Monday, May 18, 2009

"Bad Apples"? The Interrogation of Abu Ghraib Internee #151363

The following is an example of the requested approval for exceptions to the interrogation policy at Abu Ghraib, in this case made on behalf ofthe interrogation plan for internee #15163, a (presumably young) Syrian male. Such requests meant that extraordinary means were to be used, i.e., torture, and needed, per Pentagon policy, approval by the higher ups. This request was made by Col. Thomas Pappas, commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, Iraq, to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

The version here comes from A big H/T for my finding this document goes to Dr. Steven Miles, where a large excerpt and analysis of the document can be found on pp. 56-57 of his excellent book, Oath Betrayed: America's Torture Doctors (UC Press, 2009).

Miles notes:
It is reasonable to infer that a behavioral scientist helped design this proposal. At the time is was written, the Abu Ghraib BSCT [Behavioral Science Consultation Team] was functional and psychological monitoring of interrogations was being done. The plan contains a psycho-cultural approach to exploiting a prisoner's religion.
As you read, note the integration of MPs into the interrogation "plan." When the guards said they were instructed by military intelligence and others to "soften up" the prisoners, they were given short shrift by the media and the public. Here is documentary proof of planning of the Abu Ghraib torure from high up, and only months before the scandal over it broke.

In the following document, I have taken the liberty of emphasizing some text in bold.
MEMORANDUM THRU Commander, CJTF- , ATTN: C2 (AETV-CJ2), BG(P) Fast, Victory Base, Iraq, APO AE 09342

Commander, CJTF- , ATTN: StaffJudge Advocate (AETV-JA), COL Warren, Victory Base, Iraq, APO AE 09342

FOR Commander, CJTF- 7, LTG Sanchez, Victory Base, Iraq, APO AE 09342

SUBJECT: Request for Exception to CJTF- 7 Interrogation and Counter Resistance Policy

1. Request exception to the CJTF - 7 Interrogation and Counter Resistance Policy to authorize the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center (JDIC) interrogator to be authorized to use the Fear up Harsh and isolation approaches during interrogations with the following detainee.

a. Name: J[redacted] K[redacted]

b. ISN: 151363

c. Date request employment of approach: As soon as possible.

d. Circumstances of capture: Detainee is a Syrian male [redacted] years of age, captured in an attempted IED attack in Baghdad, IZ. Detainee is an admitted foreign fighter who came to commit Jihad against Coalition Forces in Iraq. He was captured with [approx. four words redacted] and [approx. three words redacted] while attempting to set up an IED.

e. Assessment of detainee: Detainee is at the point where he is resigned to the hope that Allah will see him through this episode in his life, therefore he feels no need to speak with interrogators. Detainee will not answer open ended questions, has a smug attitude and is running counter approaches on interrogators. Detainee needs to be put in a position where he will feel that the only option to get out of jail is to speak with interrogators.

f. Potential information: Detainee can provide information related to safe houses facilitators, financing, recruitment and operations of foreign fighter smuggling into Iraq. Detainee can also potentially provide names and target information of local facilitators in Ar-Ramadi. Detainee can also confirm information provided from others captured with him.

g. Limitations of approach: Detainee will be interrogated in the Camp Vigilant Steel site. Detainee argues that Allah is the only one that can decide his fate. Interrogators will establish control of detainee by allowing detainee to take this stance then implement a Fear up harsh approach. Interrogators will reinforce the fact that we have attempted to help him time and time again and that they are now putting it in Allah' s hands. Interrogators will at a maximum throw tables, chairs, invade his personal space and continuously yell at the detainee. Interrogators will not physically touch or harm the detainee, will take all necessary precautions that all thrown objects are clear of the detainee and will not coerce the detainee in any way. If the detainee has not broken yet, interrogators will move into the segregation phase of the approach. Interrogators will coordinate with Military Police guards in the segregation area prior to initiation of this phase. For the segregation phase of the approach the MPs will put an empty sandbag onto the prisoners head before moving him out of Vigilant B. This measure will be for force protection purposes and transporting the detainee to the segregation area by HMMWV. MPs will be transporting the detainee with the interrogators present. During transportation, the Fear up Harsh approach will be continued, highlighting the Allah factor. Interrogators will take all necessary precautions in conjunction with the MPs to ensure detainees safety during transport. Upon arrival at site, MP guards will take him into custody. MP working dogs will be present and barking during this phase. Detainee will be strip searched by guards with the empty sandbag over his head for the safety of himself, prison guards, interrogators and other prisoners. Interrogators will wait outside the room while detainee is strip searched. Interrogators will watch from a distance while detainee is placed in the segregation cell. Detainee will be put on the adjusted sleep schedule (attached) for 72 hours. Interrogations will be conducted continuously during this 72 hour period. The approaches which will be used during this phase will include, fear up harsh, pride and ego down, silence and loud music. Stress positions will also be used in accordance with CJTF- 7 IROE in order to intensify the approach.

2. The approval for this approach is essential due to the information this detainee possesses. It will greatly enhance and expedite the collection effort in support of CJTF - 7 Intelligence requirements and could potentially save countless lives of American soldiers in the future.

3. POC for this action is CPT Fitch, 205th MI Bde SJA at DNVT 302-559-4031 or via SIPR at or CPT Wood, JIDC Interrogation OIC, at DNVT 302-559- 1764 or via SlPR at


Exception to the CJTF- 7 Interrogation and Counter Resistance Policy is granted/not granted.

Request for Exception to CJTF - 7 Interrogation and Counter Resistance Policy


This document totally destroys the "bad apple" theory of the torture, if it hasn't been adequately destroyed already. But sometimes documents speak their own tremulous truth, in ways that even well-written journalism cannot.

Feel free to pass this one around.


Anonymous said...


just wanted to pass this along to you - blogger Vagabond Scholar has published a compendium on torture - gathering up so much of the facts, dates, resources, and commentary (you're probably in there, just haven't worked my way through all his links yet).

Digby -
"Read it and bookmark it if you are closely following this story, and especially if you are writing about it. It is as close to an comprehensive resource on the current state of the debate, both political and historical, that I've seen. It's excellent work"

fyi - through some ongoing technical glitch, I am unable to post comments over at Kos, or would have given you a heads up/link in the comments of one of your excellent diaries.

thank you for all of your work on this
p.s. - I am cbl from firedoglake

Valtin said...

Thanks, cbl. I'll check it out.

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