News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMinewar-on-terroriraqwar-crimes — Viewing Item


Iraq arrests and detentions technically illegal { December 1 2004 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)
   http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23372-2004Nov30.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A23372-2004Nov30.html

U.S. Generals in Iraq Were Told of Abuse Early, Inquiry Finds

By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 1, 2004; Page A01


A confidential report to Army generals in Iraq in December 2003 warned that members of an elite military and CIA task force were abusing detainees, a finding delivered more than a month before Army investigators received the photographs from Abu Ghraib prison that touched off investigations into prisoner mistreatment.

The report, which was not released publicly and was recently obtained by The Washington Post, concluded that some U.S. arrest and detention practices at the time could "technically" be illegal. It also said coalition fighters could be feeding the Iraqi insurgency by "making gratuitous enemies" as they conducted sweeps netting hundreds of detainees who probably did not belong in prison and holding them for months at a time.

The investigation, by retired Col. Stuart A. Herrington, also found that members of Task Force 121 -- a joint Special Operations and CIA mission searching for weapons of mass destruction and high-value targets including Saddam Hussein -- had been abusing detainees throughout Iraq and had been using a secret interrogation facility to hide their activities.

Herrington's findings are the latest in a series of confidential reports to come to light about detainee abuse in Iraq. Until now, U.S. military officials have characterized the problem as one largely confined to the military prison at Abu Ghraib -- a situation they first learned about in January 2004. But Herrington's report shows that U.S. military leaders in Iraq were told of such allegations even before then, and that problems were not restricted to Abu Ghraib. Herrington, a veteran of the U.S. counterinsurgency effort in Vietnam, warned that such harsh tactics could imperil U.S. efforts to quell the Iraqi insurgency -- a prediction echoed months later by a military report and other reviews of the war effort.

U.S. treatment of detainees remains under challenge. Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross recently told U.S. military officials that the treatment of inmates held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, was "cruel, inhumane and degrading" (story, Page A10). Herrington's report, which was commissioned by Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, the top intelligence officer in Iraq, said some detainees dropped off at central U.S. detention facilities other than Abu Ghraib had clearly been beaten by their captors.

"Detainees captured by TF 121 have shown injuries that caused examining medical personnel to note that 'detainee shows signs of having been beaten,' " according to the report, which later concluded: "It seems clear that TF 121 needs to be reined in with respect to its treatment of detainees."

A group of Navy SEALs who worked as part of the task force has been charged with abuse in connection with the deaths of two detainees they arrested in the field. One died in a shower room at Abu Ghraib on Nov. 4, 2003, a month before Herrington arrived for his review.

A military source who participated in Task Force 20, the predecessor to TF 121, said the task forces comprised several 12-man units that had targeted missions, such as searching for Hussein loyalists and terrorists. TF 20, which had about 1,000 soldiers, incorporated Army Rangers, members of Delta Force and Special Forces units working with CIA agents. They planned their missions nearly autonomously and answered either directly to the theater commander or to officials in Washington, the source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the missions were classified.

Task Force 121 added Navy SEAL units but was slightly smaller overall. Herrington wrote that an officer in charge of interrogations at a high-value target detention facility in Baghdad told him that prisoners taken by TF 121 showed signs of having been beaten.

Herrington asked the officer whether he had alerted his superiors to the problem, and the officer replied: "Everyone knows about it."

While several investigations have been completed into the Abu Ghraib scandal and U.S. interrogation practices in Iraq, an official military inquiry into the detention activities of Special Operations forces has not been released. That probe, headed by Brig. Gen. Richard P. Formica, was expected to be presented to Congress earlier this year, but a Pentagon spokesman said it is ongoing.

Of the Herrington report, a Pentagon official said top generals in Iraq, including Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who at the time directed U.S. forces there, reported the alleged abuses to officials at U.S. Central Command, which oversees military activities in the Middle East. The official said TF 121 was investigated, but he could not provide results.

"The Herrington report was taken very seriously," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the report has not been released.

The report also provided an early account of the practice of holding some detainees -- sometimes called "ghost detainees" -- in secret and keeping them from international humanitarian organizations. Herrington also wrote that agents from other government agencies, which commonly refers to the CIA, regularly kept ghost detainees by not logging their arrests.

Nearly six months later, Defense Department officials were forced to acknowledge the practice because of the Abu Ghraib scandal. Soldiers who worked at the prison said several detainees were hidden, and a prison logbook showed a consistent stream of them from October 2003 to January 2004.

