghraib were published, there were some in the Pentagon and the White House who "didn't think the photographs were that bad" - in that they put the focus on enlisted soldiers, rather than on secret task-force operations. Referring to the task-force members, he said, "Guys on the inside ask me, 'What's the difference between shooting a guy on the street, or in his bed, or in a prison?' " A Pentagon consultant on the war on terror also said that the "basic strategy was 'prosecute the kids in the photographs but protect the big picture.' "

A recently retired C.I.A. officer, who served more than fifteen years in the clandestine service, told me that the task-force teams "had full authority to whack - to go in and conduct 'executive action,' " the phrase for political assassination. "It was surrealistic what these guys were doing," the retired operative added. "They were running around the world without clearing their operations with the ambassador or the chief of station."

J.S.O.C.'s special status undermined military discipline. Richard Armitage, the former Deputy Secretary of State, told me that, on his visits to Iraq, he increasingly found that "the commanders would say one thing and the guys in the field would say, 'I don't care what he says. I'm going to do what I want.' We've sacrificed the chain of command to the notion of Special Operations and GWOT" - the global war on terrorism. "You're painting on a canvas so big that it's hard to comprehend," Armitage said.

Thomas W. O'Connell, who resigned this spring after nearly four years as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, defended the task forces. He blamed the criticisms on the resentment of the rest of the military: "From my observation, the operations run by Special Ops units are extraordinarily open in terms of interagency visibility to embassies and C.I.A. stations - even to the point where there's been a question of security." O'Connell said that he dropped in unannounced to Special Operations interrogation centers in Iraq, "and the treatment of detainees was aboveboard." He added, "If people want to say we've got a serious problem with Special Operations, let them say it on the record."

Representative Obey told me that he had been troubled, before the Iraq war, by the Administration's decision to run clandestine operations from the Pentagon, saying that he "found some of the things they were doing to be disquieting." At the time, his Republican colleagues blocked his attempts to have the House Appropriations Committee investigate these activities. "One of the things that bugs me is that Congress has failed in its oversight abilities," Obey said. Early last year, at his urging, his subcommittee began demanding a classified quarterly report on the operations, but Obey said that he has no reason to believe that the reports are complete.

A former high-level Defense Department official said that, when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, Senator John Warner, then the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was warned "to back off" on the investigation, because "it would spill over to more important things." A spokesman for Warner acknowledged that there had been pressure on the Senator, but said that Warner had stood up to it - insisting on putting Rumsfeld under oath for his May 7th testimony, for example, to the Secretary's great displeasure.

An aggressive congressional inquiry into Abu Ghraib could have provoked unwanted questions about what the Pentagon was doing, in Iraq and elsewhere, and under what authority. By law, the President must make a formal finding authorizing a C.I.A. covert operation, and inform the senior leadership of the House and the Senate Intelligence Committees. However, the Bush Administration unilaterally determined after 9/11 that intelligence operations conducted by the military - including the Pentagon's covert task forces - for the purposes of "preparing the battlefield" could be authorized by the President, as Commander-in-Chief, without telling Congress.

There was coördination between the C.I.A. and the task forces, but also tension. The C.I.A. officers, who were under pressure to produce better intelligence in the field, wanted explicit legal authority before aggressively interrogating high-value targets. A finding would give operatives some legal protection for questionable actions, but the White House was reluctant to put what it wanted in writing.

A recently retired high-level C.I.A. official, who served during this period and was involved in the drafting of findings, described to me the bitter disagreements between the White House and the agency over the issue. "The problem is what constituted approval," the retired C.I.A. official said. "My people fought about this all the time. Why should we put our people on the firing line somewhere down the road? If you want me to kill Joe Smith, just tell me to kill Joe Smith. If I was the Vice-President or the President, I'd say, 'This guy Smith is a bad guy and it's in the interest of the United States for this guy to be killed.' They don't say that. Instead, George" - George Tenet, the director of the C.I.A. until mid-2004 - "goes to the White House and is told, 'You guys are professionals. You know how important it is. We know you'll get the intelligence.' George would come back and say to us, 'Do what you gotta do.' "

Bill Harlow, a spokesman for Tenet, depicted as "absurd" the notion that the C.I.A. director told his agents to operate outside official guidelines. He added, in an e-mailed statement, "The intelligence community insists that its officers not exceed the very explicit authorities granted." In his recently published memoir, however, Tenet acknowledged that there had been a struggle "to get clear guidance" in terms of how far to go during high-value-detainee interrogations.

The Pentagon consultant said in an interview late last year that "the C.I.A. never got the exact language it wanted." The findings, when promulgated by the White House, were "very calibrated" to minimize political risk, and limited to a few countries; later, they were expanded, turning several nations in North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia into free-fire zones with regard to high-value targets. I was told by the former senior intelligence official and a government consultant that after the existence of secret C.I.A. prisons in Europe was revealed, in the Washington Post, in late 2005, the Administration responded with a new detainee center in Mauritania. After a new government friendly to the U.S. took power, in a bloodless coup d'état in August, 2005, they said, it was much easier for the intelligence community to mask secret flights there.

"The dirt and secrets are in the back channel," the former senior intelligence officer noted. "All this open business - sitting in staff meetings, etc., etc. - is the Potemkin Village stuff. And the good guys - like Taguba - are gone."

In some cases, the secret operations remained unaccountable. In an April, 2005, memorandum, a C.I.D. officer - his name was redacted - complained to C.I.D. headquarters, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, about the impossibility of investigating military members of a Special Access Program suspected of prisoner abuse:

[C.I.D.] has been unable to thoroughly investigate ... due to the suspects and witnesses involvement in Special Access Programs (SAP) and/or the security classification of the unit they were assigned to during the offense under investigation. Attempts by Special Agents ... to be "read on" to these programs has [sic] been unsuccessful.

The C.I.D. officer wrote that "fake names were used" by members of the task force; he also told investigators that the unit had a "major computer malfunction which resulted in them losing 70 per cent of their files; therefore, they can't find the cases we need to review."

The officer concluded that the investigation "does not need to be reopened. Hell, even if we reopened it we wouldn't get any more information than we already have."


Rumsfeld was vague, in his appearances before Congress, about when he had informed the President about Abu Ghraib, saying that it could have been late January or early February. He explained that he routinely met with the President "once or twice a week ... and I don't keep notes about what I do." He did remember that in mid-March he and General Myers were "meeting with the President and discussed the reports that we had obviously heard" about Abu Ghraib.

Whether the President was told about Abu Ghraib in January (when e-mails informed the Pentagon of the seriousness of the abuses and of the existence of photographs) or in March (when Taguba filed his report), Bush made no known effort to forcefully address the treatment of prisoners before the scandal became public, or to reëvaluate the training of military police and interrogators, or the practices of the task forces that he had authorized. Instead, Bush acquiesced in the prosecution of a few lower-level soldiers. The President's failure to act decisively resonated through the military chain of command: aggressive prosecution of crimes against detainees was not conducive to a successful career.

In January of 2006, Taguba received a telephone call from General Richard Cody, the Army's Vice-Chief of Staff. "This is your Vice," he told Taguba. "I need you to retire by January of 2007." No pleasantries were exchanged, although the two generals had known each other for years, and, Taguba said, "He offered no reason." (A spokesperson for Cody said, "Conversations regarding general officer management are considered private personnel discussions. General Cody has great respect for Major General Taguba as an officer, leader, and American patriot.")

"They always shoot the messenger," Taguba told me. "To be accused of being overzealous and disloyal - that cuts deep into me. I was being ostracized for doing what I was asked to do."

Taguba went on, "There was no doubt in my mind that this stuff" - the explicit images - "was gravitating upward. It was standard operating procedure to assume that this had to go higher. The President had to be aware of this." He said that Rumsfeld, his senior aides, and the high-ranking generals and admirals who stood with him as he misrepresented what he knew about Abu Ghraib had failed the nation.

"From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service," Taguba said. "And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable." ?


Torture "widespread" under U.S. custody: Amnesty
By Richard Waddington
Wed May 3, 1:07 AM ET

Torture and inhumane treatment are "widespread" in U.S.-run detention centers in Afghanistan, Iraq, Cuba and elsewhere despite Washington's denials, Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

In a report for the United Nations' Committee against Torture, the London-based human rights group also alleged abuses within the U.S. domestic law enforcement system, including use of excessive force by police and degrading conditions of isolation for inmates in high security prisons.

"Evidence continues to emerge of widespread torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees held in U.S. custody," Amnesty said in its 47-page report.

It said that while Washington has sought to blame abuses that have recently come to light on "aberrant soldiers and lack of oversight," much ill-treatment stemmed from officially sanctioned interrogation procedures and techniques.

"The U.S. government is not only failing to take steps to eradicate torture, it is actually creating a climate in which torture and other ill-treatment can flourish," said Amnesty International USA Senior Deputy Director-General Curt Goering.

The U.N. committee, whose experts carry out periodic reviews of countries signatory to the U.N. Convention against Torture, is scheduled to begin consideration of the United States on Friday. The last U.S. review was in 2000.

It said in November it was seeking U.S. answers to questions including whether Washington operated secret detention centers abroad and whether President George W. Bush had the power to absolve anyone from criminal responsibility in torture cases.

The committee also wanted to know whether a December 2004 memorandum from the U.S. Attorney General's office, reserving torture for "extreme" acts of cruelty, was compatible with the global convention barring all forms of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment.

In its own submission to the committee, published late last year, Washington justified the holding of thousands of foreign terrorism suspects in detention centers abroad, including Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, on the grounds that it was fighting a war that was still not over.

"Like other wars, when they start, we do not know when they will end. Still, we may detain combatants until the end of the war," it said.

The U.S. human rights image has taken a battering abroad over a string of scandals involving the sexual and physical abuse of detainees held by American forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

In its submission, Washington did not mention alleged secret detention centers.

Amnesty listed a series of incidents in recent years involving torture of detainees in U.S. custody, noting the heaviest sentence given to perpetrators was five months in jail.

This was the same punishment you could get for stealing a bicycle in the United States, it added.

"Although the U.S. government continues to assert its condemnation of torture and ill-treatment, these statements contradict what is happening in practice," said Goering, referring to the testimony of torture victims in the report.

January 23, 2006   Verdict:

Army Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr., who was convicted of negligent homicide and dereliction of duty in the interrogation death of an Iraqi general, came in for only a reprimand Monday.
At a hearing at Fort Carson, Colo., a military jury recommended that he receive no jail time. It also said his salary should be docked $6,000 and that he be restricted to barracks for 60 days.
Fort Carson's commander must review the recommendation, but he cannot order harsher punishment

Court: U.S. Officer Guilty Of Homicide

FORT CARSON, CO Jan. 22, 2006   (AP) 
An Army officer was found guilty of negligent homicide late Saturday in the death of an Iraqi general at a detention camp, but was spared a conviction of murder that could have sent him to prison for life.

A panel of six Army officers also convicted Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr., 43, of negligent dereliction of duty. He was acquitted of assault after six hours of deliberations.

Welshofer was accused of putting a sleeping bag over the head of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, sitting on his chest and using his hand to cover the general's mouth while asking him questions in 2003.

Welshofer, who stood silently and showed no reaction when the verdict was announced, faces a dishonorable discharge and up to three years in prison for negligent homicide and three months for negligent dereliction of duty. Sentencing was scheduled for Monday.

If convicted of the original murder charge, he could have been sentenced to life in prison.

The defense had argued a heart condition caused Mowhoush's death, and that Welshofer's commanders had approved the interrogation technique.

"What he was doing he was doing in the open, and he was doing it because he believed the information in fact would save lives," attorney Frank Spinner said.

Spinner said he was disappointed with the verdict and would decide after sentencing whether to appeal.

"The verdict recognizes the context in which these events took place," he said. "It was a very difficult time in Iraq. There was confusion, and they were not getting clear guidance from headquarters."

Welshofer and prosecutors left without commenting.

During the trial, prosecutor Maj. Tiernan Dolan described a rogue interrogator who became frustrated with Mowhoush's refusal to answer questions and escalated his techniques from simple interviews to beatings to simulating drowning, and finally, to death.

"He treated that general worse than you would treat a dog and he did so knowing he was required to treat the general humanely," Dolan said.

Welshofer used his sleeping bag technique in the presence of lower ranking soldiers, but never in the presence of officers with the authority to stop him, Dolan said.

The treatment of the Iraqi general "could fairly be described as torture," Dolan said.

In an e-mail to a commander, Dolan said, Welshofer wrote that restrictions on interrogation techniques were impeding the Army's ability to gather intelligence. Welshofer wrote that authorized techniques came from Cold War-era doctrine that did not apply in Iraq, Dolan said.

"Our enemy understands force, not psychological mind games," Dolan quoted from Welshofer's message. Dolan said an officer responded by telling Welshofer to "take a deep breath and remember who we are."

The defense urged jurors to consider conditions in Iraq at the time of the interrogation: Soldiers were being killed in an increasingly lethal and increasingly bold insurgency. Welshofer had to make some decisions on his own because guidance was lacking and other techniques weren't working, Spinner said.

Officials believed Mowhoush had information that would "break the back of the whole insurgency," said defense attorney Capt. Ryan Rosauer. They also thought Mowhoush helping to bring foreign fighters into Iraq from across the Syrian border, he said.

Several prosecution witnesses, including one whose identity is classified and who testified in a closed session, had been granted immunity in exchange for their cooperation, Spinner noted. Two soldiers who were initially charged with murder in the case also were given immunity.

Return My Work, Says Guantánamo Poet

Declan Walsh in Peshawar
Monday April 3, 2006

The Americans can't return the three years that Abdul Rahim Muslim Dost lost, locked in a cell in Guantánamo Bay. But they could at least give back his poetry.

"Please help," said Dost, who says he penned 25,000 lines of verse during his long imprisonment. "Those words are very precious to me. My interrogators promised I would get them back. Still I have nothing."

The lost poems are the final indignity for Dost, a softly spoken Afghan whom the US military flew home last year, finally believing his pleas of innocence.

Accused of being an al-Qaida terrorist, Dost had been whisked from his home in Peshawar, northern Pakistan, in November 2001. Five months later he was shackled, blindfolded and flown to Cuba. Wearing an orange jumpsuit and trapped inside a mesh cage, the Pashtun poet crafted his escape through verse. "I would fly on the wings of my imagination," he recalled. "Through my poems I would travel the world, visiting different places. Although I was in a cage I was really free."

Inmates were forbidden pens or papers during Dost's first year in captivity. So he found a novel solution - polystyrene teacups. "I would scratch a few lines on to a cup with a spoon. If you held it up to the light you could read it," he said. "But when the guards collected the trash they threw them away."

It was only when prison authorities provided awkward rubbery pens - so soft they could not be used as weapons - that Dost wrote in earnest. His themes were love of his homeland, poetry and his children, and especially his hope of release.

Sitting in his library, he quoted a couplet from a favourite poem: "Handcuffs befit brave young men/Bangles are for spinsters or pretty young ladies."

Dost lampooned his military captors, mocking what he perceived as ridiculous - women with men's haircuts, men without beards. "In the American army I could not see a real man," he said. "And they talk rudely about homosexuals, which is very shameful to us."

The satires delighted fellow inmates, who passed them from cage to cage using a pulley system fashioned from prayer cap threads. Some even passed Dost their two-sheet paper allowance so he could write some more. But invariably the poems were confiscated during cell searches.

Early last year Dost was brought before a military tribunal - which he describes as a show trial - and then flown back to Afghanistan in shackles, with 16 other detainees. The US military said he was "no longer an enemy combatant". Dost was allowed to keep his final sheaf of poems and was told the rest would be returned on arrival at Bagram airbase, near Kabul. But they were not, and he was set free without apology or compensation. His brother had been freed six months earlier.

Now Dost has written his an account of Guantánamo, The Broken Chains, which is being translated into English. He estimates $300,000 in losses, mostly from confiscated gemstones and cash that were never returned. But his greatest loss was his writing. "It is the most valuable thing to me," he said.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

In Secret Unit's 'Black Room,' a Grim Portrait of U.S. Abuse

By Eric Schmitt and Carolyn Marshall

A placard from Camp Nama in Iraq, where some detainees were used as paintball targets.

In June 2004, Stephen A. Cambone, a top Pentagon official, ordered his deputy, Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, to look into allegations of detainee abuse at Camp Nama.
March 19, 2006

As the Iraqi insurgency intensified in early 2004, an elite Special Operations forces unit converted one of Saddam Hussein's former military bases near Baghdad into a top-secret detention center. There, American soldiers made one of the former Iraqi government's torture chambers into their own interrogation cell. They named it the Black Room.

In the windowless, jet-black garage-size room, some soldiers beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces and, in a nearby area, used detainees for target practice in a game of jailer paintball. Their intention was to extract information to help hunt down Iraq's most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to Defense Department personnel who served with the unit or were briefed on its operations.

The Black Room was part of a temporary detention site at Camp Nama, the secret headquarters of a shadowy military unit known as Task Force 6-26. Located at Baghdad International Airport, the camp was the first stop for many insurgents on their way to the Abu Ghraib prison a few miles away.

Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, "NO BLOOD, NO FOUL." The slogan, as one Defense Department official explained, reflected an adage adopted by Task Force 6-26: "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it." According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. "The reality is, there were no rules there," another Pentagon official said.

The story of detainee abuse in Iraq is a familiar one. But the following account of Task Force 6-26, based on documents and interviews with more than a dozen people, offers the first detailed description of how the military's most highly trained counterterrorism unit committed serious abuses.

It adds to the picture of harsh interrogation practices at American military prisons in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as well as at secret Central Intelligence Agency detention centers around the world.

The new account reveals the extent to which the unit members mistreated prisoners months before and after the photographs of abuse from Abu Ghraib were made public in April 2004, and it helps belie the original Pentagon assertions that abuse was confined to a small number of rogue reservists at Abu Ghraib.

The abuses at Camp Nama continued despite warnings beginning in August 2003 from an Army investigator and American intelligence and law enforcement officials in Iraq. The C.I.A. was concerned enough to bar its personnel from Camp Nama that August.

It is difficult to compare the conditions at the camp with those at Abu Ghraib because so little is known about the secret compound, which was off limits even to the Red Cross. The abuses appeared to have been unsanctioned, but some of them seemed to have been well known throughout the camp.

For an elite unit with roughly 1,000 people at any given time, Task Force 6-26 seems to have had a large number of troops punished for detainee abuse. Since 2003, 34 task force members have been disciplined in some form for mistreating prisoners, and at least 11 members have been removed from the unit, according to new figures the Special Operations Command provided in response to questions from The New York Times. Five Army Rangers in the unit were convicted three months ago for kicking and punching three detainees in September 2005.

Some of the serious accusations against Task Force 6-26 have been reported over the past 16 months by news organizations including NBC, The Washington Post and The Times. Many details emerged in hundreds of pages of documents released under a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union. But taken together for the first time, the declassified documents and interviews with more than a dozen military and civilian Defense Department and other federal personnel provide the most detailed portrait yet of the secret camp and the inner workings of the clandestine unit.

The documents and interviews also reflect a culture clash between the free-wheeling military commandos and the more cautious Pentagon civilians working with them that escalated to a tense confrontation. At one point, one of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's top aides, Stephen A. Cambone, ordered a subordinate to "get to the bottom" of any misconduct.

Most of the people interviewed for this article were midlevel civilian and military Defense Department personnel who worked with Task Force 6-26 and said they witnessed abuses, or who were briefed on its operations over the past three years.

Many were initially reluctant to discuss Task Force 6-26 because its missions are classified. But when pressed repeatedly by reporters who contacted them, they agreed to speak about their experiences and observations out of what they said was anger and disgust over the unit's treatment of detainees and the failure of task force commanders to punish misconduct more aggressively. The critics said the harsh interrogations yielded little information to help capture insurgents or save American lives.

Virtually all of those who agreed to speak are career government employees, many with previous military service, and they were granted anonymity to encourage them to speak candidly without fear of retribution from the Pentagon. Many of their complaints are supported by declassified military documents and e-mail messages from F.B.I. agents who worked regularly with the task force in Iraq.

A Demand for Intelligence

Military officials say there may have been extenuating circumstances for some of the harsh treatment at Camp Nama and its field stations in other parts of Iraq. By the spring of 2004, the demand on interrogators for intelligence was growing to help combat the increasingly numerous and deadly insurgent attacks.

Some detainees may have been injured resisting capture. A spokesman for the Special Operations Command, Kenneth S. McGraw, said there was sufficient evidence to prove misconduct in only 5 of 29 abuse allegations against task force members since 2003. As a result of those five incidents, 34 people were disciplined.

"We take all those allegations seriously," Gen. Bryan D. Brown, the commander of the Special Operations Command, said in a brief hallway exchange on Capitol Hill on March 8. "Any kind of abuse is not consistent with the values of the Special Operations Command."

The secrecy surrounding the highly classified unit has helped to shield its conduct from public scrutiny. The Pentagon will not disclose the unit's precise size, the names of its commanders, its operating bases or specific missions. Even the task force's name changes regularly to confuse adversaries, and the courts-martial and other disciplinary proceedings have not identified the soldiers in public announcements as task force members.

General Brown's command declined requests for interviews with several former task force members and with Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who leads the Joint Special Operations Command, the headquarters at Fort Bragg, N.C., that supplies the unit's most elite troops.

One Special Operations officer and a senior enlisted soldier identified by Defense Department personnel as former task force members at Camp Nama declined to comment when contacted by telephone. Attempts to contact three other Special Operations soldiers who were in the unit — by phone, through relatives and former neighbors — were also unsuccessful.

Cases of detainee abuse attributed to Task Force 6-26 demonstrate both confusion over and, in some cases, disregard for approved interrogation practices and standards for detainee treatment, according to Defense Department specialists who have worked with the unit.

In early 2004, an 18-year-old man suspected of selling cars to members of the Zarqawi terrorist network was seized with his entire family at their home in Baghdad. Task force soldiers beat him repeatedly with a rifle butt and punched him in the head and kidneys, said a Defense Department specialist briefed on the incident.

Some complaints were ignored or played down in a unit where a conspiracy of silence contributed to the overall secretiveness. "It's under control," one unit commander told a Defense Department official who complained about mistreatment at Camp Nama in the spring of 2004.

For hundreds of suspected insurgents, Camp Nama was a way station on a journey that started with their capture on the battlefield or in their homes, and ended often in a cell at Abu Ghraib. Hidden in plain sight just off a dusty road fronting Baghdad International Airport, Camp Nama was an unmarked, virtually unknown compound at the edge of the taxiways.

The heart of the camp was the Battlefield Interrogation Facility, alternately known as the Temporary Detention Facility and the Temporary Holding Facility. The interrogation and detention areas occupied a corner of the larger compound, separated by a fence topped with razor wire.

Unmarked helicopters flew detainees into the camp almost daily, former task force members said. Dressed in blue jumpsuits with taped goggles covering their eyes, the shackled prisoners were led into a screening room where they were registered and examined by medics.

Just beyond the screening rooms, where Saddam Hussein was given a medical exam after his capture, detainees were kept in as many as 85 cells spread over two buildings. Some detainees were kept in what was known as Motel 6, a group of crudely built plywood shacks that reeked of urine and excrement. The shacks were cramped, forcing many prisoners to squat or crouch. Other detainees were housed inside a separate building in 6-by-8-foot cubicles in a cellblock called Hotel California.

The interrogation rooms were stark. High-value detainees were questioned in the Black Room, nearly bare but for several 18-inch hooks that jutted from the ceiling, a grisly reminder of the terrors inflicted by Mr. Hussein's inquisitors. Jailers often blared rap music or rock 'n' roll at deafening decibels over a loudspeaker to unnerve their subjects.

Another smaller room offered basic comforts like carpets and cushioned seating to put more cooperative prisoners at ease, said several Defense Department specialists who worked at Camp Nama. Detainees wore heavy, olive-drab hoods outside their cells. By June 2004, the revelations of abuse at Abu Ghraib galvanized the military to promise better treatment for prisoners. In one small concession at Camp Nama, soldiers exchanged the hoods for cloth blindfolds with drop veils that allowed detainees to breathe more freely but prevented them from peeking out.

Some former task force members said the Nama in the camp's name stood for a coarse phrase that soldiers used to describe the compound. One Defense Department specialist recalled seeing pink blotches on detainees' clothing as well as red welts on their bodies, marks he learned later were inflicted by soldiers who used detainees as targets and called themselves the High Five Paintball Club.

Mr. McGraw, the military spokesman, said he had not heard of the Black Room or the paintball club and had not seen any mention of them in the documents he had reviewed.

In a nearby operations center, task force analysts pored over intelligence collected from spies, detainees and remotely piloted Predator surveillance aircraft, to piece together clues to aid soldiers on their raids. Twice daily at noon and midnight military interrogators and their supervisors met with officials from the C.I.A., F.B.I. and allied military units to review operations and new intelligence.

Task Force 6-26 was a creation of the Pentagon's post-Sept. 11 campaign against terrorism, and it quickly became the model for how the military would gain intelligence and battle insurgents in the future. Originally known as Task Force 121, it was formed in the summer of 2003, when the military merged two existing Special Operations units, one hunting Osama bin Laden in and around Afghanistan, and the other tracking Mr. Hussein in Iraq. (Its current name is Task Force 145.)

The task force was a melting pot of military and civilian units. It drew on elite troops from the Joint Special Operations Command, whose elements include the Army unit Delta Force, Navy's Seal Team 6 and the 75th Ranger Regiment. Military reservists and Defense Intelligence Agency personnel with special skills, like interrogators, were temporarily assigned to the unit. C.I.A. officers, F.B.I. agents and special operations forces from other countries also worked closely with the task force.

Many of the American Special Operations soldiers wore civilian clothes and were allowed to grow beards and long hair, setting them apart from their uniformed colleagues. Unlike conventional soldiers and marines whose Iraq tours lasted 7 to 12 months, unit members and their commanders typically rotated every 90 days.

Task Force 6-26 had a singular focus: capture or kill Mr. Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant operating in Iraq. "Anytime there was even the smell of Zarqawi nearby, they would go out and use any means possible to get information from a detainee," one official said.

Defense Department personnel briefed on the unit's operations said the harsh treatment extended beyond Camp Nama to small field outposts in Baghdad, Falluja, Balad, Ramadi and Kirkuk. These stations were often nestled within the alleys of a city in nondescript buildings with suburban-size yards where helicopters could land to drop off or pick up detainees.

At the outposts, some detainees were stripped naked and had cold water thrown on them to cause the sensation of drowning, said Defense Department personnel who served with the unit.

In January 2004, the task force captured the son of one of Mr. Hussein's bodyguards in Tikrit. The man told Army investigators that he was forced to strip and that he was punched in the spine until he fainted, put in front of an air-conditioner while cold water was poured on him and kicked in the stomach until he vomited. Army investigators were forced to close their inquiry in June 2005 after they said task force members used battlefield pseudonyms that made it impossible to identify and locate the soldiers involved. The unit also asserted that 70 percent of its computer files had been lost.

Despite the task force's access to a wide range of intelligence, its raids were often dry holes, yielding little if any intelligence and alienating ordinary Iraqis, Defense Department personnel said. Prisoners deemed no threat to American troops were often driven deep into the Iraqi desert at night and released, sometimes given $100 or more in American money for their trouble.

Back at Camp Nama, the task force leaders established a ritual for departing personnel who did a good job, Pentagon officials said. The commanders presented them with two unusual mementos: a detainee hood and a souvenir piece of tile from the medical screening room that once held Mr. Hussein.

Early Signs of Trouble

Accusations of abuse by Task Force 6-26 came as no surprise to many other officials in Iraq. By early 2004, both the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. had expressed alarm about the military's harsh interrogation techniques.

The C.I.A.'s Baghdad station sent a cable to headquarters on Aug. 3, 2003, raising concern that Special Operations troops who served with agency officers had used techniques that had become too aggressive. Five days later, the C.I.A. issued a classified directive that prohibited its officers from participating in harsh interrogations. Separately, the C.I.A. barred its officers from working at Camp Nama but allowed them to keep providing target information and other intelligence to the task force.

The warnings still echoed nearly a year later. On June 25, 2004, nearly two months after the disclosure of the abuses at Abu Ghraib, an F.B.I. agent in Iraq sent an e-mail message to his superiors in Washington, warning that a detainee captured by Task Force 6-26 had suspicious burn marks on his body. The detainee said he had been tortured. A month earlier, another F.B.I. agent asked top bureau officials for guidance on how to deal with military interrogators across Iraq who used techniques like loud music and yelling that exceeded "the bounds of standard F.B.I. practice."

American generals were also alerted to the problem. In December 2003, Col. Stuart A. Herrington, a retired Army intelligence officer, warned in a confidential memo that medical personnel reported that prisoners seized by the unit, then known as Task Force 121, had injuries consistent with beatings. "It seems clear that TF 121 needs to be reined in with respect to its treatment of detainees," Colonel Herrington concluded.

By May 2004, just as the scandal at Abu Ghraib was breaking, tensions increased at Camp Nama between the Special Operations troops and civilian interrogators and case officers from the D.I.A.'s Defense Human Intelligence Service, who were there to support the unit in its fight against the Zarqawi network. The discord, according to documents, centered on the harsh treatment of detainees as well as restrictions the Special Operations troops placed on their civilian colleagues, like monitoring their e-mail messages and phone calls.

Maj. Gen. George E. Ennis, who until recently commanded the D.I.A.'s human intelligence division, declined to be interviewed for this article. But in written responses to questions, General Ennis said he never heard about the numerous complaints made by D.I.A. personnel until he and his boss, Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, then the agency's director, were briefed on June 24, 2004.

The next day, Admiral Jacoby wrote a two-page memo to Mr. Cambone, under secretary of defense for intelligence. In it, he described a series of complaints, including a May 2004 incident in which a D.I.A. interrogator said he witnessed task force soldiers punch a detainee hard enough to require medical help. The D.I.A. officer took photos of the injuries, but a supervisor confiscated them, the memo said.

The tensions laid bare a clash of military cultures. Combat-hardened commandos seeking a steady flow of intelligence to pinpoint insurgents grew exasperated with civilian interrogators sent from Washington, many of whom were novices at interrogating hostile prisoners fresh off the battlefield.

"These guys wanted results, and our debriefers were used to a civil environment," said one Defense Department official who was briefed on the task force operations.

Within days after Admiral Jacoby sent his memo, the D.I.A. took the extraordinary step of temporarily withdrawing its personnel from Camp Nama.

Admiral Jacoby's memo also provoked an angry reaction from Mr. Cambone. "Get to the bottom of this immediately. This is not acceptable," Mr. Cambone said in a handwritten note on June 26, 2004, to his top deputy, Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin. "In particular, I want to know if this is part of a pattern of behavior by TF 6-26."

General Boykin said through a spokesman on March 17 that at the time he told Mr. Cambone he had found no pattern of misconduct with the task force.

