More Iraq prisoner abuse alleged

Members of a US special operations task force punched and abused prisoners in Iraq in front of intelligence agents, then threatened the agents to keep quiet, a document has revealed.

    Relief greets those released from Abu Ghraib prison

    A letter from the head of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) to a senior Pentagon intelligence official, made public on Tuesday, detailed previously unknown incidents of abuse by US forces against prisoners in Iraq.

    It said the agents also saw detainees with burn marks and bruises.

    It was written two months after photographs of US

    soldiers abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad

    became public, and five months after American commanders in

    Iraq first learned of the abuse.

    The Abu Ghraib revelations prompted international outrage

    and undercut US credibility as it sought to stabilise Iraq

    amid violence

    after last year's invasion.

    The new revelations of abuses elsewhere were included in a 25

    June letter from navy Vice-Admiral Lowell Jacoby, director

    of the DIA, to Stephen Cambone, undersecretary of defence for

    intelligence.

    The letter was one of numerous US government documents

    released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which obtained

    them under the Freedom of Information Act.

    Other documents

    depict a split between the defence department and the FBI over

    Pentagon use of harsh interrogation methods on prisoners.

    Threats against agents

    Jacoby wrote that two unidentified DIA agents, who worked

    as interrogators and debriefers at a detention facility in

    Baghdad, saw task force officers "punch a prisoner in the face

    to the point the individual needed medical attention".

     

    Iraqis were appalled by the Abu
    Ghraib revelations 

    He said that "the debriefer was ordered to leave the

    room". The date of the incident was not stated.

    The DIA personnel also observed "prisoners arriving at the t

    emporary detention facility in Baghdad with burn marks on

    their backs. Some have bruises, and some have complained of

    kidney pain", Jacoby wrote.

    One of the DIA agents took pictures

    of the injuries and showed them to his supervisor in the task

    force "who immediately confiscated them", Jacoby added.

    Members of the task force acted against the DIA agents, the

    letter said, including making unspecified threats, confiscating

    their vehicle keys, ordering them "not to talk to anyone in the

    US", and telling them their email messages were being screened.

    The letter said task force members also "instructed them [

    the DIA agents] not to leave the compound without specific

    permission, even to get a haircut at the PX (store for military

    personnel)".

    The job of the task force was not specified. During the

    Iraq war, the Pentagon has used several task forces made up of

    special operations troops and sometimes CIA agents, searching

    for "high-value" fugitives and weapons of mass destruction.

    Pentagon report due

    Jameel Jaffer, an ACLU lawyer, said the documents show an

    attempt to cover up abuse, noting the threats made to the two

    DIA agents.

     

    Several soldiers were punished
    after the Abu Ghraib scandal

    Pointing to the account of burns on the backs of

    some prisoners and bruises, Jaffer added: "By anyone's

    definition, that suggests that something akin to torture has

    been going on. This is alarming."

    The Pentagon had no immediate comment on the documents.

    It has previously acknowledged abuse of prisoners

    in Iraq by special operations troops.

    Members of an elite navy

    Seal unit were charged in September with abusing prisoners,

    including one who died in November 2003 after being dropped off

    at Abu Ghraib with severe head injuries.

    A Pentagon report on detainee treatment by special forces

    in Iraq is due to be made public as early as next month.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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