Herrington, who is considered an expert in human intelligence operations, ran programs during Operation Desert Storm and in Panama and was part of the controversial Phoenix Program, which targeted the roots of the Viet Cong insurgency in Vietnam. He compiled his report after a week-long trip to Iraq beginning Dec. 2, 2003, joined by a military intelligence officer and an Army intelligence official from the Pentagon.

His ultimate conclusion was that much needed to be done to increase intelligence capabilities, which he called below average, though he praised Fast's determination.

"Given the fact that the United States and its coalition partners paid and continue to pay a steep price in losses and national treasure to lay our hands on these detainees, it is disappointing that the opportunity to thoroughly and professionally exploit this source pool has not been maximized, in spite of your best efforts and those of several hundred MI [military intelligence] soldiers," Herrington wrote to Fast in the Dec. 12 report. "Even one year ago, we would have salivated at the prospect of being able to talk to people like the hundreds who are now in our custody. Now that we have them, we have failed to devote the planning and resources to optimize this mission."

Herrington, contacted by telephone, declined to discuss the report. A Pentagon official said Fast personally requested Herrington's visit, and the report indicates Fast was interested in improving U.S. intelligence and detention operations, saying that "in spite of efforts to upgrade this effort, [she] remained concerned about its state of health."

In the 13-page report, Herrington wrote that overcrowding and a lack of resources caused the Army to use "primitive prison accommodations" for even the most important targets. He said that led to the loss of considerable significant intelligence and might have fueled the Iraqi insurgency.

He added that some detainees were arrested because targets were not at home when homes were raided. A family member was instead captured and then released when the target turned himself in -- a practice that, Herrington wrote, "has a 'hostage' feel to it."

A separate report by the Center for Army Lessons Learned, issued this past May and intended for internal use, gave the sense that some Army tactics served to "alienate common Iraqis who initially supported the coalition."

The 134-page CALL report singled out the practice of detaining female family members to force wanted Iraqi males to turn themselves in, similar to Herrington's findings.

"It is a practice in some U.S. units to detain family members of anti-coalition suspects in an effort to induce the suspects to turn themselves in, in exchange for the release of their family members," the report stated. The CALL report also was critical of the delays in notifying family members about the status of detainees held in U.S. custody, reminding family members of Hussein's tactics.

Herrington's report also noted that sweeps pulled in hundreds and even thousands of detainees who had no connection to the war. Abu Ghraib, for example, swelled to several thousand more detainees than it could handle. Herrington wrote that aggressive and indiscriminate tactics by the 4th Infantry Division, rounding up random scores of detainees and "dumping them at the door," was a glaring example.

As the United States recently has picked up its counterinsurgency efforts, the number of new detainees has again surged.

"Between the losers and dead end elements from the former regime and foreign fighters, there are enough people in Iraq who already don't like us," Herrington wrote. "Adding to these numbers by conducting sweep operations . . . is counterproductive to the Coalition's efforts to win the cooperation of the Iraqi citizenry. Similarly, mistreatment of captives as has been reported to me and our team is unacceptable, and bound to be known by the population."

Staff writer Thomas E. Ricks contributed to this report.



