Detainee torture routine in Iraq


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

July 23, 2006

Iraqi Detainee Abuse Widespread: Report
Filed at 0:46 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraqi detainees were routinely subjected to beatings, 
sleep deprivation, stress positions and other forms of abuse by U.S. 
interrogators, according to a Human Rights Watch report released on Sunday that 
offers first-hand accounts from three former soldiers.

The U.S.-based watchdog group said its report discredits government arguments 
casting mistreatment of detainees as the aberrant and unauthorized work of a few

It included accounts by former soldiers who said detainees were regularly 
subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation and stress positions -- practices that 
started to come to light two years ago when pictures of physical abuse and 
sexual humiliation at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison surfaced.

``These accounts rebut U.S. government claims that torture and abuse in Iraq was
unauthorized and exceptional -- on the contrary, it was condoned and commonly 
used,'' said John Sifton, author of the report and the group's senior researcher
on terrorism and counter-terrorism.

A Defense Department spokesman, however, said 12 reviews have been conducted and
none found the Pentagon promulgated a policy that condoned, directed or 
encouraged abuse.

``The standard of treatment is and always has been humane treatment of detainees
in DoD's custody,'' said Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros, a Pentagon spokesman.

Human Rights Watch said it could only document instances of abuse from soldiers 
stationed in Iraq up to April 2004.

The United States has faced international criticism for the indefinite detention
of detainees at a naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and for physical abuse and
sexual humiliation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

The Bush administration, however, says it treats prisoners humanely. The 
Pentagon acknowledged earlier this month that all detainees held by the U.S. 
military are covered by an article of the Geneva Conventions that bars inhumane 

But Human Rights Watch said the U.S. government's insistence that abusive 
practices were not authorized or routine and the military's failure to put any 
blame on leadership have hindered probes into detainee treatment.

The group's report offered accounts of abuse at three facilities in Iraq.

Former Army interrogator Tony Lagouranis said, in one account, that abusive 
techniques were commonplace at a Mosul facility, where he was based from 
February to April 2004.

Lagouranis, then a specialist in rank, said he was given interrogation rules on 
a card that Human Rights Watch said ''authorized'' the use of dogs, exposure to 
hot and cold temperatures, sleep deprivation and forced exercise, among other 
means of coercion.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Ltd.

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