Tortured men look like 'Holocaust Victims'
By Kim Sengupta in Baghdad
11/18/05 "The Independent" -- -- Iraq's Interior Minister has defended
the treatment of abused prisoners found in a government bunker,
declaring that "no one was beheaded or killed". But while Bayan Jabr
insisted that the allegations of torture were "exaggerated" fresh
details emerged of the horrific conditions endured by the captives.
Witnesses said many of the 169 men and youths were emaciated and
looked like "Holocaust survivors". Some had suffered beatings so
severe that their skin had peeled off, and three men had been kept
locked in a cupboard where they could not move. All the others were
packed, blindfolded, into three rooms nine feet long and 11 feet wide.
Instruments of torture and beating were found hidden in a false
ceiling. Witnesses also said that the guards in charge of the
detainees, all but three of whom were Sunnis, at an interior ministry
bunker in central Baghdad, wore combat fatigues of the Shia Badr
Brigades militia. "Because of the appalling overcrowding, some of the
most badly treated were squashed on to floors and their skins got
stuck to the floor," said a witness.
Mr Jabr, a former member of the militia, insisted that only seven of
the prisoners showed marks of torture, and those responsible will be
punished. He continued: "You can be proud of our forces. Our forces
respect human rights. We are the government and we are responsible for
Those being held were "the most dangerous criminal terrorists", the
minister said at a press conference. He added: "Those criminal killers
inside the bunkers were not Pakistanis or Iranians. Those are your
Arab brothers that came here to kill your sons." Asked about one
prisoner who was paralysed, Mr Jabr said he was a Shia who had been
responsible for four car bombings resulting in 66 deaths in return for
$1,000 (£582) from insurgents.
The prisoners were found by American troops and Iraqi police trying to
trace a 15-year-old boy whose family had access to a US congressman.
© 2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.
George Bush Authorized Abu Ghraib Torture
Nov 01, 2005
Among a new batch of documents human rights groups have forced the
government to release is a Federal Bureau Of Investigation email
communication that refers to a presidential Executive Order endorsing
some forms of torture witnessed at Iraq prison.
Dec 21, 2004 - Repeated references in an internal FBI email suggest
that the president issued a special order to permit some of the more
objectionable torture techniques used at Abu Ghraib and other US-run
prison facilities around Iraq. The email was among a new batch of FBI
documents revealed by civil rights advocates on Monday. Other
documents describe the initiation of investigations into alleged
incidents of torture and rape at detention facilities in Iraq.
The email, which was obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union,
represents the first hard evidence directly connecting the Abu Ghraib
prison abuse scandal and the White House. The author of the email,
whose name is blanked out but whose title is described as "On Scene
Commander -- Baghdad," contains ten explicit mentions of an "Executive
Order" that the author said mandated US military personnel to engage
in extraordinary interrogation tactics.
An Executive Order is a presidential edict -- sometimes public,
sometimes secretive -- instituting special laws or instructions that
override or complement existing legislation. The White House has
officially neither admitted nor denied that the president has issued
an Executive Order pertaining to interrogation techniques.
The specific methods mentioned in the email as having been approved by
the unnamed Executive Order and witnessed by FBI agents include sleep
deprivation, placing hoods over prisoners' heads, the use of loud
music for sensory overload, stripping detainees naked, forcing
captives to stand in so-called "stress positions," and the employment
of work dogs. One of the more horrifying tools of intimidation, Army
canines were used at the prison to terrorize inmates, as depicted in
photos taken inside Abu Ghraib.
The correspondence is dated May 22, 2004 -- a couple of weeks after
images of torture and humiliation at the prison broke in the world
media -- and was sent between FBI officials attempting to clarify the
Bureau's position on the terminology to use when categorizing and
reporting such techniques. The author repeatedly states those
techniques were, at least temporarily, permitted under the mysterious
presidential directive. The author also wrote that Pentagon policy had
since restricted most of the techniques to require specific
authorization from the chain of command.
"As stated, there was a revision last week in the military's standard
operating procedures based on the Executive Order," the letter reads.