2004 The Washington Post Company


abu-Ghraib-prison
british-beatings
haditha
11 american soldiers charged with abuse { July 16 2005 }
American pilots shooting unarmed civilians
Americans use wmds on falluja { November 8 2005 }
Army guard unit exorted shop keepers { July 27 2005 }
Army looting iraqi civilians { May 31 2004 }
Assault on fallujah most ferocious since vietnam
Baghdad bombing kills 34 children { September 30 2004 }
British also used white phosphorus
British contractors shoot at iraqi civilians { December 9 2005 }
Brits use drills in torture of iraqi prisoners { November 20 2005 }
Bush signed order to suspend geneva conventions { June 23 2004 }
Camera spattered with journalists blood { September 13 2004 }
Colonel staged mock execution scare iraqi { November 19 2003 }
Daily mirror apologizes for phony photos
Detainees beaten with baseball bat { September 24 2005 }
Detainees killed prisoners by assault
Detainees medical files shared { June 10 2004 }
Documents show army seized wives as tactic
Eight marines charged iraq death { October 18 2003 }
Eight marines investigation mistreatment prisoners { October 18 2003 }
Ex marines claim fraud and excessive force { April 2008 }
Fbi agents allege abuse of detainees { December 21 2004 }
Five soldiers charged for punching kicking detainees
Former iraqi detainees allege torture
Four soldiers charged in drowning death { July 2 2004 }
Four soldiers charged in iraqi generals murder
GI gets 100 years for iraqi rape murder
Hearing begins for marine accused of killing 2 iraqis { April 27 2005 }
Homocide charges for US troops in iraq rare { August 28 2006 }
Iraq arrests and detentions technically illegal { December 1 2004 }
Iraq probes US phosphorus weapons in falluja { November 16 2005 }
Iraq rights abuse worse than under saddam { November 28 2005 }
Iraq wedding film challenges US on air strike { May 24 2004 }
Iraqi beaten to death by us troops { April 14 2004 }
Iraqi civilians gen franks war crimes { April 28 2003 }
Iraqi details harsh treatment
Iraqi pows gagged bound beaten { May 25 2003 }
Iraqis accuse marines in april killing { June 5 2006 }
Iraqis say troops massacred families { March 21 2006 }
Israeli link possible in US torture techniques { May 11 2004 }
Journalists berates trigger happy troops { June 5 2003 }
Kill as many as possible
Lawyers decided bans on torture didnt bind bush { June 8 2004 }
Marine brags about war crimes { May 1 2003 }
Marine shoots unarmed wounded iraqi
Marine shot innocent iraqi in head 3 times { February 27 2007 }
Marine shot prisoner in head
Marine unit killed 30 unarmed civilians { December 8 2004 }
Marines accused of murdering iraqi farmer
Marines forced to kill innocent civilians { May 16 2004 }
Marines kill iraqi civilians in cold blood { April 2006 }
Marines planted evidence after killing { June 6 2006 }
Military coversup detainee homocide
Military probes death of wounded iraqi in fallujah
Nbc staff abused by US troops in iraq
New FBI files describe abuse of iraq inmates { December 21 2004 }
News staff forced to insert finger in anus by US forces
Officer in iraq fined harsh interrogation tactics
Over 100 child prisoners held in iraq { August 1 2004 }
Pentagon acknowledges uses incendiary white phosphorus
Records show marines tortured iraqi prisoners
Rifle shovel were planted by marines after killing
Rumsfeld admits holding ghost detainees in iraq
Sergeant refused to break law { May 20 2004 }
Shame of abuse of brit troops
Soldier admits murdering iraqi detainee
Soldier convinced of killing iraqi walks free
Soldier convincted of murdering unarmed iraqis
Soldier guilty of killing wounded iraqi teenager
Soldier kidnapping retaliation for 14yr olds rape { May 15 2007 }
Soldier kills protester { January 14 2004 }
Soldier kills woman with bread and tea { September 2 2004 }
Soldier reports prisoner beating to senate mccain { October 5 2005 }
Soldier took torture snaps
Soldiers charges with murdering iraqis
Soldiers fired on wedding during massacre { May 21 2004 }
Soldiers forced iraqis off bridge told to cover up { July 30 2004 }
Soldiers sent fleeing civilians back into fallujah { November 13 2004 }
Soldiers used unauthorized deadly force in iraq { July 28 2005 }
Solider charged with raping iraqi woman { July 4 2006 }
Solider investigated for shooting iraqi { March 4 2004 }
Solider ordered to shoot unarmed iraqi { September 27 2007 }
Solider shot 17 year old iraqi after sex
Solider shot unarmed iraqi to put out of misery { March 31 2005 }
Some marines linked to abuses { December 15 2004 }
Three civilians mistakenly killed in iraq { November 21 2005 }
Top pentagon officials aware of detainee abuse { June 18 2007 }
Troops brutalisation of reuters staff { January 14 2004 }
Troops shot dead women and children for revenge
Two journalists killed in fighting
UN says coalition troops violated rights in iraq { June 4 2004 }
US considers salvador option to tackle iraq { January 10 2005 }
US denies incendiary weapons on civilians
US guards shoot dead 4 in iraq prisons
US kills arab reporter on air { September 13 2004 }
US soldiers kill little girls in iraq fight { October 2006 }
Us soldiers shoots kills two iraqi journalists { March 29 2004 }
US soliders killed family and raped iraqi woman
US still uncovering iraq abuses { July 15 2004 }
Us tank crushes cleric { December 9 2003 }
US torture in iraq spread to mosul
Us troops beat iranian journalists
Us troops shot dead us funded arabic journalists { April 19 2004 }
Us war tactics questioned by rights groups { November 24 2003 }
Video shows brits brutally attacking iraqi teens { February 13 2006 }
War crimes evidence
Wedding video contradicts US details { May 24 2004 }
Whistleblower sent to psychiatrist { March 5 2005 }
White phosphorous usage is war crime { November 22 2005 }

Files Listed: 109



Correction/submissions

CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Archives
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple