Archive for the ‘torture’ Category

Glenn Greenwald: The Obama GITMO myth

July 23, 2012
 

New vindictive restrictions on detainees highlights the falsity of Obama defenders regarding closing the camp

By Salon, July 23, 20

The Obama GITMO myth

Accused Sept. 11 co-conspirator Ramzi Binalshibh is shown while attending his military hearing at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba. (AP/Janet Hamlin)

Most of the 168 detainees at Guantanamo have been imprisoned by the U.S. Government for close to a decade without charges and with no end in sight to their captivity. Some now die at Guantanamo, thousands of miles away from their homes and families, without ever having had the chance to contest accusations of guilt. During the Bush years, the plight of these detainees was a major source of political controversy, but under Obama, it is now almost entirely forgotten. On those rare occasions when it is raised, Obama defenders invoke a blatant myth to shield the President from blame: he wanted and tried so very hard to end all of this, but Congress would not let him. Especially now that we’re in an Election Year, and in light of very recent developments, it’s long overdue to document clearly how misleading that excuse is.

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Middle East War: U.S. Doctors Approved Torture and Denied Medical Care to Captives

July 7, 2010

by Sherwood Ross, Uruknet.info, July 5, 2010

5abughraib.jpg

American doctors in the Middle East routinely approved the torture of captured suspects and denied them critical medications such as insulin, sometimes with lethal consequences, according to a documented report published in the “Utne Reader.”

In Dec., 2002, Defense Secy. Donald Rumsfeld issued a directive allowing interrogators to withhold medical care in nonemergency situations so that “men with injuries including gunshot wounds were denied treatment as a way to make them talk,” writes author Justine Sharrock. Although the directive was soon revoked, “the practice continued,” she said.

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UN rights chief says torturers will face justice

June 26, 2010
Yahoo! News, June 26, 2010

AFP
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay, pictured in April 2010, on Friday warned torturers that they could not escape justice even if they might benefit from short term impunity.

GENEVA (AFP) – – UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Friday warned torturers that they could not escape justice even if they might benefit from short term impunity.

“Torturers, and their superiors, need to hear the following message loud and clear: however powerful you are today, there is a strong chance that sooner or later you will be held to account for your inhumanity,” Pillay said.

“Torture is an extremely serious crime, and in certain circumstances can amount to a war crime, a crime against humanity or genocide,” she added in a statement to mark Saturday’s International Day for the Victims of Torture.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights urged governments, the United Nations and campaign groups “to ensure that this message is backed by firm action.”

“No one suspected of committing torture can benefit from an amnesty. That is a basic principle of international justice and a vital one,” Pillay added.

“I am concerned, however, that some states rigidly maintain amnesties that save torturers from being brought to justice, even though the regimes that employed them are long gone.

“As a result there are a number of well-established democracies that generally abide by the rule of law, and are proud to do so, which are in effect protecting torturers and denying justice,” said Pillay.

That often, as a result, denied their victims reparations.

The UN human rights chief noted that more people were being prosecuted for torture every year, including recent prosecutions in Chile and Argentina for cases dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.

She also highlighted the looming verdict in Cambodia’s war crimes tribunal on former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, commonly known as ‘Duch’ which is due on July 26.

“There is one aspect of all this that should cause even the most ruthless and self-confident torturers to stop and think: in time, all regimes change, including the most entrenched and despotic.

“So even those who think their immunity from justice is ironclad can — and I hope increasingly will– eventually find themselves in court,” Pillay added.

Censorship and Kangaroo Courts: Alive and Well in Obama Administration

May 17, 2010

By Kenneth J. Theisen, The World Can’t Wait, May 14, 2010

As I have reported here before the Obama administration is using kangaroo courts known as military tribunals at the Guantánamo military base.

These “legal” proceedings have proven to be an embarrassment to the administration and in its latest move it is trying to silence the media in its reports from Gitmo.

The Pentagon has banned four reporters from future Guantánamo Military Commissions’ proceedings for reporting the name of a witness in the pre-trial hearings of Guantánamo detainee Omar Khadr. At these hearings even the government’s own witnesses have revealed some of the abuse that Omar has been subjected to in his years of incarceration in U.S. hellholes.

The identity of the witness had already been disclosed in previous news reports and an on-the-record interview he gave in 2008 to the media. The four reporters that are subject to the ban are Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star, Paul Koring of the Globe and Mail and Steven Edwards of CanWest.

