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Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Second FOIA request filed by NGOs

A similar request to that filed on 7 October 2003, with the addition of documents generated since that time, is submitted. The request stresses that it meets the requirements for expedited processing because, amongst other reasons, it involves "a breaking news story of general public interest".

Sunday, May 23, 2004

One third Americans say torture sometimes acceptable, one fifth support electrical torture

From 20 to 23 May 2004, TNS will conduct a telephone poll for Washington Post-ABC News among 1,005 randomly selected American adults nationwide. The margin of sampling error for overall results is plus or minus three percentage points. Below are the results selected questions pertaining to torture.

27. On another subject, some people say (it's acceptable to torture people suspected of terrorism, in cases where other methods have failed and the authorities believe the suspect has information that could prevent terrorist attacks and save lives.) Other people say (the use of torture is never acceptable because it's cruel, it may violate international law, it may not work, and it could be used unnecessarily or by mistake on innocent people.)

What's your view - do you think (it's acceptable to torture people suspected of terrorism in some cases), or do you think (the use of torture is never acceptable)?

Torture is acceptable in Torture is never No
some cases acceptable opinion
% % %
35 63 1

28. What about physical abuse that falls short of torture? Do you think (it's acceptable to physically abuse but not torture people suspected of terrorism in some cases), or do you think (the use of physical abuse is never acceptable)?

Physical abuse is acceptable in Physical abuse is never No
some cases acceptable opinion
% % %
46 52 2

28a. What about people who are suspected of involvement in recent attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq or Afghanistan? Do you think torture is acceptable or unacceptable in some of those cases?

Yes, torture is acceptable No, torture is not acceptable No
in those cases in those cases opinion
% % %
34 64 2

28b. Again, thinking about people who are suspected of involvement in recent attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq or Afghanistan, do you think physical abuse that falls short of torture is acceptable or unacceptable in some of those cases?

Yes, physical abuse is No, physical abuse is No
acceptable in those cases not acceptable in those cases opinion
% % %
45 53 2

29. Just your best guess, do you think the U.S. government as a matter of policy is or is not using torture as part of the U.S. campaign against terrorism?

Is using torture Is not using torture No op.
% % %
51 43 6

30. Just your best guess, do you think the U.S. government as a matter of policy is or is not using physical abuse that falls short of torture as part of the U.S. campaign against terrorism?

Is using physical abuse Is not using physical abuse No op.
% % %
66 29 5

31. As part of the U.S. campaign against terrorism, please tell me if you think each item I name is acceptable in some cases as a method of getting information from prisoners, or is unacceptable in all cases.

Acceptable Unacceptable No op.
% % %
Not allowing the suspect to sleep 66 33 1
Withholding food and water 38 61 1
Threatening to harm the suspect's family members 19 80 .
Applying electric shocks to the suspect 17 82 2
Making the suspect go naked 25 74 1
Bombarding the suspect with loud noise for long periods of time 54 45 1
Holding the suspect's head under water 21 78 1
Threatening to shoot the suspect 41 57 2
Keeping a hood over the suspect's head for long periods of time 57 42 1
Sexually humiliating the suspect 16 84 1
Exposing the suspect to extreme heat or cold 40 58 2
Punching or kicking the suspect 29 69 2

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Investigations into Afghan detention facilities: one murder, four deaths, eight beaten

As will be recorded in an Agents Activity Summary (pdf page 6)
About 0900, 15 May 05, this office was notified by HQ, USACIDC, that MR [censored] was beaten on his hands, feet and chest, while detained at Kandahar and Peshawar detainee facilities.
Page 7 of this document also refers to 5 other investigations, which are as follows:
  • "CPT [censored] SFC [censored] SSG [censored] and SSG [censored] murdered MR [censored] after detaining him for following their movements in Afghanistan" Opened 26 Sep 02, closed 23 Mar 04
  • "Re-opened: MR [censored] turned himself into the custody of the US and subsequently died while in custody in Asadabad." Opened 25 May 04
  • "Death case of Afghani national under AMF control at an SF outpost, forward operating base Gereshk, Af." Opened 08 Nov 03
  • "Mr [censored] was reported he was abused at the BAF Detainee facility in August 2003" Opened 20 May 04
  • "SJA requested to interview (7) Afghanistan Nationals held in Kabul Detainee Facility that reported they were abused upon apprehension and that one of their brothers was killed while in US custody from being beaten" Opened 24 May 04

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Memo: "gitmoizing abu ghraib"

This document forms part of the documentation released on 15 December 2004 by various US Government Departments in response to an FOIA court order.

