PRESIDENT BUSH: Sounds like kind of a familiar refrain here — saying “bring it on,” kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people. I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner — you know, “wanted dead or alive,” that kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted, and so I learned from that. And I think the biggest mistake that’s happened so far, at least from our country’s involvement in Iraq is Abu Ghraib. We’ve been paying for that for a long period of time. And it’s — unlike Iraq, however, under Saddam, the people who committed those acts were brought to justice. They’ve been given a fair trial and tried and convicted.
One civilian contractor was accused of raping a young male prisoner but has not been charged because military law has no jurisdiction over him. [The Guardian, 4-30-04]
More than two months after a classified Army report found that two contract workers were implicated in the abuse of Iraqis at a prison outside Baghdad, the companies that employ them say that they have heard nothing from the Pentagon, and that they have not removed any employees from Iraq. [The New York Times, 5-4-03]
Several high-ranking military legal officers believe the Pentagon used private contractors to interrogate prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan in a deliberate attempt to obscure aggressive practices from congressional or military oversight, according to a civilian lawyer who has spoken with them. [The Financial Times, 5-22-04]
Two US defence contractors being sued over allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison have been awarded valuable new contracts by the Pentagon, despite demands that they should be barred from any new government work. [The Guardian, 1-16-05]
To date, with the exception of one major directly implicated in abuse, only low-ranking soldiers — privates and sergeants have been prosecuted. No officer has been charged in connection with detainee abuse by people under his command. No civilian leader at the Pentagon or the CIA has been investigated. [Human Rights Watch, April 2005]
No private contractors have so far faced prosecution despite their implication in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq, according to a new Pentagon report.
The study, sent to Congress earlier this year but not publicly released, covers the period from the start of May 2003 to the end of October 2004. It was ordered by Congress last year in the immediate aftermath of the Abu Ghraib scandal, in which it emerged that employees of private contractors were directly involved in interrogating Iraqi detainees.
A Pentagon investigation last year found that “several of the alleged perpetrators of the abuse of detainees” were private contractors, but noted that they might not be subject to criminal prosecution because of the legal vacuum created during US administration of Iraq.
The new report found that during the 18 months examined, no private contractor was disciplined or charged with any criminal offence in relation to their work in Iraq. It noted, however, that several of the abuse cases had been forwarded by the Pentagon to the Justice Department for investigation. “To date, no charges have been filed, however the cases remain under active investigation by the DOJ,” the report said. [The Financial Times, 8-9-05]
The house belongs to Mark Swanner, a forty-six-year-old C.I.A. officer who has performed interrogations and polygraph tests for the agency, which has employed him at least since the nineteen-nineties. (He is not a covert operative.) Two years ago, at Abu Ghraib prison, outside Baghdad, an Iraqi prisoner in Swanner’s custody, Manadel al-Jamadi, died during an interrogation. His head had been covered with a plastic bag, and he was shackled in a crucifixion-like pose that inhibited his ability to breathe; according to forensic pathologists who have examined the case, he asphyxiated. In a subsequent internal investigation, United States government authorities classified Jamadi’s death as a “homicide,” meaning that it resulted from unnatural causes. Swanner has not been charged with a crime and continues to work for the agency. [The New Yorker, 11-7-05]
Nine U.S. Army soldiers have been court-martialed and convicted of crimes committed at Abu Ghraib prison: seven military police, and two soldiers from military intelligence. All were enlisted soldiers. Within the Army’s judicial system, accountability up the chain of command has stopped at the rank of staff sergeant — to date, no commanding officers have been prosecuted. [Salon.com, 3-14-06]
Salon has obtained a previously unpublished 2003 Abu Ghraib photograph that shows Daniel Johnson, a civilian contractor, interrogating an Iraqi prisoner using what an Army investigation calls “an unauthorized stress position.”
The Army investigated the circumstances behind the photograph, found “probable cause” that a crime had been committed, and referred the case to the Justice Department for prosecution. (Salon obtained the photo from someone who spent time at Abu Ghraib as a uniformed member of the military and is familiar with the Army investigation there.) But in early 2005, a Department of Justice attorney told the Army that the evidence in the case did not justify prosecution. [Salon.com, 4-14-06]