U.S. Troops in Iraq Held Insurgents' Wives to Get Husbands to Surrender
Published on Saturday, January 28, 2006 by Reuters
U.S. Troops in Iraq Held Insurgents' Wives to Get Husbands to Surrender
by Will Dunham

WASHINGTON - U.S. forces in Iraq, in two instances described in military documents, took custody of the wives of men believed to be insurgents in an apparent attempt to pressure the suspects into giving themselves up.

Both incidents occurred in 2004. In one, members of a shadowy military task force seized a mother who had three young children, still nursing the youngest, "in order to leverage" her husband's surrender, according to an account by a civilian Defense Intelligence Agency intelligence officer.

In the other, an e-mail exchange includes a U.S. military officer asking "have you tacked a note on the door and challenged him to come get his wife?"

The documents were among thousands obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union from the government under court order through the Freedom of Information Act.

"This is not an acceptable tactic," ACLU lawyer Amrit Singh said on Friday, referring to seizing a wife to try to catch a husband, "nor are any of the other abusive techniques acceptable. We know that abusive techniques were employed in a systemic manner across Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay."

Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said: "It's very hard, obviously, from some of these documents to determine what, if anything, actually happened. ... When you see an individual e-mail note, it's oftentimes very confusing to figure out how that particular case fits into an overall, larger puzzle."

Boyce also said the military has thoroughly looked at "any allegation against soldiers of misconduct or abuse of detainees."

A June 10, 2004, memo written by the DIA employee, labeled as "secret," referred to "violations of the Geneva Convention" relating to detainee abuse and illegal detention of noncombatants.


It described the actions of Task Force 6-26, which has been mentioned in other documents in connection with allegations of detainee abuse, and stated that on May 9, 2004, task force personnel detained the wife of "a suspected terrorist" in Tarmiya, Iraq.

"The 28-year-old woman had three young children at the house, one being as young as six months and still nursing. Her husband was the primary target of the raid, with other suspect personnel subject to detainment as well," the memo stated.

"During the pre-operational brief, it was recommended by TF (task force) personnel that if the wife were present, she be detained and held in order to leverage the primary target's surrender," the memo stated. Its author said that "I objected to the detainment of the young mother to the raid team leader" and "I believed it was a dead issue."

The memo stated that "I determined that the wife could provide no actionable intelligence leading to the arrest of her husband."

"Despite my protest, (the) raid team leader detained her anyway," stated the memo, whose author officially reported the incident within the chain of command. The memo said the wife was released two days later to the custody of a tribal sheik.

In the other case, a U.S. lieutenant colonel e-mailed, "What are you guys doing to try to get the husband -- have you tacked a note on the door and challenged him to come get his wife? ... or something more sophisticated, I suspect, from the 'not necessarily the cool guys, but the guys with the cool stuff?'"

A later e-mail stated, "These ladies fought back extremely hard during the original detention. They have shown indications of deceipt (sic) and misinformation."

Copyright © 2006 Reuters Ltd