American Civil Liberties Union – 2005-10-28 00:05:27
CIA, Navy Seals and Military Intelligence Personnel Implicated US Operatives Killed Detainees During Interrogations in Afghanistan and Iraq
American Civil Liberties Union
NEW YORK (October 24, 2005) — The American Civil Liberties Union today made public an analysis of new and previously released autopsy and death reports of detainees held in US facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of whom died while being interrogated. The documents show that detainees were hooded, gagged, strangled, beaten with blunt objects, subjected to sleep deprivation and to hot and cold environmental conditions.
“There is no question that US interrogations have resulted in deaths,” said Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU. “High-ranking officials who knew about the torture and sat on their hands and those who created and endorsed these policies must be held accountable. America must stop putting its head in the sand and deal with the torture scandal that has rocked our military.”
The documents released today include 44 autopsies and death reports as well as a summary of autopsy reports of individuals apprehended in Iraq and Afghanistan. The documents show that detainees died during or after interrogations by Navy Seals, Military Intelligence and “OGA” (Other Governmental Agency) — a term, according to the ACLU, that is commonly used to refer to the CIA.
According to the documents, 21 of the 44 deaths were homicides. Eight of the homicides appear to have resulted from abusive techniques used on detainees, in some instances, by the CIA, Navy Seals and Military Intelligence personnel. The autopsy reports list deaths by “strangulation,” “asphyxiation” and “blunt force injuries.” An overwhelming majority of the so-called “natural deaths” were attributed to “Arteriosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease.”
While newspapers have recently reported deaths of detainees in CIA custody, today’s documents show that the problem is pervasive, involving Navy Seals and Military Intelligence too.
The records reveal the following facts:
• A 27-year-old Iraqi male died while being interrogated by Navy Seals on April 5, 2004, in Mosul, Iraq. During his confinement he was hooded, flex-cuffed, sleep deprived and subjected to hot and cold environmental conditions, including the use of cold water on his body and hood. The exact cause of death was “undetermined” although the autopsy stated that hypothermia may have contributed to his death. Notes say he “struggled/ interrogated/ died sleeping.”
Some facts relating to this case have been previously reported. (In April 2003, Secretary Rumsfeld authorized the use of “environmental manipulation” as an interrogation technique in Guantánamo Bay.
In September 2003, Lt. Gen. Sanchez also authorized this technique for use in Iraq. Although Lt. Gen. Sanchez later rescinded the September 2003 techniques, he authorized “changes in environmental quality” in October 2003.)
• An Iraqi detainee (also described as a white male) died on January 9, 2004, in Al Asad, Iraq, while being interrogated by “OGA.” He was standing, shackled to the top of a door frame with a gag in his mouth at the time he died. The cause of death was asphyxia and blunt force injuries.
Notes summarizing the autopsies record the circumstances of death as “Q by OGA, gagged in standing restraint.” (Facts in the autopsy report appear to match the previously reported case of Abdul Jaleel.)
• A detainee was smothered to death during an interrogation by Military Intelligence on November 26, 2003, in Al Qaim, Iraq. A previously released autopsy report, that appears to be of General Mowhoush, lists “asphyxia due to smothering and chest compression” as the cause of death and cites bruises from the impact with a blunt object. New documents specifically record the circumstances of death as “Q by MI, died during interrogation.”
• A detainee at Abu Ghraib Prison, captured by Navy Seal Team number seven, died on November 4, 2003, during an interrogation by Navy Seals and “OGA.” A previously released autopsy report, that appears to be of Manadel Al Jamadi, shows that the cause of his death was “blunt force injury complicated by compromised respiration.” New documents specifically record the circumstances of death as “Q by OGA and NSWT died during interrogation.”
• An Afghan civilian died from “multiple blunt force injuries to head, torso and extremities” on November 6, 2003, at a Forward Operating Base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. (Facts in the autopsy report appear to match the previously reported case of Abdul Wahid.)
• A 52-year-old male Iraqi was strangled to death at the Whitehorse detainment facility on June 6, 2003, in Nasiriyah, Iraq. His autopsy also revealed bone and rib fractures, and multiple bruises on his body. (Facts in the autopsy report appear to match the previously reported case of Nagm Sadoon Hatab.)