A Shroud of Secrecy

Military and legal experts say the full breadth of abuses committed by Task Force 6-26 may never be known because of the secrecy surrounding the unit, and the likelihood that some allegations went unreported.

In the summer of 2004, Camp Nama closed and the unit moved to a new headquarters in Balad, 45 miles north of Baghdad. The unit's operations are now shrouded in even tighter secrecy.

Soon after their rank-and-file clashed in 2004, D.I.A. officials in Washington and military commanders at Fort Bragg agreed to improve how the task force integrated specialists into its ranks. The D.I.A. is now sending small teams of interrogators, debriefers and case officers, called "deployable Humint teams," to work with Special Operations forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Senior military commanders insist that the elite warriors, who will be relied on more than ever in the campaign against terrorism, are now treating detainees more humanely and can police themselves. The C.I.A. has resumed conducting debriefings with the task force, but does not permit harsh questioning, a C.I.A. official said.

General McChrystal, the leader of the Joint Special Operations Command, received his third star in a promotion ceremony at Fort Bragg on March 13.

On Dec. 8, 2004, the Pentagon's spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita, said that four Special Operations soldiers from the task force were punished for "excessive use of force" and administering electric shocks to detainees with stun guns. Two of the soldiers were removed from the unit. To that point, Mr. Di Rita said, 10 task force members had been disciplined. Since then, according to the new figures provided to The Times, the number of those disciplined for detainee abuse has more than tripled. Nine of the 34 troops disciplined received written or oral counseling. Others were reprimanded for slapping detainees and other offenses.

The five Army Rangers who were court-martialed in December received punishments including jail time of 30 days to six months and reduction in rank. Two of them will receive bad-conduct discharges upon completion of their sentences.

Human rights advocates and leading members of Congress say the Pentagon must still do more to hold senior-level commanders and civilian officials accountable for the misconduct.

The Justice Department inspector general is investigating complaints of detainee abuse by Task Force 6-26, a senior law enforcement official said. The only wide-ranging military inquiry into prisoner abuse by Special Operations forces was completed nearly a year ago by Brig. Gen. Richard P. Formica, and was sent to Congress.

But the United States Central Command has refused repeated requests from The Times over the past several months to provide an unclassified copy of General Formica's findings despite Mr. Rumsfeld's instructions that such a version of all 12 major reports into detainee abuse be made public.

E-mail: sfburo@nytimes.com.

Tales of Torture, Horror From Prisoners at Gitmo
Mar 21, 2006, 05:18

America risks convicting the innocent and letting the guilty evade justice in how it handles detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the military attorney defending an Australian terror suspect held at the U.S. prison camp said Monday.

Maj. Michael Mori, a Marine Corps lawyer, told an audience at George Washington University that no civilized justice system would accept "information being acquired potentially under torture or questionable methods."

Mori spoke after several former detainees recounted their experiences at the camp, which holds roughly 500 prisoners. Most were taken in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Mori's client, David Hicks, was caught in December 2001, allegedly while fighting alongside Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime. He has pleaded innocent to charges that include attempted murder and aiding the enemy.

"When you use an imbalanced system," Mori said, "all you do is risk convicting the innocent and providing someone who may be truly guilty with a valid complaint to challenge their conviction."

He added: "There are no rules. They change every day."

Only a handful of Guantanamo prisoners have been charged. Others have been released, usually to their home countries.

Tarek Dergoul, who spent two years imprisoned at Guantanamo, said he was forced to watch as Americans stepped on a Quran, wrote slurs on its pages and then threw the holy book into a toilet. He said by video link from London that his beard was shaved and his eyes sprayed with pepper spray.

"Guantanamo was a shambles," Dergoul said. "It is creating, as they say, terrorists. ... It's doing no justice for America; there's no information being extracted."

The U.S. government has denied some previous reports of abuse of the Quran, specifically a Newsweek magazine report that a copy was flushed down a toilet. Newsweek later retracted the report, which sparked riots that left dozens of people dead.

Shafiq Rasul, who spent more than two years at Guantanamo, said he was forced to admit to appearing on a video with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. Rasul said he had been working in England when the video was made.

Interrogators, he said, isolated him for the better part of three months, his legs shackled while they blasted loud music into his cell until he confessed.

"I was going crazy," Rasul said. "My mind-set was, 'I have to get out of isolation because I can't hack it no more.'"

Attorney Joshua Colangelo-Bryan spoke of attempting to win more freedoms for a client held in isolation who had tried several times to kill himself.

The U.S. military, he said, argued in part that the prisoner was not isolated because he had been interrogated 29 times over two years.

"Is there another case anywhere in the history of Anglo-American jurisprudence where it was argued that a person is not isolated, and in fact has meaningful interaction with other human beings, because he is interrogated?" Colangelo-Bryan asked.

© 2006 The Associated Press

Iraqi Police Report Details Civilians' Deaths At Hands Of U.S. Troops
By Matthew Schofield
Knight Ridder Newspapers

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqi police have accused American troops of executing 11 people, including a 75-year-old woman and a 6-month-old infant, in the aftermath of a raid last Wednesday on a house about 60 miles north of Baghdad.

The villagers were killed after American troops herded them into a single room of the house, according to a police document obtained by Knight Ridder Newspapers. The soldiers also burned three vehicles, killed the villagers' animals and blew up the house, the document said.

A U.S. military spokesman, Major Tim Keefe, said that the U.S. military has no information to support the allegations and that he had not heard of them before a reporter brought them to his attention Sunday.

"We're concerned to hear accusations like that, but it's also highly unlikely that they're true," he said. He added that U.S. forces "take every precaution to keep civilians out of harms' way. The loss of innocent life, especially children, is regrettable."

Accusations that U.S. troops have killed civilians are commonplace in Iraq, though most are judged later to be unfounded or exaggerated. Navy investigators announced last week that they were looking into whether Marines intentionally killed 15 Iraqi civilians - four of them women and five of them children - during fighting last November.

But the report of the killings in the Abu Sifa area of Ishaqi, eight miles north of the city of Balad, is unusual because it originated with Iraqi police and because Iraqi police were willing to attach their names to it.

The report, which also contained brief descriptions of other events in the area, was compiled by the Joint Coordination Center in Tikrit, a regional security center set up with United States military assistance. An Iraqi police colonel signed the report, which was based on communications from local police.

Brig. Gen. Issa al-Juboori, who heads the center, said that his office assembled the report on Thursday and that it accurately reflects the direction of the current police investigation into the incident.

He also said he knows the officer heading the investigation. "He's a dedicated policeman, and a good cop," he said when reached by phone in Tikrit from Baghdad. "I trust him."

The case involves a U.S. raid conducted, according to the official U.S. account, in response to a tip that a member of al-Qaida in Iraq was at the house.

Neighbors, interviewed by a special correspondent for Knight Ridder, agreed that the al-Qaida member was at the house. They said he was visiting the home's owner, a relative. The neighbors said the homeowner was a schoolteacher.

According to police, military and eyewitness accounts, U.S. forces approached the house at around 2:30 a.m. and a firefight ensued. By all accounts, in addition to exchanging gunfire with someone inside the house, U.S. troops were supported by helicopter gunships, which fired on the house.

But the accounts differ on what took place after the firefight.

According to the U.S. account, the house collapsed because of the heavy fire. When U.S. forces searched the rubble they found one man, the al-Qaida suspect, alive. He was arrested. They also found a dead man they believed to be connected to al-Qaida, two dead women and a dead child.

But the report filed by the Joint Coordination Center, which was based on a report filed by local police, said U.S. forces entered the house while it was still standing.

"The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 persons, including five children, four women and two men," the report said. "Then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles and killed their animals."

The report identified the dead by name, giving their ages. The two men killed were 22 and 28. Of the women, one was 22, another was 23, a third was 30 and the fourth was 75. Two of the children were 5 years old, two were 3, and the fifth was 6 months old, the document said.

The report was signed by Col. Fadhil Muhammed Khalaf, who was described in the document as the assistant chief of the Joint Coordination Center.

A local police commander, Lt. Col. Farooq Hussain, interviewed by a Knight Ridder special correspondent in Ishaqi, said autopsies at the hospital in Tikrit "revealed that all the victims had bullet shots in the head and all bodies were handcuffed." Efforts to reach hospital spokesmen Sunday were unsuccessful.

Keefe, the U.S. military spokesman, said that he had seen photographs of the victims and had not seen handcuffs, which caused him to doubt the validity of the report.

He said, however, that he has no reason to doubt the body count provided by local police.

"We conducted a preliminary investigation," he said. "They were the investigating officers on the ground."

Keefe said that he didn't know which U.S. unit conducted the raid. An official account of the raid provided Sunday by the military also did not mention the unit involved by name.

Ibraheem Hirat Khalaf, whose brother Faiz owned the house and was among the dead, said he watched and heard the assault from his home 100 yards away. He said that U.S. troops used six missiles from helicopters to destroy the house as they were leaving.

Abu Hijran, 38, and a neighbor, said those in the house were liked and respected, though the wanted al-Qaida member was not as well known.

Rasheed Thair, an employee of Ishaqi, said that the town was in a state of shock over the killings.

"Everyone attended the funeral," he said. "We want the Americans to give an explanation for this horrible crime which took the smile and the dream of a spring night from 11 people, and destroyed even the simple toys of children."

Three Knight Ridder Newspapers special correspondents contributed to this report. Their identities are being withheld for security reasons.


This is a translation of the Iraqi police report obtained by Knight Ridder, including accounts of events not related to the Ishaqi raid.

In the name of God, the most merciful

This is the morning and afternoon events of 15/3/2006

1. Interior Ministry Operations:

All forces belonging to the Interior Ministry will go on 100 percent alert status starting Wednesday 15/3/2006 until 1000 hours Friday 17/3/2006.

2. Coordination Center of Beji

At 810 gunmen in a white vehicle, duck type (a reference to the local name for a Toyota model) kidnapped the child Mohamed (Badei Khaled) from Samaha school in Beji (map coordinates 617667).

3. Coordination Center of Dujail

At 730 a benzene truck burned near Gassem al Queisy fuel station after one of its tires caught fire. The incident burned the driver (Hamed Abdalilah) and he was transported to the hospital (map coordinates 263519).

4. Coordination Center of Balad

At 230 of 15/3/2006, according to the telegram (report) of the Ishaqi police directorate, American forces used helicopters to drop troops on the house of Faiz Harat Khalaf situated in the Abu Sifa village of the Ishaqi district. The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 people, including 5 children, 4 women and 2 men, then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles and killed their animals (map coordinates 098702).

They were:
Turkiya Muhammed Ali, 75 years
Faiza Harat Khalaf, 30 years
Faiz Harat Khalaf, 28 years
Um Ahmad, 23 years
Sumaya Abdulrazak, 22 years
Aziz Khalil Jarmoot, 22 years
Hawra Harat Khalaf, 5 years
Asma Yousef Maruf, 5 years
Osama Yousef Maruf, 3 years
Aisha Harat Khalaf, 3 years
Husam Harat Khalaf, 6 months
Staff Colonel
Fadhil Muhammed Khalaf
Assistant Chief of the Joint Coordination Center


Three Knight Ridder special correspondents contributed to this report. Their identities are being withheld for security reasons.

Tomgram: Dahr Jamail Follows the Trail of Torture

The other day on Jerry Agar's radio show, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld responded to accusations about American atrocities at our prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He accused the detainees there of manipulating public opinion by lying about their treatment. He said, in part:

"They're taught to lie, they're taught to allege that they have been tortured, and that's part of the [terrorist] training that they received. We know that torture is not occurring there. We know that for a fact… The reality is that the terrorists have media committees. They are getting very clever at manipulating the media in the United States and in the capitals of the world. They know for a fact they can't win a single battle on the battlefields in the Middle East. They know the only place they can win a battle is in the capitol in Washington, D.C. by having the United States lose its will, so they consciously manipulate the media here to achieve their ends, and they're very good at it."

Statements like this have been commonplaces from an administration whose President repeatedly insists it doesn't do "torture," while its assembled lawyers do their best to redefine torture out of existence. Here's how, for instance, our Vice President has described the lives of detainees at Guantanamo Bay: "They're living in the tropics… They're well fed. They've got everything they could possibly want. There isn't any other nation in the world that would treat people who were determined to kill Americans the way we're treating these people."

As a matter of fact, the record of detainee abuse, humiliation, and torture at Guantanamo and elsewhere is by now overwhelming -- and it's been laid out by a remarkably wide-ranging set of sources. In June 2005, for example, Time Magazine released excerpts from official interrogation logs on just one Guantanamo prisoner, Mohammad al-Qahtani, reputedly the 20th September 11th hijacker who never made it into the U.S. This stunning record of mistreatment over time so threatened the detainee's health that it should certainly have qualified as torture under this administration's definition ("must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death") in its famed "torture memo" of 2002.

Or let's remember how two years' worth of blistering memos and e-mails by disgusted FBI agents stationed at Guantanamo Bay (obtained and released by the American Civil Liberties Union) laid out styles of detainee mistreatment that should have staggered someone's imagination:

"'On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water,' the FBI agent wrote on Aug. 2, 2004. ‘Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18 to 24 hours or more.' In one case, the agent continued, ‘the detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night.'"

Just in the last week, the administration that doesn't do torture found itself in court fighting hard for a torture exemption from the McCain anti-torture amendment, thanks to extreme force-feeding methods being used on a prisoner on a Guantanamo hunger strike. According to Josh White and Carol D. Leonnig of the Washington Post, "Bush administration lawyers, fighting a claim of torture by a Guantanamo Bay detainee, yesterday argued that the new law that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody does not apply to people held at the military prison. In federal court yesterday and in legal filings, Justice Department lawyers contended that a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, cannot use legislation drafted by Sen. John McCain... to challenge treatment that the detainee's lawyers described as ‘systematic torture.'"

In the meantime, U.S. military officers, "breaking with domestic and international legal precedent," refused to rule out the admission of evidence obtained by torture at the military trials the Pentagon is now running at Guantanamo.

The week before, Jane Mayer wrote a thoroughly depressing New Yorker piece, "Annals of the Pentagon," about former U.S. Navy General Counsel Alberto J. Mora, a conservative military man who just happened to believe in the law. Hers was a gripping tale of Mora's losing battle to stop Donald Rumsfeld and his followers from circumventing the Geneva Conventions and instituting a "gloves-off" policy of torture and abuse at Guantanamo. Tim Golden and Eric Schmitt of the New York Times produced a front-page story that same week (Growing Afghan Prison Rivals Bleak Guantanamo), pointing out something well covered by the British Guardian almost a year ago: We now have a second Guantanamo on our hands, a prison at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan that may indeed make Guantanamo look like the "tropics." There, 500 or so detainees, beyond all law or oversight, have been kept under barbaric conditions, in some cases for two to three years.

The week before that, the latest Abu Ghraib photos were released, even grimmer than the previous batch -- a huge story around the world -- to largely "been there, done that" coverage in the United States. Each day, it seems, more and worse pours out, largely to no obvious effect here. It is in this context that Dahr Jamail, who began hearing of American torture practices while covering the war in Iraq in 2003 as an independent journalist, looks back on the last several years and considers the nature of our torture regime. Tom

Tracing the Trail of Torture

Embedding Torture as Policy from Guantanamo to Iraq
By Dahr Jamail

They told him, "We are going to cut your head off and send you to hell."

Ali Abbas, a former detainee from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, was filling me in on the horrors he endured at the hands of American soldiers, contractors, and CIA operatives while inside the infamous prison.

It was May of 2004 when I documented his testimony in my hotel in Baghdad. "We will take you to Guantanamo," he said one female soldier told him after he was detained by U.S. forces on September 13, 2003. "Our aim is to put you in hell so you'll tell the truth. These are our orders -- to turn your life into hell." And they did. He was tortured in Abu Ghraib less than half a year after the occupation of Iraq began.

While the publication of the first Abu Ghraib photos in April 2004 opened the floodgates for former Iraqi detainees to speak out about their treatment at the hands of occupation forces, this wasn't the first I'd heard of torture in Iraq. A case I'd documented even before then was that of 57 year-old Sadiq Zoman. He was held for one month by U.S. forces before being dropped off in a coma at the general hospital in Tikrit. The medical report that came with his comatose body, written by U.S. Army medic Lt. Col. Michael Hodges, listed the reasons for Zoman's state as heat stroke and heart attack. That medical report, however, failed to mention anything about the physical trauma evident on Zomans' body --- the electrical point burns on the soles of his feet and on his genitals, the fact that the back of his head had been bashed in with a blunt instrument, or the lash marks up and down his body.

Such tales -- and they were rife in Baghdad before the news of Abu Ghraib reached the world -- were just the tip of the iceberg; and stories of torture similar to those I heard from Iraqi detainees during my very first trip to Iraq, back in November 2003, are still being told, because such treatment is ongoing.

Institutionalizing Torture: Abu Ghraib

While President Bush has regularly claimed -- as with reporters in Panama last November -- that "we do not torture," Janis Karpinski, the U.S. Brigadier General whose 800th Military Police Brigade was in charge of 17 prison facilities in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib back in 2003, begs to differ. She knows that we do torture and she believes that the President himself is most likely implicated in the decision to embed torture in basic war-on-terror policy.

While testifying this January 21 in New York City at the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration, Karpinski told us: "General [Ricardo] Sanchez [commander of coalition ground forces in Iraq] himself signed the eight-page memorandum authorizing literally a laundry list of harsher techniques in interrogations to include specific use of dogs and muzzled dogs with his specific permission."

All this, as she reminded us, came after Major General Geoffrey Miller, who had been "specifically selected by the Secretary of Defense to go to Guantanamo Bay and run the interrogations operation," was dispatched to Iraq by the Bush administration to "work with the military intelligence personnel to teach them new and improved interrogation techniques."

Karpinski met Miller on his tour of American prison facilities in Iraq in the fall of 2003. Miller, as she related in her testimony, told her, "It is my opinion that you are treating the prisoners too well. At Guantanamo Bay, the prisoners know that we are in charge and they know that from the very beginning. You have to treat the prisoners like dogs. And if they think or feel any differently you have effectively lost control of the interrogation."

Miller went on to tell Karpinksi in reference to Abu Ghraib, "We're going to Gitmo-ize the operation."

When she later asked for an explanation, Karpinski was told that the military police guarding the prisons were following the orders in a memorandum approving "harsher interrogation techniques," and, according to Karpinski, "signed by the Secretary of Defense, Don Rumsfeld."

That one-page memorandum "authorized sleep deprivation, stress positions, meal disruption --serving their meals late, not serving a meal. Leaving the lights on all night while playing loud music, issuing insults or criticism of their religion, their culture, their beliefs." In the left-hand margin, alongside the list of interrogation techniques to be applied, Rumsfeld had personally written, "Make sure this happens!!" Karpinski emphasized the fact that Rumsfeld had used two exclamation points.

When asked how far up the chain of command responsibility for the torture orders for Abu Ghraib went, Karpinski said, "The Secretary of Defense would not have authorized without the approval of the Vice President."

Karpinski does not believe that the many investigations into Abu Ghraib have gotten to the truth about who is responsible for the torture and abuse because "they have all been directed and kept under the control of the Department of Defense. Secretary Rumsfeld was directing the course of each one of those separate investigations. There was no impartiality whatsoever."

Does she believe the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib has stopped?

"I have no reason to believe that it has. I believe that cameras are no longer allowed anywhere near a cellblock. But why should I believe it's stopped? We still have the captain from the 82nd airborne division [who] returned and had a diary, a log of when he was instructed, what he was instructed, where he was instructed, and who instructed him. To go out and treat the prisoners harshly, to set them up for effective interrogation, and that was recently as May of 2005."

Karpinski was referring to Captain Ian Fishback, one of three American soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division at Forward Operating Base Mercury near Fallujah who personally witnessed the torture of Iraqi prisoners and came forward to give testimony to human rights organizations about the crimes committed.

Karpinski, who was made the scapegoat for the atrocities which occurred at Abu Ghraib, went public as a whistle-blower, and retired with a demotion in rank after serving a quarter of a century in the Army. General Sanchez, on the other hand, was transferred to Germany where he is continuing his tenure as commander of the V Corps. However, he was reportedly relieved of his role and not promoted to a fourth star due to the fact that the Abu Ghraib scandal first broke during his watch.

But Abu Ghraib was -- and remains -- only a symptom of a much deeper problem.

The Guantanamo Treatment

"Since the start of the war on terror, the intelligence community, led by the CIA, has revived the use of torture, making it Washington's weapon of choice," writes Alfred McCoy in his new book, A Question of Torture.

When the infamous Abu Ghraib photo of the prisoner on a box draped in black, head covered with a sack, arms outstretched with electrical wires attached to his fingers, was made public, it had a deeper resonance for McCoy than simply documenting a war crime of the present moment.

"In that photograph you can see the entire 50-year history of CIA torture," McCoy told Amy Goodman in a Democracy Now! interview. "It's very simple. He's hooded for sensory disorientation, and his arms are extended for self-inflicted pain. And those are the two very simple fundamental techniques" that, as his book makes vividly clear, the CIA pioneered in breakthrough research on torture, funded to the tune of billions of dollars in the 1950s. In his book, he adds: "The photographs from Iraq illustrate standard interrogation practice inside the global gulag of secret CIA prisons that have operated, on executive authority, since the start of the war on terror."

Rather than placing blame merely on the handful of guards in Abu Ghraib who were reprimanded (and in a few cases jailed) for their crimes against humanity, McCoy believes that they -- and the interrogators there -- were simply "following orders" and, like Karpinski, considers that "responsibility for their actions lies higher, much higher, up the chain of command."

When I interviewed Ali Abbas in Iraq, his descriptions from Abu Ghraib bore a remarkable similarity to those given by detainees released from the American prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and from the little noticed American mini-gulag in Afghanistan.

"They shit on us, used dogs against us, used electricity and starved us," he told me. "They cut my hair into strips like an Indian. They shaved my mustache, put a plate in my hand, and made me go beg from the prisoners, as if I was a beggar."

Lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York in a statement on the detention experiences of three men they represent who were held in both Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay reveal, for example, similarly over-the-top treatment. And such treatment long preceded anything recorded at Abu Ghraib. Starvation rations were common and, in Sherbegan Prison in Afghanistan in December, 2001, one of the detainees, Shafiq Rasul, described the situation as follows: "We all had body and hair lice. We got dysentery and the toilets were disgusting. It was just a hole in the ground with shit everywhere. The whole prison stank of shit and unwashed bodies."

He would not be allowed to wash for at least six weeks. He would be transferred to a U.S. base in Kandahar and endure a "forced cavity search" while he was hooded, then go on to suffer countless beatings. When he was later transferred to Guantanamo Bay, he would witness the "Guantanamo haircut" where men would either have their heads shaved completely or have a cross shaved into their head in order to insult their faith. Denial of medical care and long stays in solitary confinement, along with sleep deprivation tactics, were the norm.

Other forms of treatment included:

* Gratuitous violence: Prisoners would be punched, kicked, and slammed to the ground.

* Exposure to the elements: Prisoners were locked in cage-like structures located in hangers with no heating.

* Denial of nourishment.

* Denial of religious rights including purposeful desecration of the Quran.

* The use of dogs to threaten prisoners.

And keep in mind, this was the norm. The extreme we know from the recorded deaths of at least 98 prisoners in American hands in these years.

Outsourcing Torture

Extraordinary renditions -- the kidnapping of terror suspects and their transport to countries willing to torture them for the Bush administration -- have been the rage (for the CIA) in Europe in recent years and have enraged European publics. But far less is often known about what happens to those kidnappees on the other end of the process. Craig Murray, however, knows more than most of us. He was the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004, a time when that country's strong man, Islam Karimov, was described by Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Donald Rumsfeld as an "important ally" of George Bush in his war on terror. Murray was dismissed by the British government in October 2004 when he made public his findings on extraordinary renditions to Uzbekistan and the torture by Uzbek security personnel of those rendered into their hands by the CIA.

Murray describes Karimov as having longstanding ties with Bush. These seem to have begun in 1997 when Bush was still governor of Texas. He then met with Uzbek Ambassador Sadyk Safaev, a meeting (for which there is documented evidence) organized by Ken Lay, CEO of Enron, in order to enlist the governor in brokering a two billion-dollar gas deal between the corporation and that oil-rich country. Karimov, says Murray, "was a guest in the White House in 2002. It's very easy to find photos of George Bush shaking Karimov's hand." Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was, he added, "particularly chummy with Karimov" back then and, at the time, the administration was making use of the Karshi-Khanabad air base, also known as K2, in that country.

Murray is not alone in considering Karimov one of the most vicious dictators on the planet, a man personally responsible for the death of thousands. The ambassador helped uncover evidence of one detainee who "had had his fingernails extracted, he had been severely beaten, particularly about the face, and he died of immersion in boiling liquid. And it was immersion, rather than splashing, because there is a clear tide mark around the upper torso and arms, which gives you some idea of the level of brutality of this regime."

While not certain that detainees who had been rendered were boiled alive, about extraordinary rendition Murray said, "There is no doubt that George Bush and Condoleezza Rice have been lying through their teeth about extraordinary rendition for some time." As he put it, "The United States, as a matter of policy, is willing to accept intelligence got by torture by foreign agencies. I can give direct firsthand evidence of that and back it up with documents."

When asked why he decided to go public with his information, Murray replied, "I think it's just what any decent person would do. I mean, when you come across people being boiled and their fingernails pulled out or having their children raped in front of them, you just can't go along with it and sleep at night."

The U.S. vacated the K2 base as the result of political fallout from the massacre of over 600 demonstrators by Karimov's security forces in May 2005. Karimov has since moved back under Russian protection.

Nevertheless, Murray is convinced that the U.S. continues to rendition people to other grim and willing regimes around the globe to be tortured.

In addition to the degradation and inhumanity involved in torture, which afflicts those meting it out as well as those on the receiving end, both intelligence officials and law enforcement personnel believe that information obtained by torture is almost invariably useless. In addition, torture policies, seldom kept secret for long, invariably produce outrage and opposition on a large scale.

Here, for instance, is a typical response a rebel in Fallujah offered a colleague of mine in Iraq in January 2005:

"We are fighting in Fallujah first because we are defending our religion. Because they desecrate our Holy Quran. They put the Quran in the sewage. They rape our women. They rape them in Abu Ghraib. The raiding, the burning, the detentions, the evictions, the killing it is continuous, everyday and night. These are the reasons we resist the Americans."

"George Bush is the law"

Testimony from Afghan prisons and Guantanamo, the photos and video from Abu Ghraib, evidence of extraordinary renditions to the far corners of the planet -- all of this doesn't even encompass the full reach of Bush administration torture policies or the degree to which they have been set in motion at the highest levels of the American government. But what simply can't be clearer is this: horrific methods of torture have been used regularly against detainees in U.S. custody in countries around the globe, while an American President, Vice President and Secretary of Defense, among others, openly advocated policies that, until recently, would have been considered torture in any democratic country. In the meantime, the Bush Administration has twisted the law just enough to allow authorities to potentially pick up more or less anyone they desire at any time they want to be held wherever the government decides for as long as its officials desire with no access to lawyer or trial -- and now, for the first time, the possibility has arisen, at least in the military trials in Guantanamo, that testimony obtained by torture will be admissible.

All of this can also be seen as part of a desperate attempt by a failing superpower to ratchet up the use of force in the service of subjugation, as has happened time and time again in the past.

In A Question of Torture, McCoy quotes one CIA analyst, whose expertise was in the now long-departed Soviet Empire, this way: "When feelings of insecurity develop within those holding power, they become increasingly suspicious and put great pressures upon the secret police to obtain arrests and confessions. At such times police officials are inclined to condone anything which produces a speedy ‘confession,' and brutality may become widespread."

Testifying at the same commission of inquiry as Karpinski, Michael Ratner, once head of the National Lawyers' Guild, now president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and an expert on international human rights law, caught the essence of our present situation:

"Let there be no doubt this administration is engaged in massive violations of the law. Torture is an international crime. What [George Bush] has done is basically lay the plan for what has to be called a coup-d'état in America. [His Presidential Signing Statement attached to the McCain anti-torture amendment] makes three points… First, speaking as the President, my authority as commander in chief allows me to do whatever I think is necessary in the war on terror including use torture. Second, the Commander in Chief cannot be checked by Congress. Third, the Commander in Chief cannot be checked by the courts. In other words… George Bush is the law."

Torture is usually defined as "infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion," or as "excruciating physical or mental pain, agony." No civilized society can accept laws which justify the use of torture. So it's not surprising that Ali Abbas was astonished to discover Americans willing to inflict such humiliating and inhumane treatment on him while he was in their custody in Abu Ghraib. "They cannot be human beings and do these things," was the way he put it. He concluded: "This, what happened to me, could happen to anybody in Iraq."

Unfortunately, what happened to him can now conceivably happen to anyone, anywhere in the world, according to George Bush.

One of the last things Abbas said as our interview ended was: "Saddam Hussein was a cruel enemy to us. Once I made it to Abu Ghraib though, I wished I had been killed by him rather than being alive with the Americans. Even now, after this journey of torture and suffering, what else can I think?"

Dahr Jamail is an independent journalist who spent over 8 months reporting from occupied Iraq. He presented evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq at the International Commission of Inquiry on Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York City this January. He writes regularly for Inter Press Service, Truthout.org, Asia Times, TomDispatch, and maintains his own website dahrjamailiraq.com.

Copyright 2006 Dahr Jamail

Voices Baffled, Brash and Irate in Guantánamo

Article was reported by Margot Williams, Tim Golden and Raymond Bonner.
Written by Tim Golden.

Among the hundreds of men imprisoned by the American military at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, there are those who brashly assert their determination to wage war against what they see as the infidel empire led by the United States.

"May God help me fight the unfaithful ones," one Saudi detainee, Ghassan Abdallah Ghazi al-Shirbi, said at a military hearing where he was accused of being a lieutenant of Al Qaeda.

But there are many more, it seems, who sound like Abdur Sayed Rahman, a self-described Pakistani villager who says he was arrested at his modest home in January 2002, flown off to Afghanistan and later accused of being the deputy foreign minister of that country's deposed Taliban regime.

"I am only a chicken farmer in Pakistan," he protested to American military officers at Guantánamo. "My name is Abdur Sayed Rahman. Abdur Zahid Rahman was the deputy foreign minister of the Taliban."

Mr. Rahman's pleadings are among more than 5,000 pages of documents released by the Defense Department on Friday night in response to a lawsuit brought under the Freedom of Information Act by The Associated Press.

After more than four years in which the Pentagon refused to make public even the names of those held at Guantánamo, the documents provide the most detailed information to date about who the detainees say they are and the evidence against them.

According to their own accounts, the prisoners range from poor Afghan farmers and low-level Arab holy warriors to a Sudanese drug dealer, the son of a former Saudi Army general and a British resident with an Iraqi passport who was arrested in Gambia.