Several rights groups are protesting the ban and have sent a letter of protest to the Pentagon. In the letter signed by the ACLU, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and National Institute of Military Justice they write that “this move by the Department of Defense not only runs counter to the U.S. administration’s stated commitment to transparency in government, but will also bring the military commissions into further disrepute, internationally and within the United States.”

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer had this to say about the Pentagon move, “That reporters are being punished for disclosing information that has been publicly available for years is nothing short of absurd – any gag order that covers this kind of information is not just overbroad but nonsensical. Plainly, no legitimate government interest is served by suppressing information that is already well known. We strongly urge the Defense Department to reconsider its rash, draconian and unconstitutional decision to bar these four reporters from future tribunals. If allowed to stand, this decision will discourage legitimate reporting and add yet another entry to the long list of reasons why the military commissions ought to be shut down for good.”

But transparency in government was only a campaign slogan for Obama. Since taking office his administration has been anything but transparent. Obama administration lawyers have gone to court repeatedly to cover up murders, torture, rendition, massive surveillance, and other crimes of the Bush regime, as well as crimes committed by U.S. officials since Bush left office. It has gone out of its way to deny due process to prisoners of the U.S. war of terror for fear that trials and other legal proceedings would reveal too much of the criminal activity of the government. This banning of reporters is consistent with these other actions to keep the people from knowing what the government is doing in our names. It and other moves to censor information must be exposed and opposed.

The full text of the letter sent by the rights’ groups is below:

Col. David Lapan
Director, Press Operations
1400 Defense Pentagon
Room 2E961
Washington, DC 20301-1400
May 12, 2010

Dear Colonel Lapan,

We are writing to express our serious concern about the Defense Department’s decision to ban four journalists – from The Miami Herald, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and CanWest Newspapers of Canada – from covering future military commission proceedings at Guantánamo Bay on the grounds that they had revealed the name of a witness in violation of rules governing media reporting of the commissions.

We consider that this move by the Department of Defense not only runs counter to the U.S. administration’s stated commitment to transparency in government, but will also bring the military commissions into further disrepute, internationally and within the United States.

As you know, the witness who appeared in Omar Khadr’s pre-trial hearing, identified by the prosecution as “Interrogator No. 1,” had previously been the subject of a widely publicized military court-martial in 2005 that resulted in his conviction for detainee abuse committed at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan in 2002. His connection to the Khadr case had also previously been revealed from information he himself gave in an on-the-record interview to a reporter at the Toronto Star. That reporter, Michelle Shephard, who wrote a book about Omar Khadr, is now one of those being banned from future commission hearings simply for reporting the same information that had previously been widely published and disseminated.

Whatever confidence the public in the United States and around the world may maintain in these proceedings can only be eroded by a move that is perceived as being motivated by a clampdown on informed media reporting rather than the protection of classified or confidential information.

Because the proceedings are based at Guantánamo and are open only to a select number of journalists, military personnel and NGO observers, continuing access to these proceedings by knowledgeable and experienced reporters – such as the four here – is even more important than it would be in an ordinary federal trial, open to the general public.

We urge the Department of Defense to reconsider what we believe is an ill-advised decision to exclude these reporters.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch
Amnesty International
American Civil Liberties Union
National Institute of Military Justice

cc: Douglas Wilson, Asst. Sec. of Defense for Public Affairs
Bryan Whitman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Media Operations
Vice Adm. Bruce McDonald, Convening Authority, Military Commissions

Khadr routinely trussed up in cage, hearing told

May 7, 2010

Khadr routinely trussed up in cage, hearing told

Canadian defendant Omar Khadr attends a hearing in the courthouse  at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base on Thursday.

Canadian defendant Omar Khadr attends a hearing in the courthouse at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base on Thursday. REUTERS

‘We could do basically anything to scare the prisoners,’ retired soldier testifies

Paul Koring, The Globe and Mail, May 5, 2010

Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Station, Cuba — From Thursday’s Globe and Mail Published on Wednesday, May. 05, 2010 12:11PM EDT Last updated on Thursday, May. 06, 2010 3:31AM EDT

Omar Khadr, then a gravely wounded 15-year-old, was routinely trussed up in a cage “in one of the worst places on Earth,” according to a hulking former military interrogator nicknamed Monster who says he felt sorry for the Canadian and brought him books and treats.

