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Monday, September 15, 2003

Memo (Ricardo Sanchez): Interrogation techniques, Sanchez later lies about them

Today, Lieutenant General Ricardo A. Sanchez will release a memo with the subject CJTF-7 Interrogation and Counter-Resistance Policy. He states that the policy is
modeled on the one implemented for interrogations conducted at Guantanamo Bay, but modified for applicability to a theater of war in which the Geneva Conventions apply. Unless otherwise directed, my intent is to implement this policy immediately.
In the memo, he states that techniques including those that may be considered inconsistent with the Geneva Conventions, require personal permission from him before being implemented. They are B, I, O, X, Y, AA, and CC:
  • B. Incentive/Removal of Incentive. Providing a reward or removing a privilege, above and beyond those that are required by the Geneva Convention, from detainees. [Caution: Other nations believe that detainees are entitled to EPW protections may consider that provision and retention of religious items (e.g. the Koran) are protected under international law (see, Geneva II, Article 34).]
  • I. Pride and Ego Down: Attacking or insulting the ego of a detainee, not beyond the limits that would apply to an EPW. [Caution: Article 17 of Geneva III provides "Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind". Other nations that believe detainees are entitled to EPW protections may consider this technique inconsistent with the provisions of Geneva.]
  • O. Mutt and Jeff: A team consisting of a friendly and harsh interrogator. The harsh interrogator might employ the Pride and Ego Down technique. [Caution: Other nations that believe that EPW protections apply to detainees may view this technique as inconsistent with Geneva III, Article 13, which provides that EPWs must be protected against acts of intimidation. Consideration should be given to those views prior to application of the technique.]
  • X. Isolation: Isolating the detainees from other detainees while still complying with basic standards of treatment. [Caution ...]
  • AA. Yelling, Loud Music, and Light Control: Used to create fear and disorient detainee and prolong capture shock. Volume controlled to prevent injury.
  • CC. Stress Positions: Use of physical postures (sitting, standing, kneeling, prone, etc.) for no more than 1 hour per use. Use of technique(s) will not exceed 4 hours and adequate rest between use of each position will be provided.
In a Senate Hearing on Prisoner Abuse, 19 May 2004, the following exchange will occur between Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sanchez. Letters in brackets indicate the identification tag the techniques, listed after.
REED: General Sanchez, today's USA Today, sir, reported that you ordered or approved the use of sleep deprivation [technique Z], intimidation by guard dogs [technique Y] excessive noise [technique AA] and inducing fear as an interrogation method [techniques E and F] for a prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison.

REED: Is that correct?

SANCHEZ: Sir, that may be correct that it's in a news article, but I never approved any of those measures to be used within CJTF-7 at any time in the last year.

REED: Excuse me. Because I want to get back to this.

It may be correct that you ordered those methods used against a prisoner. Is that your answer?

SANCHEZ: No, sir, that's not what I said. I said it may be correct...

REED: Well, I didn't hear; that's why I want...

SANCHEZ: ... that it's printed in an article, but I have never approved the use of any of those methods within CJTF-7 in the 12.5 months that I've been in Iraq.

REED: What level of command produced this slide?

SANCHEZ: Sir, my understanding is that that was produced at the company commander level.

REED: How could the company commander evolve such a specific list? How could the company commander then turn around and said some of these things would require your permission without any interaction between your command? It seems to me just difficult to understand.

SANCHEZ: Sir, it's difficult for me to understand it. You have to ask the commander.

The techniques which Ricardo Sanchez denies approving during the Senate Enquiry and under oath are approved by Ricardo Sanchez in the memo as follows:
  • E. Fear Up Harsh: Significantly increasing the fear level in a detainee.
  • F. Fear Up Mild: Moderately increasing the fear level in a detainee.
  • Y. Presence of Military Working Dogs: Exploits Arab fear of dogs while maintaining security during interrogations. Dogs will be muzzled and under control of MWD handler at all times to prevent contact with detainee.
  • Z. Sleep Management: Detainee provided minimum of 4 hours sleep per 24 hour period, not to exceed 72 continuous hours.
It is interesting to note that the Defense Department initially refused to release this memo, which contains evidence of Sanchez committing perjury, on national security grounds. However, after the ACLU filed legal papers specifically challenging the withholding of the memo on those grounds, the Defense Department reconsidered its position and released the document to the ACLU late in the afternoon on Friday, 25 March 2005. At the same time, the Defense Department released a previously leaked 12 October 2003 Sanchez memo that superseded this memo (see entry on 12 October 2003).

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Incident: "Selwa" detained, raped

[Author's note: There are strong similarities between Selwa's story, the story of Um Taha, and a story told to Mithal Hassan while she was detained at Abu Ghraib.]