One 26-year-old Saudi, Muhammed al-Utaybi, said he was studying art when he decided to travel to Pakistan to train with the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. He was not much of a militant himself, he suggested, saying the training "was just like summer vacation."

The documents — hearing transcripts and evidentiary statements from the two types of military panels that evaluate whether the detainees should remain at Guantánamo — are far from a complete portrait of those in custody there.

They do not include the classified evidence that is generally part of the review panels' deliberations, nor their final verdicts on whether or not to recommend the detainees' release. Of the about 760 men who have been held at Guantánamo, the documents cover fewer than half.

But a reading of the voluminous files adds texture to the accusations that the men face and the way they have tried to respond to them. It also underscores the considerable difficulties that both the military and the detainees appear to have had in wrestling with the often thin or conflicting evidence involved.

At one review hearing last year, an Afghan referred to by the single name Muhibullah denied accusations that he was either the former Taliban governor of Shibarghan Province or had worked for the governor. The solution to his case should have been simple, Mr. Muhibullah suggested to the three American officers reviewing his case: They should contact the Shibarghan governor and ask him.

But the presiding Marine Corps colonel said it was really up to the detainee to try to contact the governor. Assuming that the annual review board denied his petition for freedom, noted the officer, whose name was censored from the document, Mr. Muhibullah would have a year to do so.

"How do I find the governor of Shibarghan or anybody?" the detainee asked.

"Write to them," the presiding officer responded. "We know that it is difficult but you need to do your best."

"I appreciate your suggestion, but it is not that easy," Mr. Muhibullah said.

Bush administration officials and military leaders have often justified the extraordinary conditions under which detainees are held at Guantánamo by insisting that the detainees are hardened terrorists. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld famously described the Guantánamo detainees as "the worst of the worst."

And while many administration officials have privately backed away from such claims, they argue that most of the 490 detainees still being held would pose a significant threat to the United States if released. Pentagon spokesmen have generally dismissed the detainees' protestations of innocence as the predictable lies of well-trained militants.

Accusations and Replies

The hearing transcripts are from review panels known as Combatant Status Review Tribunals, where three military officers weigh whether a detainee is properly classified as an "enemy combatant." Few of them have made the process as easy as Ghassan Abdallah Ghazi al-Shirbi.

"Honestly," he said, "I did not come here to defend myself, but defend the Islamic nation; this is my duty, and I have to do it."

Among the accusations against Mr. Shirbi recounted in the hearing transcript were that he trained with Al Qaeda, was "observed chatting and laughing like pals with Osama bin Laden," and was known as the "right-hand man" to Abu Zubaydah, a top Qaeda operative. Mr. Shirbi said he was willing to accept all of those accusations.

He then told the hearing officers, "I found the accusations against you to be many."

With that, Mr. Shirbi unleashed a tirade against capitalism, America, homosexuality, Israel, support for Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran, and the more recent war against Iraq.

"Your status as enemy combatants does not need a court," he told the officers.

As for his own classification of enemy combatant, Mr. Shirbi was blunt: "It is my honor to have this classification in this world until the end, until eternity, God be my witness."

In other cases, the incriminating evidence has generally been less clear-cut.

Another Saudi, Mazin Salih Musaid al-Awfi, was one of at least half a dozen men against whom the "relevant data" considered by the annual review boards included the possession at the time of his capture of a Casio model F-91W watch. According to evidentiary summaries in those cases, such watches have "been used in bombings linked to Al Qaeda."

"I am a bit surprised at this piece of evidence," Mr. Awfi said. "If that is a crime, why doesn't the United States arrest and sentence all the shops and people who own them?"

Another detainee whose evidence sheet also included a Casio F-91W, Abdullah Kamal, was an electrical engineer from Kuwait who once played on his country's national volleyball team. He was also accused of being a leader of a Kuwaiti militant group that collected money for Mr. bin Laden.

As for the Casio allegation, Mr. Kamal said the watch was a common one in Kuwait and had a compass that could be used to find the direction of Mecca for his prayers. "We have four chaplains" at Guantánamo, he said. "All of them wear this watch."

While many of the detainees are citizens of Afghanistan or were captured there during and after the Taliban's overthrow, the documents also make clear the long reach of the American campaign against terror.

One unidentified Pakistani detainee was seized as he tried to cross into the United States from Mexico. He said he had paid an immigrant smuggler $16,000 to $18,000 to take him to Guatemala and then north; his smuggler was known to the American authorities for having ties to Arab militant groups, documents from his case show.

Another Pakistani, Saifullah Paracha, was arrested in Thailand in July 2003. Mr. Paracha, a wealthy real estate developer who said he attended the New York Institute of Technology, was accused of making investments for Qaeda members, plotting to smuggle explosives into the United States and urging the use of nuclear weapons against American soldiers. He acknowledged having met Mr. bin Laden twice, but denied the other allegations.

An unidentified 34-year-old Mauritanian who appears to be Mohamedou Ould Slahi, the onetime imam of a mosque in Montreal who was linked in Germany to two of the Sept. 11 hijackers, told of being "kidnapped" after he turned himself in to the Mauritanian authorities and of being taken to Jordan for eight months while "they tried to squeeze information out of me." He said he was flown from Jordan to Afghanistan, and then on to Guantánamo.

Yet for all the gravity of the global fight against terrorism, the give-and-take at the Guantánamo hearings is sometimes reminiscent of a local arraignment court.

Consider the exchange over a Belgian detainee, captured in Afghanistan. One allegation, read in court, was that he was a member of the Theological Commission of the GICM.

"What is GICM?" asked the detainee, who was not identified.

The tribunal president asked a clerk, "Could you explain what GICM is? I have the same question."

The clerk said he was not sure, either. Another accusation was read: that GICM is associated with Al Qaeda. The detainee answered again, "I don't know this group."

The tribunal president announced a short break so the clerk could "find out, for everyone's benefit, What GICM stands for." When the tribunal reconvened, the clerk announced that GICM stood for Groupe Islamiste Combatant du Maroc, or the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group.

To which the detainee responded, "I never before heard of all this."

Defining the Details

The files are replete with retractions. Detainees who had confessed to having ties to Al Qaeda or the Taliban or terrorism frequently told the tribunals that they had only made those admissions to stop beatings or torture by their captors.

"The only reason for my original statements is because I was tortured when I was captured," said a former mechanical engineering student from Saudi Arabia who was accused of training at a Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. "In Kabul, an Afghan interrogator beat me and told me they would kill me if I didn't talk. They shot and killed someone in front of me and said they would do the same if I didn't cooperate."

Another common defense of the detainees, particularly those captured in Afghanistan or Pakistan, is that they were turned over to American forces in exchange for some kind of bounty, or that they were arrested when they refused to or could not pay bribes to the local authorities.

"The Pakistanis are making business out of this war," said a detainee from Tajikistan who was arrested in Pakistan in November 2001. "The detainees are not being captured by U.S. forces, but are being sold by the Pakistan government. They are making 2, 3, or $10,000 to sell detainees to the U.S."

As the Pentagon has defined the term enemy combatant for purposes of the tribunals, it includes anyone "who was part of or supporting the Taliban or Al Qaeda forces, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners."

But many of the detainees protested in their hearings that such a wide net was catching many who were not real enemies of the United States.

One 29-year-old Saudi acknowledged having fought with jihadist groups in the Philippines and Afghanistan, saying he had been a "zealous" younger man. But he also said that he had a brother and a cousin who had both married Americans, and he had a complex set of views on the United States.

"I'm an educated guy and I understand politics," the detainee said, suggesting that he had had a change of heart. "The United States has made some wrong decisions, but that doesn't give me the right to consider them an enemy or kill their people."

However improbably, many of the detainees said that the allure of Afghanistan for them was not jihad. Maasoum Abdah insisted that his mission was entirely personal.

In 2000, he said, he left Syria and traveled to Turkey and Iran and finally Afghanistan. He was accused of living in a Taliban safe house in Kabul. The authorities said his name was on a list of men being trained as snipers.

He acknowledged that he knew how to shoot from his days in the Syrian police. But even in the police, he said, "in a year and a half, I only shot seven bullets." And he said he had no allegiance to the Taliban.

Then why the long, arduous journey to Afghanistan, a tribunal officer asked. "I wanted to go to Afghanistan to find a wife and get married and stay there," Mr. Abdah answered through a personal representative.

Why not find a wife in Syria?

"It is very expensive to find a wife," Mr. Abdah explained. "The price is at least $3,000. I might work for years and still not be able to collect that much money. In Afghanistan, it is very cheap. The most is $300."

Tom Torok contributed reporting for this article.

Correction: March 7, 2006

A front-page article yesterday about prisoners held by the American military at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as described in documents released Friday by the Defense Department, misstated in some copies the total number of men who have been held at Guantánamo. It is 760, not 660.

Gitmo Detainee Allegedly Tortured at 15 to Face Tribunal

by Catherine Komp

Omar Khadr, accused of committing war crimes at the age of 15, is slated to go before a military panel next month at Guantánamo in what his attorneys say is a violation of international youth rights.

With the US military moving forward with the unprecedented trial of a prisoner captured at age 15, human rights lawyers are appealing to an international body for an injunction.

American University attorneys will present testimony in Washington, DC today before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in an attempt to suspend the trial before military tribunal of Omar Khadr, a Canadian-born youth held for four years at Guantánamo.

Khadr’s attorneys say the trial of their client would violate international treaties to which the US is a party. They accuse the US of denying Khadr’s rights by placing him in harsh facilities with adult detainees, denying him access to lawyers for over two years, and subjecting him to humiliation and torture.

"Regardless of his status – whether he was a civilian, a combatant or an unlawful combatant – the US simply isn’t respecting the minimal guarantees of due process and protection of children that it owes him," said Sheku Sheikholeslami, an AU law-clinic student and member of Khadr’s defense team.

A Child Defendant
After detaining Khadr since 2002, the US finally issued charges against him last November, accusing him of murder, attempted murder, aiding the enemy, and conspiring with Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders.

Khadr first appeared before the military commission in January of this year; a motions hearing is scheduled for the first week of April.

"I think the important thing not to forget is that [Khadr] may be 19 now, but he was 15 at the time of these alleged offenses, he was a child," said Julie Engel, another law student working on Khadr’s defense.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child – to which the US is a signatory – instructs governments to provide "physical and psychological recovery and . . . social reintegration" to juveniles recruited or used in hostilities. Khadr’s lawyers argue that while other children captured in the so-called "war on terror" were held in Camp Iguana – facilities that provided classes, physical activities, roommates, and better food -- Khadr was physically and psychologically abused during detention.

Legal documents to be filed with the Inter-American commission today allege that when Khadr was recovering in Afghanistan from gunshot wounds he sustained before his capture in Afghanistan, interrogators denied him pain medication, forced him to carry heavy buckets of water, and "made him stand with his hands tied above his head for hours at a time." The documents also allege that interrogators put a bag over Khadr’s head in a room with barking dogs.

Defense attorneys say that conditions worsened after Khadr arrived at Guantánamo, where his captors put him in stress positions during interrogations. During one such incident, Khadr says, his questioners would not allow him to use the bathroom, and he urinated on himself. He said military police then poured pine oil on the floor and dragged Khadr, still shackled, through the mixture of fluids. Other interrogators allegedly threatened that Khadr would be sent to another country where he would be raped.

In a written response to The NewStandard, the Defense Department said the it has "taken and continues to take all allegations of abuse very seriously, [and] when a credible allegation of improper conduct by DoD personnel surfaces, it is reviewed, and when factually warranted, investigated." The Department told TNS it knew of no such allegations in Khadr’s case that have been substantiated.

Capture and Detention

US forces captured Khadr in Bagram, Afghanistan in July 2002 after he was severely wounded in an attack by US Special Forces on what the US military says was an Al-Qaeda compound. The Department of Defense accuses Khadr, then 15 years old, of throwing a grenade that killed Sergeant First Class Christopher Speer during the attack.

US military and intelligence officials have taken special interest in Khadr because of his deceased father’s alleged ties to Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. The DoD insists that Khadr’s father, Ahmad Khadr, was a senior Al-Qaeda member who used his Canadian-based charity as a front to send money to the terrorist group. Federal officials also say that Omar "saw or met" senior Al-Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden. And they accuse him of receiving "private Al-Qaeda basic training" and joining Al-Qaeda operatives in planting improvised explosive devices "at a point where US forces were known to travel."

The government also accuses Khadr of joining an organization that conspired with Al-Qaeda leaders to attack civilians but makes no connections between Khadr and any such acts.

Responding to questions The NewStandard submitted by e-mail, the DoD stated that Khadr was placed with adult detainees because he arrived at the camp when we was 16 years old.

"Omar Khadr is properly detained as an enemy combatant after being picked up on the battlefield directly fighting against US and coalition forces. His status as an enemy combatant is the basis for his detention," Shavers wrote.

US allegations that Khadr intentionally aided Al-Qaeda put him in the status of "unlawful belligerent" or "enemy combatant," a designation the US government has used to deny him the rights normally guaranteed to soldiers under international laws of war.

Irreparable Harm

Defending attorneys and military-justice lawyers and scholars consider the military commissions before which Khadr will be tried arbitrary and flawed, and say his trial should be suspended until the commission meets standards for international law.

Kathleen Duignan, executive director of the National Institute for Military Justice, a nonprofit education and advocacy group that recently joined with American University’s law school, said her group has a host of concerns. She cited the lack of legally trained military judges, the secrecy of some hearings and the authority to remove a defendant from proceedings as highly disturbing. Her group is also troubled by the denial of defendants’ rights to self-representation or counsel of choice, or the right to appeal sentences under ten years.

Human rights groups are also concerned that the military commissioners have not ruled out the admittance of evidence obtained through torture. Additionally, US Army Captain John Merriam, the military counsel representing Khadr at his first appearance before the commission last month, expressed "serious concerns about the openness and fairness" of the proceedings.

"So as you can see," Duignan said, "there are lots and lots of issues that are of concern to those that believe in our justice system and who don’t want to see it essentially perverted for the purposes of... making things easier for the government."

Khadr’s defense team says the military commissions violate the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, an international human rights treaty signed by the 35 North and South American nations that form the Organization of American States (OAS). The IACHR, which is hearing the case today, is an autonomous arm of the OAS created to promote and protect human rights.

"Omar will suffer irreparable harm if he is tried by a military commission," Sheikholeslami said. "He may be deprived permanently of his liberty in a fundamentally unfair process as well as continuing to be subjected to prolonged punitive detention."

Lawyers working on Khadr’s case concede that even if the IACHR rules in his favor, it can only make recommendations to the United States to reform the military commissions and conditions at Guantánamo Bay.

Nevertheless, Sheikholeslami said, the defense team believes "any statement from the Inter-American Commission which upholds Omar’s right as a child… will go a long way to influencing policy and public opinion in the international community as well as at home here in the United States."

The defense team is asking the commission to respond before April 3, when Khadr’s next military commission hearing is scheduled.

Writing by Suicidal Detainee Reveals Depths of His Despair

By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 15, 2006; A05

Just before Jumah al-Dossari tried to kill himself by fashioning a makeshift noose and opening a gash in his right arm, the Guantanamo Bay detainee handed his lawyer an envelope containing pages of tidily handwritten Arabic, some stained with dried blood. Dossari had told his lawyer they could discuss the letter at a later time.

"The detainees are suffering from the bitterness of despair, the detention humiliation and the vanquish of slavery and suppression," Dossari wrote, according to a translation. "I hope you will always remember that you met and sat with a 'human being' called 'Jumah' who suffered too much and was abused in his belief, self, dignity and also in his humanity. He was imprisoned, tortured and deprived from his homeland, his family and his young daughter who is in the most need of him for four years. . . with no reason or crime committed."

The letter is a rare personal glimpse into the desperation some detainees at the U.S. detention facility in Cuba feel, and an emotional account of one man's turmoil and ultimate decision to die rather than stay in prison another day. Dossari's October suicide attempt -- one of nearly a dozen times he has tried to kill himself in his four years on the island -- failed because his lawyer, Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, discovered him bleeding and hanging limp in a cell where he was supposed to be on a bathroom break.

Dossari, 32, a Bahraini national, tried to kill himself twice after the October attempt, telling his lawyers that the indefinite nature of his detention and his lack of interaction with other people were causing him a deepening depression.

"There was no other alternative to make our voice heard by the world from the depths of the detention centers except this way in order for the world to reexamine its standing and for the fair people of America to look again at the situation and try to have a moment of truth with themselves," Dossari wrote. "When you remember me in my last gasps of life before dying, while my soul is leaving my body to rise to its creator, remember that the world let us and our case down. Remember that our governments let us down."

Dossari wrote that he believes he and other detainees "were captured, tortured and detained with no offense or reason."

The U.S. military, however, thinks Dossari is a terrorist with ties to al-Qaeda, and he has been deemed an enemy combatant. U.S. officials cite Dossari's alleged ties to terrorist cells in the United States and they think he was at Tora Bora, an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, before his arrest.

Lt. Col. Jeremy Martin, a Guantanamo Bay spokesman, said Dossari can interact with other detainees and exercise, and has access to religious items, books, magazines and writing material as well as medical and behavioral professionals. Martin also emphasized that abuse is not tolerated at the facility.

"Claims of detainee abuse and torture are documented al-Qaeda tactics, used to manipulate the media and bring pressure on the United States Government for their release," Martin said in an e-mail response to questions.

Colangelo-Bryan said Dossari handed him the envelope during their October meeting and tried to kill himself moments later in another room. After the suicide attempt, the lawyer opened the letter, which included another sheet of paper covered in dried blood that the government has not cleared for release.

"I think it expresses his utter lack of hope and his sense of complete powerlessness, and that he decided that the only way he could reclaim himself at all as a human being was by killing himself," Colangelo-Bryan said.

Dossari ended his letter by saying that he saw "death looming."

"Farewell . . . farewell with no hope of seeing me again," he wrote. "I thank you for everything you have done for me, but I have a final request. Show the world the letters I gave you, let the world read them, let the world know the agony of the detainees in Cuba."

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

60 Minutes — The Court-Martial Of Willie Brand

March 5, 2006

(CBS) You wouldn't figure Willie Brand for a killer. He's a quiet young soldier from Cincinnati who volunteered to be a guard at a U.S. military prison in Bagram, Afghanistan.
But when 60 Minutes met him, Brand was facing a court-martial in the deaths of two prisoners. The prisoners were found hanging from chains in their isolation cells. They had been beaten; one of them was "pulpified," according to the medical examiner.

Brand told correspondent Scott Pelley what he did wasn’t torture, it was his training, authorized and supervised by his superiors. So how is it he was charged with assault, maiming and manslaughter?

"I didn’t understand how they could do this after they had trained you to do this stuff and they turn around and say you’ve been bad you shouldn’t have done this stuff now they’re going to charge you with assault, maiming and 'unvoluntary' manslaughter, how can this be when they trained you to do it and they condoned it while you were doing it," says Brand.

"[The] Army says you are a violent man," Pelley said.

"They do say that, but I’m not a violent person," Brand replied.

But there was violence in the prison. A man named Habibullah and a cab driver called Dilawar died only days after they had been brought in on suspicion of being Taliban fighters.

"They brought death upon themselves as far as I'm concerned," says Capt. Christopher Beiring, who was Brand's commanding officer as head of the prison guards. Beiring was charged with dereliction of duty, but the charge was later dropped.

Asked whether compared to other detainees Habibullah was more or less aggressive, Beiring says, "Yes, absolutely more. He was probably the worst we had."

What kind of prisoner was Dilawar?

"I wouldn’t categorize him as the worst but he, but he definitely, several of my soldiers would say that he would test them, fight with them kick, trip, try to bite, spit. That’s typically what a fighter does," Beiring recalls.

Dilawar was picked up outside a U.S. base that had been hit by a rocket. Habibullah was brought in by the CIA, rumored to be a high-ranking Taliban. Both of them were locked in isolation cells with hoods over their heads and their arms shackled to the ceiling.

Their shackled hands, according to Brand, were at about eye level. The point of chaining them to the ceiling, Brand says, was to keep the detainees awake by not letting them lie down and sleep.

Interrogators wanted the prisoners softened up.

Asked what the longest period of time Brand saw a detainee chained like that, Brand says, "Probably about two days."

"Two days? Without a break?" Pelley asked.

"Without a break," Brand replied.

Capt. Beiring says he doesn’t know of prisoners chained that long. But in general, he had no problem with the procedure.

"They weren’t in pain. They weren’t, as far as I’m concerned they weren’t being abused. It seemed OK to me. If I was a prisoner, I would think that would probably be acceptable," says Beiring.

Brand says something else was thought to be acceptable in the prison: a brutal way of controlling prisoners – a knee to the common peroneal nerve in the leg, a strike with so much force behind it that the prisoner would lose muscle control and collapse in pain.

Brand says he vaguely remembers giving knee strikes to Habibullah.

How did the detainee react to that?

"The same way everybody else did. I mean he would scream out 'Allah, Allah, Allah'; sometimes his legs would buckle and sometimes it wouldn’t," Brand explained.

It wasn't only Willie Brand. A confidential report by the Army’s criminal investigation division accuses dozens of soldiers of abuse, including "slamming [a prisoner] into walls [and a] table," "forcing water into his mouth until he could not breathe," giving "kicks to the groin" and once, according to the report, a soldier "threatened to rape a male detainee." Soldiers even earned nicknames including "King of Torture" and "Knee of Death."

Habibullah and Dilawar were found dead in their cells, hanging from their chains. The military medical examiner says Dilawar’s legs were pulpified. Both autopsy reports were marked "homicide." But the Army spokesman in Afghanistan told the media that both men had died of natural causes. With two deaths in a week, the Army decided to investigate. But the facts only began to become public months later in an article in The New York Times.

"I could smell that I was looking at what I thought was a cover-up," says retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson.

Back in Washington, Wilkerson smelled trouble, and so did his boss. Wilkerson was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. In 2004, during the Abu Ghraib abuse scandal in Iraq, Powell asked Wilkerson to investigate how Americans had come to torture.

"I was developing the picture as to how this all got started in the first place, and that alarmed me as much as the abuse itself because it looked like authorization for this abuse went to the very top of the United States government," says Wilkerson.

In 2002, the "top of the government" was divided over whether the Geneva Convention applied to prisoners in Afghanistan. The resulting presidential directive tried to have it both ways ordering that the "…armed forces shall continue to treat detainees humanely" but Geneva would apply only "to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity...."

It’s Wilkerson’s opinion that the Army chose to ignore Geneva when it issued new rules for interrogations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"That essentially says to the troops at the bottom of the rung that you have a new game," Wilkerson says. "You can use the methods that aren’t in accordance with Geneva. You can use methods that are other than when you’ve been taught, trained and told you could use. That, that is an invitation, a license to go beyond that, especially when you’re also putting on them tremendous pressure to produce intelligence."

Capt. Beiring acknowledges that there was some confusion. "Because a lot of people didn’t really know, what are their status? Who are these people? Did they sign the Geneva Convention? Who are they and what do we do with them? So there was some confusion," he says.

"Can you tell me whether anyone up the chain of command above you was aware that the prisoners were being shackled with their hands up about shoulder high?" Pelley asked.

"Absolutely," Beiring said.

"Who knew?" Pelley asked.

"Several of my leaders knew because we had them like that, you know, there was probably one or two like that any given day. And we didn’t change the procedure if someone came through whether they were a colonel or a general, we left them the same. They seen (sic) what was going on there," Beiring answered.

Pelley asked Brand if other leaders knew what was going on.

Gen. Daniel McNeill, the top officer in Afghanistan, said “we are not chaining people to the ceilings.”

Brand disagreed. "Well, he’s lying obviously. I mean because we were doing it on a daily basis," he says.

"Gen. Theodore Nicholas, he was the top military intelligence officer in Afghanistan said that he did not recall prisoners being shackled with their arms overhead. Is that reasonable?" Pelley asked.

"No," Brand replied.

"Lt. Col. Ronald Stallings told investigators, quote, 'he had no idea,' end quote, that prisoners were being chained overhead for 24 hours and more. What you seem to be saying is that it was common knowledge," Pelley said.

"Yes," Brand said.

"It wasn’t being kept a secret from the chain of command?" Pelley asked.

"No," Brand replied.

We don’t know whether Gen. McNeill toured the prison, Brand doesn’t specifically remember him there. But Gen. Nicholas and Lt. Col. Stallings were there. 60 Minutes wanted to speak with all three, but they declined.

There were inspection tours at the prison, run by the Red Cross. But the Red Cross didn’t see everything. For example, it didn’t see the instructions written on a dry erase board that told the guards how long prisoners were to be chained.

"We didn’t want them to know — we didn’t think they had an operational reason to know," says Capt. Beiring. "It also had other things on there like if a detainee was fighting or being punished for doing stuff wrong or if he didn’t eat his food or he wasn’t drinking, but yes, we erased that board so the ICRC we didn’t think they had the need to know."

There was a lot the Red Cross didn’t know. Medical experts say that Dilawar’s injuries were so severe that, if he had lived, both his legs would have required amputation. Even worse, one soldier testified that most of the interrogators thought Dilawar had been arrested only because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. They had come to believe he was just a cab driver.

"And so we killed an innocent man, and that’s something else that got me as I went though this, got me very concerned as to not just what we are doing to perhaps al Qaeda or al Qaeda-like terrorists or even insurgents when we come to Iraq, but what were doing to innocents," says Wilkerson.

Wilkerson says the Secretary of State, who devoted much of his life to the Army, was enraged. As the Abu Ghraib torture scandal was breaking, Wilkerson says his boss snapped up the phone and called Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

"And he essentially said, 'Don, don’t you know what you’re doing to our credibility around the world don’t you know what you’re doing to our image?' And for Secretary Powell to raise his voice that way was quite extraordinary. I’ve only heard him do it maybe five times in 16 years," says Wilkerson.

"What do you mean he raised his voice?" Pelley asked.

"I’m sure Secretary Rumsfeld was probably holding the phone away from his ear," Wilkerson replied.

In August, Willie Brand faced court-martial. Prosecutors said he and other guards had struck the prisoners dozens and dozens of times.

"People watching this interview are thinking, 'Look, this guy came into this facility, he was there five days and he was dead. He died in five days' time,' How did that happen?" Pelley asked.

"I don’t really know how that happened," Brand replied.

"You hit him, you hit him numerous times. Did you think it was you?" Pelley asked.

"No," Brand replied.

"The Army would have us believe that you were operating outside the rules," Pelley said.

"This is what we were trained to do, and this is what we did. And not only that I was not the only one, there were many other people hitting them — and this was going on on a daily basis and nothing was said about it," Brand said.

But Capt. Beiring says those were not his orders. He says those knee strikes were to be used only for self-defense.

"You’ve read the Army investigation, and in it some of the witnesses say one of the soldiers was nicknamed the 'King of Torture' another one had quote the 'Knee of Death.' You were there; were you not seeing this?" Pelley asked Beiring.

"No, I was not," Beiring replied. "Some nicknames, as a commander you are fairly removed from the junior soldiers, so nicknames could have occurred that I did not know about."

"It’s not the nicknames, it’s how they got the nicknames that matters," Pelley said.

"I can’t say for sure, I can only say I never witnessed any of my soldiers do anything that was out of line," Beiring said.

Still, a letter of reprimand has been written that blisters Beiring. It says his "command failures enabled an environment of abuse." But the charges that could have brought court-martial against him were dropped. An investigating officer said that Beiring "may not have done his duty perfectly, but he did it well." Beiring is appealing the reprimand.

Asked if he, in retrospect, has any sympathy for Habibullah and Dilawar, Beiring says, "Sure, I have some sympathy. I wish they were born Americans."

At his court-martial, Willie Brand was convicted of assault and maiming. He faced 16 years. But the jury of soldiers had it both ways. They convicted him and let him go with a reduction in rank, nothing more. So far, 15 soldiers have been charged in the Bagram abuse. The sentences range from letters of reprimand to five months in jail. No one above the rank of captain has been charged.

Retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, after serving 31 years in the Army, has drawn his own conclusions about how interrogation procedures were changed in Afghanistan and later in Iraq.

How did it go wrong?

"It went wrong because we had a secretary of defense who had never served on the ground a day in his life, who was arrogant and thought that he could release those twin pressures on the backs of his armed forces, the twin pressures being a wink and a nod, you can do a lot of things that you know don’t correspond to Geneva, don’t correspond to your code of conduct, don’t correspond to the Army field manual, and at the same time I want intelligence, I want intelligence, I want it now," says Wilkerson.

While Secretary Rumsfeld never served in combat, he was a Navy aviator and retired from the reserves as a captain. 60 Minutes wanted to talk with Secretary Rumsfeld, but the Pentagon declined our requests. Since the deaths at Bagram, chaining from the ceiling has been banned. The number of prisoners there has increased fivefold, to roughly 500. The prisoners don't get lawyers, and they can't appeal their detentions. But, the military tells 60 Minutes, it reviews each prisoner's file for release at least once a year.

By Shawn Efran ©MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

US Urged to Abandon Force-Feeding at Guantanamo

By Patricia Reaney
Thu Mar 9, 2006 7:06 PM ET

More than 250 doctors from seven countries urged the U.S. government on Friday to abandon force-feeding and the use of restraints on hunger strikers at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp.

The doctors from Britain, the United States, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Italy and the Netherlands said prisoners at the camp in eastern Cuba have the right to refuse treatment and that physicians must respect their decision.

"We urge the U.S. government to ensure that detainees are assessed by independent physicians and that techniques such as force-feeding and restraint chairs are abandoned," the doctors said in an open letter published in The Lancet medical journal.

They added that the World Medical Association, a global body representing physicians, specifically prohibits force-feeding in two declarations dating back to 1975. The American Medical Association is a co-signatory of the declarations.

"Those breaching such guidelines should be held to account by their professional bodies," the letter added.

Human rights groups, religious organizations and some governments have criticized the treatment of Guantanamo prisoners and have urged Washington to close the camp.

Only 10 of the nearly 500 terrorism suspects held at the naval base have been formally charged with a crime. Their indefinite detentions and lack of legal rights have been condemned by human rights activists.

Authorities at the camp have been accused of inserting a tube into the nose and down to the stomach of a prisoner on hunger strike and keeping him strapped in a chair for hours at a time, forcing him to defecate and urinate in his clothes.

The prisoner, Mohammed Bawazir, has been held at the base since May 2002. He claims he was tortured when he was force-fed and forced to end his 5-month hunger strike.

U.S. attorneys have said that force-feeding was designed to improve the prisoner's health and was done in a humane fashion.

Dr David Nicholl, a neurologist at City Hospital in Birmingham, England, and the initiator of the letter, said the American public and the medical community need to be aware of what is happening at Guantanamo Bay.

"These are very serious allegations," Nicholl told Reuters.