Former specialist Damien Corsetti was testifying via video link to a pretrial hearing in the war-crimes trial of Mr. Khadr, now 23, on charges of terrorism and murder in the killing of a U.S. Special Forces soldier during a firefight in eastern Afghanistan in July of 2002.

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Secret Iraqi government prison was ‘worse than Abu Ghraib’

April 29, 2010

Inmates at covert jail suffered routine electric shocks and sexual abuse

By Kim Sengupta, Diplomatic Correspondent, The Independent/UK, April 29, 2010

The torture of prisoners in Iraq jails was widespread under Saddam  Hussein's regime. Now human rights  activists claim that similar abuses  are taking place on government orders
The torture of prisoners in Iraq jails was widespread under Saddam Hussein’s regime. Now human rights activists claim that similar abuses are taking place on government orders

A secret Iraqi government prison, where detainees were subjected to horrific abuse and at least one died from his injuries, was described yesterday as being “worse than Abu Ghraib”.

Its prisoners, who were mainly Sunni Arabs, included a wheelchair-bound British national. Freed captives told the New York-based organisation Human Rights Watch that they were raped, tortured with electric shocks and suffocated.

All had been taken to the covert jail, at Muthanna airfield west of Baghdad, after being arrested by security forces and accused of involvement in the long-running insurgency. Following American pressure, the prison was hurriedly closed last week and its 431 inmates were transferred to the Iraqi capital as reports of torture emerged.

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British soldiers viewed all Iraqis as ‘scum’, Baha Mousa inquiry hears

April 27, 2010

Intelligence officer says officers did not know rules on treatment of prisoners and one tried to mount ‘arse-covering exercise’ after Baha Mousa’s death

Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian/UK, April 27, 2010

Baha Mousa inquiryBaha Mousa, a Basra hotel worker, was beaten to death in 2003 while in the custody of 1 Battalion Queen’s Lancashire Regiment. Photograph: Liberty/PA

An officer of the regiment detaining Baha Mousa, a Basra hotel worker, when he was beaten to death said his soldiers held the view that “all Iraqis were scum”, it was disclosed today.

One officer tried to mount an “arse covering” exercise after Mousa’s death, while others expressed ignorance of basic rules covering the treatment of prisoners, the public inquiry into the incident heard.

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Former Argentine president gets 25 years for crimes against humanity

April 22, 2010

Amnesty International, April 21, 2010

Reynaldo Bignone served as de facto president of Argentina in 1982  and 1983

Reynaldo Bignone served as de facto president of Argentina in 1982 and 1983

© AP GraphicsBank

Amnesty International has welcomed the prison sentence handed to a former Argentine president responsible for crimes against humanity in the 1970s.

Reynaldo Bignone, a former military general, was found guilty of torture, murder and several kidnappings that occurred while he was commander of the notorious Campo de Mayo detention centre between 1976 and 1978.

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The Guantanamo Deception: Wilkerson Discloses Hundreds of Innocents Jailed

April 21, 2010

Bill Quigley, Counterpunch, April 20, 21010

Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Chief of Staff to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, provided shocking new testimony from inside the Bush Administration that hundreds of the men jailed at Guantanamo were innocent, the top people in the Bush Administration knew full well they were innocent, and that information was kept from the public.

Wilkerson said President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld “indefinitely detained the innocent for political reasons” and many in the administration knew it.  The wrongfully held prisoners were not released because of political maneuverings aimed in part to cover up the mistakes of the administration.

Colonel Wilkerson, who served in the U.S. Army for over thirty years, signed a sworn declaration for an Oregon federal court case stating that he found out in August 2002 that the US knew that many of the prisoners at Guantanamo were not enemy combatants.  Wilkerson also discussed this in a revealing and critical article on Guantanamo for the Washington Note.

How did Colonel Wilkerson first learn about the innocents in Guantanamo?  In August 2002, Wilkerson, who had been working closely with Colin Powell for years, was appointed Chief of Staff to the Secretary of State.  In that position, Wilkerson started attending daily classified briefings involving 50 or more senior State Department officials where Guantanamo was often discussed.

It soon became clear to him and other State Department personnel “that many of the prisoners detained at Guantanamo had been taken into custody without regard to whether they were truly enemy combatants, or in fact whether many of them were enemies at all.”