Torture in Afghanistan
The ACLU has previously released autopsy reports for two detainees who were tortured by US forces in Bagram, Afghanistan, believed to be Mullah Habibullah and an Afghan man known as Dilawar.
“These documents present irrefutable evidence that US operatives tortured detainees to death during interrogations,” said Amrit Singh, an attorney with the ACLU. “The public has a right to know who authorized the use of torture techniques and why these deaths have been covered up.”
The documents were released by the Department of Defense in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for Peace. The New York Civil Liberties Union is co-counsel in the case.
As part of the FOIA lawsuit brought by the ACLU, a federal judge recently ordered the Defense Department to turn over photographs and videotapes depicting the abuse of prisoners held by the United States at Abu Ghraib. That decision has been stayed until October 26. The government has not yet indicated whether it is going to appeal the court’s decision.
The FOIA lawsuit is being handled by Lawrence Lustberg and Megan Lewis of the New Jersey-based law firm Gibbons, Del Deo, Dolan, Griffinger & Vecchione, P.C. Other attorneys in the case are Singh, Jameel Jaffer, and Judy Rabinovitz of the ACLU; Arthur Eisenberg and Beth Haroules of the NYCLU; and Barbara Olshansky of the Center for Constitutional Rights.
77,000 Pages Online
To date, more than 77,000 pages of government documents have been released in response to the ACLU’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. The ACLU has been posting these documents online at www.aclu.org/torturefoia.
The documents released today are available online at http://action.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/102405
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Analysis Finds 21 Homicides among Deaths of US Prisoners Overseas
WASHINGTON (AP) – At least 21 detainees who died while being held in US custody in Iraq and Afghanistan were killed, many during or after interrogations, according to an analysis of Defense Department data by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The analysis, released Monday, looked at 44 deaths described in records obtained by the ACLU. Of those, the group characterized 21 as homicides, and said at least eight resulted from abusive techniques by military or intelligence officers, such as strangulation or “blunt force injuries,” as noted in the autopsy reports.
The 44 deaths represent a partial group of the total number of prisoners who have died in US custody overseas; more than 100 have died of natural and violent causes.
In one case, the report said, a detainee died after being smothered during interrogation by military intelligence officers in November 2003. In another case cited by the report, a prisoner died of asphyxiation and blunt force injuries after he was left standing, shackled to the top of a door frame, with a gag in his mouth.
One Afghan civilian, believed by the ACLU to be Abdul Wahid, died from “multiple blunt force injuries” in 2003 at a base in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, according to an autopsy report provided by the Defense Department.
Wahid, 28, was taken from his home by Afghan militia and accused of being a terrorist. The autopsy report said he died in American custody, though his father has blamed the militiamen.
The detailed list of prisoners whose deaths the report considered homicides includes two detainees who were beaten and died from “blunt force injuries” at the Bagram Airfield detention center in Afghanistan, according to the autopsies.
Earlier this month, Pfc. Damien M. Corsetti, a military intelligence interrogator with the 519th MI Battalion at Fort Bragg, NC, became the 15th soldier to face charges since those 2002 deaths.
Details about the detainee abuse and deaths have been released by the Pentagon as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the ACLU. Many of the incidents have been made public previously, and in a number of cases soldiers and officers involved have been prosecuted and punished.
“The US military does not tolerate mistreatment of detainees,” said Army spokesman Col. Joseph Curtin. “Past cases have been fully investigated. When there is credible evidence, commanders have the prerogative to prosecute.”
To date, there have been more than 400 investigations of detainee abuse, and more than 230 military personnel have received a court-martial, nonjudicial punishment or other administrative action.
“There is no question that US interrogations have resulted in deaths,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU’s executive director. “High-ranking officials who knew about the torture and sat on their hands and those who created and endorsed these policies must be held accountable.”
The data includes detainees who were interrogated by military intelligence, Navy Seals and “Other Governmental Agency” personnel, which generally refers to the CIA.