The letter also questions how seriously the American medical profession takes allegations of torture by its own members.

"This is a challenge to the American Medical Association," he said. "Are they going to obey those declarations (forbidding force-feeding), or are those bits of paper literally not worth the paper they are written on?

A Place Rougher and Bleaker Than Guantanamo

William Fisher, Arab News

Legal, diplomatic, religious and human rights authorities are struggling to be heard on what many consider to be the “Son of Guantanamo” — a secret prison in Afghanistan where the US military is said to have been holding some 500 “enemy combatants” for as long as three or four years without access to lawyers. The existence of the prison, located at Bagram airbase near Kabul, was reported last week by the New York Times. But the story was quickly relegated to back pages by the revelation that Dubai Ports World (DPW), a company owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates, was about to take over the management of as many as six major US seaports.

On the Bagram prison issue, the views of David Cole, one of America’s foremost authorities on constitutional law, are typical of reactions obtained by us. Cole, a professor at Georgetown University law school in Washington, said, “The Bagram story raises serious questions about the Bush administration’s unwillingness to be bound by law. The administration chose Guantanamo in the first place because it thought it was a law-free zone. Now that the Supreme Court has said that the administration is actually accountable to legal limits at Guantanamo, it is turning to other avenues to avoid accountability. The only real solution is to conform its conduct to the law, not to continue to evade legal responsibility for its actions.”

Times reporters Tim Golden and Eric Schmitt, who broke the Bagram story, wrote, “Some administration officials acknowledge that the situation at Bagram has increasingly come to resemble the legal void that led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling in June 2004 affirming the right of prisoners at Guantanamo to challenge their detention in United States courts.”

They added, “Bagram has operated in rigorous secrecy since it opened in 2002. It bars outside visitors except for the International Red Cross and refuses to make public the names of those held there...From the accounts of former detainees, military officials and soldiers who served there, a picture emerges of a place that is in many ways rougher and more bleak than its Cuban counterpart. Men are held by the dozen in large wire cages, the detainees and military sources said, sleeping on the floor on foam mats and, until about a year ago, often using plastic buckets for latrines. Before recent renovations, they rarely saw daylight except for brief visits to a small exercise yard.”

The Times reported that the detainee population at Bagram rose from about 100 prisoners at the start of 2004 to as many as 600 at times last year. According to military figures, this was in part the result of a Bush administration decision to shut off the flow of detainees into Guantanamo after the Supreme Court ruled that those prisoners had some basic due-process rights under United States law.

Bagram has often been described by the US military as a temporary “screening center” from which some detainees would be released and others transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But as Guantanamo became a lightning rod for worldwide criticism of Bush administration’s detention policies, transfers to Cuba were cancelled.

William Rugh, retired US ambassador to Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, told us that, while he has “no idea if the report is correct,” he believes that “all prisoners held by the United States, whether in Guantanamo or elsewhere, ought to be brought promptly to trial of some kind and afforded the right to be represented by an attorney.

If the US government persuades the judge that material evidence to be presented at the trial is legitimately classified, the trial could be closed to the public but there should be a trial.”

The views of the US human rights community were typified by Deborah Pearlstein, director of the US Law and Security Program for Human Rights First, a major advocacy group. She told us, “Apart from the ongoing harm to human rights, one of the most remarkable features of the US detentions at Bagram and elsewhere is that four and a half years after Sept. 11, the administration continues to hold nearly 15,000 detainees worldwide without rights recognized under any domestic or international legal regime, and without a plan for how it might begin detaining people legally in what the administration now calls the ‘long war’ going forward.”

And Amnesty International USA told us, “Because of ongoing and unresolved reports of torture and ill-treatment at Bagram Air Base, we continue to assert the necessity for open and honest investigations of all prisoner abuse cases and renovations of current prison facilities. We are concerned about reports that the base has been expanding in its current form, primarily because practices of secrecy such as the restriction of access to the International Committee of the Red Cross and the denial of detainee’s rights are still known to be prevalent there.” Noah S. Leavitt, an attorney who has worked with the International Law Commission of the United Nations in Geneva and the International Court of Justice in The Hague, took issue with the US military’s chief spokesman in Afghanistan, who is quoted as saying the US is “providing the best possible living conditions and medical care in accordance with the principles of the Geneva Convention.”

That statement, Leavitt charged, “highlights the administration’s ignorance of or cavalier attitude toward long-established international law.”

He added, “The world will always be in catch-up mode when it comes to investigating, discovering and challenging the many ways the Bush administration has undermined international legal norms. Just as they did for Guantanamo, concerned lawyers, journalists and researchers will have to figure out how to gain access to Bagram in order to bring the harsh treatment of the prisoners to the attention of the US judicial system and the international community before any improvements are seen.”

Leaders of the religious community have also weighed in on the Bagram issue. George Hunsinger, McCord professor of theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and coordinator of Church Folks for a Better America, told us, “America must lead by example. If we continue to shame our country through secret prisons, torture and abuse, the world will no longer look to us as a beacon of hope, but as a dungeon of despair. The only way to defeat terrorism is by upholding our ideals not by trampling on them.” It is difficult to know whether the Bush administration’s penchant for shooting itself in the feet is the result of incompetence or arrogance. After Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, the Pentagon should have learned that getting out ahead of bad news is far better than waiting for its inevitable disclosure by the press. That’s Public Relations 101!

Beyond Abu Ghraib:   detention and torture in Iraq

"I have lost a year and a half of my life"
43-year-old former security detainee and father of three daughters following his release in September 2005; he alleged that he was ill-treated while held in US detention in Iraq.


Nearly three years after United States (US) and allied forces invaded Iraq and toppled the government of Saddam Hussain, the human rights situation in the country remains dire. The deployment of US-led forces in Iraq and the armed response that engendered has resulted in thousands of deaths of civilians and widespread abuses amid the ongoing conflict.

As Amnesty International has reported elsewhere(1), many of the abuses occurring today are committed by armed groups opposed to the US-led Multinational Force (MNF) and the Iraqi government that it underpins. Armed groups continue to wage an uncompromising war marked by their disregard for civilian lives and the basic rules of international humanitarian law. They commit suicide and other bomb attacks which either target civilians or while aimed at military objectives are disproportionate in terms of causing civilian casualties, and they abduct and hold victims hostage, threatening and often taking their lives. Amnesty International condemns these abuses, some of which are so egregious as to constitute crimes against humanity, in addition to war crimes, and continues to call on Iraq's armed groups to cease such activities and abide by basic requirements of international humanitarian law.

In this report, Amnesty International focuses on another part of the equation, specifically its concerns about human rights abuses for which the US-led MNF is directly responsible and those which are increasingly being committed by Iraqi security forces. The record of these forces, including US forces and their United Kingdom (UK) allies, is an unpalatable one. Despite the pre-war rhetoric and post-invasion justifications of US and UK political leaders, and their obligations under international law, from the outset the occupying forces attached insufficient weight to human rights considerations. This remains the position even if the violations by the MNF that are the subject of this report do not have the same graphic, shock quality as the images that emerged in April 2004 and February 2006 showing inmates being tortured and humiliated by US guards at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison and Iraqi youth being beaten by UK troops after they were apprehended during a riot. The same failure to ensure due process that prevailed then, however, and facilitated - perhaps even encouraged such abuses -- is evidenced today by the continuing detentions without charge or trial of thousands of people in Iraq who are classified by the MNF as "security internees".

The MNF has established procedures which deprive detainees of human rights guaranteed in international human rights law and standards. In particular, the MNF denies detainees their right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention before a court. Some of the detainees have been held for over two years without any effective remedy or recourse; others have been released without explanation or apology or reparation after months in detention, victims of a system that is arbitrary and a recipe for abuse.

Many cases of torture and ill-treatment of detainees held in facilities controlled by the Iraqi authorities have been reported since the handover of power in June 2004. Among other methods, victims have been subjected to electric shocks or have been beaten with plastic cables. The picture that is emerging is one in which the Iraqi authorities are systematically violating the rights of detainees in breach of guarantees contained both in Iraqi legislation and in international law and standards -- including the right not to be tortured and to be promptly brought before a judge.

Amnesty International is concerned that neither the MNF nor Iraqi authorities have established sufficient safeguards to protect detainees from torture or ill-treatment. It is particularly worrying that, despite reports of torture or ill-treatment by US and UK forces and the Iraqi authorities, for thousands of detainees access to the outside world continues to be restricted or delayed. Under conditions where monitoring of detention facilities by independent bodies is restricted -- not least, due to the perilous security situation -- measures which impose further limitations on the contact detainees may have with legal counsel or relatives increase the risk that they will be subject to torture or other forms of abuse.

Amnesty International is calling on the Iraqi, US and UK authorities, who both operate detention facilities where persons detained by the MNF are held, to take urgent, concrete steps to ensure that the fundamental human rights of all detainees in Iraq are respected. In particular, these authorities must urgently put in place adequate safeguards to protect detainees from torture or ill-treatment. This includes ensuring that all allegations of such abuse are subject to prompt, thorough and independent investigation and that any military, security or other officials found to have used, ordered or authorized torture are brought to justice. It includes too ensuring that detainees are able effectively to challenge their detention before a court; the right to do so constitutes a fundamental safeguard against arbitrary detention and torture and ill-treatment, and is one of the non-derogable rights which states are bound to uphold in all circumstances, even in time of war or national emergency.(2)

Torture and ill-treatment goes on

Karim R (3), a 47-year old imam and preacher (khatib), was detained and tortured by US forces in 2003 and then by Iraqi forces in 2005. On each occasion, he was subsequently released uncharged. He told Amnesty International that he was first detained in October 2003 by US forces in Baghdad, where he lives and is head of a charity. He was insulted, blindfolded, beaten and subjected to electric shocks from a stun gun (taser) by US troops at a detention facility in the Kadhimiya district of Baghdad. After seven days of detention, he was released without charges.

Karim R was again detained in May 2005 for 16 days -- this time by forces of the Iraqi Interior Ministry at a detention facility they operated in Baghdad. During this detention, he was blindfolded and then beaten and subjected to electric shocks while being hung up in a manner designed to cause him excruciating pain. He told Amnesty International:

    "They tied my hands to the back with a cable. There was an instrument with a chain which was attached to the ceiling. When they switched it on the chain pulled me up to the ceiling. Because the hands are tied to the back this is even more painful (...) Afterwards they threw water over me and they used electric shocks. They connected the current to my legs and also to other parts of my body. (...) The first time they subjected me to electric shocks I fainted for 40 seconds or one minute. It felt like falling from a building. I had a headache and was not able to walk. The interrogator said: You better confess to terrorist activities, in order to save your life. I responded that I was not involved in these activities and that I had a heart condition. (...) Later they forced me to confess on camera. They asked questions claiming that I was a terrorist but they did not even give me the chance to reply. They just stated that I was a terrorist. (...)."
Torture and ill-treatment in Iraqi detention facilities
In the weeks leading up to Iraq's parliamentary elections, held on 15 December 2005, new evidence emerged to indicate that the Iraqi Interior Ministry was holding many detainees in different facilities under its control and subjecting them to torture and ill-treatment. On 13 November 2005, US military forces raided one detention facility controlled by the Interior Ministry in the al-Jadiriyah district of Baghdad, where they reportedly found more than 170 detainees being held in appalling conditions, many of whom alleged that they had been tortured. On 8 December 2005, Iraqi authorities and US forces inspected another detention facility in Baghdad, also controlled by the Interior Ministry. At least 13 of the 625 detainees found there required medical treatment, including several reportedly as a result of torture or ill-treatment. The Iraqi Ministry of Interior denied that any detainees had been tortured or abused.(4) However, the US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, stated that "over 100" detainees found at the detention facility in al-Jadiriyah and 26 detainees at the other detention location had been abused.(5)

According to media reports, in both cases detainees alleged that they had been subjected to electric shocks and had their nails pulled out. (6) An Iraqi Human Rights Ministry official subsequently told Amnesty International that the Iraqi authorities had conducted medical examinations but that these had not confirmed the allegations. However, the official stated that several detainees had injuries caused by beating with plastic cables. Further, the official confirmed that abuses committed at other detention facilities under the control of Iraqi authorities over the past year included incidents of detainees having been subjected to electric shocks. (7)

Months earlier, Human Rights Watch had drawn attention to increasing reports of torture and ill-treatment of detainees by Iraqi government forces in a report published in January 2005. The report was based on interviews which Human Rights Watch had conducted with 90 detainees and former detainees between July and October 2004, 72 of whom disclosed that they had been tortured or ill-treated while in detention. Some had been held as criminal suspects but others had been detained apparently because of their political activities or alleged affiliation with armed groups.(8) Yet, despite the Human Rights Watch findings, little or no action appears to have been taken by either the Iraqi government or the MNF in the months following to address this pattern abuse, and to safeguard detainees from torture or ill-treatment.

Unsurprisingly, in view of this failure to crack down on the torturers and end the cycle of abuse, several detainees are reported to have died in 2005 while being held in the custody of the Iraqi authorities; in several cases, the bodies of the victims reportedly bore injuries consistent with their having been tortured. On 12 February 2005 three men, who were reportedly members of the Badr Organization,(9) a Shi'a militia, died in custody after being arrested by Iraqi police at a police checkpoint in the Zafaraniya district of Baghdad. The bodies of 39-year-old Majbal 'Adnan Latif al-Alawi, his 35-year-old brother 'Ali 'Adnan Latif al-Alawi, and 30-year-old 'Aidi Mahassin Lifteh were found three days later, bearing marks of torture. Autopsy reports found "that all three had bruises on their faces, arms, backs, and legs, apparently from being struck with a stick or long object".(10)

After having been detained by a special police force of the Interior Ministry, the Wolf Brigade(11), a 46-year-old housewife from Mosul, Khalida Zakiya, was shown in February 2005 on the Iraqi TV channel al-'Iraqiya alleging that she had supported an armed group. However, she later withdrew this confession and alleged that she had been coerced into making it. She was reportedly whipped with a cable by members of the Wolf Brigade and threatened with sexual abuse.(12)

In May 2005 four Palestinians who were long term residents of Iraq - , Faraj 'Abdullah Mulhim, aged about 41, 'Adnan 'Abdullah Mulhim, aged about 31, Amir 'Abdullah Mulhim, aged about 26, and Mas'ud Nur al-Din al-Mahdi, aged about 33 -- were tortured and ill-treated after they were detained by members of the Wolf Brigade who took them from their homes in Baghdad. All four were seized on the night of 12 May 2005, when Wolf Brigade forces stormed homes in the Baladiyat Palestinian Building within Baladiyat Camp in Baghdad. They were arrested as suspects in a bomb attack that had been carried out earlier that day in Baghdad's al-Jadida district although they denied any involvement. Members of the Wolf Brigade were said to have beaten the four men with rifle butts when they arrested them.

On 14 May 2005, the four men were shown on the Iraqi TV channel al-'Iraqiyya admitting responsibility for the al-Jadida bomb attack but all showed visible signs of having been assaulted. Relatives who saw the programme told Amnesty International that the four men had injuries to their faces which led them to suspect that they had been subjected to torture or ill-treatment in order to force them to make confessions. Later, when the men gained access to a lawyer in July 2005 they repudiated their confessions and alleged that they had been systematically tortured for 27 days while being held by the Wolf Brigade in a Ministry of Interior building in the al-Ziyouna district of Baghdad. They stated that they had been beaten with cables and had electric shocks applied to their hands, wrists, fingers, ankles and feet. They also said they were burnt on the face with lighted cigarettes and were placed in a room with water on the floor while an electric current was passed through. They alleged too that a US military officer was present at one time in the room in which they were being interrogated.

The four men also allege that they were forced under torture to sign confessions while they were blindfolded in which they also admitted responsibility for five other bomb attacks said to have been committed at police stations in other districts of Baghdad. However, when their lawyer looked into these other alleged bombings he found that they had never taken place and was able to obtain official documentation to confirm this. Nevertheless, the four Palestinians were transferred to the detention of the Major Crimes Directorate (mudiriyat al-jara'im al-kubra) in the Rusafa district of Baghdad on 9 June 2005. At first, the senior officer at this place of detention reportedly refused to accept the four men because they were clearly suffering from serious injuries. However, an investigating officer (dhabit al-tahqiq) reportedly listed all their injuries, so that it would be clear that they had not been inflicted under his direction. Six weeks later, around 23 July, the Palestinians were transferred to the detention centre in al-A'zamiya district of Baghdad, which deals with cases involving terrorism in Iraq.

According to Iraqi legislation, a detainee must be brought before an investigating judge within 24 hours of arrest.(13) However, the four Palestinians were only brought before an investigating judge on or about 26 July 2005, over five weeks after their initial detention. At the beginning of 2006 the four Palestinians continued to be held.

In July, 2005, the UK's Observer newspaper reported on further cases of torture and other grave human rights abuses, including possible extrajudicial executions, by Iraqi security forces. The newspaper included a detailed description of film footage showing the corpse of Hassan al-Nu'aimi, a Sunni cleric and member of the Association of Muslim Scholars, who was found dead in May 2005 in Baghdad -- one day after he was detained by Iraqi police commandoes. The Observer's correspondent wrote:
    "There are police-issue handcuffs still attached to one wrist, from which he was hanged long enough to cause his hands and wrists to swell. There are burn marks on his chest, as if someone has placed something very hot near his right nipple and moved it around. A little lower are a series of horizontal welts, wrapping around his body and breaking the skin as they turn around his chest, as if he had been beaten with something flexible, perhaps a cable. There are other injuries: a broken nose and smaller wounds that look like cigarette burns. An arm appears to have been broken and one of the higher vertebrae is pushed inwards. There is a cluster of small, neat circular wounds on both sides of his left knee. At some stage an-Ni'ami [sic] seems to have been efficiently knee-capped. It was not done with a gun - the exit wounds are identical in size to the entry wounds, which would not happen with a bullet. Instead it appears to have been done with something like a drill. What actually killed him however were the bullets fired into his chest at close range, probably by someone standing over him as he lay on the ground. The last two hit him in the head."(14)
The same month, July 2005, nine out of a group of 12 men who had been detained by police in Baghdad's al-'Amirya district suffocated to death after they were confined in a police van for up to 14 hours in extremely high temperatures. The Iraqi authorities said that the 12 were members of an armed group who had been detained after they were engaged in an exchange of fire with US or Iraqi forces. Other sources, however, suggested that they were a group of bricklayers who had been detained on suspicion that they were insurgents and then brutally tortured by police commandoes before being confined in the police vehicle. Medical staff at the Yarmouk Hospital in Baghdad, where the bodies of those who died were taken on 11 July 2005, reportedly confirmed that some of them bore signs of torture, including electric shocks.(15)

Under the eyes of the Multinational Force
MNF officials have generally sought to distance the US-led alliance from any involvement when there has been publicity regarding torture and other abuses by Iraqi government forces. However, the increasing availability of such information since at least the beginning of 2005, as well as the continuing close day to day collaboration between MNF forces and those of the Iraqi government, suggests that MNF commanders and the governments to which they are responsible have been well aware for a considerable time that the Iraqi forces they support are responsible for gross abuses of human rights. Yet, as part of their cooperation with Iraqi government forces, the MNF continued to hand over some of those whom its forces detained into the custody of Iraqi forces, despite the obvious risks to which this must expose such prisoners. In this respect, the MNF would appear to have been either seriously negligent or, effectively, complicit in the abuses committed by Iraqi government forces and supine in their failure to make clear to the Iraqi government and its forces that torture and other violations against prisoners must not be tolerated, and that those who commit such abuse must be brought promptly to justice.(16)

That the US authorities have been aware of the problem of torture by their Iraqi allies is clear from the US Department of State's annual report(17) to Congress on human rights practices around the world, whose February 2005 edition, reporting on 2004, made extensive reference in its Iraq country chapter to information on torture published by Human Rights Watch.(18) However, it was not until December 2005, nearly a year after the State Department's report was compiled, before a US military commander announced that his forces were suspending their practice of handing over detainees to the Iraqi authorities, Major General John D. Gardner, commander of Task Force 134, which is in charge of MNF detention operations, stated: "We will not pass on facilities or detainees until they [the Iraqi authorities] meet the standards we define and that we are using today".(19)

There have also been allegations that US forces knew that detainees were being tortured and ill-treated at places of detention under the control of the Interior Ministry, which they frequently visited. In a radio interview in December 2005, a former commander of special forces at the Interior Ministry, General Muntazar Jasim al-Samarra'i, identified several detention locations of the Interior Ministry where torture has allegedly been commonplace. He claimed: "The prison on al-Nasr Square, next to the TV-tower, it is the largest prison under the responsibility of the Interior Ministry. Members of the US forces visited this prison every day. The US troops knew everything about the torture".(20)

Former detainees who were subjected to torture or ill-treatment or who witnessed the infliction of such abuses on fellow detainees while they were being held in the custody of the Iraqi authorities, have told Amnesty International that such incidents occurred with the knowledge or even in the presence of US troops.(21)

The New York Times reported an incident which occurred in March 2005 in Samarra following a joint raid by US troops and forces under the control of the Iraqi Interior Ministry. The reporter described the beating of an Iraqi detainee by an Iraqi police captain during which US troops were present: "Instead of a quick hit or slap, we now saw and heard a sustained series of blows. We heard the sound of the captain's fists and boots on the detainee's body, and we heard the detainee's pained grunts as he received his punishment without resistance." A US Air Force captain present at the incident reportedly made the following comment: "If I think they're going to shoot somebody or cut his finger off or do any sort of permanent damage, I will immediately stop them (...) As Americans, we will not let that happen. In terms of kicking a guy, they do that all the time, punches and stuff like that."(22)

At the most senior levels, however, there appear to have been different views within the US politico-military establishment as to the responsibility of US troops who witness incidents of torture or ill-treatment. When questioned in November 2005 about the use of torture by Iraqi authorities, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was reported to have responded that he did not consider that US soldiers who see "inhumane treatment" of detainees have an obligation to intervene to stop it. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, General Peter Pace, interjected "If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to stop it".(23)

The legacy of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal
In February 2004, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) submitted a report to the Coalition Forces(24) which described serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by these forces in Iraq. These included brutality against protected persons during their arrest and initial detention, sometimes causing death or serious injury, as well as various methods of torture and ill-treatment inflicted on detainees. The public release of images in April 2004 showing detainees being tortured and ill-treated by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison, caused worldwide shock, horror and outrage. The subsequent US military investigation in Iraq headed by Major General Antonio Taguba found that Coalition Forces were responsible for "systemic" and "illegal abuse of detainees" held at Abu Ghraib prison between August 2003 and February 2004, and concluded that soldiers had "committed egregious acts and grave breaches of international law at Abu Ghraib...".(25)

Amnesty International interviewed former detainees who disclosed that they were among the prisoners subjected to torture and ill-treatment in US custody at Abu Ghraib. They included women who said they had been beaten, threatened with rape, subjected to humiliating treatment and long periods of solitary confinement. Some former detainees told Amnesty International that they had been forced to lie on the ground while handcuffed and hooded or blindfolded for long periods. They were repeatedly beaten, restrained for prolonged periods in painful "stress" positions and some were also subjected to sleep deprivation, prolonged standing, and exposure to loud music and bright lights, apparently intended to cause disorientation.

Other testimonies of detainees who were tortured or ill-treated at Abu Ghraib prison were documented by human rights organizations and in the media. Male detainees complained that they were deliberately degraded by being forced to masturbate in front of female soldiers and to wear women's underwear. They were kept naked, sometimes for several days. Detainees were assaulted and threatened with rape. They alleged too that they were forced, in breach of their religious beliefs, to eat pork, to drink alcohol and to move about on all fours in imitation of dogs.

The videotaped testimony of one Abu Ghraib victim, Hussein Mutar, was shown in evidence to a US military court martial sitting in Texas, USA, in January 2005. Hussein Mutar had reportedly been detained on suspicion of car theft and was tortured and ill-treated while held at Abu Ghraib in November 2003.(26) In the evidence laid before the court martial, he identified himself as one of a number of prisoners in a photograph taken by a US guard at the prison which showed several naked male detainees being forced to lie on top of one another. He also spoke of his feelings of humiliation and shame when US guards forced him to masturbate over fellow inmates: "I couldn't imagine it in the beginning that this could happen. But I wished for my death, that I could kill myself, because no one over there would stop what was going on".(27)

Following the worldwide disclosure of the abuses of detainees at Abu Ghraib in April 2004, the US authorities undertook various inquiries and reviews, and court- martialed a number of the US prison guards who were depicted in photographs abusing prisoners. These investigations, however, have mostly been internal military investigations which appear to have focused on the culpability of those within the lower echelons of the military, not on the role and responsibilities of those higher up the chain of command, including at the most senior levels. For example, on 10 March 2005, the US authorities released a summary of the findings of a review carried out by Vice Admiral Albert T. Church, Inspector-General of the US Navy which had been initiated by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in May 2004. The review found "no connection between interrogation policy and abuse".(28) Only the executive summary was made public and the remainder of the 378-page Church Report remains classified. It was revealed, however, that the Church investigation failed to interview any Iraqi detainees or former detainees. Nor did it interview Secretary Rumsfeld.

The US authorities have stated on numerous occasions that its regime of detention in Iraq has fundamentally changed since abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison were exposed. The US government's second periodic report to the UN Committee Against Torture of June 2005 states: "The Department of Defense has improved its detention operations in Iraq and elsewhere, improvements have been made based upon the lessons learned, and in part because of the broad investigations and focused inquiries into specific allegations. These comprehensive reports, reforms, investigations and prosecutions make clear the commitment of the Department of Defense to do everything possible to ensure that detainee abuse such as occurred at Abu Ghraib never happens again."(29) However, there continue to be reports of torture and ill-treatment of detainees by US troops, which have occurred since the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was exposed.(30)

While dozens of US soldiers have been court-martialed in connection with the abuse of detainees, senior US administration officials have remained free from independent scrutiny. According to the US government, as of 1 October 2005 there had been 65 courts-martial in connection with the abuse of detainees in Iraq.(31) In June 2004, two US marines were sentenced to eight and 12 months' imprisonment by a military court in Iraq. Both men had pleaded guilty to giving electric shocks to an Iraqi prisoner at al-Mahmudiya prison, south of Baghdad.(32) At least nine US soldiers were tried before US military courts for their involvement in the high-profile incidents of torture or ill-treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. Sentences ranged from non-custodial disciplinary measures to 10 years' imprisonment.(33) According to the US government, 54 military personnel could be implicated in the incidents at Abu Ghraib prison.(34)

Amnesty International is concerned that several of those tried and convicted by US military courts for committing serious human rights violations in Iraq, including torture or ill-treatment, have received sentences that fail to reflect the gravity of these violations.

In September 2004, a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army was referred to trial by court-martial on charges including conspiracy, aggravated assault, involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice. The case involved incidents on 5 December 2003 in which an Iraqi detainee was forced into the Tigris River near Balad, and on 3 January 2004 in which two Iraqi detainees were forced off a bridge into the Tigris near Samarra. One of the detainees, 19-year-old Zaidoun Hassoun, drowned in the latter incident. The lieutenant was facing a maximum sentence of 29 years' in prison. In the event, he was sentenced to 45 days' confinement following a two-day court-martial in Fort Hood, Texas, on 14 and 15 March 2005. Based on a pre-trial agreement, the commanding authority did not pursue the manslaughter charge and the soldier instead pleaded guilty to assault charges.(35)

On 23 January 2006, a US court martial convicted a US army interrogator of the killing of 'Abd Hamad Mawoush and sentenced him to forfeit $6,000 of his salary over the next four months, to receive a formal reprimand and spend 60 days restricted to his home, office and church. 'Abd Hamad Mawoush, a major general in the Iraqi army under the government of Saddam Hussain, died in a US detention facility in Al Qaim in northwest Baghdad on 26 November 2003, two weeks after he had handed himself in to the US military. He died after being interrogated while allegedly being rolled back and forth with a sleeping bag over his head and body, and the interrogator sat on his chest and placed his hands over his mouth. According to witness testimony, the interrogator also stood by while Iraqi personnel of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) subjected 'Abd Hamad Mawoush to a brutal beating with hoses. The convicted interrogator had faced a maximum penalty of life imprisonment on charges of murder. However, the court martial found him guilty of lesser charges of "negligent homicide and dereliction of duty," which carries a maximum of three years' imprisonment.(36)

Several UK soldiers have also been charged in connection with alleged torture or ill-treatment and the deaths of detainees. On 21 December 2005, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales ruled in a case arising from the death in September 2003 of 26-year old Baha Dawoud Salem al-Maliki (also known as Baha Mousa) and the deaths of five other Iraqis in the case of R (Al-Skeini) v Secretary of State for Defence. Delivering judgment, Lord Justice Brooke recounted what had occurred when UK troops raided a Basra hotel, where Baha Moussa worked as a receptionist, on the morning of 14 September 2003. The troops, who were seeking to locate one of the partners who ran the hotel:
    "rounded up a number of the men they found there, including Baha Mousa. Baha Mousa's father, Daoud Mousa, had been a police officer for 24 years and was by then a colonel in the Basrah police. He had called at the hotel that morning to pick up his son at the end of his shift, and he told the ... lieutenant in charge of the unit that he had seen three of his soldiers pocketing money from the safe. During this visit he also saw his son lying on the floor of the hotel lobby with six other hotel employees with their hands behind their heads. The lieutenant assured him that this was a routine investigation that would be over in a couple of hours. Colonel Mousa never saw his son alive again. Four days later he was invited by a military police unit to identify his son's dead body. It was covered in blood and bruises. The nose was badly broken, there was blood coming from the nose and mouth, and there were severe patches of bruising all over the body. The claimants' witnesses tell of a sustained campaign of ill-treatment of the men who were taken into custody, one of whom was very badly injured, and they suggest that Baha Mousa was picked out for particularly savage treatment because of the complaints his father had made. The men who were arrested had been taken from the hotel to a British military base in Basrah City called Darul Dhyafa". (37)
Court-martial proceedings have since been instituted, although trials have yet to take place, against seven military personnel, including the commanding officer who has been charged with negligent performance of duty. Three of the seven military personnel have been charged with "inhuman treatment" of the detainee.(38)

In another case, UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith announced in July 2005 that four UK soldiers would stand trial in connection with the death of Ahmed Jaber Karim 'Ali, one of four men detained on suspicion of looting in May 2003 in Basra. It has been alleged that UK servicemen, allegedly punched and kicked the suspects and then forced them into the Shat Al-Basra canal, causing Ahmed Jaber Karim 'Ali to drown.(39)

In a further case, a court martial convicted three UK soldiers in February 2005 of abusing detainees in May 2003 at Camp Breadbasket, near Basra, and sentenced them to between 140 days and two years' imprisonment.(40)

Members of the MNF have immunity from prosecution under Iraqi criminal and civil law, as stipulated by United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution 1546 (2004) with its attached exchange of letters between the Iraqi and US authorities. Investigations into human rights violations committed by the MNF in Iraq and the bringing to justice of those responsible, therefore, are entirely in the hands of their own national authorities. Amnesty International is concerned that military investigations and prosecutions in connection with human rights violations committed by members of the MNF may not meet international standards of impartiality.

