Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 26, 2009

How U.S. Torture Came To Iraq

According to the Taguba report torture by military units in Iraq was implemented after the Gitmo commander General Miller visited Iraq in August/September 2003 and recommended that the military police should be used in setting the conditions for intelligence exploitation of the prisoners. The pictures from Abu Ghraib were the result of that visit.

But that was certainly not the first implementation of torture by U.S. military in Iraq. Indeed the chain of torture use by the military was not Gitmo->Afghanistan and Gitmo->Iraq but Gitmo->Afghanistan->Iraq.

This can be concluded from the recently released Armed Services Committee report "Inquiry Into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody" (pdf).

According to that report's page 149f the interrogations in Afghanistan (besides those by the CIA) were done by regular military CJTF-180 personnel in Kandahar Bagram and based on the Army Field Manual 34-52. There were no Standing Operation Procedures (SOP).

In October a new special force group (SMU TF) came in and decided to handle interrogations themselves. There is reason to believe that these were Navy SEALs. They immediately send a team to Gitmo to learn what was done there. The team came back with a copy of Gitmo's yet unauthorized wishlist of torture techniques and immediately started implemented those. Early December 2002 two people in Bagram died from torture administered by regular army forces.

In January the SMU TF implemented Standard Operation Procedures for its interogations that were based on the Gitmo wishlist and the December 2 Rumsfeld memo for Gitmo which was later rescinded. These included toture techniques like isolation, stress positions, sleep deprivation and later the use of dogs. Shortly after that the regular U.S. forces in Afghanistan implemented similar SOPs.

Then came Iraq (page 158):

[T]he Special Mission Unit (SMU) Task. Force (TF) in Iraq had an interrogation policy in place before the beginning of OIF.


According to a review completed by the DoD Inspector General in August 2006, the SMU TF based its first interrogation policy on the SOP used by the SMU TF in Afghanistan.
Specifically, in February 2003, prior to the invasion of Iraq in March, the SMU Task Force designated for operations in Iraq obtained a copy of the interrogation SOP in use by the SMU personnel in Afghanistan, changed the letterhead, and adopted the SOP verbatim.

Torture by the U.S. military came to Iraq as soon as the first Special Force people put their feet on Iraqi soil.

In summer 2003 the SMU TF commander requested support from the SERE school trainers (under JPRA) in the states that used waterboarding and other methods in resistance trainings for Air Force pilots. Early September three of those (two of them civilian contractors) came to Iraq and observe and help with interrogations. On of the three Lt Col Kleinman described the Special Forces interrogations (page 176):

I walked into the interrogation room, all painted in black with [a] spotlight on the detainee. Behind the detainee was a military guard... with a[n] iron bar... slapping it in his hand. The interrogator was sitting in a chair. The interpreter was - was to his left... and the detainee was on his knees ... A question was asked by the interrogator, interpreted, the response came back and, upon interpretation, the detainee would be slapped across the face... And that continued with every question and every response. I asked my colleagues how long this had been going on, specifically the slapping, they said approximately 30 minutes.

Lt Col Kleinman stopped the interrogation as he saw it being against the Geneva convention. He later refused an order to adopt all SERE techniques for the Special Forces as illegal. Still he saw more interrogations by the Special Forces that he thought of as illegal. He was then asked to leave Iraq.

General Miller went from Gitmo to Iraq in August/September 2003. By then the Special Forces were already practicing their special version of sadism. Miller then Gitmotized the operation of the regular army units at Abu Ghraib (where the general situation already was bad) and the interrogations done by the Iraq Survey Group in search of WMD.

