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Thursday, October 30, 2003

DOD denies expedited processing

The FOIA request by NGOs filed on 7 October 2003 is denied expedited processing by the Department of Defence.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Dogs at Abu Ghraib

Today, an interogator will arrive at Abu Ghraib. The statement of the interogator will be made public thanks to NGO's Freedom of Information Act request. In this statement, the interrogator will make a statement as follows (page 352)
At approximately 0200 hrs, I requested the dogs from COL PAPPAS and he stated that he wold (sic) call higher to request permission. I began writing the memo IAW our IROE [interrogation rules of engagement] and an hour later it was approved and I was given the guidelines for using the dog. The dog did not hurt anyone as it was always about 5 feet away from the detainee.
In contrast to the above's experience, it will be later shown that dogs did in fact engage and injure detainees (e.g. page 353). Thomas M. Pappas, named above, will be fined $8000 for allowing dogs to be present during interrogations. This is despite the fact that Lieutenant General Ricardo A. Sanchez will have released policy stating explicitly that the use of dogs is permitted with his permission. He will deny having permitted this technique under oath to a Senate Inquiry, despite memos proving that this is a lie.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Memo (Ricardo Sanchez): Interrogation techniques

An Interrogation Policy to supersede the techniques approved in the 14 September 2003 Policy (see entry on that date), is released. The techniques are largely the same. I list the following techniques for comparison with the previous memo.

The first group of techniques that may be of interest are those that potentially violated the Geneva Conventions in the previous memo. They are B, I, O, X, Y, AA, and CC. Techniques X (isolation), Y (dogs), AA (yelling, loud music, light control), and CC (stress positions) are no longer included. For those that remain, the bracketed "cautions" that these may potentially violate the Geneva Conventions, which were included in the first memo, have been removed.

  • B. Incentive/Removal of Incentive. Providing a reward or removing a privilege, above and beyond those that are required by the Geneva Convention. Possible incentives include favorite food items, changes in environmental quality, or other traditional or regional comforts not required by the Geneva Convention.
  • I. Pride and Ego Down: Attacking or insulting the ego of a detainee.
  • O. Mutt and Jeff: A team consisting of a friendly and harsh interrogator. This approach is designed to cause the security internee to have a feeling of hostility toward one interrogator and a feeling of gratitude toward the other.
The second group of techniques that may be of interest are those that Sanchez lied about during the Senate Enquiry (see 14 September 2003). They are Z (sleep management), Y (dogs), AA (excessive noise) and E and F (inducing fear). All of these techniques except inducing fear (techniques E and F) have been removed.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

FOIA request filed by NGOs

In light of "numerous credible reports recounting torture and rendition of detainees" in the media, a Freedom of Information Act request is filed by the following organisations:
  • American Civil Liberties Union
  • Center for Constitutional Rights
  • Physicians for Human Rights
  • Veterans for Common Sense, and
  • Veterans for Peace
It is filed to the
  • Department of Defence
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of State, and
  • Central Intelligence Agency
It requests:
  • Records concerning the treatment of Detainees in US custody
  • Records concerning the death of Detainees in US custody
  • Records related to the rendition of Detainees and other individuals

Incident: alleged sexual assault

According to a statement from a woman that was held at Abu Ghraib, the following things occurred (taken from Commander's Report of Disciplinary or Administrative Action, page 9):
Ms [censored] stated she was in her cell, when three MI personnel and an interpreter came to her cell and escorted her down the cellblock to an abandoned cell. Ms [censored] stated one of the MI soldiers stayed outside of the cell and acted as a lookout ... [descriptions of man] ... Ms. [censored] stated that inside the cell, one of the soldiers held her hands behind her back while another soldier forcefully kissed her ... [descriptions of men] ... Ms. [censored] stated the soldiers took her out of the cell and took her downstairs, where they showed her a naked Iraqi man and told her that if she did not do what they said, then they would take her clothes off and make her look like the Iraqi man. Ms. [censored] stated she was then escorted to the abandoned cell upstairs where she was forced to get on her knees and raise her arms and hands above her head. Ms [censored] stated the skinny white male without glasses, removed her shirt, leaver her bra. Ms [censored] stated she began to cry and the soldier through [sic] her shirt at her and started cursing at her. Ms [censored] stated the soldiers told her they were going to come back each night and talk to her. Ms [censored] stated she was then taken back to her cell.
Ms [censored] then identified the soldiers above from a photographic line-up.

The male soldiers who were allegedly involved were interviewed. Unfortunately, some of the statements from the soldiers are missing from the document. For those that are included, all state that they saw no sexual assault incidents, nor any threats.

The testimony on page 18 verifies that Ms [censored] was indeed taken downstairs.

Q: Do you know why Ms [censored] was taken downstairs for about five minutes then returned to her original cell on the second floor?
A: In my opinion, I think they were taking her to the isolation cell, then changed their mind and returned her to her assigned cell.
Q: Was Ms [censored] taken to the male segregated portion of the prison?
A: I don't know, they could have taken her when they took Ms [censored] downstairs for the five minutes.
The investigator then proceeds to ask the soldier what his opinion of Ms [censored] is. This gives the soldier the opportunity to state "I believe she is a dangerous person and should not be trusted. She seemed kind of "crazy"".

Page 5 of the Report concludes

Investigation did not establish sufficient evidence to prove or disprove SGT [censored] SPC [censored] and SPC [censored] committed the offenses of Indecent Assault, Conspiracy, Maltreatment of a Prisoner and Communicating a Threat.
Page 6 contains the following note.
Leads Remaining: Continue attempts to locate and interview witness within Abu Ghraib prison.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

Incident: Bashmilah rendition

This month according to reports citing Amnesty International, Muhammad Bashmilah will be visiting his mother in Jordan when he will be detained, and he alleges that he was tortured for four days. He was then transferred to another, unknown location where he was interrogated daily by American guards. He is currently being detained in a Yemeni prison which is being run for the US.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Document: Red Cross inspects and warns of abuse at Abu Ghraib

This month, a confidential Red Cross document assessing the condition of detainees held in US custody in Iraq is presented to the authorities.

The report "concluded that abuse of prisoners in Iraq in custody of U.S. military intelligence was widespread and in some cases 'tantamount to torture'", and "suggested the use of ill-treatment against persons deprived of their liberty went beyond exceptional cases and might be considered a practise tolerated by" coalition forces". In particular, it states:

  • prisoners were kept naked in empty cells at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison
  • prisoners were beaten by coalition forces; slapped, punched, kicked in the head and groin
  • in at least one case, a prisoner was beaten so severely that it lead to death (interestingly, his death certificate lists the cause of death as "unknown")
  • that coalition forces fired on unarmed prisoners multiple times from watchtowers, killing some of them
  • that prisoners were urinated on
In short, the report observes that coalition forces committed "serious violations" of the Geneva Conventions governing treatment of prisoners of war. The report further observes that this ill-treatment of persons arrested with suspected security offences or deemed to have intelligence value is systematic.

In seven month's time, after the Abu Ghraib photographs are made public, this document will be leaked to the press and The Wall Street Journal will report on it (archived on The Daily Kos). At that time, the ICRC will claim that this is not the first time that the concerns in the report had been raised with US authorities.

During the Abu Ghraib photographs scandal, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will tell reporters that the first time he heard of allegations of guards sexually humiliating and abusing detainees was in early January, which is three months from this date.