Documents Obtained By ACLU Provide Further Evidence That Abuse Of Iraqi Prisoners Was Systemic
Military Investigations Stymied By Missing Documents, Flawed Records And Failure Of Witness Recollection, Records Show
NEW YORK - The
American Civil Liberties Union released Department of Defense documents
today that provide further evidence that prisoner abuse in U.S.
detention facilities in Iraq was systemic. The documents, obtained as
part of an ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, also show
that Army investigations of abuse in Iraq were compromised by missing
records, flawed interviews and problems with witness recollection.
"The Bush administration created a
climate in which abuse was tolerated even when it wasn't expressly
endorsed," said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security
Project. "With a new administration entering the White House, we should
remember that the tone set by senior military and intelligence
officials has very real implications for what takes place in U.S.
detention facilities overseas. The new administration should make clear
from the outset that it won't turn a blind eye to torture and abuse."
The documents released today relate
to eight investigations of detainee abuse that occurred in 2003 and
2004. Charges of abuse described in the documents include food and
sleep deprivation, the misuse of Tasers, sexual threats, urinating on
detainees and the use of various stress positions and dogs to
In one file, a soldier who was
stationed at Camp Cropper in Iraq states that "soldiers would hog-tie
detainees out of their own frustration, because detainees would
continuously ask them for water or in some form not be compliant." In
another file, a prisoner who was held at a facility called "Kilometer
22" charges that he was punched repeatedly and hit in the face with a
sandal by an Egyptian interpreter when he could not give American
interrogators the answers that they wanted.
"These documents provide more
evidence that abuse of prisoners was systemic in Iraq, and not limited
to any particular detention center or military unit," said Jaffer.
"There was a culture of impunity."
In addition to revealing systemic
abuse, the documents describe investigations stymied by military units
that were unable or unwilling to cooperate. Six of the eight
investigations were compromised by an inability to locate critical
records; three investigations include documents in which military
personnel state that their facilities were so disorganized that it
would be impossible to produce records on detainees; and three
investigations were hampered because interviewees claimed that they did
not recognize the names of the relevant detention facilities or the
name of the capturing unit. It is clear, however, that at least some of
the facilities and capturing units did exist because their names appear
in other Defense Department documents that have been obtained by the
ACLU over the last four years.
In October 2003, the ACLU - along
with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights,
Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for Peace - filed a request
under the Freedom of Information Act for records concerning the
treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody abroad. To date, more than
100,000 pages of government documents have been released in response to
the ACLU's FOIA lawsuit.
Attorneys in the FOIA case are
Lawrence S. Lustberg and Melanca D. Clark of the New Jersey-based law
firm Gibbons, P.C.; Jaffer, Amrit Singh and Judy Rabinovitz of the
ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the New York Civil
Liberties Union; and Shayana Kadidal and Michael Ratner of the Center
for Constitutional Rights.
Today's documents are available at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia/
All of the documents received in the ACLU's FOIA litigation are online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia
In addition, many of the FOIA
documents are also compiled and analyzed in a book by Jaffer and Singh,
"Administration of Torture." More information is available online at: www.aclu.org/