"I have been told that all interrogation techniques previously
authorized by the Executive Order are still on the table but that
certain techniques can only be used if very high-level authority is
granted." The author goes on to recount having seen a military email
that said certain techniques -- including "stress positions," the use
of dogs, "sleep management," hoods, "stripping (except for health
inspection)," and blaring music -- cannot be used without special
The author wonders if techniques that fall within the scope of the
Executive Order should be referred to as "abuse," since they are
technically legal. Unless otherwise advised by the Bureau, the email
continues, agents "will still not report the use of these techniques
as 'abuse' since we will not be in a position to know whether or not
the authorization for these tactics was received from the
The author does believe that interrogation methods that involve
"physical beatings, sexual humiliation or touching" clearly constitute
"abuse," suggesting they are not within the scope of the repeatedly
referenced Executive Order.
The email says that FBI personnel operating at Abu Ghraib witnessed
but did not participate in prisoner interrogations that involved
actions approved by the Executive Order. That statement upholds
separate documentation also obtained via Freedom of Information Act
requests backed by a lawsuit on the part of the American Civil
Liberties Union and other groups.
As reported by The NewStandard, documents revealed in October showed
that FBI agents had witnessed abuses like those mentioned in the
email, in addition to many more severe actions.
The email that was revealed on Monday is the first official document
to state that the Oval Office was the source of directives permitting
abuse and torture.
After the ACLU released the documents, White House, Pentagon and FBI
officials told reporters that the author of the email was mistaken,
and that the order was not an Executive Order, but a Defense
Department directive. All sources refused to be identified in news
The White House does not appear to have ever officially denied that
President Bush issued an Executive Order specifying interrogation
techniques, though none has been made public. The ACLU and other
organizations involved in forcing the release of documents regarding
prisoner treatment at Abu Ghraib as well as prison camps in
Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba have demanded the White House
"confirm or deny the existence of such an order," according to an ACLU
press release issued on Monday.
Last June the president insisted that the only authorization he has
issued with regard to interrogation procedures was that American
personnel "would conform to US law and would be consistent with
international treaty obligations."
But as the unidentified FBI official noted in his email, techniques
are made legal under US law if and when the president issues an
Executive Order rendering them so.
Asked more directly less than two weeks later if President Bush had
ever approved particular prisoner handling methods, White House
spokesperson Scott McClellan responded, "In terms of interrogation
techniques related to what the military may carry out in Guantánamo
Bay or Iraq, those are determinations that are made by the military,
and we expect that those techniques fit within the policies that this
President has instituted."
The president and his legal advisors have repeatedly said that the US
government neither condones nor commits torture. The Bush
administration's conservative definition of torture, as expressed at a
June 22 press briefing by White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales,
incorporates only acts bearing "a specific intent to inflict severe
physical or mental harm or suffering."
If White House statements are to be taken at face value, then, they
still leave considerable room for the possibility that President Bush
has authorized specific acts that civil libertarians and international
law consider torturous, including the methods listed in the FBI email.
The United Nations Convention Against Torture, which the United States
Congress has ratified, defines "torture" far more broadly as including
"any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or
mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as
obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession."
Also included among the newly released documents were notices
regarding the initiation of criminal investigations pertaining to
abuse of Iraqi detainees.
One of the documents is a memo stating that the US Army's Criminal
Investigation Division had commenced an inquiry "regarding the alleged
rape of [a] juvenile male detainee at Abu Ghraib Prison." The name of
the investigating officer or unit has been blanked out, and no
identifying information is offered pertaining to the case.
Another document notifies Valene Caproni of the FBI's Office of the
General Counsel, that two FBI agents who were stationed in Iraq were
to be interviewed by Army investigators looking into the alleged
torture of an Iraqi detainee. Gary Bald of the Bureau's
Counterterrorism Division wrote the email message, in which he notes
suspicious military paperwork on a detainee whose name is redacted. He
also writes that the two FBI special agents were with the military
police unit that held the Iraqi and signed receipts claiming to have
seen him before he was transferred to Abu Ghraib for further
While the email states that the prisoner does not mention the FBI in
his complaint, he described his treatment in troubling detail. "They
tortured me and cuffed me in an act called the scorpion and pouring
cold water on me," the email quotes the detainee's complaint as
saying. "They tortured me from morning until the morning of the next
day, and when I fell down from the severe torture I fell on the barbed
wires, and then they dragged me from my feet and I was wounded and,
and they punched me on my stomach."
© 2004 The NewStandard
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