Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

  New Army Torture Documents implicate Lt. Gen. Sanchez

The ACLU today released 9,000 Army documents concerning the abuse and torture of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan. One, a document from the DIA Inspector General's office, dated May 19, 2004, directly implicates Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez in ordering interrogators to "go to the outer limits to get information from the detainees".


Another document entitled "Allegations of Detainee Abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan" from April 2, 2004--two weeks before the Abu Ghraib story broke--shows that the government already had undertaken 62 investigations of prisoner abuse in various prisons. Those cases involved at least 26 deaths in custody, and some had already gone through court-martial proceedings. What is more, the April 2nd document states that it is updating an earlier review of prisoner abuse.


Thus Mister Bush made his claim that the abuse at Abu Ghraib was the work of "a few bad apples" well after the government had conducted at least two full-blown inquiries into widespread torture and murder of prisoners.


These are part of 9,000 pages of Defense Department documents that the ACLU released today, after obtaining them through a FOIA request. The press release is here.


Among the documents released today by the ACLU is a May 19, 2004 Defense Intelligence Agency document implicating Sanchez in potentially abusive interrogation techniques. In the document, an officer in charge of a team of interrogators stated that there was a 35-page order spelling out the rules of engagement that interrogators were supposed to follow, and that they were encouraged to "go to the outer limits to get information from the detainees by people who wanted the information." When asked to whom the officer was referring, the officer answered "LTG Sanchez." The officer stated that the expectation coming from "Headquarters" was to break the detainees.


The ACLU also released an Information Paper entitled "Allegations of Detainee Abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan" dated April 2, 2004, two weeks before the world saw the pictures of torture at Abu Ghraib prison. The paper outlined the status of 62 investigations of detainee abuse and detainee deaths. Cases include assaults, punching, kicking and beatings, mock executions, sexual assault of a female detainee, threatening to kill an Iraqi child to "send a message to other Iraqis," stripping detainees, beating them and shocking them with a blasting device, throwing rocks at handcuffed Iraqi children, choking detainees with knots of their scarves and interrogations at gunpoint.


Here, then, is the May 19, 2004 document from the DIA Inspector General (PDF). The subject line reads "Knowledge of incidents relating to IRAQ Prison Situation". It summarizes an interview with somebody (name redacted) in charge of a 3-4 man team that "helped to focused [sic] the interrogations" in Iraq between October 2003 and April 2004. The person states, inter alia, that he/she had heard somebody else describe a meeting with Brig. Gen. Taguba, in which the General had stated that there were allegations that female prisoners had been raped. From that point, it reads as follows:


____ stated that the expectations of the "Non Humantors" were that one had to break the detainees to get the information. ____ stated that "HQ" wanted the interrogators to break the detainees. The interrogators were members of the ____ based out of ___ but ____ FBI also had interrogators working at the prison.


____ was asked if the [sic] was some type of document, such as an SOP or regulation that stated what the interrogators could or could not do to the detainees.  ____ stated there is a 35 page [page break] document (Frag Order) [Fragmentary Order], which spells out the rules of engagement by which the interrogators were supposed to operate under.  ___ went on to say the people were encourage [sic] to go to the outer limits to get information from the detainees from people who wanted the information. ___ was asked to whom _ was referring and _ stated LTG SANCHEZ. ___ said there was desperate need to get information from the detainees...


This report from the Defense Intelligence Agency appears to be the most damning document in the entire batch released by the ACLU. For the first time, as far as I know, we have written evidence directly and explicitly implicating a high-level officer. I don't suppose for a moment that the Pentagon will actually investigate Lt. Gen. Sanchez, as it should. But this document will help to solidify the case that the Bush administration is covering up for the truly responsible parties; the stink is emanating from the very top.


As for the summary report on investigations into prisoner abuse up to April 2, 2004, it states that there had already been (at least one) "previous report". Though rather heavily redacted, we see examples of prisoners being "shot and killed while trying to escape", pushed off a bridge and drowned, and a high number of prisoners dying of unknown causes. The individual cases of prisoner abuse go back to April 2003, but they increase in number after the summer of 2003--precisely in the period that the speaker in the foregoing document arrived in Iraq and was told to "go to the outer limits".


There are many further documents linked on this page at the ACLU website.


Among the Army documents, there is this sickening and detailed report (PDF) which, among many horrific things, points to apparent collusion in torture by a doctor:


An investigation shows a doctor cleared a detainee for further interrogations, despite claims he had been beaten and shocked with a taser. The medic confirmed that the detainee's injuries were consistent with his allegations, stating, "Everything he described he had on his body." Yet, the medic cleared him for further interrogation, giving him Tylenol for the pain. There is no indication that the medic reported this abuse.


You won't be surprised to learn, I suspect, that the DoD continues to try to keep parts of the latest edition of the Army field manual classified. The attempt has caused a long-running debate with Congress. What are the bits the Army wants to keep classified? Funny you should ask: the interrogation techniques to be employed against prisoners. Here is an Associated Press report.


The classified section was planned to provide detailed guidelines on what can and can't be done to detainees - for example, how long they can be forced to sit or stand in certain positions or exactly how hot or cold their holding areas can be kept....


The previous interrogation handbook [from the early 1990s] specified that torture is prohibited by the Geneva Convention, and listed various mental and physical abuses that are prohibited.


Wasn't there a time when we objected to our own troops being mistreated by their captors?


Crossposted at Daily Kos

1 Comments:

  • Meanwhile, the DoD is still trying to keep parts of the latest edition of the Army field manual classified, which has caused a long-running debate with Congress. What are the bits the Army wants to keep classified? Funny you should ask; the interrogation techniques to be employed. Here is an Associated Press report.

    The classified section was planned to provide detailed guidelines on what can and can't be done to detainees - for example, how long they can be forced to sit or stand in certain positions or exactly how hot or cold their holding areas can be kept....

    The previous interrogation handbook [from the early 1990s] specified that torture is prohibited by the Geneva Convention, and listed various mental and physical abuses that are prohibited.


    Wasn't there a time when we objected to our own troops being mistreated by captors?

    By Blogger : smintheus ::, at 3:49 PM  

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