BAGHDAD, May 1 A top Pentagon intelligence officer is leading an investigation into interrogation practices at an Army-run prison where Iraqi detainees were allegedly beaten and sexually abused, officials announced Saturday. The move came amid allegations that military guards abused prisoners at the behest of military intelligence operatives.
A soldier accused of abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib facility wrote to his family last December that military intelligence officers encouraged the mistreatment, according to correspondence provided by the soldier’s family.
“We have had a very high rate with our style of getting them to break,” the soldier, Staff Sgt. Ivan L. “Chip” Frederick II, wrote in a Dec. 18 e-mail released by Frederick’s uncle. “They usually end up breaking within hours.”
Frederick also wrote that he questioned some of the abuses. “I questioned this and the answer I got was: This is how military intelligence wants it done,” he wrote.
The Army Reserve commander who oversaw the prison said that military intelligence, rather than the military police, dictated the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. “The prison, and that particular cellblock where the events took place, were under the control of the MI command,” Brig. Gen. Janis L. Karpinski said in a telephone interview Saturday night from her home in Hilton Head, S.C.
Karpinski, who commanded the 800th Military Police Brigade, also described a high-pressure atmosphere that prized successful interrogations. A month before the alleged abuses occurred, she said, a team of military intelligence officers from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, came to Abu Ghraib last year. “Their main and specific mission was to get the interrogators give them new techniques to get more information from detainees,” she said.
Seymour Hersh has more in the New Yorker:
A fifty-three-page report, obtained by The New Yorker, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba and not meant for public release, was completed in late February. Its conclusions about the institutional failures of the Army prison system were devastating. Specifically, Taguba found that between October and December of 2003 there were numerous instances of “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses” at Abu Ghraib. This systematic and illegal abuse of detainees, Taguba reported, was perpetrated by soldiers of the 372nd Military Police Company, and also by members of the American intelligence community. (The 372nd was attached to the 320th M.P. Battalion, which reported to Karpinski’s brigade headquarters.) Taguba’s report listed some of the wrongdoing:
Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee.
There was stunning evidence to support the allegations, Taguba added “detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence.” Photographs and videos taken by the soldiers as the abuses were happening were not included in his report, Taguba said, because of their “extremely sensitive nature.”