UK Whistleblowers Detail Torture at Secretive US Prison in Baghdad

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Common Dreams

UK Whistleblowers Detail Torture at Secretive US Prison in Baghdad

New information on Camp Nama reveals history of silence surrounding US torture

by
Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

Secret US detention center, Camp Nama, was held at Baghdad international airport. (Photo: Khalid Mohammed/AP)

Former members of the UK military have come forward for the first time to detail many of the vast human rights abuses they witnessed at a highly secretive U.S. prison in Baghdad during the Iraq war, the Guardian reports Monday.

According to the UK service members, many Iraqi prisoners who were brought to the prison in Baghdad international airport—known as Camp Nama—faced "some of the most serious human-rights abuses to occur in Iraq after the invasion," the Guardian reports.

"The methods used were so brutal that they drew condemnation not only from [Human Rights Watch] but from a special investigator reporting to the Pentagon," but have not been detailed by services members from the facility until now.

The abuses the UK soldiers report U.S. services members committing include:

  • Iraqi prisoners being held for prolonged periods in cells the size of large dog kennels.
  • Prisoners being subjected to electric shocks.
  • Prisoners being routinely hooded.
  • Inmates being taken into a sound-proofed shipping container for interrogation, and emerging in a state of physical distress.

A British serviceman also stated: "I saw one man having his prosthetic leg being pulled off him, and being beaten about the head with it before he was thrown on to the truck."

The UK soldiers said that they complained about the widespread abuses, but the UK Ministry of Defense stifled their complaints and continues to deny having received any of the complaints.

"I remember talking to one British army officer about what I had seen, and he replied: 'You didn't see that – do you understand?' There was a great deal of nervousness about the place. I had the impression that the British were scared we would be kicked off the operation if we made a fuss," a UK ex-serviceman said.

The Guardian adds:

While Abu Ghraib prison, just a few miles to the west, would achieve global notoriety after photographs emerged depicting abuses committed there, Camp Nama escaped attention for a simple reason: photography was banned. The only people who attempted to take pictures – a pair of US Navy Seals – were promptly arrested. All discussion of what happened there was forbidden.

However, as the Guardian reports, "One person who has been widely reported to have been seen there frequently was General Stanley McChrystal, then commander of US Joint Special Operations forces in Iraq."

Read more from this story here.

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