How was it possible that hundreds of Guantanamo prisoners were innocent?  Wilkerson said it all started at the beginning, mostly because U.S. forces did not capture most of the people who were sent to Guantanamo.  The people who ended up in Guantanamo, said Wilkerson, were mostly turned over to the US by Afghan warlords and others who received bounties of up to $5000 per head for each person they turned in.  The majority of the 742 detainees “had never seen a U.S. soldier in the process of their initial detention.”

Military officers told Wilkerson that “many detainees were turned over for the wrong reasons, particularly for bounties and other incentives.”  The U.S. knew “that the likelihood was high that some of the Guantanamo detainees had been turned in to U.S. forces in order to settle local scores, for tribal reasons, or just as a method of making money.”

As a consequence, said Wilkerson “there was no real method of knowing why the prisoner had been detained in the first place.”

Wilkerson wrote that the American people have no idea of the “utter incompetence of the battlefield vetting in Afghanistan during the initial stages…Simply stated, no meaningful attempt at discrimination was made in-country by competent officials, civilian or military, as to who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.”

Why was there utter incompetence in the battlefield vetting?  “This was a factor of having too few troops in the combat zone, the troops and civilians who were there having too few people trained and skilled in such vetting, and the incredible pressure coming down from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others to ‘just get the bastards to the interrogators.’”

As a result, Wilkerson’s statement continues, “there was no meaningful way to determine whether they were terrorists, Taliban, or simply innocent civilians picked up on a very confused battlefield or in the territory of another state such as Pakistan.”

In addition, the statement points out “a separate but related problem was that often absolutely no evidence relating to the detainee was turned over, so there was no real method of knowing why the prisoner had been detained in the first place.”

“The initial group of 742 detainees had not been detained under the processes I was used to as a military officer,” Wilkerson said.  “It was becoming more and more clear that many of the men were innocent, or at a minimum their guilt was impossible to determine let alone prove in any court of law, civilian or military.  If there was any evidence, the chain of protecting it had been completely ignored.”

Several in the U.S. leadership became aware of this early on and knew “of the reality that many of the detainees were innocent of any substantial wrongdoing, had little intelligence value, and should be immediately released,” wrote Wilkerson.

So why did the Bush Administration not release the men from prison once it was discovered that they were not guilty?  Why continue to keep innocent men in prison?

“To have admitted this reality would have been a black mark on their leadership from virtually day one of the so-called War on Terror and these leaders already had black marks enough: the dead in a field in Pennsylvania, in the ashes of the Pentagon, and in the ruins of the World Trade Towers,” wrote Wilkerson.

“They were not about to admit to their further errors at Guantanamo Bay.  Better to claim everyone there was a hardcore terrorist, was of enduring intelligence value, and would return to jihad if released,” according to Wilkerson.  “I am very sorry to say that I believe there were uniformed military who aided and abetted these falsehoods, even at the highest levels of our armed forces.”

The refusal to let the detainees go, even those who were likely innocent, was based on several political factors.  If the US released them to another country and that country found them innocent, it would make the US look bad, said Wilkerson.  “Another concern was that the detention efforts at Guantanamo would be revealed as the incredibly confused operation that they were.  Such results were not acceptable to the Administration and would have been severely detrimental to the leadership at the Department of Defense.”

At the Department of Defense, Secretary Rumsfeld, “just refused to let detainees go” said Wilkerson.

“Another part of the political dilemma originated in the Office of Vice President Richard B. Cheney,” according to Wilkerson, “whose position could be summed up as ‘the end justifies the means’, and who had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantanamo detainees were innocent, or that there was a lack of useable evidence for the great majority of them.  If hundreds of innocent individuals had to suffer in order to detain a handful of hardcore terrorists, so be it.”

President Bush was involved in all of the decisions about the men in Guantanamo according to reports from Secretary Powell to Wilkerson.  “My own view,” said Wilkerson “is that it was easy for Vice President Cheney to run circles around President Bush bureaucratically because Cheney had the network within the government to do so.  Moreover, by exploiting what Secretary Powell called the President’s ‘cowboy instincts,’ Vice President Cheney could more often than not gain the President’s acquiescence.”