Amnesty International considers that the torture and ill-treatment to which prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison and other places of detention controlled by occupying powers were exposed prior to the handover of power amounted to war crimes.(41) The organization continues to call on the governments whose troops have been involved in the military operations(42) in Iraq to ensure that there is no impunity for anyone found responsible for war crimes, regardless of position or rank.

Without charge or trial -- detention by the Multinational Force
Since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 tens of thousands of people have been detained by foreign forces, mainly the US forces, without being charged or tried and without the right to challenge their detention before a judicial body. Between August 2004 and November 2005 an administrative review board (the Combined Review and Release Board),(43) composed of representatives of the MNF and the Iraqi government, examined the files of almost 22,000 internees and recommended about 12,000 for release and another 10,000 for continued detention.(44) The vast majority of "security internees" - that is those individuals held in connection with the on-going armed conflict who are considered by the MNF to be a threat to security - have never been tried. According to statistical data compiled by the MNF, by the end of November 2005, the Central Criminal Court of Iraq had tried 1,301 alleged insurgents.(45)

In reference to the situation of detainees held by the MNF in Iraq, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stated in his report to the Security Council in June 2005: "One of the major human rights challenges remains the detention of thousands of persons without due process (...).Prolonged detention without access to lawyers and courts is prohibited under international law, including during states of emergency".(46) The US rejected the accusations claiming that all detainees had access to due legal process and their rights under the Geneva Conventions.(47)

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq has also expressed concern about the situation of people interned by the MNF in Iraq, commenting in its Human Rights Report of September 2005: "Mass detentions of persons without warrants continue to be used in military operations by MNF-I. Reports of arbitrary arrest and detention continue to be reported to the Human Rights Office. There is an urgent need to provide remedy to lengthy internment for reasons of security without adequate judicial oversight".(48)

Most "security internees" are held at four detention facilities under US control, namely Camp Bucca near Basra, Abu Ghraib prison(49) in Baghdad, Camp Cropper in Baghdad and Fort Suse near Suleimaniya, which started operating at the end of October 2005.(50) In addition, US forces hold detainees temporarily in various brigade and division internment facilities throughout the country.(51)A small number of "security internees" are held in the custody of UK forces at the detention facility of Shu'aiba Camp, near Basra. According to the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, at the end of October 2005, the UK forces held 33 security internees, none of whom were women or children, in their detention facility at al-Shu'aiba.(52)

At the beginning of 2004 the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) headed by US ambassador Paul Bremer published a list of about 8,500 detainees on the Internet. However, the true figure of those then being held was believed to be much higher.(53) When the CPA was disbanded in June 2004, the number of detainees held by the Coalition Forces had fallen to about 6,400 persons, according to a US military official.(54) However, since the handover of power the number of detainees held by the MNF has increased steadily.

In November 2004, General Geoffrey Miller, then US head of Iraqi detainee operations, stated that about 8,300 detainees were held by the MNF.(55) On 1 April 2005, the US Department of State estimated the number of detainees at about 10,000 persons.(56) According to the official website of the MNF, at the end of November 2005 there were more than 14,000 security detainees held in MNF custody, distributed over the four main US controlled detention centres as follows: Abu Ghraib prison (4,710 detainees), Camp Bucca (7,365 detainees), Camp Cropper (138 detainees) and Fort Suse (1,176 detainees), as well as various military brigade and division internment facilities (650 detainees).(57)

Legal background to detentions by the Multinational Force
Following the US-led invasion in March 2003, Iraq was in a state of international armed conflict. Consequently, persons deprived of their liberty by the occupying forces were protected -- in addition to applicable human rights law -- by international humanitarian law, namely the Third (Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War) or the Fourth (Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War) Geneva Conventions of 1949. The deprivation of liberty of a person which is ordered by the executive power without bringing charges against that person is referred to as administrative detention or internment. The Fourth Geneva Convention, applicable in situations of international armed conflict, states that internment "may be ordered only if the security of the Detaining Power makes it absolutely necessary".

With the handover of power in June 2004 the legal situation changed; since then Iraq is considered to be in a situation of non-international armed conflict with the MNF and the Iraqi security forces on one side and the insurgents on the other. Therefore, the Geneva Conventions no longer fully apply to persons detained in connection with the ongoing armed conflict. In this situation, all parties including the MNF, are bound by Article 3 common to the four Geneva Conventions, and by customary rules applicable to non-international armed conflicts, as well as human rights law. Article 3 common to the Four Geneva Conventions requires that those placed in detention are treated humanely, though it does not contain detailed provisions regulating such detention.

Since the handover of power, the MNF refer to UN Security Council Resolution 1546 as providing the legal basis for the MNF forces to hold people in detention in Iraq. Resolution 1546, with its attached exchange of letters between, for the US, Secretary of State Colin Powell and, for Iraq, Prime Minister, Ayad Allawi, confer on the MNF authority to resort to "internment where this is necessary for imperative reasons of security". Unfortunately, there is no reference in Resolution 1546 to the legal safeguards that are to apply to arrests, detention or internment carried out by armed forces and troops from countries contributing to the MNF. The UK and the US have stated, however, that their internment policies are also governed by Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Memorandum No. 3 (revised) of June 2004,(58) which sets out the process of arrest and detention of criminal suspects as well as procedures relating to "security internees" detained by members of the MNF after 28 June 2004.

This CPA Memorandum, which was revised only one day before the handover of power, details the authority of the MNF to detain people in Iraq. It elaborates some procedural details regarding detentions by the MNF and distinguishes between "criminal detainees" and "security internees".(59) With regard to criminal detainees the document stipulates: "(...) the MNF shall have the right to apprehend persons who are suspected of having committed criminal acts and are not considered security internees (hereafter: "criminal detainees") who shall be handed over to the Iraqi authorities as soon as reasonably practicable".(60)

The Memorandum established some basic rules for the detention of "security internees", concerning review procedures, access to internees and other aspects of their conditions, and the maximum period of internment of children.(61) CPA Memorandum No.3 provides that anyone who is interned for more than 72 hours is entitled to have the decision to intern them reviewed within seven days and thereafter at intervals of no more than six months. The Memorandum also states that the "operation, condition and standards of any internment facility established by the MNF shall be in accordance with Section IV of the Fourth Geneva Convention".(62)

Procedures set out in the CPA Memorandum and those which have been developed in practice are crucially flawed because they fail to meet international human rights standards guaranteeing the rights of detainees --including, notably, the right to have access to legal counsel and the right to challenge the lawfulness of the detention before a court.

In addition to the provisions of international humanitarian law related to non-international armed conflict set out above, human rights law remains applicable to Iraq. The US, the UK and Iraq are all states parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which provides basic safeguards for the protection of detainees. As affirmed by the UN Human Rights Committee (the expert UN body responsible for overseeing the implementation of the ICCPR), international humanitarian law and human rights law fully complement one another during times of armed conflict.(63) The relevant treaties governing non-international armed conflict(64) do not contain specific rules regarding questions such as for what duration and under what procedures (Protocol II explicitly accepts internment but does not regulate it), persons may be interned. It is human rights law that squarely addresses this question.

Amnesty International considers the MNF system of security internment in Iraq to be arbitrary - in violation of fundamental human rights. All detainees, including security internees, are protected by Article 9 of the ICCPR, which provides that no-one should be subjected to arbitrary detention and that deprivation of liberty must be based on grounds and procedures established by law (para 1). Detainees must also have access to a court empowered to rule without delay on the lawfulness of their detention and to order their release if the detention is found to be unlawful (para 4).(65) These requirements apply to "anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention" and therefore apply fully to those interned by the MNF.

The ICCPR (under Article 4) does allow for derogation of some provisions of the Covenant during proclaimed states of emergency, including at a time of armed conflict. However, measures derogating from the Covenant are allowed only if and to the extent that the situation constitutes a threat to the life of the nation. The Human Rights Committee has emphasized that "States parties may in no circumstances invoke Article 4 of the Covenant as justification for acting in violation of humanitarian law or peremptory norms of international law, for instance .... through arbitrary deprivations of liberty ".(66) Neither the US nor the UK governments, however, have taken the steps necessary formally to derogate from any of their obligations under the ICCPR (which derogation requires that governments notify the Human Rights Committee formally of their intention to derogate from relevant ICCPR provisions).

At all times, internees must be provided the right to an effective remedy (ICCPR Article 3(2)), including habeas corpus, so that a court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of the detention and order release if the detention is not lawful (Article 9(4)). (67) A person detained on suspicion of criminal activity must be brought promptly before a judge (ICCPR Article 9(3)) and either released or provided a fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal established by law (ICCPR Article 14).

Review process

Jawad M (68), an Iraqi national who worked for the US forces at military bases in Baghdad, was detained by US forces in August 2004. In October 2004 he received a document from the Office of the Deputy Commanding General, Detainee Operations, Multinational Force-Iraq which informed him about an upcoming review session and included the following one-sentence accusation: "Gathering of information on interpreters and employees with the Multinational Force". No further explanation or reference to any relevant legislation was provided. He was not charged or tried. Reviews of his case were conducted by an administrative body before which he was not permitted to appear. Following his release from Abu Ghraib prison at the beginning of 2005, Jawad M told Amnesty International that he still did not know the reasons for his internment. He said: "It was useless. I was there for five months and I knew that nobody can do anything. Until now I don't know why they sent me to the prison and why I was released and whose decision that was."

The case of Jawad M illustrates the way in which many internees are detained arbitrarily by the MNF. In violation of international human rights law, tens of thousands of internees have been held for weeks or months and thousands for more than one year without being charged or tried and with no right to challenge the lawfulness of their detention before a judicial body. They have received no information regarding the grounds for their detention, whether they will be charged and brought to trial or, if not, for how long they are likely to be detained.

As detailed below, the US and UK have established separate systems for reviewing cases of internees held by their respective forces. Both systems have in common that they fail to meet international human rights law and standards - including the requirement for court oversight of the detention. Despite the involvement of consultative bodies in the process, the ultimate decision about the release or continued internment of a person lies with military commanders.

Review for internees held by the US forces
The MNF's internment procedures were criticised by Iraqi Justice Minister 'Abd al-Hussain Shandal in September 2005. Speaking to Reuters news agency, he complained: "No citizen should be arrested without a court order (...) There is abuse [of human rights] due to detentions, which are overseen by the Multinational Force (MNF) and are not in the control of the Justice Ministry".(69)

Since the handover of power in mid-2004, however, the Iraqi authorities have participated in reviewing cases of internees held by the MNF in line with changes announced by the US Department of Defense in August 2004. (70)

After the handover, a body called the Combined Review and Release Board (CRRB) was established, comprising two representatives each from the Iraqi ministries of Justice, the Interior and Human Rights and three MNF officers. This body reviews the cases of internees and makes recommendations regarding their release or continued detention -- according to Human Rights Ministry officials these recommendations are made by majority and none of the board's members has a power of veto -- but its recommendations are not binding and it is the MNF's Deputy Commanding General for Detainee Operations who decides whether or not a detainee should be released after first consulting Iraq's Minister of Justice.(71)

The US government's 2005 report to the UN Committee against Torture provided the following description of the detention review process: "Upon capture by a detaining unit, a detainee is moved as expeditiously as possible to a theater internment facility. A military magistrate reviews an individual's detention to assess whether to continue to detain or to release him or her. If detention is continued, the Combined Review and Release Board assumes the responsibility for subsequently reviewing whether continued detention is appropriate."(72)

CPA Memorandum No. 3 stipulates that the review within seven days must be followed by further reviews at intervals of no more than six months. In practice, these appear generally to be respected with some reviews being done at more frequent intervals. In considering cases, the CRRB has three possible options to recommend: unconditional release, release with a suitable guarantor from the detainee's community, or continued internment. Neither the internee nor his or her legal counsel are permitted to be present during these case reviews, though internees have reportedly been encouraged to make submissions to the CRRB in writing.

Between the establishment of the CRRB in August 2004 and 28 November 2005, the CRRB reviewed the files of 21,995 internees, of whom 4,426 were recommended for unconditional release, 7,626 for release with a guarantor and 9,903 for continued internment.(73) According to the US Department of Defense, the CRRB when making a decision is to take into consideration the "circumstances of the detainee's capture, the length of detention prior to review, the level of cooperation by the detainee, and the detainee's potential for further acts of anti-Iraqi misconduct if released".(74)

In its report to the UN Committee against Torture, the US government referred to the practice of having a military magistrate conduct the initial review within seven days, but such reviews appear generally to be paper-based reviews, in which the internee's file is considered without his being present.

In one case that received considerable media attention, however, a security internee was permitted to be present during the review of his detention conducted by US military officers. But the review procedure followed in the case of 44-year-old US national Cyrus Kar, a filmmaker, differed from the normal procedure. Kar and his cameraman, Farshid Faraji, were detained on 17 May 2005 by Iraqi security forces while riding a taxi in Baghdad. Whilst Farshid Faraji was held for almost two months in detention by the Iraqi authorities, Cyrus Kar was handed over to the US forces. Kar was denied access to a lawyer during his detention but on 4 July 2005 he was brought before a review board composed of three US military officers. He was released on 10 July, after which he commented: "I couldn't have more respect for the rank-and-file soldiers, but the system is broken. When an Iraqi is detained there, he comes out angry and wanting payback".(75)

Review for internees held by the UK forces
Cases of detainees interned by UK forces are reviewed by the Divisional Internment Review Committee (DIRC), which is composed entirely of MNF officials. Its members are the UK military chief of staff, another senior officer, the chief legal officer and another legal officer and the chief political advisor.(76) However, the final decision as to whether a detainee should continue to be interned or released rests with the Governing Officer Commanding (GOC).

The initial review has to take place within 48 hours(77) of internment and thereafter monthly.(78) An interned person may address written submissions to the DIRC, but neither the internee nor his or her legal representative may be present when the DIRC reviews the internee's case.

The GOC informs internees in writing, stating the reasons, when it is determined that they should continue to be interned. However, Amnesty International is concerned that even after months of internment the MNF continues to hold internees without providing them or their legal counsel with substantive evidence to justify their detention.

For example, a 48-old dual national with UK and Iraqi citizenship, Hillal 'Abdul Razzaq 'Ali al-Jedda, has been detained since his arrest on 10 October 2004 in Baghdad. He filed a case against the UK Secretary of State for Defence challenging his internment in Iraq which was dismissed by the High Court of England and Wales on 12 August 2005. However, the court noted that "Although detained for imperative reasons of security, the claimant has not been charged with any offence; and the Secretary of State acknowledges that, as matters stand, there is insufficient material available which could be used in court to support criminal charges against him. The claimant is therefore detained simply on a preventive basis."(79) In mid-February 2006, Hillal 'Abdul Razzaq 'Ali al-Jedda continued to be held without charge or trial by UK forces. In January 2006, an appeal against the decision of the High Court was heard in the Court of Appeal of England and Wales but judgment was still awaited in mid- February.

Length of internment
Different provisions exist for detainees held by the MNF since before the mid-2004 transfer of power to a new Iraqi government and those detained since that time. Detainees in the first category may be held indefinitely, whereas those detained and interned since 30 June 2004, according to CPA Memorandum No. 3, "must be either released from internment or transferred to the Iraqi criminal jurisdiction no later than 18 months from the date of induction into an MNF internment facility."

This requirement of release after 18 months is not absolute, however. Even the detainees interned after the handover can be held for more prolonged periods at the approval of the Joint Detention Committee (JDC). This requires that an application for further internment is made to the JDC two months before the expiry of the initial internment period of 18 months; if the JDC sanctions continued internment it must specify the duration. According to the Human Rights Annual Report 2005 of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, published in July 2005, the JDC had still to be convened for UK-held internees because none of them by then had been held for as long as 18 months.(80) In mid-February 2006 an application for the extension of internment beyond 18 months of 266 detainees had been made to the JDC.(81)

Amnesty International is concerned about hundreds of security internees who have been detained by the MNF since before the handover of power and may be held indefinitely. In a letter to Amnesty International dated 19 February 2006, Major General Gardner, commander of Task Force 134, which is in charge of MNF detention operations, stated that at the end of 2005 the number of security internees held for more than 18 months was estimated to be 751.(82) The letter confirmed that approval by the JDC to keep an internee beyond 18 months is only required for those "internees detained after 30 June 2004". (83)

Amnesty International considers indefinite internment as practiced by the MNF with regard to security internees held since before the handover of power to be unlawful. According to The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions (established by the UN Commission on Human Rights): "With regard to derogations that are unlawful and inconsistent with States' obligations under international law, the Working Group reaffirms that the fight against terrorism may undeniably require specific limits on certain guarantees, including those concerning detention and the right to a fair trial. It nevertheless points out that under any circumstances, and whatever the threat, there are rights which cannot be derogated from, that in no event may an arrest based on emergency legislation last indefinitely, and it is particularly important that measures adopted in states of emergency should be strictly commensurate with the extent of the danger invoked."(84)

Amnesty International also considers that indefinite internment may constitute a violation of the prohibition on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Any deprivation of liberty, even when carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law, inevitably causes some stress or a degree of mental suffering to the internee and his or her family, although this will not automatically render the deprivation unlawful. However, Amnesty International is concerned that the "security internees" held by the MNF, are being deprived of their liberty in circumstances that cause unnecessary suffering, such as indefinite and incommunicado detention, that cannot be justified as an unavoidable part of a "lawful sanction".(85) The UN Committee against Torture has found that administrative detention by a party to an armed conflict may constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, based inter alia on its excessive length(86) In addition, the Human Rights Committee has referred to prolonged, indefinite "administrative detention" as incompatible with Article 7 of the ICCPR, which prohibits, among other things, torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.(87)

Indefinite detention causes uncertainty and mental anguish for many internees in Iraq - some of whom have been held for more than two years. Many relatives of detainees with whom Amnesty International has been in regular contact have expressed their despair. For example, in January 2006 the organization received the following email communication sent by a man whose brother had been held for almost two years:
    "Thank you for your e-mail and your concern about my brother. There is no change and no development in the case. And it is very difficult to visit him because he is now in Basra. And there are a lot of problems facing Sunnis who go to Basra in order to visit their relatives. Besides it is very difficult to get permission from American soldiers to visit him. And there isn't any charge. Now we lost the hope to get him again."
The number of long-term detainees has reportedly increased since September 2005. According to the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry, on 28 September 2005 there were 1,443 detainees held by MNF for more than one year. However, according to figures provided by US officials, in early November 2005 among the nearly 13,900 detainees held by the MNF there were some 3,800 who had by then been held for more than one year and more than 200 who had been held for more than two years.(88)

Amnesty International knows of internees who at the beginning of 2006 had been held for more than two years without having been charged or tried. For example, Kamal Muhammad 'Abdullah al-Jibouri, a 43-year-old former soldier married with 11 children, continued to be held in early February 2006, after some two years in detention without charge or trial. He was detained on 5 February 2004 by US troops in the al-Khusum village of the Salaheddin governorate. He was held at Abu Ghraib prison initially, but transferred to Camp Bucca, near Basra, in May 2005. Since his transfer, it has become particularly difficult for his relatives to visit him. Two relatives of Kamal Muhammad 'Abdullah al-Jibouri, both aged about 40, were also detained by US troops on 5 February 2004 in al-Khusum village. At least one of the two was reportedly transferred at the end of 2005 to Fort Suse, near Suleimaniya in northern Iraq. As of February 2006, both men, like Kamal Muhammad 'Abdullah al-Jibouri, continued to be held without charge or trial.

Treatment of internees
Although the US authorities introduced various measures to safeguard prisoners after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, there continue to be reports of torture or ill-treatment of detainees by US troops. In September 2005 several members of the US National Guard's 184th Infantry Regiment were sentenced to prison terms in connection with torture or ill-treatment of Iraqis who had reportedly been detained in March 2005 following an attack on a power plant near Baghdad. (89) According to media reports the abuse involved the use of an electro-shock gun on handcuffed and blindfolded detainees.(90) The Los Angeles Times referred to a member of the battalion having reported that "the stun gun was used on at least one man's testicles". (91)

The abuse was investigated after a soldier who was not involved in the mistreatment discovered film footage showing parts of the abuse on a laptop computer. At least twelve soldiers from the National Guard's 184th Infantry Regiment were charged with misconduct "relating to abuse and maltreatment of detainees". Three sergeants were sentenced to between five and twelve months of imprisonment and four other soldiers were sentenced to hard labour. (92)

In another incident, five soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment were charged before a court martial in connection with allegations of detainee abuse. The case arose from an incident on 7 September 2005 when three detainees were allegedly punched and kicked by the five US soldiers as they were awaiting movement to a detention facility.(93) On 21 December 2005 it was announced that the five soldiers had been sentenced to be confined for periods ranging from 30 days to six months and reductions in rank.(94)

Amnesty International has noted that in the above cases, US officials have apparently taken swift action to investigate the allegations of abuse and to prosecute the perpetrators. However, given that torture or ill-treatment have continued, the organization is concerned that insufficient safeguards have been put in place in order to protect detainees from the recurrence of abuse.

Amnesty International has interviewed former detainees and relatives of detainees held by the MNF about treatment of detainees after the handover of power in June 2004. In one reported incident an electro-shock gun (taser) was used against detainees in circumstances which violate international human rights law prohibiting torture or ill-treatment. According to an eye-witness in November 2005 a US guard at Camp Bucca used a taser against two detainees while they were being transferred in a vehicle to a medical appointment within the detention facility, shocking one on the arm and the other on his abdomen.

Electro-shock weapons have been developed as a non-lethal force option to be used to control dangerous or combative individuals. Amnesty International considers that electro-shock weapons are inherently open to abuse as they can inflict severe pain without leaving substantial marks, and can further be used to inflict repeated shocks.

Under CPA Memorandum No. 3, the MNF was required to ensure that conditions and standards in all of its internment facilities satisfy Section IV of the Fourth Geneva Convention, (95) which sets out standards for the treatment of detainees, including in relation to food, hygiene and the provision of medical attention, as well as contact with the outside world and penal and disciplinary sanctions.(96)

Article 119 of the Fourth Geneva Convention provides that internees may not be punished other than by fines, discontinuance of privileges, fatigue duties -- which may only be "in connection with the maintenance of the place of internment" and not exceed two hours daily - and confinement. Article 119 further provides: "In no case shall disciplinary penalties be inhuman, brutal or dangerous for the health of internees. Account shall be taken of the internee's age, sex and state of health."

Despite this, former internees have alleged that disciplinary or penal sanctions have been used which breach the above provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and appear also to constitute a violation of international human rights treaties prohibiting torture or ill-treatment. In particular, internees at Camp Bucca are alleged to have been exposed deliberately to extremes of both heat and cold, by being made to wait for hours in the heat of the sun while their accommodation was searched and forcibly showered with cold water and exposed to cold air conditioners.

Amnesty International has previously expressed concern to the US authorities regarding their use of a restraint chair for detainees in Iraq. On 28 October 2005, John Moore of Getty Images photographed an individual -- reportedly a juvenile detained in the maximum security section of Abu Ghraib prison - strapped into a four-point restraint chair. US Army military police reportedly said that he was being "punished for disrespecting them" and would remain for two hours in the chair "as punishment".

The photograph showed the detainee tightly immobilized. He had straps across his chest and his wrists and ankles were bound, with his legs bent at the knee, and his head was thrown back. Such a position would appear to carry a significant health risk as well as cause discomfort and pain. Prolonged immobilization in restraints is known to carry a risk of blood clots or asphyxia. On 15 December 2005, Amnesty International wrote to the MNF Task Force 134, which is responsible for Detainee Operations in Iraq, stating that the organization would "consider the manner of restraint shown to amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and in violation of the US's obligations under international human rights treaties".

In a letter of 17 January 2006, Major General John D. Gardner, commander of MNF Task Force 134, responded to Amnesty International stating that "in accordance with US Army policy, restraint cannot be used as a form of punishment".(97) He continued that a restraint chair may be used in order to gain control of a violent detainee. However, Amnesty International was informed that the incident was being investigated and that policies concerning the use of the restraint chair were under review. The use of the restraint chair has been suspended until the conclusions of this review.

Access to the outside world
CPA Memorandum No. 3 is deficient in several respects insofar as the question of access to detainees is concerned. In particular, while it provides for the ICRC to have access to detainees it qualifies this, stating that access by the ICRC can be denied "for reasons of imperative necessity as an exceptional and temporary measure". (98)

There are no regulations spelled out in the Memorandum regarding internees' right of access to relatives or legal counsel. It states that the provisions of section 4 of the Fourth Geneva Convention apply, which include some reference to contact with relatives and legal counsel, but it makes no reference to other international standards relating to the rights of detainees, such as The Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment, and the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons From Enforced Disappearance.

Amnesty International is concerned that the MNF's failure to guarantee detainees' access to the outside world, including to their families and to legal counsel, has been a contributory factor facilitating torture and ill-treatment and other human rights abuses of detainees. Such denial of access poses a continuing risk of further such abuses.(99)

Visits by relatives
During the first weeks after arrest detainees held by US forces of the MNF have no access to their families or legal counsel. According to the Detainee visitation rules and guidelines issued by the US military in July 2005, security internees are not entitled to receive visits during the first 60 days of internment. (100)

US forces have imposed these restrictions also in high profile cases. For example, Ali Omar Ibrahim Al-Mashhadani, a 36-year-old cameraman for Reuters news agency, was arrested on 8 August 2005 in Ramadi by US forces after a search of his house. Reuters Global Managing Editor Director, David Schlesinger, protested the decision to detain the cameraman without any charges and the restrictions on his access to the outside world: "I am shocked and appalled that such decision could be taken without his having access to legal counsel of his choosing, his family or his employers."(101) Despite this protest, Ali Omar Ibrahim Al-Mashhadani could not be visited before the expiry of the 60 days limit. His family visited him for the first time on 7 October 2005 at Abu Ghraib prison. He was transferred to Camp Bucca, near Basra, the same day. He was released in mid-January 2006 without having been charged or tried.

Internees held by the UK forces have also complained about delayed access to the outside world. Hillal 'Abdul Razzaq 'Ali al-Jedda, a 48-year-old dual national with UK and Iraqi citizenship,(102) was arrested at his sister's house in Baghdad on 10 October 2004 by US troops who were accompanied by Iraqi security forces. He reported that during his arrest he was beaten, forced to the floor, hooded and tightly handcuffed, causing pain. At Baghdad Airport he was handed over to the UK forces and transferred to the UK-controlled Shu'aiba Divisional Temporary Detention Facility, near Basra. For the first 28 days of his detention he was reportedly held in solitary confinement in a small and badly ventilated cell. He claims that his family was only informed about his whereabouts 33 days after his detention.(103) According to the UK authorities "[s]tandard operating practices require the MNF to inform relatives of the detention of internees within 24 hours of their internment".(104)

Some relatives of detainees have told human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, that for weeks or months they were not able to establish the whereabouts of a detainee. The Christian Peacemaker Teams reported the case of 'Adnan Talib Hassan Al-'Unaibi, an imam in the town of Hilla, who was detained by US forces on 1 May 2004 while attending a public meeting at the premises of a local human rights organization.(105) During the raid US forces reportedly killed two people. After the detention a brother of the imam went to the Iraqi Assistance Centre (IAC)(106) in Baghdad to find out his whereabouts. However, the detention was only confirmed at the end of May 2004 after the brother had obtained more information from released detainees -- including the prisoner's sequence number. Despite numerous inquiries, relatives were not able to establish 'Adnan Talib Hassan Al-'Unaibi's whereabouts for several months. They were only allowed to visit him after he had been in detention for five months. He was eventually released uncharged in September 2005.

In principle, internees are entitled to four visits per month or one visit per week after they have passed the first 60 days of detention. However, relatives have frequently reported that they were not able to conduct visits, because the detention facility was located far away and travelling long distances in Iraq is unsafe.

Visits by legal counsel
After the first 60 days of internment, internees are entitled to receive visits by legal counsel. Amnesty International has asked numerous relatives of internees, former internees, lawyers and human rights activists about the possibilities of security internees seeking the support of legal counsel. It appears that visits of security detainees by legal counsel are extremely rare. The main reason for this seems to be the belief that it is futile to seek legal counsel when the detainee will not be brought before a court of law. Former internees and lawyers alike have told Amnesty International they did not believe that a lawyer could have significantly furthered the case of a security internee.

Visits by monitoring bodies
As indicated earlier, CPA Memorandum No 3 in principle grants the ICRC access to MNF-held detainees at locations throughout the country. In practice, however, the ICRC has been able to visit only a limited number of larger detention facilities, mostly due to security considerations. According to the ICRC in the period from May to September 2005 "the main detention/internment facilities covered during that period were Camp Cropper (Baghdad Airport); Camp Bucca near the southern town of Basra; and several detention places in Kurdistan". (107) According to the MNF, the ICRC has "access to all Theater Internment Facilities in the theatre".(108) Amnesty International understands from this that the ICRC does not have access to brigade and division internment facilities of the MNF -- that is, military bases where detainees are mainly held during the first days or weeks of their detention.

Therefore, in many locations of detention under MNF control, no independent body is currently able to monitor the treatment of detainees held by the MNF. Yet, visits to places of detention by independent monitoring bodies are an important safeguard for persons deprived of their liberty. Visits enable experts to examine at first hand the conditions of detention and treatment of detainees and to make recommendations for improvements. Visits can have a deterrent effect against abuse and provide a necessary link for detainees with the outside world.

According to the UK authorities, the ICRC has "full and unrestricted access" to its detention facilities in Iraq and the ICRC has described conditions of internment as "generally good".(109)

The Iraqi Human Rights Ministry is conducting periodic visits to detention facilities under the control of the MNF. The ministry has opened an office at Abu Ghraib prison which is also monitoring the situation of internees held by the MNF. The ministry is circulating regular reports on its monitoring activities concerning the situation of detainees in Iraq. An official of the ministry told Amnesty International that its monitoring includes occasional visits to brigade and division internment facilities of the MNF.(110)

Several UN human rights experts have faced obstacles in their attempts to visit detainees held by the US forces -- including those held in Iraq. In a statement issued on 18 November 2005, five independent experts of the UN Commission on Human Rights -- including the Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment -- expressed their regret about the US refusal of terms for a fact finding mission to the US detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.(111) This statement followed a letter of 25 June 2004 and several follow-up letters sent by UN human rights experts to the US authorities requesting to visit "those persons arrested, detained or tried on grounds of alleged terrorism or other violations, in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Guantanamo Bay military base and elsewhere". (112) At the time of writing none of the five UN human rights experts had been able to visit US detention facilities in Iraq.