Miller was not allowed to visit some of the Special Forces torture cells and was not given a copy of their operation procedures. Meanwhile the legal adviser for the Special Forces was quite concerned and tried to blow the whistle of what was happening (page193/4):

While she did not accompany the ITF-GTMO Commander [Miller] on his visit to the SMU TF, LTC Beaver, the former ITF-GTMO SJA, said that a Legal Advisor for the SMU TF contacted her and arranged to meet with her at Camp Victory. According to LTC Beaver, the SMU TF Legal Advisor raised concerns with her about physical violence being used by  SMU TF personnel during interrogations, including punching, choking, and beating detainees. He told her that he was "risking his life" by talking to her about these issues. LTC Beaver told the Committee that the SMU Legal Advisor had also raised these issues with the Commander of the SMU TF, but that [redacted] was not receptive to his concerns.

Little is known about the role of the U.S. Special Forces in the torture of people around the world. Even the still secret Army Inspector General report on which the Armed Services Committee report is partly based only had redacted parts of an investigation the Special Forces did of itself. It seems that even the Army IG is not allowed to look into their deeds.

Seymour Hersh describes these Special Operation Forces as 'executive assassination ring' outside of any oversight:

"I’ve had people say to me -- five years ago, I had one say: ‘What do you call it when you interrogate somebody and you leave them bleeding and they don’t get any medical committee and two days later he dies. Is that murder? What happens if I get before a committee?’

"But they’re not gonna get before a committee.”

It were these troops that brought torture from Gitmo to Afghanistan and from Afghanistan to Iraq and who are still spreading it around the world. Likely torture that is much crueler than what we have seen on the pictures from Abu Ghraib.

Posted by b on April 26, 2009 at 18:24 UTC | Permalink


I believe you mean Taguba report, not Tabuga.

/typo police

Posted by: Rojo | Apr 26 2009 20:01 utc | 1

again, thanks is owed to you, b

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 27 2009 0:28 utc | 2

Risking his life, huh? Makes you think again about the tragic suicide of Alyssa Peterson.

Posted by: ...---... | Apr 27 2009 1:10 utc | 3

Speaking of which, Craig Murray is about to offer evidence on UK complicity in torture. See here.

Posted by: ptw | Apr 27 2009 3:01 utc | 4

"...isolation, stress positions, sleep deprivation and later the use of dogs...."
Wow, thought you were talking about TARP, ACORN and K-9 at the eviction 'action'.

You'll be proud to know in best American tradition that a national eviction service has sprung up, which uses independent contractors to change the locks as soon as the deputy is done dumping everything out on the curb. The independent contractor status protects the national eviction service from liability, as well as the mortgage bank, and everyone is happy. They're currently paying $58.50 for the lock change, and you don't get paid until the national eviction service gets paid, which could be 60 days or more and by then, you've been evicted from your trailer too, but you get to put your name in the hat to bid on pre-sale repairs, so there's that!

I'm waiting to see Blackwater front an armed merc service to back up the national eviction service, as patrols in gated communities to shoot home "owner" arsonists trying to get out from under their upside down Street of Dreams.

Just think, we've only just begun...

Posted by: Efram Zildgian | Apr 27 2009 5:25 utc | 5

Thanks rojo @1 - corrected

Posted by: b | Apr 27 2009 5:55 utc | 6

Sounds like an average day in a U.S. prison, to me.

I feel like playing the cynic and saying "Can't see what the big deal is....", but i'd be lying.

This torture issue isn't going to go much of anywhere, i think, because if it does, then that would mean the U.S. population would need to take a long, cold look at how their prison system "works". And frankly, i think that, by-and-large, white-bred Judeo-X'tian Yanquis are just too damn cowardly to manage the feat. So long as they get their wonderbread, automobiles, cable t.v. and viagara, they're happy to keep looking the other way.

Posted by: china_hand2 | Apr 27 2009 7:37 utc | 7

"Torture Inc. Americas Brutal Prisons:

Savaged by dogs, Electrocuted With Cattle Prods, Burned By Toxic Chemicals, Does such barbaric abuse inside U.S. jails explain the horrors that were committed in Iraq?"

By Deborah Davies

March 05, Information Clearing House.>link

Posted by: Tangerine | Apr 27 2009 16:36 utc | 8

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