Despite the widespread knowledge inside the Bush administration that the US continued to indefinitely detain the innocent at Guantanamo, for years the US government continued to publicly say the opposite – that people at Guantanamo were terrorists.

After these disclosures from deep within the Bush Administration, the newest issue now before the people of the U.S. is not just whether the Bush Administration was wrong about Guantanamo but whether it was also consistently deceitful in holding hundreds of innocent men in prison to cover up their own mistakes.

Why is Colonel Wilkerson disclosing this now?  He provided a sworn statement to assist the International Human Rights Clinic at Willamette University College of Law in Oregon and the Federal Public Defender who are suing US officials for the wrongful detention and torture of Adel Hassan Hamad.  Hamad was a humanitarian aid worker from Sudan working in Pakistan when he was kidnapped from his apartment, tortured and shipped to Guantanamo where he was held for five years before being released.

At the end of his nine page sworn statement, Wilkerson explains his personal reasons for disclosing this damning information.  “I have made a personal choice to come forward and discuss the abuses that occurred because knowledge that I served an Administration that tortured and abused those it detained at the facilities at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere and indefinitely detained the innocent for political reasons has marked a low point in my professional career and I wish to make the record clear on what occurred.  I am also extremely concerned that the Armed Forces of the United States, where I spent 31 years of my professional life, were deeply involved in these tragic mistakes.”

Wilkerson concluded his article on Guantanamo by issuing a challenge.  “When – and if – the truths about the detainees at Guantanamo Bay will be revealed in the way they should be, or Congress will step up and shoulder some of the blame, or the new Obama administration will have the courage to follow through substantially on its campaign promises with respect to GITMO, torture and the like, remains indeed to be seen.”

The U.S. rightly criticizes Iran and China for wrongfully imprisoning people.  So what are we as a nation going to do now that an insider from the Bush Administration has courageously revealed the truth and the cover up about U.S. politicians wrongfully imprisoning hundreds and not releasing them even when they knew they were innocent?  Our response will tell much about our national commitment to justice for all.

Bill Quigley is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and professor of law at Loyola University New Orleans. He can be contacted at quigley77@gmail.com

Secret prison revealed in Baghdad

April 20, 2010

Forces under the office of Prime Minister Maliki held hundreds of Sunni men at the facility. The U.S. fears that the news will stoke instability.

Iraqi  leader

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki said he had been unaware of abuses at the secret prison at Old Muthanna airport run by troops under his office’s direct command. He vowed to shut down the prison. (Hadi Mizban / Associated Press / March 26, 2010)

By Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times, April 19, 2010

Reporting from Baghdad

Hundreds of Sunni men disappeared for months into a secret Baghdad prison under the jurisdiction of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s military office, where many were routinely tortured until the country’s Human Rights Ministry gained access to the facility, Iraqi officials say.

The men were detained by the Iraqi army in October in sweeps targeting Sunni groups in Nineveh province, a stronghold of the group Al Qaeda in Iraq and other militants in the north. The provincial governor alleged at the time that ordinary citizens had been detained as well, often without a warrant.

Worried that courts would order the detainees’ release, security forces obtained a court order and transferred them to Baghdad, where they were held in isolation. Human rights officials learned of the facility in March from family members searching for missing relatives.

Revelation of the secret prison could worsen tensions at a highly sensitive moment in Iraq. As U.S. troops are withdrawing, Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, and other political officials are negotiating the formation of a new government. Including minority Sunni Arabs is considered by many to be key to preventing a return of widespread sectarian violence. Already there has been an increase in attacks by Al Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni extremist group.

The alleged brutal treatment of prisoners at the facility raised concerns that the country could drift back to its authoritarian past.

Commanders initially resisted efforts to inspect the prison but relented and allowed visits by two teams of inspectors, including Human Rights Minister Wijdan Salim. Inspectors said they found that the 431 prisoners had been subjected to appalling conditions and quoted prisoners as saying that one of them, a former colonel in President Saddam Hussein’s army, had died in January as a result of torture.

“More than 100 were tortured. There were a lot of marks on their bodies,” said an Iraqi official familiar with the inspections. “They beat people, they used electricity. They suffocated them with plastic bags, and different methods.”

An internal U.S. Embassy report quotes Salim as saying that prisoners had told her they were handcuffed for three to four hours at a time in stress positions or sodomized.