Secret and unacknowledged detention
The US has held an unknown number of persons detained in Iraq without any contact with the outside world in violation of international standards. These so called "ghost detainees" were largely hidden to prevent the ICRC from visiting them.

On 17 June 2004, US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld admitted that in November 2003 he ordered military officials to detain a senior member of Ansar al-Islam(113) without listing him in the prison's register. This prisoner was reportedly arrested in late June or early July 2003 and was transferred to an undisclosed location outside Iraq. He was returned to Iraq where he was detained in secret until May 2004 without being registered or assigned a prison register number.(114)

There are indications that persons detained in Iraq have secretly been transferred outside Iraq for interrogation by the CIA. For example, Hassan Ghul, a Pakistani national reportedly detained in January 2004 in northern Iraq, is according to Human Rights Watch possibly held in CIA custody.(115) According to a report in the Swiss newspaper, Der Sonntagsblick, a confidential communication of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry to its embassy in London intercepted by the Swiss secret service, stated that Egyptian intelligence could confirm that 23 Iraqi and Afghan citizens have been interrogated by US intelligence agents at the military air base Mihael Kogalniceanu in Rumania. The communication further stated that similar interrogation centres existed in the Ukraine, Kosovo, Macedonia and Bulgaria.(116)

In at least one incident US officials have tried to cover up the death of an unacknowledged detainee in Iraq. Mandel al-Jamadi was detained by US troops and placed in Abu Ghraib prison where he died on 4 November 2003 as an unregistered detainee. Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under the US Freedom of Information Act, suggest that Mandel al-Jamadi died due to "blunt force injuries complicated by compromised respiration".(117)

US officials have defended the practice of denying detainees' access to the ICRC for purposes of "imperative military necessity". (118) Under Article 143 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, ICRC visits to civilian internees may be denied "for reasons of imperative military necessity", but "only as an exceptional and temporary measure". In Iraq in January 2004, the US authorities invoked "military necessity" when they refused to grant the ICRC access to eight detainees held in Abu Ghraib. According to the Fay report(119), one of the eight detainees, a Syrian national, was at that time held in a tiny dark cell without windows, toilet or bedding. The inhumane treatment of this Syrian detainee, facilitated by the invocation of "military necessity", was not limited to solitary confinement in harsh conditions. Around 18 December 2003, he was abused and threatened with dogs. According to the US military, there is a photograph of him kneeling on the floor with his hands tied behind his back, while an unmuzzled dog is snarling a few feet from his face. During an ICRC visit in mid-March 2004, the organization's delegates were again denied access to him, and other detainees, on the grounds of "military necessity". In January and March 2004, the ICRC questioned the "exceptional and temporary" nature of the denial of access. By the time of its March visit, the Syrian detainee had been held incommunicado and under interrogation for four months.(120)

US military investigations have suggested that up to 100 so-called ghost detainees may have been held in US detention facilities in Iraq.(121) However, the Church report summary of March 2005 stated that "the practice of DOD [Department of Defense] holding 'ghost detainees' has now ceased".(122)

The practice of holding detainees in secret, with no contact with the outside world, places the person outside the protection of the law, denying them important safeguards and leaving them vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment. They have no access to lawyers, families or doctors. They are often kept in prolonged arbitrary detention without charge or trial. They are unable to challenge their arrest or detention, whose lawfulness is not assessed by any judge or similar authority. Their treatment and conditions are not monitored by any independent body, national or international. The secrecy of their detention allows the concealment of any further human rights violations they suffer, including torture or ill-treatment, and allows governments to evade accountability.

In certain circumstances, when people are held in secret detention and the authorities refuse to disclose their fate or whereabouts, they have "disappeared". This practice, known as enforced disappearance, is expressly prohibited under international law.(123) International law requires that any person deprived of their liberty must be held in an officially recognized place of detention.

Enforced disappearance violates the rules of international law which provide for, among others, the right to recognition as a person before the law, the right to liberty and security of the person and the right not to be subjected to torture or other ill-treatment. It also violates - or constitutes a grave threat to - the right to life. In certain circumstances, enforced disappearance can also be a crime against humanity.(124)

International human rights bodies have held that secret detention and enforced disappearances themselves constitute ill-treatment or torture, in view of the considerable suffering of persons detained without contact with their families or anyone else from the outside world, and without knowing when or even if they will ever be freed or allowed to see their families again.

The same is true for the suffering caused to family members of "disappeared" persons. In a number of cases, international human rights bodies have held that the authorities' denial of their right to know what has happened to their relatives has violated the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment.

Internment of women and children
CPA Memorandum No.3 includes provisions for the internment of children: "Any person under the age of 18 interned at any time shall in all cases be released not later than 12 months after the initial date of internment".(125)

According to the UK authorities, there are no UK or US detention facilities allocated for women or children in Iraq. They further stated that at US detention facilities women and juveniles are segregated from adult males unless they are members of the same family. (126) As of October 2005 UK authorities were not holding any women or children in detention.(127)

At the end of September 2005 there were about 200 juveniles held by the MNF who were scheduled to be transferred shortly to the jurisdiction of the Iraqi Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.(128) The newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported in December 2005 that the Iraqi Judicial Council had appointed a judge to deal specifically with cases of detained juveniles held by the MNF.(129)

At the end of January 2006 a US military spokesman announced the release of five woman detainees, while four others remained held by the US forces.(130)

"High Value" Detainees
The vast majority of detainees who were held or continue to be held by the MNF without charge or trial are so called "security internees" -- that is, persons detained in the context of the ongoing armed conflict. In addition, US forces continue to hold so-called high value detainees -- a category which has mainly been used for persons with senior positions under Saddam Hussain's government.(131) CPA Order No. 99 refers to a Memorandum of Understanding between the MNF and Iraqi authorities regarding "the handling of High Value Detainees."(132) Amnesty International requested a copy of that document from the US government, but to date has not received this.(133)

At least two "high value" detainees have died in custody under circumstances suggesting that torture or ill-treatment caused or contributed to their deaths. 'Abd Hamad Mawoush, a major general in the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussain, died in US detention on 26 November 2003 after having a sleeping bag forced over his head and body and one of his interrogators sat on his chest. On 23 January 2006, a US court martial convicted a US army interrogator of his killing and sentenced the soldier to forfeit $6,000 of his salary.(134) Muhammad Mun'im al-Izmerly, a 65-year-old chemical scientist, was detained in April 2003 and taken to Camp Cropper where he died in January 2004. An autopsy report found that he "died from a sudden hit to his head".(135)

The group of "high value" detainees included former prisoners of war (POW) who are now standing trial. Some former POWs, including Saddam Hussain, have been referred to the Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal(136) (formerly known as Iraqi Special Tribunal). Although standing before an Iraqi court, Saddam Hussain and several others continue to be held in the custody of the MNF at the request of the Iraqi authorities.

According to MNF Task Force 134, in mid-February 2006 thirteen "high value" detainees continue to be held without charge or trial. Their cases were said to be subject to review by the High Value Detainee Special Review Committee, described as a "U.S. Government panel staffed by military and civilian security and intelligence specialists qualified to assess security threat, as well as by representatives of the Regime Crimes Liaison office, which acts in support of the Iraqi Higher Tribunal".(137)

Earlier, the US government stated in its report to the UN Committee Against Torture, that US forces in Iraq were holding a "small number of enemy prisoners of war (EPW)".(138) These apparently included persons who had been detained as POWs between March 2003 and June 2004, and therefore should have been released or charged at the end of the occupation on 28 June 2004.

Amnesty International calls on the Iraqi Authorities and the international community to ensure that all persons who have been responsible for human rights violations under the government of Saddam Hussain are brought to justice in trials conforming to international standards. However, according to Amnesty International's information - nearly three years after the demise of Saddam Hussain's government - some former officials of that government continue to be held without charge or trial.

Most of the "high value" detainees -- if not all of them -- are currently being held at Camp Cropper, a detention facility of the US forces near Baghdad Airport. Relatives of "high value" detainees have reported restrictions on visits. According to a former detainee at Camp Cropper, visits by relatives are generally only allowed once every three months. For example, Huda Salih Mehdi 'Ammash, the only female member of the Revolutionary Command Council under Saddam Hussain's government, was reportedly permitted family visits on only four occasions during her detention from May 2003 until November 2005.

In December 2005, several "high value" detainees were released without having been charged or tried. They included two women scientists, namely (the above mentioned) Huda Salih Mehdi 'Ammash and Rihab Rashid Taha. Both had been held in US detention for about 30 months.(139)

Insufficient safeguards for detainees -- no lessons learned?
International human rights law contains safeguards to protect the fundamental rights of people held in detention -- including the right not be subjected to torture or ill-treatment. Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) stipulates: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment."

Further rights of detainees are guaranteed in Article 9 of the ICCPR according to which no-one should be subjected to arbitrary detention (para 1). In addition every detainee must have access to a court empowered to rule without delay on the lawfulness of their detention and order their release if the detention is unlawful (para 4).

Iraq and all 27 countries(140) who were contributing at the end of 2005 to the MNF are state parties to the ICCPR. In addition, all 27 countries contributing to the MNF are state parties to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

Even though Iraq is not a state party to the CAT, the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment is regarded as part of customary law, binding on all states, from which no derogation is allowed at anytime, even in times of emergency or war. International humanitarian law, which Iraq is bound to observe, also contains provisions that expressly prohibit torture and ill-treatment during both international and non-international armed conflicts.

Furthermore, Iraqi law prohibits the use of torture and ill-treatment. Article 35 of the Iraqi Constitution of 2005 prohibits "all forms of torture, mental or physical, and inhuman treatment". Although not fully consistent with the definition of torture according to CAT, Article 127 of the Code of Criminal Procedure states that it is not permissible "to use any illegal means to influence the accused to secure his statement. Mistreatment, threatening to harm, inducement, threats, menace, psychological influence, and the use of narcotics, intoxicants and drugs are all considered illegal means." In fact the Iraqi Penal Code criminalizes the use of torture by any public servant. Article 333 states that "any employee or public servant who tortures, or orders the torture of an accused, witness, or expert in order to compel that person to confess to committing a crime, to give a statement or information, to hide certain matters, or to give a specific opinion will be punished by imprisonment or detention. The use of force or threats is considered to be torture".

In addition, Iraqi legislation provides for pre-trial detention procedures which contribute to the safety of detainees. For example, Article 123 of the 1971 Law on Criminal Procedure contains particularly important provisions as it requires a detainee to be brought before an investigating judge within 24 hours.

However, for many detainees held by the MNF and the Iraq authorities the reality is in stark contrast to human rights standards as guaranteed under international and Iraqi law. The ongoing practice of US forces and Iraqi authorities to restrict access to detainees and reports of torture and ill-treatment of detainees -- in particular those held by forces of the Interior Ministry - demonstrate that sufficient safeguards to protect detainees have not been put in place. On numerous occasions Amnesty International has expressed its concerns about this failure and made recommendations to stop and prevent the violations of fundamental human rights of detainees in Iraq - including in communications and meetings with representatives of the Iraqi authorities and with representatives of governments contributing to the MNF in Iraq.

Amnesty International is concerned that, as yet, insufficient safeguards have been put in place, in order to protect detainees from abuse. The organization is particularly concerned that a person taken into detention by the MNF is not eligible to receive visits by relatives or legal counsel during the first 60 days of detention. The organization fears that these regulations, which delay the detainees' access to the outside world, significantly increase the risk of detainees being tortured or ill-treated. During the initial period detainees are often held in so-called holding centres within a US military basis. Under the current circumstances independent bodies are not in the position to monitor the treatment of detainees at such locations. However, even after being transferred to a detention centre equipped with facilities for visitors, detainees are not allowed to receive visits until 60 days have elapsed since the date of their detention.(141)

Many detainees have been held for weeks in pre-trial detention by the Iraqi authorities without being presented to a judicial body (that is, an investigating judge or court) -- in violation of Iraqi law. Their rights to receive visits by family members and to have access to defence counsel frequently have been denied. Many families of detainees have to wait anxiously for days or weeks before they learn where a person is being held.

Denial of access by detainees to the outside world during the first weeks of detention has been recognized by international human rights bodies and experts to be a major factor in facilitating torture and ill-treatment of detainees. For example, in 1995 the then UN Special Rapporteur on Torture emphasized that detainees should have immediate access to the outside world and called for a total ban on incommunicado detention. He stated: "Torture is most frequently practiced during incommunicado detention. Incommunicado detention should be made illegal and persons held in incommunicado detention should be released without delay.... Legal provisions should ensure that detainees be given access to legal counsel within 24 hours".(142) The Human Rights Committee and the Committee against Torture have also both called for the elimination of incommunicado detention.(143)

Amnesty International is also concerned that in many incidents of torture or ill-treatment of detainees, including in cases of deaths in custody, the MNF and Iraqi authorities have failed to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations as international standards require. As a consequence of insufficient investigations into allegations of torture and ill-treatment only a limited number of perpetrators have been brought to justice.

It appears that at least some members of the MNF who have been convicted by military trials for their involvement in torture or ill-treatment of detainees may have received sentences that do not adequately reflect the gravity of these violations and that these proceedings may not have established the full truth or extent of abuse. The organization calls on the US, UK and Iraqi authorities to allow international monitors to conduct investigations into past and ongoing human rights violations in Iraq.

It appears that in many incidents where Iraqi security forces have been involved in torture or ill-treatment, the Iraqi authorities have never conducted investigations. There have been only rare reports of perpetrators of torture or ill-treatment being brought to justice. The US Department of State refers to one case of prosecution of police officers in Baghdad who were accused of "systematically raping and torturing female detainees".(144)

Following reports of torture or ill-treatment at detention facilities in al-Jadiriyah district of Baghdad under the control of the Interior Ministry, Iraqi authorities announced on 15 November 2005 that they had launched an investigation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Rozh Nuri Shawes.(145) A report on the findings was expected within two weeks, but at the beginning of February 2006 no findings had yet been disclosed. There have been media reports, however, that some of the high-ranking officers who were believed to be involved in the human rights violations had fled to neighbouring Iran.(146) On 5 February 2006, Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari reportedly established a further committee to investigate complaints filed with the Iraqi authorities concerning human rights violations allegedly committed by forces of the Iraqi Interior Ministry.(147) This committee's initial findings are due to be announced in early March 2006.

Amnesty International Recommendations

To the Iraqi authorities

Concerning torture and other ill-treatment

* Declare publicly the government's total opposition to torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment and make clear to all members of the Iraqi Police Service, the Iraqi Armed Forces, prison guards and members of other security agencies that torture and other ill-treatment will never be tolerated.

* Ensure that all complaints and reports of torture and other ill-treatment and deaths in custody are promptly, impartially and effectively investigated by an independent body and that the methods and findings of such investigations are made public. This should include cases cited in this report, such as those of the detainees discovered being held at various Iraqi Interior Ministry buildings in November and December 2005 and those of the four Palestinians detained and tortured by the Wolf Brigade in May 2005.

* Suspend officials suspected of committing torture and other ill-treatment from active duty during the investigation.

* Ensure that complainants, witnesses and others at risk are protected from intimidation and reprisals.

* Bring to justice those responsible for torture and other serious human rights violations and try them according to international standards for fair trial and with no possibility of the death penalty.

* Ensure that statements and other evidence obtained through torture and other ill-treatment may not be invoked in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture.

* Ensure that victims of torture and other ill-treatment and their dependants should be entitled to obtain prompt reparation from the state including restitution, fair and adequate financial compensation and appropriate medical care and rehabilitation, and establish appropriate mechanisms and procedures to facilitate this.

* Ratify, as a matter of urgency, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture) and its Optional Protocol, which allows independent international and national experts to conduct regular visits to places of detention within the territory of states parties, to assess the conditions of detention and to make recommendations for improvements.

Concerning protection of detainees and prisoners

* Release or charge with recognizable criminal offences all those currently held without charge.

* Ensure that persons taken into custody are brought before an investigative judge within twenty-four hours of arrest, in conformity with Iraqi law.

* Ensure that detainees have access to legal counsel within 24 hours and are given prompt access to their families.

* Ensure that all prisoners and detainees are informed promptly of the reasons of their detention.

* Ensure that all detainees are held only in officially recognized places of detention and that accurate information about their arrest and whereabouts is made immediately available to relatives, lawyers and the courts.

* Ensure that all detainees are immediately informed of their rights. These include the right to lodge complaints about their treatment, to have a judge rule without delay on the lawfulness of their detention and to have a lawyer present during interrogations.

* Ensure that conditions of detention conform to international standards for the treatment of prisoners. The authorities responsible for detention should be separate from those in charge of interrogation. There should be regular, independent, unannounced and unrestricted visits of inspection to all places of detention.

* Provide unhindered access to all places of detention, their installations and facilities, and detainees by relevant international organizations and bodies, including the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, and by Iraqi human rights organizations.

To governments of countries contributing to the MNF -- in particular the US and the UK

Concerning torture and ill-treatment

* Declare publicly in relation to the activities of the MNF in Iraq the government's total opposition to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and make clear to all members of the military and all other government agencies, as well as MNF allies, that torture or other ill-treatment will not be tolerated under any circumstances.

* Ensure that all complaints of torture and other ill-treatment - whether involving members of the MNF, other government agencies, medical personnel, private contractors and interpreters - are subject to prompt, thorough, independent and impartial civilian investigations in strict conformity with international law and standards concerning investigations of human rights violations. Ensure that the methods and findings of such investigations are made public.

* Suspend officials suspected of committing torture and other ill-treatment from active duty during the investigation.

* Bring to trial all individuals -- regardless of position or rank - against whom there is evidence of having authorized, condoned or committed torture or other ill-treatment or other serious human rights violations. Ensure that all trials for alleged perpetrators comply with international fair trial standards.

* Ensure that victims of torture and other ill-treatment and their dependants should be entitled to obtain prompt reparation from the state including restitution, fair and adequate financial compensation and appropriate medical care and rehabilitation.

* Prohibit the use of electro-shock guns against an individual who is already in the custody or control of security or law enforcement officials, and take measures to ensure that they are never made available or used during interrogations or as a means to discipline a detainee.

Concerning protection of detainees and prisoners

* End indefinite internment of persons in Iraq.

* Ensure that all detainees are informed promptly of the reasons for their detention.

* Ensure that all detainees are brought promptly before a court in order that the court can assess the lawfulness of their detention and order the release of individuals whose detention is found to be unlawful, in accordance with rights set out in Article 9 of the ICCPR.

* Ensure that all detainees are released or charged with a recognizable criminal offence promptly and provided a fair trial in accordance with international law and which excludes the death penalty.

* Ensure that all detainees handed over to the Iraqi authorities are not at risk of being subjected to torture and ill-treatment and where there is such a risk to hold the detainees on behalf of the Iraqi authorities, while criminal proceedings are ongoing and until such time as sufficient safeguards are put in place to prevent torture and ill-treatment.

* Ensure that relatives and legal counsel have prompt access to detainees.

* Ensure that accurate information about their arrest and whereabouts is made immediately available to detainees' relatives and lawyers.

* Ensure that all detainees are held only in officially recognized places of detention and prohibit the holding of persons without record as "ghost detainees" and any transfer of detainees outside Iraqi territory.

* Ensure that conditions of detention conform to international standards for the treatment of prisoners. Make provision for there to be regular, independent, unannounced and unrestricted visits of inspection to all places of detention by an independent body with appropriate expertise in assessing detention conditions and the treatment of prisoners.

* Provide unhindered access to all places of detention, their installations and facilities, and detainees by relevant international organizations and bodies, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and by Iraqi human rights organizations.


(1) Amnesty International, Iraq: In cold blood: abuses by armed groups, 25 July 2005, AI Index: MDE 14/009/2005.

(2) Human Rights Committee, General Comment 29: States of Emergency, UN Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.11, paras 7 and 16.

(3) At the person's request the name is not published in this report.

(4) An official of the Iraqi Interior Ministry was quoted saying that there had been "no mistreatment or torture. ...Only a few guys were slapped on their faces" (New York Times, Kirk Semple, Iraqi Ministry Denies Captives Were Abused, 13 December 2005).

(5) New York Times, John F. Burns, To Halt Abuses, U.S. Will Inspect Jails Run by Iraq, 14 December 2005.

(6) BBC, Caroline Hawley, Iraqi detainees tell of torture, 24 November 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4465194.stm; Washington Post, Ellen Knickmeyer, Abuse Cited In 2nd Jail Operated by Iraqi Ministry, 12 December 2005.

(7) Phone conversations on 4 and 5 February 2006.

(8) Human Rights Watch, The New Iraq? Torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Iraqi custody, January 2005, Vol. 17 No. 1 (D).

(9) The Badr Brigade, a Shi'a militia founded in the 1980s in Iran by Mohammed Baqer al-Hakim to fight Saddam Hussain's government in Iraq, announced disarmament and renamed itself into Badr Organization for Reconstruction and Development in 2003. It is affiliated to the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) which is part of the Shia dominated United Alliance of Iraq (UAI). Under the Iraqi Transitional Government which was formed in April 2005, Bayan Jabr Solagh, a senior official of SCIRI became Minister of Interior.

(10) Boston Globe, Anne Barnard, Deaths spur calls to overhaul Iraqi police, 31 March 2005.

(11) The Wolf Brigade, founded in October 2004, was given two months training by US military trainers before being deployed in security operations against armed groups (Knight Ridder, Hannah Allam, Wolf Brigade the most loved and feared of Iraqi security forces, 21 May 2005). The Wolf Brigade has reportedly resorted large-scale to secret detentions, torture and ill-treatment.

(12) Associated Press, Mariam Fam, Iraqis Say Security Forces Use Torture, 6 July 2005; Los Angeles Times, Solomon Moore and Scott Gold, National Guard tied to Iraqi police, 28 July 2005.

(13) Article 123 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, Law No. 23 of 1971, as amended.

(14) The Observer, Peter Beaumont, Revealed: grim world of new Iraqi torture camps, 3 July 2005.

(15) Amnesty International, Iraq: Amnesty International calls for an investigation into death in custody of nine men, 14 July 2005, AI Index: MDE 14/017/2005.

(16) States composing the MNF have obligations to implement their obligations under human rights law in Iraq. For example, the Committee against Torture has stressed to the UK in relation to the applicability of the Convention against Torture in Iraq that the "Convention protections extend to all territories under the jurisdiction of a State party and considers that this principle includes all areas under the de facto effective control of the State party's authorities." Committee against Torture, Conclusions and Recommendations: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland -- Dependant Territories, UN Doc. CAT/C/CR/33/3, 10 December 2004.

(17) US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Iraq, 28 February 2005, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41722.htm.

(18) Human Rights Watch, The New Iraq? Torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Iraqi custody, January 2005, Vol 17, No. 1 (D).

(19) New York Times, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, U.S., Citing Abuse in Iraqi Prisons, Holds Detainees, 25 December 2005.

(20) Deutschlandradio, Marc Thorner, Urnengang im Schatten des taglichen Terrors, 14 December 2005, http://www.dradio.de/dlf/sendungen/hintergrundpolitik/448279/.

(21) See for example: Amnesty International: Ali Safar al-Bawy: a testimony, 28 April 2005, http://web.amnesty.org/pages/irq-280405-testimony-eng.

(22) New York Times, Peter Maass, The Way of the Commandos, 1 May 2005. In the same article Peter Maass describes another incident which occurred during his visit to Samara at a detention facility where US troops and Iraqi security forces both operated. He witnessed "a leather-jacketed security official [who] was slapping and kicking a detainee who was sitting on the ground".

(23) Washington Post, Dana Milbank, Rumsfeld's War on 'Insurgents', 30 November 2005.

(24) With the disestablishment of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in June 2004 the term Coalition Forces has been replaced by the Multinational Force.

(25) The "Taguba Report" on Treatment of Abu Ghraib Prisoners In Iraq, Article 15-6 Investigation of the 800th Military Police Brigade, http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/iraq/tagubarpt.html.

(26) BBC, Abu Ghraib inmates recall torture, 12 January 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4165627.stm.

(27) CounterPunch, Voices from Abu Ghraib -The Injured Party, 20 January 2005, http://www.ccmep.org/2005_articles/civil%20liberties/012005_counterpunch.htm.

(28) http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar2005/d20050310exe.pdf.

(29) Second Periodic Report of the USA to the Committee against Torture, UN Doc. CAT/C/48/Add.3, 29 June 2005, Annex 1, Part Two, page 77.

(30) See section below: Treatment of internees.

(31) United States of America, Update to Annex One of the Second Periodic Report of the United States of America to the Committee Against Torture, 21 October 2005.

(32) The Guardian, US marines plead guilty to prisoner abuse, 3 June 2004.

(33) Army News Service, L.B. Edgar, Court sentences England to 3 years, 28 September 2005, http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7988. Army News Service, L.B. Edgar, Harman found guilty for Abu Ghraib, 19 May 2005, http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=7348.

(34) United States of America, Update to Annex One of the Second Periodic Report of the United States of America to the Committee Against Torture, 21 October 2005.

(35) 7th Infantry Division and Fort Carson Public Affairs Office, Press release, Court martial verdict and sentence, 16 March 2005.

(36) Los Angeles Times, Nicholas Riccardi, No Jail Time in Death of Iraqi General, 24 January 2006. See also: Amnesty International: United States of America: Guantanamo and beyond: The continuing pursuit of unchecked executive power, 13 May 2005, AI Index: AMR 51/063/205, pages 110-115.

(37) [2005] EWCA Civ 1609, see paras 28 and following, in Lords Justice Brooke's judgment. The Al-Skeini case was one of six test cases brought by the families of Iraqi civilians who are alleged to have been tortured or killed by UK soldiers during the UK occupation of South-Eastern Iraq. In the same judgment, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales also ruled that the UK Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA) is in principle capable of having extra-territorial effect when a person falls within the "jurisdiction" of the UK under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). Thus, the Court held that the HRA can apply to UK authorities outside the territory of UK. The Court also held that the lower court had been wrong to draw the line at "quasi-territorial" premises such as a UK-run prison in Iraq, since the ECHR concept of jurisdiction was in principle broader than that. For example, it could extend to a person who was under arrest at an Iraqi hotel. However, the Court held that the notion of jurisdiction was not broad enough to include persons who were at liberty and not yet in the control of UK forces. Finally, the Court held that that the system for investigating deaths at the hands of UK armed forces personnel was seriously deficient, including in its lack of independence from the commanding officer, and it needed to be scrutinized.

(38) BBC, UK soldiers face war crimes trials, 20 July 2005, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4698251.stm.

(39) CNN, British trio charged with war crimes, 19 July 2005, http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/07/19/britain.iraq/.

(40) The Guardian, Audrey Gillan, Soldiers in Iraq abuse case sent to prison, 26 February 2005.

(41) Torture or inhuman treatment is a grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention according to Article 147. Grave breaches are war crimes according to international law, as reflected in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (Article 8 (2-ii)). The Geneva Conventions were fully applicable in Iraq during the occupation until the handover of power on 28 June 2004. Cruel treatment and torture in non-international armed conflict are also war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

(42) The UN and the ICRC have both declared that the occupation of Iraq ended on 28 June 2004, following the had-over of power from the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to the Interim Iraqi Government.

(43) See section titled 'Review for internees held by the US forces' for further detail.

(44) Multinational Force, Combined Review and Release Board, Last Update on 28 November 2005, http://www.mnf-iraq.com/TF134/Release.htm.

(45) Multinational Force, Central Criminal Court, Last Update on 28 November 2005, http://www.mnf-iraq.com/TF134/Trials.htm

(46) UN Doc. S/2005/373, UN Security Council, Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 30 of resolution 1546 (2004), 7 June 2005, para. 72.

(47) Reuters, US rejects UN critique of its Iraq prisoner policy, 9 July 2005.

(48) United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI): Human Rights Report, 1 July -- 31 August 2005, September 2005, http://www.uniraq.org/aboutus/HR.asp

(49) One part of Abu Ghraib Prison is under the control of the US forces and another by Iraqi authorities.

(50) Multinational Force, New Theater Internment Facility opens in northern Iraq, 30 October 2005, http://www.mnf-iraq.com/Releases/Oct/051030b.htm.

(51) For example, at the end of November 2005 the US forces were holding an estimated 650 detainees at brigade and division internment facilities (Multinational Force, Number of security detainees, Last Update 28 November 2005, http://www.mnf-iraq.com/TF134/Numbers.htm).

(52) See web site of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, visited in January 2006, http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1032786062920.

(53) For example, it appears that many non-Iraqi detainees and scores of so-called High Value Detainees - many of whom were held at that time already for months - had not been recorded on that list.

(54) Agence France Press, Coalition to keep 4,000 to 5,000 prisoners after Iraq handover, 13 June 2004.

(55) Washington Post, Bradley Graham, Offensives Create Surge of Detainees, 27 November 2004.

(56) US Department of State: Second Periodic Report of the United States of America to the UN Committee Against Torture, submitted on 6 May 2005.

(57) Multinational Force, Number of security detainees, Last Update 28 November 2005, http://www.mnf-iraq.com/TF134/Numbers.htm. It appears that these numbers do not include the detainees held by UK forces.

(58) CPA Memorandum No.3 (revised): Criminal Procedures, 27 June 2004 [hereafter: CPA Memorandum No.3].

(59) CPA Memorandum No.3, section 5 and 6.

(60) CPA Memorandum No.3, section 5.

(61) CPA Memorandum No.3, section 6.

(62) Section IV of the Fourth Geneva Convention contains "Regulations for the treatment of internees".

(63) Human Rights Committee, General Comment 31, Nature of the General Legal Obligation on States Parties to the Covenant, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.13 (2004), para. 11: "...the Covenant applies also in situations of armed conflict to which the rules of international humanitarian law are applicable. While, in respect of certain Covenant rights, more specific rules of international humanitarian law may be specially relevant for the purposes of the interpretation of Covenant rights, both spheres of law are complementary, not mutually exclusive."

(64) Article 3 Common to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, Articles 4-6 of Additional Protocol II of 1977.

(65) Article 9 para. 4 of the ICCPR: "Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest of detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful".

(66) Human Rights Committee, General Comment 29, States of Emergency (article 4), U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.11 (2001), para. 11.

(67) Human Rights Committee, General Comment 29, States of Emergency (Article 4), U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.11 (2001), para. 16.

(68) At the person's request the name is not published in this report. The full name of the person with the prisoner sequence number is known to Amnesty International.

(69) Reuters, Mariam Karouny and Alastair Macdonald, Iraq Slams U.S. Detentions, Immunity for Troops, 14 September 2005.

(70) US Department of Defence, US Central Command, News Release, Detainee Release Board takes on Iraqi Partners, 4 August 2004.

(71) Over the last year Amnesty International delegates met with representatives of the Iraqi Human Rights Ministry on several occasions. On 13 November 2005 a delegate of Amnesty International met with the Acting Human Rights Minister Nermin Othman in Amman.

