DIA, prison officials clashed over abuse

Report to Pentagon tells of threats to investigators who complained in Iraq

The Nation

December 08, 2004|By Richard A. Serrano | Richard A. Serrano,LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON - U.S. intelligence investigators who complained about the treatment of detainees in Iraq were harassed and threatened by U.S. military prison officials, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency has told Pentagon officials.

Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby said in a memo, made public by the ACLU yesterday, that his DIA interrogators and de-briefers saw prisoners with "burn marks on their backs" and some suffering from "kidney pain."

He said two of his DIA subordinates saw prison personnel "punch a prisoner in the face to the point the individual needed medical attention."

But Jacoby said that when one of his staff members took pictures of the injuries and showed them to a military supervisor, a prison official "immediately confiscated them."

Jacoby also said that prison personnel confiscated DIA vehicle keys from his investigators, "threatened them" and "instructed them not to leave the compound." He said the military personnel also "informed them that their e-mails were being screened."

In addition, he said, they were warned "not to talk to anyone in the U.S." and were instructed not to leave the military base "even to get a haircut."

The memo does not specify when the alleged abuses took place and did not pinpoint their location, except to say that some occurred at a temporary detention facility in Baghdad, Iraq. The DIA is a Pentagon agency that collects intelligence for the military.

The Jacoby memo was addressed to the undersecretary of defense for intelligence and was sent June 25. The memo and several hundred pages of other documents were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a lawsuit against the federal government on U.S. detention procedures.

Pentagon spokesman Air Force Maj. Michael Shavers said yesterday that "U.S. policy condemns and prohibits torture" and that the DIA complaints have been taken seriously.

The ACLU is seeking to compile information on prisoner abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The documents also include newly disclosed material from more than a dozen FBI agents who worked at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad and later were interviewed by bureau colleagues after the prison abuse scandal broke during the spring.

Some agents reported seeing isolated incidents of what they considered to be torture of prisoners, and others questioned the legality of the military holding so many prisoners without proper paperwork or other supporting materials.

"It is my opinion, as an FBI agent, that were this prison on U.S. soil, a judge would release almost every detainee for lack of evidence," wrote one FBI official whose name was redacted by the government in the publicized documents. "The reasons for arrest and detention simply have not been tracked, and neither have the detainees."

Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said it is becoming increasingly clear to his organization that many prisoners have been abused by the U.S. military in incidents beyond those documented at Abu Ghraib.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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