Today, according to an interview she will give The American Prospect's Tara McKelvey, US forces will invade "Selwa's" home. She is the wealthy 55 year old wife of "Saddan", a director in the Ministry of Commerce. Exactly one month previous, they had taken her husband Saddan, and taken $US 315,000 and $12,000 Iraqi dinar. He was considered a high-value detainee. Today, they will take her into custody.

While detained, she claims that the following incidents occurred:

  • She was forced to crouch on the ground in 100-degree weather holding her arms above her head
  • She was forced to stir a barrel of human feces that had been set alight with a heavy club.
  • When she stated that she could not do it, the sergeant threatened her with rape by saying "If you don't, I will tell one of the soldiers to fuck you."
  • She then continued stirring the waste until she fainted from exhaustion 2 hours later (the woman was 55 years old).
When asked by the American reporter if she had been sexually abused, Selwa denies it. However, the reporter subsequently spoke to Sundus, who was hired by lawyer Susan Burke to interview detainees. Quoting from the article
Sundus explains how Selwa and Selwa's sister came to her office last August. Selwa said she wanted to speak about her detention privately. Her sister left the room. Then Selwa sat down with Sundus. "They did everything bad to me, and may God take them all to hell," Selwa told her. "She began to weep bitterly," recalls Sundus. "She didn't tell the truth to her family."
Selwa's son in law, "Nabil", also claims that soldiers were raping women in detention. He tells the reporter the following story of his stay in Abu Ghraib.
In November or December, I really can't remember, I was in a room and could hear sounds coming from outside. The windows were broken, and they were covered with wooden panels. Sometimes I could hear screams and shouts. Women were calling for mercy. There were also children between the ages of 10 and 12. The children became hysterical. I was told the women were tortured in front of their children. One day, a sheik came back from a medical clinic where he'd been treated. He was in tears. 'What happened?' we asked. He told us he had seen a young girl, 15 years old, with internal bleeding. She had been raped over and over again by the soldiers, and she could no longer talk. He is a deeply religious man. But that night, he shouted at Allah. 'How is it possible that you are there and these things are happening?!' he said.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Memo: Commander's report of Commander's Inquiry

Today, the Commander's report of the Commander's Inquiry appointed 15 July 2003 will be sent to MG Raymond T. Odierno (Commander, 4th Infantry Division, Tikrit Iraq). A pdf of the document can be found on the ACLU FOIA website (pages 1090 onward). In it, the following incidents are claimed to have occurred under the Task Force Iron Gunner detainee operations. It is noted that no court-martials or punishments have resulted from these incidents.
  • Iraqis being detained on little more than a "whim". The example is given of Iraqis detained merely for having more than $100 in possession. It is noted that the money was often stolen from the detainees by the Task Force.
  • The father of a 12-year-old boy killed in operations was denied his child's body for days, and then "made to dig it up himself".
This document forms part of the documentation released by various US Government Departments in response to an FOIA court order. If you are grateful for having received this information, consider supporting the organisations in the side-bar on the right.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Incident: Mousa dies in British custody

According to media reports, this month, Baha Mousa, a 26 year old hotel receptionist from Basra will be seized in a raid on the hotel where he works. Four days later, his father will identify his battered corpse at the British military morgue.

According to Kifah Taha, who was taken with Mousa and four others, the following things occurred:

  • The soldiers that captured them had a competition to see which soldier could kickbox a prisoner the furthest;
  • Each prisoner was allegedly given a footballer's name and beaten if he failed to remember it.
  • Freezing water was allegedly poured through hoods placed over their heads.
One Iraqi police officer described Mousa's corpse:
"When they took the cover off his body I could see his nose was badly broken," said Daoud Moussa, a senior Iraqi police officer. "The skin of his wrists had been torn off. The skin on his forehead was torn away. On the left side of his chest there were clear blue bruises. On his legs I saw bruising from kicking." (source)
Mousa's father was initially offered $8000 for his son's death.

Four Queen's Lancashire Regiment soldiers will face charges of murder and abuse in relation to the death. Another seven soldiers and officers could face wider war crimes charges under legislation enacted in 2001 after the establishment of the International Criminal Court.

As of 03 March 2006, three soldiers belonging to the Queen's Lancashire Regiment are awaiting trial in Britain over Baha's death, one of them charged with manslaughter, the other two with "inhumane treatment."

According to a small article in the London Times, Colonel Mendonca, the commander of the troops charged over Baha's killing, will be promoted. Although he is facing trial for negligence, he will still be selected to attend a top military college aimed at "grooming the next generation of generals" (source).

Baha Mousa was variously known as Baha Dawoud Salem al-Maliki (source).