(72) Second Periodic Report of the USA to the Committee Against Torture, UN Doc. CAT/C/48/Add.3, 29 June 2005, Annex 1, Part Two.

(73) Multinational Force, Combined Review and Release Board, Last Update on 28 November 2005, http://www.mnf-iraq.com/TF134/Release.htm. As of 28 November 2005 the exact numbers of reviewed detainee files was 21,995 of which 12,052 were recommended for unconditional or conditional release.

(74) US Department of Defence, US Central Command, News Release, Detainee Release Board takes on Iraqi Partners, 4 August 2004.

(75) New York Times, Tim Golden, How a Trip to Film in Iraq Ended in a Military Jail Cell, 24 July 2005.

(76) Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights -- Annual Report 2005, July 2005, page 63, http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1119526503628.

(77) This is shorter than the seven days period specified by the CPA Memorandum No.3.

(78) Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights -- Annual Report 2005, July 2005, page 64.

(79) R (on the application of Al-Jedda) v Secretary of State for Defence, para. 11 of Mr Justice Moses's judgment, [2005] EWHC 1809.

(80) Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights - Annual Report 2005, July 2005, page 63. According to the report a JDC for UK-held security internees would comprise British representatives at Ambassador or equivalent level.

(81) Letter of 19 February 2006 to Amnesty International by Major General Gardner, Commanding MNF Task Force 134.

(82) All security internees who had been held for more than 18 months by the end of 2005 must have been placed in internment before the handover of power.

(83) Letter of 19 February 2006 to Amnesty International by Major General Gardner, Commanding MNF Task Force 134.

(84) Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, UN Doc. E/CN. 4/2004/3, 15 December 2003, para. 60.

(85) Reports in recent years on persons held in indefinite detention in the context of the "war on terror" have shown the severe psychological effects of such detention. For instance, in October 2004, in a report on the mental health of detainees held at the time indefinitely in Belmarsh high security prison, in the UK, under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act (2001), eminent psychiatrists concluded that the detainees had become seriously clinically depressed and were suffering from anxiety, some of them becoming psychotic as a result of their indefinite detention. (Professor Ian Robbins, Dr James MacKeith, Professor Michael Kopelman, Dr Clive Meux, Dr Sumi Ratnam, Dr Richard Taylor, Dr Sophie Davison and Dr David Somekh, The Psychiatric Problems of Detainees under the 2001 Antiterrorism Crime and Security Act, 13 October 2004,

http://www.statewatch.org/news/2004/nov/belmarsh-mh.pdf ).

(86) Report of the Committee against Torture, UN Doc. A/53/44. 16 September 1998, para. 283(b).

(87) Human Rights Committee, Annual Report, vol.1 (1998), UN Doc. A/53/40, para.317.

(88) Associated Press, Katherine Shrader: US has detained 83,000 in war on terror, 16 November 2005.

(89) The Los Angeles Times initially reported that the incident occurred in June 2005 (Los Angeles Times, Scott Gold and Rone Tempest, Army Probes Guard Unit, 27 July 2005), but in a later report the newspaper referred to March 2005 (Los Angeles Times, Scott Gold and Rone Tempest: More Tumult Besets Guard Unit in Iraq, 15 October 2005).

(90) Associated Press, Jeremiah Marquez, California Guard sergeant gets year in Iraq detainee abuse case, 10 September 2005.

(91) Los Angeles Times, Scott Gold and Rone Tempest: More Tumult besets Guard Unit in Iraq, 15 October 2005.

(92) Los Angeles Times, Scott Gold and Rone Tempest: More Tumult besets Guard Unit in Iraq, 15 October 2005.

(93) Multinational Force, US soldiers charged with abuse, 7 November 2005, http://www.mnf-iraq.com/Releases/Nov/051107h.htm.

(94) The Associated Press, Five US soldiers sentenced, 20 December 2005.

(95) Although the Fourth Geneva Convention no longer applies to the situation of Iraq, the MNF have referred to its standards. In the letter by Colin Powell attached to Security Council Resolution 1546, it is stated that "the forces that make up the MNF are and will remain committed at all times to act consistently with their obligations under the law of armed conflict, including the Geneva Conventions."

(96) CPA Memorandum No. 3, sections 6, para 4.

(97) Letter of 17 January 2006 to Amnesty International by Major General Gardner, Commanding MNF Task Force 134.

(98) CPA Memorandum No. 3, section 6, para 8. The Memorandum further provides for the Iraqi Prisons and Detainee Ombudsman to have access to "security internees" but such access may also be denied "for reasons of imperative necessity as an exceptional and temporary measure" (CPA Memorandum No. 3, section 6, para 8).

(99) See also section above on Treatment of detainees.

(100) Multinational Force, Detainees visitation rules and guidelines, 7 July 2005, http://www.mnf-iraq.com/Releases/July/050709a.htm; http://www.mnf-iraq.com/TF134/Visitation.htm.

(101) Reuters, Reuters cameraman held in Abu Ghraib, 31 August 2005.

(102) See also previous reference to the case in section: Review for internees held by UK forces.

(103) See also Mr Justice Moses' judgment: "Although the claimant has made some complaints about his initial treatment by US troops and about aspects of the conditions of his detention and interrogation, they are not in issue in the present proceedings. It is the lawfulness of the detention itself that is in issue.", R (on the application of Al-Jedda) v Secretary of State for Defence, paragraph 8, [2005] EWHC 1809.

(104) Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights -- Annual Report 2005, July 2005, page 64.

(105) http://www.cpt.org/campaigns/adopt/detainee_profiles/

(106) The Iraqi Assistance Center (IAC) a military-run center providing services to individuals or NGOs on a range of issues -- including detentions. See http://www.iac-baghdad.org.

(107) International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC): Operational update, Iraq: ICRC activities between May and September 2005, 30 September 2005, http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/iwpList322/.

(108) Multinational Force, Humane Treatment of Detainees, Last Update on 28 November 2005, http://www.mnf-iraq.com/TF134/Humane.htm

(109) Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights -- Annual Report 2005, July 2005, page 64.

(110) Phone conversations on 4 and 5 February 2005.

(111) United Nations press release, Human Rights Experts "deeply regret" United States refusal of terms for fact-finding mission to Guantanamo, 18 November 2005. The other three experts for whom access to the detainees was requested are the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, the Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

(112) United Nations press release, Human Rights Experts "deeply regret" United States refusal of terms for fact-finding mission to Guantanamo, 18 November 2005.

(113) Ansar al-Islam is an armed Islamist group based in Kurdistan, particularly around Halabja. It has been responsible for grave human rights abuses, including the deliberate killing of civilians.

(114) BBC, Red Cross to study ghost detainees, 18 June 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3818883.stm.

(115) Human Rights Watch, List of "Ghost Prisoners" Possibly in CIA Custody, 30 November 2005.

(116) Der Sonntagsblick, Sandro Brotz and Beat Jost, US-Folter Camps: Der Beweis, 8 January 2006, http://www.blick.ch/sonntagsblick/aktuell/artikel30413.

(117) American Civil Liberties Union, U.S. Operatives Killed Detainees During Interrogations in Afghanistan and Iraq, 24 October 2005. http://www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/gen/21236prs20051024.html.

(118) United States Department of Defense, Defense Department Regular Briefing, 17 June 2004, http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2004/tr20040617-secdef0881.html.

(119) "Fay Report", AR 15-6 Investigation of Intelligence Activities at Abu Ghraib, Conducted by Major General George R. Fay and Lieutenant General Anthony R. Jones, page 66, http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2004/d20040825fay.pdf.

(120) Amnesty International, United States of America: Human dignity denied: Torture and accountability in the 'war on terror', 27 October 2004, Amnesty Index: AMR 51/145/2004.

(121) Washington Post, Bradley Graham and Josh White, General Cites Hidden Detainees, 10 September 2004.

(122) http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar2005/d20050310exe.pdf.

(123) See the 1992 UN Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, and the draft International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

(124) Amnesty International: 'Disappearances' in the 'war on terror', 3 November 2005, AI Index: ACT 40/013/2005.

(125) CPA Memorandum No.3, section 6, para 5.

(126) Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Human Rights - Annual Report 2005, July 2005, page 63.

(127) See web site of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, visited January 2006, http://www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1032786062920.

(128) Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights, Detention Places and Numbers of Detainees according to information provided by the Ministry of Human Rights, 28 September 2005.

(129) al-Sharq al-Awsat, Majlis al-Qada' al-'Iraqi yanzur qadaya al-ahdath al-muhtajizin lada al-quwat al-muta'addida al-jinsiya (The Iraqi Judicial Council Looks into Juvenile Cases under the Control of the Multinational Force), 23 December 2004, http://www.aawsat.com/sections.asp?section=4&issue=9887.

(130) BBC, US releases Iraqi women prisoners, 26 January 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4649714.stm.

(131) It is unclear whether or not this category of "high value detainees" is confined to those with senior positions in Saddam Hussain's government. The term has mainly been used in the context of investigations into the existence of weapons of mass destructions in Iraq. The report of the Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence on Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction defines a "high value" detainee as a detainee who holds relevant knowledge or insight due to his or her senior position in the military, security, scientific/technical, or governmental structures under Saddam Hussain's government. (http://www.cia.gov/cia/reports/iraq_wmd_2004/glossary .html).

(132) CPA Order No. 99, 27 June 2004, section 4.

(133) Letter of Amnesty International to Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defence, 17 December 2004.

(134) The Denver Post, Arthur Kane, Iraqi General beaten two days before death, 5 April 2005. See also: Los Angeles Times, Nicholas Riccardi, No Jail Time in Death of Iraqi General, 24 January 2006. For more details on the case see section above: The legacy of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

(135) Human Rights First, Twenty Seven Detainee Homicides in U.S. Custody, 19 October 2005, http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/media/2005_alerts/etn_1019_dic.htm.

(136) Also referred to as Iraqi Higher Tribunal.

(137) Letter of 19 February 2006 to Amnesty International by Major General Gardner, Commanding MNF Task Force 134. The Iraqi Higher Tribunal is elsewhere referred to as Supreme Iraqi Criminal Tribunal.

(138) Second Periodic Report of the USA to the Committee against Torture, UN Doc. CAT/C/48/Add.3, 29 June 2005, Annex 1, Part Two.

(139) New York Times, John F. Burns: 24 Ex-Hussein Officials Freed from U.S. Custody, 20 December 2005.

(140) According to the UK Ministry of Defence as of 15 November 2005 the following countries were contributing to the MNF: Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Georgia, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, UK, Ukraine and the US (http://www.operations.mod.uk/telic/key.htm.).

(141) See also section above: Access to the outside world.

(142) UN Doc. E/CN.4/1995/434, para 926 (d).

(143) See the Human Rights Committee's General Comment No. 20, para. 11, and the Committee against Torture's observations in UN Doc. A/52/44, referring to Georgia, para. 121 (d); UN Doc. A/53/44, referring to Spain, para.135; UN Doc. A/54/44, referring to Libya, para.182(a).

(144) US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Iraq, 28 February 2005, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2004/41722.htm.

(145) Al-Jazeera, Suspected Torture Center in Iraq, 16 November 2005, http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/BFFFC9C0-206D-4821-9CA9-8D0B822E8F93.htm.

(146) Al-Hayat, Basil Muhammad 'Abd al-Wahid Ta'ama, al-Amerikun yabhathun 'an mu'taqalat sirriya li-l-dakhiliya bi-musa'ida quwa siyasiya (The Americans Search for Secret Detention Centres with the Assistance of Political Forces), 9 December 2005.

(147) Agence France Press, Iraq abuse probe findings expected next month, 17 February 2006.

Guantanamo Man Tells of Torture

A Kuwaiti man being held at Guantanamo Bay has told the BBC in a rare interview that the force-feeding of hunger strikers amounts to torture.

Fawzi al-Odah said hunger strikers were strapped to a chair and force-fed through a tube three times a day.

A senior US official denied the use of torture in Guantanamo Bay.

Mr Odah's comments, relayed by his lawyer in answer to BBC questions, came as another inmate launched a legal challenge to the force-feeding policy.

The case is being brought on behalf of Mohammed Bawazir, a Yemeni who has also been held there since 2002.

The action is the first test for a new law explicitly outlawing torture of terrorism suspects, which President George W Bush signed in December.

New testimony

The BBC Today programme's Jon Manel submitted questions for Mr Odah to his lawyer, Tom Wilner, who has access to the camp.

There was no opportunity for the BBC to challenge Mr Odah's responses.

Mr Odah, who has been held at the base since 2002, was one of 84 inmates at Guantanamo who went on hunger strike in December. Just four are still refusing food.

Bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of terror suspects
Limits interrogation techniques to US Army standards
CIA interrogators have same legal rights as military
Proposed by US Republican Senator John McCain
Initially opposed by White House

Speaking to the BBC, US state department official Colleen Graffey said all detainees were afforded regular status reviews and offered the opportunity to renounce violence.

Through his lawyer, Mr Odah described his treatment during his hunger strike.

"First they took my comfort items away from me. You know, my blanket, my towel, my long pants, then my shoes. I was put in isolation for 10 days.

"They came in and read out an order. It said if you refuse to eat, we will put you on the chair [for force feeding]."

He told how detainees were given "formulas" to force them to empty their bowels and were strapped to a metal chair three times a day, where a tube was inserted to administer food.

"One guy, a Saudi, told me that he had once been tortured in Saudi Arabia and that this metal chair treatment was worse than any torture he had ever endured or could imagine," Mr Odah said.


Mr Odah told the BBC that he felt like an old man despite being only 29.

He described a regime where young military guards routinely beat detainees who caused problems.

Death in this situation is better than being alive and staying here without hope
Fawzi al-Odah
Guantanamo detainee

"If anything bad happens to the United States anywhere in the world, they immediately react to us and treat us badly, like animals," he said.

"I'm always tired. I have pain in my kidneys. I have trouble breathing. I have pain in my heart and am short of breath. I have trouble urinating and having bowel movements.

"Death in this situation is better than being alive and staying here without hope," Mr Odah added.

The US has said it is holding Mr Odah because he is a dangerous "enemy combatant", who travelled through Afghanistan with the Taleban, fired AK-47 rifles while at an al-Qaeda training camp and fought against US and coalition forces.

He dismissed the general allegations, branding them as "rubbish" and "absolutely untrue".

However, he refused to elaborate, insisting he would only discuss the accusations against at a court hearing.

New rules

In Washington, lawyers for Mohammed Bawazir, who has now ended his hunger strike, said the force-feeding inflicted "unbearable pain" on detainees.

The BBC's Justin Webb, in Washington, says the legal challenge may be a shot in the dark.

Under the terms of the new law it is not even clear whether courts have the right to hear this case, he adds.

The lawyers are arguing that the new anti-torture rules which Mr Bush signed in December outlaw this practice.

The UN Human Rights Commission said recently that it regarded force-feeding at Guantanamo as a form of torture, a charge the US firmly has repeatedly denied.

Abu Ghraib leaked report reveals full extent of abuse

· 1,325 images of suspected detainee abuse
· 93 video files of suspected detainee abuse
· 660 images of adult pornography
· 546 images of suspected dead Iraqi detainees
· 29 images of soldiers in simulated sexual acts

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Friday February 17, 2006
The Guardian

Nearly two years after the first pictures of naked and humiliated Iraqi detainees emerged from Abu Ghraib prison, the full extent of the abuse became known for the first time yesterday with a leaked report from the US army's internal investigation into the scandal.

The catalogue of abuse, which was obtained by the online American magazine Salon, could not have arrived at a worse time for the Bush administration, coinciding with yesterday's United Nations report on abuse of detainees at Guantánamo, the release of a video showing British troops beating up Iraqi youths, and lingering anger in the Muslim world over cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.

Bush administration officials had already been fending off a new wave of anger about the torture of detainees - following the airing of graphic images from Abu Ghraib on Australian television - when Salon posted a story on its website yesterday saying it had obtained what appears to be the fullest photographic record to date of the abuse.

It said the material, gathered by the army's criminal investigation division, included 1,325 photographs and 93 video clips of suspected abuse of detainees, 546 photographs of suspected dead Iraqi detainees, as well as 660 images of adult pornography, and 29 pictures of US troops engaged in simulated sex acts. Based on date stamps, all were recorded between October 18 and December 30 2003, the same timeframe as the original scandal.

The website published 18 pictures from the prison. Aside from the ritualised images of humiliation - naked Iraqi men kneeling or lying on the ground alone or in a heap or wearing women's underwear on their heads - they also reveal the apparent normality of those bizarre scenes within Abu Ghraib. One of the pictures shows an army sergeant standing calmly to fill out paperwork on a wall. Behind him is a hooded, naked detainee. Another photograph shows Staff Sergeant Ivan Chip Frederick - who was tried for his role in the abuse scandal - trimming his fingernails beside an Iraqi who is standing on a box wearing a hood and electrical wires.

There are also images of physical violence: a blood-streaked cell, and a picture of the battered face of a corpse packed in ice. "The DVD also includes photographs of guards threatening Iraqi prisoners with dogs, homemade videotapes depicting hooded prisoners being forced to masturbate, and a video showing a mentally disturbed prisoner smashing his head against a door. Oddly, the material also includes numerous photographs of slaughtered animals and mundane images of soldiers travelling around Iraq," Salon said.

The magazine said it thought the material included all of the pictures that originally surfaced when the abuse became known in April 2004, as well as the pictures aired on Australian television. Human rights organisations have been fighting for months for the army to release a full record of the abuse at Abu Ghraib. Salon said it received the material from a member of the military who had spent time at the jail and was familiar with the investigation.

The first official response from Washington as well as Baghdad was concerned as much with the impact these new pictures of abuse could have in the Middle East at a time when anger against the west is high. A Pentagon spokesman said the release of additional images of abuse "could only further inflame and possibly incite unnecessary violence in the world".

Iraq's prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, while condemning the abuse at Abu Ghraib, noted that US soldiers had already been punished for it.

Mr Jaafari's government was also on the defensive about torture yesterday after the first direct evidence emerged that death squads had operated from within the interior ministry.

The US general in charge of training the Iraqi police, Major General Joseph Peterson, told the Chicago Tribune that the death squads that had been arresting and killing Sunnis had been operating from within the police force although they wore commando uniforms. "We have found one of the death squads," Gen Peterson told the paper. "They are a part of the police force of Iraq."

In another development, ABC television on Wednesday night aired audio tapes of Saddam Hussein's cabinet meetings during the mid-1990s, including a segment in which he says he warned Washington of a terror attack. "Terrorism is coming. I told the Americans," Saddam is heard saying, adding that he "told the British as well". However, he adds: "This story is coming, but not from Iraq."

U.S. Cites Exception in Torture Ban
McCain Law May Not Apply to Cuba Prison
By Josh White and Carol D. Leonnig, Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, March 3, 2006

Bush administration lawyers, fighting a claim of torture by a Guantanamo Bay detainee, yesterday argued that the new law that bans cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody does not apply to people held at the military prison.

In federal court yesterday and in legal filings, Justice Department lawyers contended that a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, cannot use legislation drafted by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to challenge treatment that the detainee's lawyers described as "systematic torture."

Government lawyers have argued that another portion of that same law, the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005, removes general access to U.S. courts for all Guantanamo Bay captives. Therefore, they said, Mohammed Bawazir, a Yemeni national held since May 2002, cannot claim protection under the anti-torture provisions.

Bawazir's attorneys contend that "extremely painful" new tactics used by the government to force-feed him and end his hunger strike amount to torture.

U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler said in a hearing yesterday that she found allegations of aggressive U.S. military tactics used to break the detainee hunger strike "extremely disturbing" and possibly against U.S. and international law. But Justice Department lawyers argued that even if the tactics were considered in violation of McCain's language, detainees at Guantanamo would have no recourse to challenge them in court.

In Bawazir's case, the government claims that it had to forcefully intervene in a hunger strike that was causing his weight to drop dangerously. In January, officials strapped Bawazir into a special chair, put a larger tube than they had previously used through his nose and kept him restrained for nearly two hours at a time to make sure he did not purge the food he was being given, the government and Bawazir's attorneys said.

Richard Murphy Jr., Bawazir's attorney, said his client gave in to the new techniques and began eating solid food days after the first use of the restraint chair. Murphy said the military deliberately made the process painful and embarrassing, noting that Bawazir soiled himself because of the approach.

Kessler said getting to the root of the allegations is an "urgent matter."

"These allegations . . . describe disgusting treatment, that if proven, is treatment that is cruel, profoundly disturbing and violative of" U.S. and foreign treaties banning torture, Kessler told the government's lawyers. She said she needs more information, but made clear she is considering banning the use of larger nasal-gastric tubes and the restraint chair.

In court filings, the Justice Department lawyers argued that language in the law written by Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) gives Guantanamo Bay detainees access to the courts only to appeal their enemy combatant status determinations and convictions by military commissions.

"Unfortunately, I think the government's right; it's a correct reading of the law," said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "The law says you can't torture detainees at Guantanamo, but it also says you can't enforce that law in the courts."

Thomas Wilner, a lawyer representing several detainees at Guantanamo, agreed that the law cannot be enforced. "This is what Guantanamo was about to begin with, a place to keep detainees out of the U.S. precisely so they can say they can't go to court," Wilner said.

A spokeswoman for McCain's office did not respond to questions yesterday.

Murphy told the judge the military's claims that it switched tactics to protect Bawazir should not be believed. He noted that on Jan. 11 -- days after the new law passed -- the Defense Department made the identical health determination for about 20 other detainees, all of whom had been engaged in the hunger strike.

Guantanamo Bay officials deny that the tactics constitute torture. They wrote in sworn statements that they are necessary efforts to ensure detainee health. Maj. Gen. Jay W. Hood, the facility's commander, wrote that Bawazir's claims of abuse are "patently false."

"In short, he is a trained al Qaida terrorist, who has been taught to claim torture, abuse, and medical mistreatment if captured," Hood wrote. He added that Bawazir allegedly went to Afghanistan to train for jihad and ultimately fought with the Taliban against U.S. troops.

Navy Capt. Stephen G. Hooker, who runs the prison's detention hospital, noted that the hunger strike began on Aug. 8, reached a peak of 131 participants on Sept. 11, and dropped to 84 on Christmas Day. After use of the restraint chair began, only five captives continued not eating.

Hooker wrote that he suspected Bawazir was purging his food after feedings. Bawazir weighed 130 pounds in late 2002, according to Hooker, but 97 pounds on the day he was first strapped to the chair. As of Sunday, his weight was back to 137 pounds, the government said.

Kessler noted with irritation that Hood and Hooker made largely general claims about the group of detainees on the hunger strike in defending the switch to the new force-feeding procedures used on Bawazir.

"I know it's a sad day when a federal judge has to ask a DOJ attorney this, but I'm asking you -- why should I believe them?" Kessler asked Justice Department attorney Terry Henry.

Henry said he would attempt to gather more information from the officials but said there was no legal basis for the court to intervene. Bawazir's weight is back to normal, his health is "robust" and he is no longer on a hunger strike, Henry said.

Judge's anger at US torture
Stinging comments come as America dismisses UN report on Guantánamo
by Richard Norton-Taylor and Suzanne Goldenberg

A high court judge yesterday delivered a stinging attack on America, saying its idea of what constituted torture was out of step with that of "most civilized nations".

The criticism, directed at the Bush administration's approach to human rights, was made by Mr Justice Collins during a hearing over the refusal by ministers to request the release of three British residents held at Guantánamo Bay.

The judge said: "America's idea of what is torture is not the same as ours and does not appear to coincide with that of most civilised nations." He made his comments, he said, after learning of the UN report that said Guantánamo should be shut down without delay because torture was still being carried out there.

The report, by five inspectors for the UN human rights commissioner, refers to shackling, hooding and forcing detainees to wear earphones and goggles. In particular, it refers to interrogation techniques and excessive violence used to forcefeed prisoners on hunger strike. Based on interviews with detainees' lawyers, former inmates and written exchanges with US officials, it calls on the US to put the 490 inmates on trial or release them.

Last night, the secretary general, Kofi Annan, said: "Sooner or later there will be a need to close the Guantánamo [camp]." He added that though he did not agree with everything in the report, he opposed holding people "in perpetuity".

The UN inspectors refused a US offer to tour Guantánamo after they were barred from visiting the prisoners. The 40-page document is the UN's first to address Guantánamo. Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, dismissed its findings as a "rehash of old allegations" and "a discredit to the organisation". "The detainees are being treated humanely," he said. "Remember these are terrorists."

But in one of the strongest remarks yet by a British cabinet minister, Peter Hain said last night that the government believed the camp should be shut. Asked on the BBC's Question Time programme whether Tony Blair supported that view he said "I think so, yes".

The Bush administration has defined torture in narrow terms, referring to intense physical injury and organ failure. Controversy about the definition goes to the heart of allegations that the US has secretly used Britain to transport detainees to interrogation centres in countries where torture occurs, in the practice known as "extraordinary rendition".

Ministers have relied on US assurances that senior British lawyers have repeatedly questioned. In a law lords judgment last year, Lord Bingham referred to US techniques, including sensory deprivation and inducing a perception of suffocation, which, he said, would be defined as torture in British law.

Mr Justice Collins said three British residents in Guantánamo could now seek a court order requiring the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, to petition for their release. The case, brought by Bisher al-Rawi, Jamil el-Banna, and Omar Deghayes, and relatives living in Britain, could be heard as early as next week.

Responding to the judge's remarks about the US definition of torture, Rabinder Singh QC, counsel for the three detainees and their families, said Britain and the European court of human rights would "undoubtedly condemn" many of the practices at Guantánamo. Mr Rawi is an Iraqi who has lived in the UK since 1985. His business partner, Mr Banna, is a Jordanian refugee, and Mr Deghayes is a Libyan refugee. All three were taken to Guantánamo via Afghanistan.

Mr Rawi and Mr Banna were seized by CIA agents in Gambia in 2002. Chris Mullin, a former Foreign Office minister for Africa, says British agents helped the Americans seize the two men. They are alleged to have had contacts with al-Qaida because of a connection with the radical cleric Abu Qatada.

Mr Deghayes was detained in Pakistan. His name was said to be on the FBI's "most wanted" list yet the photograph in his file was of a different person, the court heard. Mr Deghayes was almost blind in one eye through the use of pepper spray and gouging during his detention, yet is still being constantly subjected to bright light.

Invisible Men
The not-people we're not holding at Guantanamo Bay.
By Dahlia Lithwick

Posted Thursday, Feb. 16, 2006, at 3:22 PM ET

It's an immutable rule of journalism that when you unearth three instances of a phenomenon, you've got a story. So, you might think three major reports on Guantanamo Bay, all released within a span of two weeks, might constitute a big story. But somehow they do not.

Guantanamo Bay currently holds over 400 prisoners. The Bush administration has repeatedly described these men as " the worst of the worst." Ten have been formally charged with crimes and will someday face military tribunals. The rest wait to learn what they have done wrong. Two major studies conclude that most of them have done very little wrong. A third says they are being tortured while they wait.

No one disputes that the real criminals at Guantanamo should be brought to justice. But now we have proof that most of the prisoners are guilty only of bad luck and that we are casually destroying their lives. The first report was written by Corine Hegland and published two weeks ago in the National Journal. Hegland scrutinized the court documents of 132 prisoners—approximately one-quarter of the detainees—who have filed habeas corpus petitions, as well as the redacted transcripts of the hearings that 314 prisoners have received in appearing before military Combatant Status Review Tribunals—the preliminary screening process that is supposed to ascertain whether they are "enemy combatants," as the Bush administration claims. Hegland's exhaustive review concludes that most of the detainees are not Afghans and that most were not picked up on the battlefield in Afghanistan. The vast majority were instead captured in Pakistan. Seventy-five of the 132 men are not accused of taking part in hostilities against the United States. The data suggests that maybe 80 percent of these detainees were never al-Qaida members, and many were never even Taliban foot soldiers.

Most detainees are being held for the crime of having "associated" with the Taliban or al-Qaida—often in the most attenuated way, including having known or lived with people assumed to be Taliban, or worked for charities with some ties to al-Qaida. Some had "combat" experience that seems to have consisted solely of being hit by U.S. bombs. Most were not picked up by U.S. forces but handed over to our military by Afghan warlords in exchange for enormous bounties and political payback.

But weren't they all proved guilty of something at their status review hearings? Calling these proceedings "hearings" does violence to that word. Detainees are assumed guilty until proven innocent, provided no lawyers, and never told what the evidence against them consists of. That evidence, according to another report by Hegland, often consists of little beyond admissions or accusations by other detainees that follow hundreds of hours of interrogations. (A single prisoner at Guantanamo, following repeated interrogation, accused over 60 of his fellow inmates—or more than 10 percent of the prison's population. Some of his accounts are factual impossibilities.) Another detainee "confessed" following an interminable interrogation, shouting: "Fine, you got me; I'm a terrorist." When the government tried to list this as a confession, his own interrogators were forced to break the outrageous game of telephone and explain it as sarcasm. A Yemeni accused of being a Bin Laden bodyguard eventually "admitted" to having seen Bin Laden five times: "Three times on Al Jazeera and twice on Yemeni news." His file: "Detainee admitted to knowing Osama Bin Laden."

Mark Denbeaux, who teaches law at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, and attorney Joshua Denbeaux published a second report several days after Hegland. They represent two detainees. Their data on the evidence amassed against the entire detainee population jibes with Hegland's. They evaluated written determinations produced by the government for the Combatant Status Review Tribunals; in other words, the government's best case against the prisoners, in the government's own words.

The Seton Hall study found that 55 percent of the detainees are not suspected of having committed any hostile acts against the United States and that 40 percent of the detainees are not affiliated with al-Qaida. Eight percent are listed as having fought for a terrorist group, and 60 percent are merely accused of being "associated with" terrorists—the lowest categorization available. They confirm that 86 percent were captured either by the Northern Alliance or by Pakistan "at a time in which the United States offered large bounties for capture of suspected enemies." They quote a flier, distributed in Afghanistan at the time of the sweeps that reads: "Get wealth and power beyond your dreams... You can receive millions of dollars helping the anti-Taliban forces catch Al Qaida and Taliban murderers. This is enough money to take care of your family, your tribe, your village for the rest of your life. Pay for livestock and doctors and school books."

While some of the evidence against the detainees appears damning—11 percent are said to have "met with Bin Laden" (I suppose that includes the guy who saw him on TV)—most are accused of "associating with terrorists" based on having met with unnamed individuals, used a guesthouse, owned a Casio watch, or wearing olive drab clothing. Thirty-nine percent possessed a Kalashnikov rifle—almost as fashionable in that part of the world as a Casio. Many were affiliated with groups not on the Department of Homeland Security's Terrorist watch list.