“One prisoner told her that he had been raped on a daily basis, another showed her his undergarments, which were entirely bloodstained,” the memo reads.

Some described guards extorting as much as $1,000 from prisoners who wanted to phone their families, the memo said.

Maliki vowed to shut down the prison and ordered the arrest of the officers working there after Salim presented him with a report this month. Since then, 75 detainees have been freed and an additional 275 transferred to regular jails, Iraqi officials said. Maliki said in an interview that he had been unaware of the abuses. He said the prisoners had been sent to Baghdad because of concerns about corruption in Mosul.

“The prime minister cannot be responsible for all the behavior of his soldiers and staff,” said Salim, praising Maliki’s willingness to root out abuses. Salim, a Chaldean Christian, ran for parliament in last month’s elections on Maliki’s Shiite-dominated list.

Maliki defended his use of special prisons and an elite military force that answers only to him; his supporters say he has had no choice because of Iraq’s precarious security situation. Maliki told The Times that he was committed to stamping out torture — which he blamed on his enemies.

“Our reforms continue, and we have the Human Rights Ministry to monitor this,” he said. “We will hold accountable anybody who was proven involved in such acts.”

But Maliki’s critics say the network of special military units with their own investigative judges and interrogators are a threat to Iraq’s fragile democracy. They question how Maliki could not have known what was going on at the facility, and say that regardless, he is responsible for what happened there.

“The prison is Maliki’s becauseit’s not under the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Justice or Ministry of Interior officially,” said one Iraqi security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic.

The revelations echoed those at the beginning of Iraq’s sectarian war. In late 2005, the U.S. military found a secret prison in an Interior Ministry bunker where Sunnis rounded up in police sweeps were held.

The latest episode, the U.S. Embassy report warns, could exacerbate tensions between Iraq’s Shiite majority and Sunnis even with the facility closed.

U.S. troops already have pulled out of Iraq’s cities, and Iraqi officials say U.S. influence is diminishing as the Americans focus on ending their military presence. The number of U.S. troops in Iraq is scheduled to drop by about half, to 50,000, by the end of August.

The embassy report cautions that “disclosure of a secret prison in which Sunni Arabs were systematically tortured would not only become an international embarrassment, but would also likely compromise the prime minister’s ability to put together a viable government coalition with him at the helm.”

Maliki’s main political rival, Iyad Allawi, narrowly defeated him in parliamentary elections last month. Allawi, a secular Shiite, drew on dissatisfaction in Sunni regions around central Iraq. In the interview, Maliki invited Allawi to join him in forming a new government. But news of a secret prison that falls under the jurisdiction of the prime minister’s military office could make it difficult for him to gain any Sunni partners.

The controversy over the secret prison, located at the Old Muthanna airport in west Baghdad, has also pushed Maliki to begin relinquishing control of two other detention facilities at Camp Honor, a base in Baghdad’s Green Zone. The base belongs to the Baghdad Brigade and the Counter-Terrorism Force, elite units that report to the prime minister and are responsible for holding high-level suspects.

Families and lawyers say they find it nearly impossible to visit the Camp Honor facilities. The Justice Ministry is now assuming supervision of the Green Zone jails, although Maliki’s offices will continue to command directly the military units.

The 431 detainees brought down from Nineveh were initially held at Camp Honor. Interrogations began after they were transferred to the prison at the Old Muthanna airport.

According to the U.S. Embassy report and interviews with Iraqi officials, two separate investigative committees questioned the detainees and abused them. During the day, there were interrogators from the Iraqi judiciary. In the late afternoon they came from the Baghdad Brigade.

The embassy report says that at least four of the investigators from the Baghdad Brigade are believed to have been indicted for torture in 2006. The charges against them at the time included selling Sunni Arab detainees held at a national police facility to Shiite militias to be killed.

In December, the Human Rights Ministry asked the judiciary to investigate Baghdad Brigade interrogators over allegations of torture at Camp Honor, but hasn’t received an answer, Iraqi officials said.

With the secret facility at the old airport being shut down, and both Maliki and Salim, the human rights minister, hailing what they regard as progress, some Iraqis with knowledge of the security apparatus say they are worried that nothing will really change.

One former lawmaker with great knowledge of the prime minister’s security offices called for radical change in the next government. “This is the beginning. We have to hold people accountable,” the former lawmaker said. “It’s a coverup of torture.”


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