May 12, 2004

Most 'Arrested by Mistake': Coalition intelligence put numbers at 70% to 90% of Iraq prisoners, says a February Red Cross report, which details further abuses.

According to the incredible shrinking _resident, we all "owe" Donald Rumsfeld "a debt of gratitude" for this...and so much more...

Bob Drogin, Los Angeles Times: Coalition military
intelligence officials estimated that 70% to 90% of
prisoners detained in Iraq since the war began last
year "had been arrested by mistake," according to a
confidential Red Cross report given to the Bush
administration earlier this year.
One man's mother was brought in, "and the policeman
threatened to mistreat her." Another detainee "was
threatened with having his wife brought in and raped."
Yet the report described a wide range of prisoner
mistreatment including many new details of abusive
techniques that it said U.S. officials had failed to
halt, despite repeated complaints from the
International Committee of the Red Cross.

Support Our Troops, Show Up for Democracy in 2004:
Defeat Bush (again!)

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0511-04.htm

Published on Tuesday, May 11, 2004 by the Los Angeles
Times
Most 'Arrested by Mistake': Coalition intelligence put numbers at 70% to 90% of Iraq prisoners, says a February Red Cross report, which details further abuses.

by Bob Drogin

WASHINGTON Coalition military intelligence officials
estimated that 70% to 90% of prisoners detained in
Iraq since the war began last year "had been arrested
by mistake," according to a confidential Red Cross
report given to the Bush administration earlier this
year.

One man's mother was brought in, "and the policeman
threatened to mistreat her." Another detainee "was
threatened with having his wife brought in and raped."


Yet the report described a wide range of prisoner
mistreatment including many new details of abusive
techniques that it said U.S. officials had failed to
halt, despite repeated complaints from the
International Committee of the Red Cross.

ICRC monitors saw some improvements by early this
year, but the continued abuses "went beyond
exceptional cases and might be considered as a
practice tolerated" by coalition forces, the report
concluded.

The Swiss-based ICRC, which made 29 visits to
coalition-run prisons and camps between late March and
November last year, said it repeatedly presented its
reports of mistreatment to prison commanders, U.S.
military officials in Iraq and members of the Bush
administration in Washington.

The ICRC summary report, which was written in
February, also said Red Cross officials had complained
to senior military officials that families of Iraqi
suspects usually were told so little that most arrests
resulted "in the de facto 'disappearance' of the
arrestee for weeks or even months."

The report also described previously undocumented
forms of abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody. In
October, for example, an Iraqi prisoner was "hooded,
handcuffed in the back, and made to lie face down" on
what investigators believe was the engine hood of a
vehicle while he was being transported. He was
hospitalized for three months for extensive burns to
his face, abdomen, foot and hand, the report added.

More than 100 "high-value detainees," apparently
including former senior officials in Saddam Hussein's
regime and in some cases their family members, were
held for five months at the Baghdad airport "in strict
solitary confinement" in small cells for 23 hours a
day, the report said.

Such conditions "constituted a serious violation" of
the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, which set
minimum standards for treatment of prisoners of war
and civilian internees, the report said. U.S.
intelligence agencies, including the CIA and the
Defense Intelligence Agency, conducted interrogations
at the site, but Army units were in charge of custody
operations, officials said Monday.

Portions of the ICRC report were published last week.
The full 24-page report, which The Times obtained
Monday, cites more than 250 allegations of
mistreatment at prisons and temporary detention
facilities run by U.S. and other occupation forces
across Iraq.

The report also referred to, but provided no details
of, "allegations of deaths as a result of harsh
internment conditions, ill treatment, lack of medical
attention, or the combination thereof."

Spokesmen at the Pentagon and at U.S. Central Command
headquarters said they had not seen the ICRC report
and could not comment on specific charges. ICRC
officials in Geneva said they regretted that the
document became public. The ICRC usually shares its
findings only with governments or other authorities to
maintain access to detainees held in conflicts around
the world.

Among the abusive techniques detailed in the report
was forcing detainees to wear hoods for up to four
consecutive days.

"Hooding was sometimes used in conjunction with
beatings, thus increasing anxiety as to when blows
would come," the report said. "The practice of hooding
also allowed the interrogators to remain anonymous and
thus to act with impunity."

In some cases, plastic handcuffs allegedly were so
tight for so long that they caused long-term nerve
damage. Men were punched, kicked and beaten with
rifles and pistols; faces were pressed "into the
ground with boots." Prisoners were threatened with
reprisals against family members, execution or
transfer to the U.S. lockup at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The report also provides new details about the
now-notorious Abu Ghraib prison, the focus of the
prisoner abuse scandal.

During a visit to the "isolation section" of Abu
Ghraib prison in October, ICRC delegates witnessed
prisoners "completely naked in totally empty concrete
cells and in total darkness, allegedly for several
consecutive days."

A military intelligence officer, who is not identified
in the report, told the ICRC monitors that such
treatment was "part of the process" in which prisoners
were given clothing, bedding, lights and toiletries in
exchange for cooperation.

The ICRC sent its report to the military police
brigade commander in charge of Abu Ghraib after the
October visit, and the commander responded Dec. 24, a
senior Pentagon official said last week. But the
Pentagon did not launch a formal investigation into
abuses at the prison until a low-ranking U.S. soldier
approached military investigators Jan. 13 and gave
them a computer disc of photos.

The ICRC report also describes torture and other
brutal practices by Iraqi police working in Baghdad
under the U.S.-led occupation.

It cites cases in which suspects held by Iraqi police
allegedly were beaten with cables, kicked in the
testicles, burned with cigarettes and forced to sign
confessions.

In June, a group of men arrested by Iraqi police
"allegedly had water poured on their legs and had
electrical shocks administered to them with stripped
tips of electrical wires," the report notes.

One man's mother was brought in, "and the policeman
threatened to mistreat her." Another detainee "was
threatened with having his wife brought in and raped."


"Many persons deprived of their liberty drew parallels
between police practices under the occupation with
those of the former regime," the report noted.

Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times

###

Posted by richard at May 12, 2004 12:23 PM