The third report was released today by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. Five rapporteurs spent 18 months investigating conditions at Guantanamo, based on information provided by released detainees or family members, lawyers, and Defense Department documents. The investigators were not scrutinizing charges. They were assessing humanitarian conditions. They declined to visit the camp itself when they were told they'd be forbidden to meet with the prisoners. Their 41-page document concludes that the government is violating numerous human rights—including the ban on torture and arbitrary detention and the right to a fair trial. The investigators were particularly bothered by reports of violent force-feeding of hunger-strikers and interrogation techniques including prolonged solitary confinement; exposure to extreme temperatures, noise, and light; and forced shaving. It concludes: "The United States government should close the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities without further delay" and recommends the detainees be released or tried.

And why doesn't the government want to put these prisoners on trial? The administration has claimed that it needs these men for their intelligence value; to interrogate them about further 9/11-like plots. But as Hegland reports, by the fall of 2002 it was already common knowledge in the government that "fewer than 10 percent of Guantanamo's prisoners were high-value terrorist operatives," according to Michael Scheuer, who headed the agency's Bin Laden unit from 1999 until he resigned in 2004. Three years later, the government's own documents reveal that hundreds of hours of ruthless questioning have produced only the quasi-comic, quasi-tragic spectacle of weary prisoners beginning to finger one another.

The government's final argument is that we are keeping them from rejoining the war against us, a war that has no end. But that is the most disingenuous claim of all: If any hardened anti-American zealots leave Guantanamo, they will be of our own creation. Nothing will radicalize a man faster than years of imprisonment based on unfounded charges; that's why Abu Ghraib has become the world's foremost crime school. A random sweep of any 500 men in the Middle East right now might turn up dozens sporting olive drab and Casio watches, and dozens more who fiercely hate the United States. Do we propose to detain them all indefinitely and without charges?

The only real justification for the continued disgrace that is Guantanamo is that the government refuses to admit it's made a mistake. Releasing hundreds of prisoners after holding them for four years without charges would be big news. Better, a Guantanamo at which nothing has happened in four years. Better to drain the camp slowly, releasing handfuls of prisoners at a time. Last week, and with little fanfare, seven more detainees were let go. That brings the total number of releasees to 180, with 76 transferred to the custody of other countries. Are these men who are quietly released the "best of the worst"? No. According to the National Journal one detainee, an Australian fundamentalist Muslim, admitted to training several of the 9/11 hijackers and intended to hijack a plane himself. He was released to his home government last year. A Briton said to have targeted 33 Jewish organizations in New York City is similarly gone. Neither faces charges at home.

Guantanamo represents a spectacular failure of every branch of government. Congress is willing to pass a bill stripping courts of habeas-corpus jurisdiction for detainees but unwilling to probe what happens to them. The Supreme Court's decision in Rasul v. Bush conferred seemingly theoretical rights enforceable in theoretical courtrooms. The right to challenge a government detention is older than this country and yet Guantanamo grinds on.

It grinds on because the Bush administration gets exactly what it pays for in that lease: Guantanamo is a not-place. It's neither America nor Cuba. It is peopled by people without names who face no charges. Non-people facing non-trials to defend non-charges are not a story. They are a headache. No wonder the prisoners went on hunger strikes. Not-eating, ironically enough, is the only way they could try to become real to us.

Mondo Washington
Those So-Called Terrorists
Seton Hall study: Guantanamo filled with hapless proles
by James Ridgeway with Michael Roston
February 16th, 2006 5:35 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Quite aside from the United Nations' broadside charge that the U.S. is running a torture camp at Guantanamo, a detailed study of the prison suggests that most of the prisoners there have little to do with terror, and are far from what Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once called "the worst of the worst."

The study by two Seton Hall professors and their law students found that the so-called terrorists include former cook's assistants at Taliban camps, people caught while fleeing a U.S. attack, and individuals picked up in Pakistan who just happened to be in the proximity of other fighters.

The detainees have not been permitted to test the evidence compiled against them.

According to the report, of 517 detainees at Guantanamo brought before a government Combatant Status Review Tribunal, 55 percent were not even included in the government's "summaries of evidence" as having committed hostile acts against American or coalition forces. And the 45 percent believed to have committed hostile acts, include marginal personnel such as the cook's assistant.

Of the combatants, only 8 percent of detainees were characterized as al Qaeda fighters. Additionally, 40 percent have no definitive connection with al Qaeda at all and 18 percent have no definitive affiliation with either al Qaeda or the Taliban.

Entitled "Report on Guantanamo Detainees: A Profile of 517 Detainees through Analysis of Department of Defense Data," the document was prepared by Seton Hall Professor Mark Denbeaux, who is of counsel to two Guantanamo detainees, with Mark Denbeaux of the firm Denbeaux and Denbeaux, and a group of Seton Hall law students.

The Seton Hall report reinforces other recent findings. The National Journal, for example, recently reported that "the largest single group at Guantanamo Bay today consists of men caught in indiscriminate sweeps for Arabs in Pakistan," with one example including helicopters hovering over a village and announcing over loudspeakers, "Please, you get $1,000 for one Arab."

The White House dismissed the UN's call to shut the prison. "These are dangerous terrorists that we're talking about that are there," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.

Salon exclusive: The Abu Ghraib files

Never-published photos, and an internal Army report, show more Iraqi prisoner abuse -- evidence the government is fighting to hide.

By Mark Benjamin

Feb. 16, 2006 | Salon has obtained files and other electronic documents from an internal Army investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal. The material, which includes more than 1,000 photographs, videos and supporting documents from the Army's probe, may represent all of the photographic and video evidence that pertains to that investigation.

The files, from the Army's Criminal Investigation Command (CID), include hundreds of images that have never been publicly released. Along with the unpublished material, the material obtained by Salon also appears to include all of the famous photographs published after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in April 2004, as well as the photographs and videos published Wednesday by the Australian television news show "Dateline."

The source who gave the CID material to Salon is someone who spent time at Abu Ghraib as a uniformed member of the military and is familiar with the CID investigation.

The DVD containing the material includes a June 6, 2004, CID investigation report written by Special Agent James E. Seigmund. That report includes the following summary of the material included: "A review of all the computer media submitted to this office revealed a total of 1,325 images of suspected detainee abuse, 93 video files of suspected detainee abuse, 660 images of adult pornography, 546 images of suspected dead Iraqi detainees, 29 images of soldiers in simulated sexual acts, 20 images of a soldier with a Swastika drawn between his eyes, 37 images of Military Working dogs being used in abuse of detainees and 125 images of questionable acts."

The photographs we are showing in the accompanying gallery represent a small fraction of these visual materials. None, as far as we know, have been published elsewhere. They include: a naked, handcuffed prisoner in a contorted position; a dead prisoner who had been severely beaten; a prisoner apparently sodomizing himself with an object; and a naked, hooded prisoner standing next to an American officer who is blandly writing a report against a wall. Other photographs depict a bloody cell.

The DVD also includes photographs of guards threatening Iraqi prisoners with dogs, homemade videotapes depicting hooded prisoners being forced to masturbate, and a video showing a mentally disturbed prisoner smashing his head against a door. Oddly, the material also includes numerous photographs of slaughtered animals and mundane images of soldiers traveling around Iraq.

Accompanying texts from the CID investigation provide fairly detailed explanations for many of the photographs, including dates and times and the identities of both Iraqis and Americans. Based on time signatures of the digital cameras used, all the photographs and videos were taken between Oct. 18, 2003, and Dec. 30, 2003.

It is noteworthy that some of the CID documents refer to CIA personnel as interrogators of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. But no CIA officers have been prosecuted for any crimes that occurred within the prison, despite the death of at least one Iraqi during a CIA interrogation there.

Human-rights and civil-liberties groups have been locked in a legal battle with the Department of Defense since mid-2004, demanding that it release the remaining visual documents from Abu Ghraib in its possession. It is not clear whether the material obtained by Salon is identical to that sought by these groups, although it seems highly likely that it is.

Barbara Olshansky, deputy legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, said, "We brought the lawsuit because we wanted to make sure the public knew what the government was doing, particularly at these detention facilities," and, "It is the public's right to know."

Based on a verbal description of the files and images, Olshansky said she believes that the material obtained by Salon represents all of the Abu Ghraib images and video the Pentagon has been fighting to keep confidential. "I'm guessing that what you have is a pretty rare and complete set," she said.

The Pentagon initially argued in federal court that release of more Abu Ghraib images would violate the privacy rights of the Iraqi prisoners. Later, government lawyers argued that public release of the records might "endanger" soldiers in Iraq because publication of the pictures could incite further violence.

The government's argument was rejected by a federal district court last September. Judge Alvin Hellerstein said in his ruling, "Terrorists do not need pretexts for their barbarism." Release of the photographs in the suit has been delayed as the government appeals Hellerstein's decision.

Meanwhile, military trials of the soldiers who served at Abu Ghraib continue. Next month, two more enlisted men, both dog handlers, will face a military court at Fort Meade in Maryland. No high-ranking officer or official has yet been charged in the abuse scandal that blackened America's reputation across the world.

Additional reporting by Mark Follman, Page Rockwell and Michael Scherer.

New Photos of Abu Ghraib Abuse Surface

By Robert H. Reid, Associated Press Writer
Wed Feb 15, 2006 10:31 PM ET

New images showing Iraqis abused by U.S. guards at Abu Ghraib prison three years ago threatened Wednesday to enflame public anger already running high over footage of British soldiers beating youths in southern Iraq.

Images of naked prisoners, some bloodied and lying on the floor, were taken about the same time as earlier photos that triggered a worldwide scandal and led to military trials and prison sentences for several lower-ranking American soldiers.

Many of the pictures broadcast Wednesday by Australia's Special Broadcasting Service, including some that appear to show corpses, were more graphic than those previously published. One of the video clips depicted a group of naked men with bags over their heads standing together and masturbating. The network said they were forced to participate.

Some key Iraqi officials urged their countrymen to react calmly since the pictures were old and the offenders had been punished.

In the Middle East, where there have been widespread anti-Western protests recently over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya TV aired some of the Australian station's footage but refrained from using the most shocking and sexually explicit images. CNN also broadcast excerpts.

Iraq's acting human rights minister, Nermine Othman, said she was "horrified" by the pictures and would study whether any action could be taken against those responsible, even though some offenders have been imprisoned.

"There will be two kinds of reactions from Iraqis," she told The Associated Press. "One will be anger and others will feel sorry that they (SBS) didn't give them to the Iraqi government to investigate. Why use them? Why show them? We have had enough suffering and we don't want any more."

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Defense Department believed the release of additional images of prisoner abuse was harmful and "could only further inflame and possibly incite unnecessary violence in the world."

Whitman said he did not know whether the photos and video clips were among images the Pentagon has been withholding from public release since 2004.

But another defense official said Army officials had reviewed the photographs posted on the Sydney Morning Herald's Web site and matched them to images that were among those turned over to military authorities in 2004 by a U.S. soldier.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to address the matter publicly, said the photos contained no new information about abuse.

Although the Abu Ghraib case was exhaustively reported here years ago, the new images could revive the issue of treatment of Iraqis by U.S.-led occupation forces, who face the ever-present threat of death or serious injury at the hands of insurgents.

This week's release of video showing British troops beating Iraqi youths during a violent 2004 protest in the southern city of Amarah prompted the Basra provincial administration to severe ties with British authorities.

Members of Shiite political groups opposed to the U.S.-led coalition appeared to have engineered that move. They were apparently seeking to exploit public sensitivities after attempts by the British to crack down on Shiite militias.

The fresh Abu Ghraib pictures were broadcast as the United States is trying to reach out to the disaffected Sunni Arab community, the backbone of the insurgency, in hopes of encouraging Sunni insurgents to lay down their arms and join the political process.

Most of those who suffered abuse at Abu Ghraib were believed to have been Sunni Arabs. Sunni leaders have also alleged mistreatment by Shiite-led Iraqi government security forces, a development that has sharpened sectarian tensions.

Mindful of the risks, some key Iraqi officials either avoided comment or sought to play down the images, noting the Americans had already punished Abu Ghraib guards.

"I feel bringing up these issues is only going to add heat to an already fragile situation in Iraq and they don't help anybody at all," said Labeed Abbawi, an adviser to Iraq's Foreign Ministry. "It will only lead to extra condemnation of Americans, British and later Iraqis" who have also been accused of abuse.

National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie said he would discuss the pictures with U.S. authorities. "They don't help in forming a good relationship between the multinational forces and Iraqi citizens," he said.

Presidential security adviser Lt. Gen. Wafiq al-Samaraei called the abuse "unjustifiable" but added that it was important to remember that the actions occurred more than two years ago, offenders had been punished and rules on treatment of prisoners were tightened.

"The effect of something that happened two years ago is not the same as if it were repeated, for example, three months ago," he said.

The Australian station refused to say how it obtained the images, and their authenticity could not be verified independently.

However, they were consistent with earlier photographs of abuse by American soldiers at Abu Ghraib. Nine American soldiers — all low-ranking reservists — were convicted in the abuse and sentenced to terms ranging from discharge from the Army to 10 years imprisonment.

"The abuses at Abu Ghraib have been fully investigated," Whitman said. "When there have been abuses, this department has acted upon them promptly, investigated them thoroughly and where appropriate prosecuted individuals," he said.

He said more than 25 people have been held accountable for criminal acts and "other failures" at Abu Ghraib.

Prime Minister John Howard on Thursday defended the United States and said it had dealt with the abuse at Abu Ghraib.

"If further abuse has occurred then I unreservedly condemn it," said Howard. "But can I say immediately in defense of the Americans they are doing something about it."

The network, which aired the pictures on its "Dateline" program, did not identify anyone in the images. However, several photos appear to show former Spc. Charles Graner Jr., who is serving a 10-year prison term for his role in the scandal.

In one image, men wearing combat-style uniforms and holding dogs on leashes appear. Another showed two naked men whose hands were cuffed together. Another depicted an Iraqi's face in agony.

Other images showed what appear to be dead bodies, as well as wounded people and prisoners performing sex acts. SBS said the bodies were of people who died at the prison.

The SBS also showed photographs of a bloodied cell block and the corpse of a man it said was killed during a CIA interrogation.

Another video, also aired by Al-Jazeera, showed a man described as mentally disturbed beating his head against a wall. Al-Jazeera's brief excerpts included a hooded Iraqi male in his underwear, a naked figure lying on the floor next to what appeared to be a pool of blood and another with a man who appeared to be Graner smiling as he held a male prisoner.

The SBS broadcast said many of the new photos showed Graner having sex with Lynndie England, a 23-year-old reservist from Fort Ashby, W.Va., who is serving a three-year prison term for abusing detainees. England said Graner fathered her young son.

Those photos were not shown.

SBS said the images it showed were among photographs the American Civil Liberties Union was trying to obtain from the U.S. government under a Freedom of Information request.

The ACLU said it did not know how the images broadcast by SBS corresponded to its litigation. But it called on the U.S. government to investigate whether the abuse was systematic instead of blaming it on a few individuals.

"We continue to see undeniable evidence that abuse and torture has been widespread and systematic, yet high level government officials have not been held accountable for creating the policies that led to these atrocities," Anthony D. Romero, the ACLU's executive director, said in a statement.


Associated Press correspondents Meraiah Foley in Sydney, Australia, Paul Garwood in Baghdad and AP Military Writer Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.

UN report calls for closure of Guantánamo
· Prison breaks conventions on torture, say envoys
· Violent force-feeding of hunger strikers criticised

Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Tuesday February 14, 2006
The Guardian

A UN inquiry into conditions at Guantánamo Bay has called on Washington to shut down the prison, and says treatment of detainees in some cases amounts to torture, UN officials said yesterday.

The report also disputes the Bush administration's legal arguments for the prison, which was sited at the navy base in Cuba with the purpose of remaining outside the purview of the US courts, and says there has been insufficient legal process to decide whether detainees continued to pose a threat to the US.

The report, prepared by five envoys from the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and due for release tomorrow, is bound to deepen international criticism of the detention centre. Drafts of the report were leaked to the Los Angeles Times and the Telegraph newspapers, but UN envoys refused to comment yesterday.

During an 18-month investigation, the envoys interviewed freed prisoners, lawyers and doctors to collect information on the detainees, who have been held for the last four years without access to US judicial oversight. The envoys did not have access to the 500 prisoners who are still being held at the detention centre.

"We very, very carefully considered all of the arguments posed by the US government," Manfred Nowak, the UN special rapporteur on torture and one of the envoys, told the LA Times. "There are no conclusions that are easily drawn. But we concluded that the situation in several areas violates international law and conventions on human rights and torture."

The report lists techniques in use at Guantánamo that are banned under the UN's convention against torture, including prolonged periods of isolation, exposure to extremes of heat and cold, and humiliation, including forced shaving.

The UN report also focuses on a relatively new area of concern in Guantánamo - the resort to violent force-feeding to end a hunger strike by inmates. Guards at Guantánamo began force-feeding the protesters last August, strapping them on stretchers and inserting large tubes into their nasal passages, according to a lawyer for Kuwaiti detainees who has had contact with the UN envoys.

The effort to break the hunger strike has accelerated since the UN envoys produced their draft, with inmates strapped in restraint chairs for hours and fed laxatives so that they defecate on themselves.

"The government is not doing things to keep them alive. It is really conducting tactics to deprive them of the ability to be on hunger strike because the hunger strike is an embarrassment to them," said Thomas Wilner, an attorney at the Washington firm Shearman & Sterlin, who represents several Kuwaiti detainees.

The report adds to a body of evidence about mistreatment. A report by the International Committee of the Red Cross last year said interrogation techniques there were "tantamount to torture".

Tom Malinowski, Washington director of Human Rights Watch, said: "This is going to solidify the already highly negative views around the world about what the United States is doing in Guantánamo, and since the Red Cross complaints are more than a year old, it will suggest to a lot of people around the world that the problems are not solved."

However, the report did not seem to carry weight in Washington. A White House spokesman said it was an al-Qaida tactic to complain of abuse, while the Pentagon does not comment on UN matters. But a Pentagon official yesterday insisted there had been no attempts to break a hunger strike with punitive measures. "All detainees at Guantánamo are being treated humanely and are being provided with excellent medical care," he said.


Feb. 15, 2006
The Road to Guantánamo
By Kirk Honeycutt
Bottom line: A forceful docu-drama about three unfortunate Britons locked up in U.S. detention as "enemy combatants." Screened at the Berlin International Film Festival

BERLIN -- Four mates from the British Midlands embark on a wedding trip and side adventure in late September 2001 only to find themselves on "The Road to Guantanamo." This remarkable film by Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross tracks the true story of these British citizens of Pakistani descent, using hundreds of hours of interviews so the story can come out, literally, in their own words.

The early sections are reminiscent of Winterbottom's astonishing "In This World" (2003), but the road picture soon turns into a war picture and then a prison picture as the men are incarcerated by U.S. forces convinced they are Taliban.

A tough, compelling, must-see movie, "The Road to Guantanamo" is headed for a Channel 4 airing in the U.K. As a consequence of that exposure along with its Berlin Festival competition screening and any possible honors, the film should get wider international distribution than "In This World" received. The film certainly exposes the Bush Administration's repeated assertions of their humane treatment of Islamic prisoners at extra-legal detention centers as a lie.

The film mixes staged and archival footage with recreations of the interviews with the three surviving men. Annoyingly, film does come without a writing credit, presumably because interviews supplied the stories, but clearly someone structured the events.

Just after 9/11, Asif Iqbal (Arfan Usman) sets out for Pakistan to meet the bride his mother found for him. When his best man calls to say he can't make the wedding, Asif calls another friend in England. Ruhel (Farhad Harun) agrees to be best man and he flies out with two other friends, Shafiq Rasul (Rizwan Ahmed) and Monir Ali (Waqar Siddiqui).

With some time on their hands, the four men visit a mosque and hear an Iman's call for men to travel to Afghanistan to give aid to the people. Foolishly, they jump on a bus headed for the border. They arrive in Afghanistan just in time to see the first American bombs hit. At one point during the chaos, they get separated from Monir, who is never heard from again.

The others are captured by Northern Alliance troops and shipped in containers where many die, before being turned over to U.S. forces December 28. They are beaten and tortured by American soldiers when they insist they are not terrorists or fighters. When one interrogator asks in all seriousness for the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden, this provokes laughter in the theater that makes you want to weep: Is this what has become of U.S. intelligence? The three Britons are eventually flown to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where they are held in detention for over two years, systematically tortured and accused of all sort of crimes. A female interrogator shows them bad video footage of an old rally attended by Bin Laden and Mohammed Atta and insists she can see all three sitting in the crowd. This is another of those laugh/cry moments.

Ironically, a police record back in England clears them. Two of the youths were on parole for minor offenses while Shafiq was working at an electrical superstore at the time they supposedly were in Pakistan cheering Bin Laden. The men were freed in England in March 2004.

Working on a budget a little over $2 million, Winterbottom and Whitecross superbly recreate these experiences in locations in Britain, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. There is little time for character or relationship development as events hit these young men fast. Similarly, the bullying American and British interrogators are all interchangeable.

The film doesn't really plead a political cause or moral crusade as show in persuasive dramatic terms what happened to these lads. It makes no attempt to enlarge the story beyond these men or to verify any of their claims. Continually, President Bush refers detainees at Guantanamo as "bad people." Clearly, these three were not.

Film Four
Revolution Films
Directors/editors: Michael Winterbottom, Mat Whitecross
Producer: Melissa Parmenter
Director of photography: Marcel Zyskind
Production designer: Mark Digby
Music: Molly Nyman, Harry Escott
Costumes: Esmaeil Maghsoudi
Ruhel: Farhad Harun
Asif: Arfan Usman
Shafiq: Rizwan Ahmed
Monir: Waqar Siddiqui
Zahid: Shahid Iqbal
No MPAA rating
Running time -- 95 minutes

New 'Abu Ghraib Abuse' Images Screened

Mark Oliver and agencies
Wednesday February 15, 2006

The Guardian

Previously unpublished images showing US troops apparently abusing detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison in 2003 were broadcast today by an Australian television station.

Still and video images were broadcast on Dateline, a current affairs programme on SBS television, which appeared to show dead bodies and Iraqi prisoners being tortured by US troops.

In one piece of footage, an Iraqi detainee was seen slamming his head repeatedly into a metal door, with guards apparently unwilling to intervene and stop him.

A still image showed a naked detainee with 11 non-fatal gunshot wounds to his buttocks.

SBS said it had obtained a file of hundreds of images and that many of them depicted dead bodies, bloody injuries and acts of sexual humiliation that were too graphic to be aired.

In some of the film shown, naked male prisoners wearing hoods were seen being forced to masturbate in front of the camera.

The original photographs of abuse at Abu Ghraib caused worldwide outrage when they were leaked to US current affairs programme 60 Minutes in 2004. SBS said the new images were taken in late 2003 at around the same time as the previously publicised photographs, which included a series showing naked detainees arranged in "pyramids".

A number of the new images showed US soldiers who have already been convicted in military trials over the abuse scandal at the prison, including Private Lynndie England and Charles Graner.

It had been known that more images of the abuse at Abu Ghraib existed.

At a Senate committee inquiry in May 2004, the US secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, said that not all known photographs of the abuses at Abu Ghraib had been publicly released. Mr Rumsfeld told the inquiry: "Beyond abuse of prisoners, there are other photos that depict incidents of physical violence toward prisoners, acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman."

Dateline's production team interviewed US Congress members who had been given a private viewing of all the images depicting abuse from Abu Ghraib, including those that had not been published in the media.

SBS refused to give details of the source of the photographs, but insisted it was confident of their credibility. It was impossible to independently confirm the images' authenticity.

Producers said the new images were among photographs the American Civil Liberties Union was trying to obtain from the US government under a freedom of information request.

In September last year, a US district court upheld the request in a ruling covering scores of photographs and several videotapes. Government lawyers responded by saying an appeal was being considered, and the images were not immediately released.

Speaking on Dateline's programme today, Amrit Singh, a lawyer for the the civil liberties union said she hoped the broadcast of the new images would provide pressure for high-ranking officials to be held accountable for "systematic and widespread abuse".

In total, seven low-ranking US personnel have been disciplined over the images. Graner, a reservist, received the highest sentence and was jailed for 10 years.

There were reports Washington was trying to prevent the new images being broadcast in the US.

The photographs were quickly picked up by Arabic television stations. It was feared they could add to tensions stirred up by the Danish cartoon row and Sunday's emergence of video showing British troops in Iraq apparently beating civilians in 2004.

British military police were today continuing to interview three British soldiers over a videotape obtained by the News of the World showing young Iraqis apparently being attacked in Amara, a town north of Basra, in January 2004.

The Royal Military Police arrested one person on Sunday night, and it detained two others yesterday as the investigation made "significant progress".

The first soldier arrested was named by the BBC as Corporal Martin Webster of the 1st Battalion, Light Infantry, although it was not clear whether he was being interviewed as a witness or a perpetrator.

Pentagon Releases Names of Gitmo Inmates

By Miranda Leitsinger

After four years of secrecy, the Pentagon handed over documents Friday that contain the names of detainees held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay. The release resulted from a victory by The Associated Press in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

The Bush administration had hidden the identities, home countries and other information about the men, who were accused of having links to the Taliban or al-Qaida. But a federal judge rejected administration arguments that releasing the identities would violate the detainees' privacy and could endanger them and their families.

The names were scattered throughout more than 5,000 pages of transcripts of hearings at Guantanamo Bay released Friday, but no complete list was given and it was unclear how many names the documents contained. In most of the transcripts, the person speaking is identified only as "detainee." Names appear only when court officials or detainees refer to people by name.

In some cases, even having the name did not clarify the identity. In one document, the tribunal president asks a detainee if his name is Jumma Jan. The detainee responds that no, his name instead is Zain Ul Abedin.

The men were mostly captured during the 2001 U.S.-led war that drove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan and sent Osama bin Laden deeper into hiding, and the newly released documents shed light on some of the detainees' explanations.

In one unedited transcript, Zahir Shah, an Afghan accused of belonging to an Islamic militant group and of having a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and other weapons in his house, admits having rifles. He says they were for protection — he had a running feud with a cousin — and insists he did not fight U.S. troops.

The only time he shot anything, he says, was when he hunted with a BB gun.

"What are we going to do with RPGs?" he asks, adding: "The only thing I did in Afghanistan was farming. ... We grew wheat, corn, vegetables and watermelons."

In another document, a detainee identified as Abdul Hakim Bukhary denies he is member of al-Qaida but acknowledges he traveled from his native Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan to fight U.S. forces, and says he met Osama bin Laden about 15 years ago while fighting Russian forces in Afghanistan. He praises his captors for running a good prison.

"Prisoners here are in paradise," he says. "American people are very good. Really. They give us three meals. Fruit juice and everything!" Still, he says, he wants to return to his family.

It was not clear whether Shah and Bukhary are still being held.

The documents do not name all current and former Guantanamo Bay detainees. And even when detainees are named, the documents do not make clear whether they have since been released.

The documents do contain the names of some known former prisoners, like Moazzam Begg and Feroz Ali Abbasi, both British citizens. A handwritten note shows Abbasi pleading for prisoner-of-war status.

Most of the Guantanamo Bay hearings were held to determine whether the detainees were "enemy combatants." That classification, Bush administration lawyers say, deprives the detainees of Geneva Convention prisoner-of-war protections and allows them to be held indefinitely without charges.

Documents released last year — also because of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the AP — included transcripts of 317 hearings, but had the detainees' names and nationalities blacked out. The current documents are the same ones — this time, uncensored.

A U.S. military spokesman in Guantanamo Bay said the Pentagon was uneasy about handing over the transcripts.

"Personal information on detainees was withheld solely to protect detainee privacy and for their own security," said Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler. He said the Defense Department remains concerned that the disclosure "could result in retribution or harm to the detainees or their families."

Buz Eisenberg, a lawyer for a detainee, said he hopes the uncensored documents can help clear his client. "We have been trying to litigate a case without ever knowing what the allegations were that the government claimed justified his continued detention," Eisenberg said. "Thanks to the AP's successful lawsuit, we're looking forward to receiving that evidence so that we can properly prepare our client's substantive case in court."

Eisenberg did not want to name his client because he had not asked the man for permission.

The documents should shed light on the scope of an insurgency still battling U.S. troops in Afghanistan, in part by detailing how Muslims from many countries wound up fighting alongside the Taliban there.

Abdul Gappher, an ethnic Uighur, says he traveled from China to Afghanistan, passing through Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan, in June 2001 to "get some training to fight back against the Chinese government." But he denied doing anything against the United States. He was captured in Pakistan, and said Pakistani police officers "sold us to the U.S. government."

U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff of New York ruled in favor of the AP last week, a major development in a protracted legal battle. In the ongoing litigation, the AP has also asked the Pentagon to release a complete list of all detainees ever held at the prison on a U.S. Navy base in eastern Cuba.

"This is extremely important information," said Curt Goering, senior deputy executive director of Amnesty International USA. "We've been asking ever since the camp opened for a list of everyone there as one of the most basic first steps for any detaining authority."

Human rights monitors say keeping identities of prisoners secret can lead to abuses and deprive their families of information about their fate.

About 490 prisoners are being held at Guantanamo Bay, but only 10 of them have been charged with a crime.

"You can't just draw a veil of secrecy when you are locking people up," said Jamie Fellner, director of the U.S. program for Human Rights Watch. "You have to do at least the minimum, which is to acknowledge who you are holding."

Some of the testimony seemed bound to embarrass the military.

Abbasi complains that on two occasions, military police officers had sex in front of him, while others tried to feed him "a hot plate of pork," food banned by the Islamic faith. Some, he said, misled him into praying north toward the United States rather than toward Mecca as Muslims are required to do.

Like the other detainees, Abbasi wasn't allowed to see classified evidence against him. He repeatedly cited international law in arguing that he was unfairly classified as an enemy combatant. An Air Force colonel whose identity remains blacked out would have none of it.

"Mr. Abbasi, your conduct is unacceptable and this is your absolute final warning. I do not care about international law. I do not want to hear the words international law again. We are not concerned about international law," the colonel says. Then he has Abbasi removed from the courtroom.

Last year, Rakoff ordered the government to ask each detainee whether he or she wanted personal identifying information to be turned over to the AP as part of the lawsuit. Of 317 detainees who received the form, 63 said yes, 17 said no, 35 returned the form without answering and 202 declined to return the form.

The judge said none of the detainees, not even the 17 who said they did not want their identities exposed, had a reasonable expectation of privacy during the tribunals.

A Pentagon lawyer delivered the documents — 60 files on a CD-ROM — about 20 minutes after the deadline at the close of business Friday. But within minutes, an officer returned and took back the CD-ROM, which contained letters from relatives of some of the prisoners that were not intended for release. A new version was provided over an hour later.


Associated Press reporters Ben Fox contributed to this story from San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Lolita C. Baldor contributed from Washington.