Pentagon Records Show Five Brutal Interrogation Deaths

The Denver Post has examined Pentagon records and is reporting that :

  • five prisoners have died at four detention camps (including Abu Ghraib) while undergoing interrogation by the U.S.
  • at least one of the deaths was previously reported as being from natural causes
  • the soldiers got off light, mostly without criminal charges.

Here's more:

Brutal interrogation techniques by U.S. military personnel are being investigated in connection with the deaths of at least five Iraqi prisoners in war-zone detention camps, Pentagon documents obtained by The Denver Post show.

The deaths include the killing in November of a high-level Iraqi general who was shoved into a sleeping bag and suffocated, according to the Pentagon report. The documents contradict an earlier Defense Department statement that said the general died "of natural causes" during an interrogation. Pentagon officials declined to comment on the new disclosure.

Another Iraqi military officer, records show, was asphyxiated after being gagged, his hands tied to the top of his cell door. Another detainee died "while undergoing stress technique interrogation," involving smothering and "chest compressions," according to the documents.

Here are some of the techniques used:

....intelligence soldiers and other personnel have sometimes used lethal tactics to try to coax secrets from prisoners, including choking off detainees' airways. Other abusive strategies involve sitting on prisoners or bending them into uncomfortable positions, records show.

Even a pentagon official calls this torture:

"Torture is the only thing you can call this," said a Pentagon source with knowledge of internal investigations into prisoner abuses. "There is a lot about our country's interrogation techniques that is very troubling. These are violations of military law."

This is a must-read article that breaks new ground, including a case by case description of the abuse and techniques used. Here's a little more:

Internal records obtained by The Post point to wider problems beyond the Abu Ghraib prison and demonstrate that some coercive tactics used at Abu Ghraib have shown up in interrogations elsewhere in the war effort. The documents also show more than twice as many allegations of detainee abuse - 75 - are being investigated by the military than previously known. Twenty-seven of the abuse cases involve deaths; at least eight are believed to be homicides. No criminal punishments have been announced in the interrogation deaths, even though three deaths occurred last year.

....Of the detainee cases that were not homicides, commanders typically handed down lenient job-related punishments to the accused, instead of seeking criminal convictions. Of 47 punishments given to those accused of prisoner abuse, according to the report, only 15 involved court-martial. Criminal penalties ranged from reprimands to 60 days' confinement.

The abuse extended to women and children:

Also under investigation are reports that soldiers in Iraq abused women and children. One April 2003 case, which is awaiting trial, involves a reservist who pointed a loaded pistol at an Iraqi child in front of witnesses, saying he should kill the youngster to "send a message" to other Iraqis.

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