An email from [censored] to [censored] provides insights into General Miller's interrogation strategies. A heavily censored email will be released to the public in seven month's time, who will see it in the following form:

from what cnn reports, gen karpinsky at abu ghraib said that gen miller came to the prison several months ago and told her they wanted to "gitmoize" abu ghraib. I am not sure what this means. However if this refers to intell gathering as I suspect, it suggests he has continued to support interrogation strategies we not only advised against, but questioned in terms of effectiveness.

yesterday, however, we were surprised to read an article in stars and stripes, in which gen miller is quoted as saying that he believes in the rapport-building approach. this is not what he was saying at gitmo when i was there.

This email also refers to the BAU EC (presumably of 30 May, 2003) as a "must read" for understanding the issue at hand.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Incident: Nick Berg Video

The website of the militant Islamist group Muntada al-Ansar allegedly broadcast a video with the opening title of "Abu Musa'b al-Zarqawi slaughters an American", which shows Berg being decapitated. Berg is wearing an orange jumpsuit reminiscent of those worn by detainees at Guantanamo Bay. His captors claim that his death was to avenge abuses at Abu Ghraib.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Leaked Red Cross report: systemic widespread abuse

The Wall Street Journal reports on a leaked confidential Red Cross document assessing the condition of detainees held in US custody in Iraq (archived on The Daily Kos). This report was presented to authorities in October of 2003. Documents such as this one are standard procedure for ICRC's work visiting prisoners world-wide, and are intended for only for the authorities for which they were prepared.

Interestingly, while simultaneously expressing disappointment that the report had been leaked, the ICRC noted that it had "repeatedly made its concerns known to the Coalition Forces and requested corrective measures prior to the submission of this particular report" (emphasis mine).

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

FoIA document: leadership knew of prisoner abuse, alleged rape discussed

Today, two unknown individuals within the defence intelligence agency will be recorded as having the following conversation, relating to the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal:
Met with [censored] who related that [line censored] related that [censored] had recently returned from a 6 moth rotation in IRAQ. [censored] related that [censored] told [censored] while in IRAQ [censored] was in charge of interrogations of the prisoners, and during this time, [censored] and the senior leadership knew of, or were aware of the incidents going on at the prison, as it has been described in the newspaper (Washington Post, date 4 May 2004). [censored] provided a copy of the newspaper. [censored] went on to say that [censored] related that there were two incidents involving the rape of two female detainees. [censored] was asked if [censored] witnessed or knew who committed the alleged rape. [censored] stated [censored] did not know who committed the rape and did not know witness the act (sic).

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Media: Abu Ghraib prisoner tells story, joins militants

The story of a former Abu Ghraib prisoner, Dhia al-Shweiri, is covered in the media. Dhia al-Shweiri had been detained in Abu Ghraib twice under Saddam, and once under the US occupation. He claims that previous to US detention, he was supportive of the occupation. While detained he was forced to strip naked and stand in humiliating positions. After leaving US detention, he joined cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's al-Mahdi Army.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Incident: Saleh detained at Abu Ghraib

This month, a man identified as "Saleh" will give an account of his three months Abu Ghraib. He will claim that the following things happened to him:
  • A belt tied around his neck and he was dragged 70 feet;
  • Left naked and hooded for extended periods of time;
  • Urinated on and sodomised against his will while his hands were tied over his head;
  • Shot in the chest with plastic bullets as he tried to pray;
  • Roped by the genitals to 12 other naked prisoners;
  • His penis was stretched with a rope and beaten with a stick.
In addition, he will claim that:
  • he observed two young male detainees being raped;
  • his captors fired into a crowd of detainees, killing five; and
  • he heard the screams of female captives, whom he believed were being raped.