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Files Show New Abuse Cases in Afghan and Iraqi Prisons

The New York Times, USA
Feb. 18, 2005
Neil A. Lewis and Douglas Jehl
www.nytimes.com

ReligionNewsBlog.com • Friday February 18, 2005

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 – A cache of documents disclosed Thursday provides several instances of prisoner abuse by American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq that appeared to have been investigated only briefly. The documents, released by the American Civil Liberties Union, include one file in which an Iraqi detainee asserted that Americans in civilian clothing beat him repeatedly, dislocated his shoulder, stepped on his nose until it broke, choked him with a rope and hit him in the leg with a bat. Medical reports in the file confirmed the broken nose and fractured leg.

But the documents show the investigation was closed after the detainee signed a statement recanting. He later asserted that he was threatened with indefinite detention if he did not sign.

The file, in which the names of the detainee and the first lieutenant in charge of the unit involved were blacked out, included a statement from an army investigator saying that the statement recanting the allegations was itself an indication that it was the product of threats.

Another file concerns the discovery of a compact disk during an office clean-up in Afghanistan in July 2004 that contained images of what appeared to investigators to be abuse of detainees.

The report said the pictures showed uniformed soldiers pointing rifles and pistols at the heads of hooded detainees and posing detainees in awkward positions. A statement from a sergeant says that many such photos were destroyed after the April 2004 disclosure of mistreatment at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.

The documents were the latest to be disclosed as part of a lawsuit brought by the civil liberties group, which is trying to determine the scope of any detainee abuse at the hands of the American military.

Last month, the A.C.L.U. released a batch of files describing complaints of serious abuse of Iraqi civilians, including reports of electric shocks and forced sodomy, and accused the military of not thoroughly investigating the cases. The Army has declined to respond to any specific cases but has insisted that all allegations of detainee abuse are thoroughly investigated.

Another case still under investigation by the military and the Central Intelligence Agency involves the death in 2003 of a prisoner, Manadel al-Jamadi, who had been in C.I.A. custody at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Mr. Jamadi’s corpse was wrapped in plastic and packed in ice before being smuggled out of the prison, in an apparent effort to evade notice from military guards. The Jamadi case is not part of the cache of documents released by the civil liberties union.

An Associated Press article on Thursday cited investigative reports in saying that Mr. Jamadi had been found suspended by his wrists, which had been handcuffed behind his back. The dispatch said that soldiers who found his body said Mr. Jamadi’s arms had nearly been pulled from their sockets.

The A.P. said it had been shown the reports by a lawyer for a member of the Navy Seals who has been under investigation in the matter, apparently as part of an attempt to show that the C.I.A. bore primary responsibility for the death. Mr. Jamadi’s death has been ruled a homicide, and the incident is being reviewed by both the Navy and the C.I.A.’s inspector general. An autopsy found that Mr. Jamadi died of head wounds, and intelligence officials have sought to cast blame on members of the Seals who they said had hit him in the head with their rifle butts before handing him over to the C.I.A.

Navy prosecutors in San Diego initially charged nine members of the Seals and one sailor with abusing Mr. Jamadi and others. To date, however, all but two lieutenants have received nonjudicial punishment, and one of those two is awaiting a nonjudicial hearing. Only the other lieutenant is awaiting court-martial proceedings now scheduled for March.

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