Wikileaks’ Iraq War Logs: 76 Cases of Abuse Challenges U.S. Report on Iraqi Prisons

Posted on 24 October 2010 by


Republished from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism

October 19th, 2010  |  by Emma Slater

On November 13 2005, U.S. forces discovered 173 incarcerated men in a secret detention centre run by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior. Many showed signs of brutal torture.

The discovery is recorded in the war logs:

November 13 2005
Approx 95 x detainees were being held in 1 x room and were sitting cross-legged with blindfolds, all facing the same direction. According to one of the detainees questioned on site, 12 X detainees have died of disease in recent weeks.

Washington announced an immediate investigation. The U.S.-Iraqi inspection claimed it found no torture in the seven facilities investigated. But while these inspections were going on American troops were reporting case after case of alleged abuse and torture by Iraqi personnel elsewhere.

U.S. inspections of prisons
The government inspections were carried out at Ministry of Interior sites between December 2005 and March 2006.

In a press briefing on March 30 2006, coalition spokesman Major General Rick Lynch announced the results:

“In the facilities that we did inspect unannounced, we saw no signs of abuse. No one was being tortured. The facilities were, by our standards, overcrowded. But the people being held at those facilities were being properly taken care of; they were being fed, they had water. So no abuse, no evidence of torture.”

Torture allegations
The Wikileaks files tell a very different story. During the same four-month period of the inspections, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has identified 76 allegations of abuse by Iraqi security forces that were all reported by U.S. forces. While the cases do not relate to the specific sites of the coalition inspections, they prove the US was aware of a prevailing use of torture by Iraqi security forces even when the results were being compiled.

Related article: Obama administration handed over detainees despite reports of torture

The U.S. government did not announce the multiple claims of detainees being beaten with fists, chains or cables.

They failed to record one incident that involved the Iraqi Army allegedly “hog-tying” an individual from the ceiling, in March 2006:

November 2 2006
Detainee stated that he was beaten during questioning, he was bound by the hands and feet and hung upside down and the Iraqi Army hit him with a club and was hung from the ceiling of the building he was in by his arms… During in-processing.”

In another case, on March 10 2006, a detainee stated he was tortured by 20 soldiers at once.

There are also claims of abuse against the Iraqi police, with one detainee saying he had been electrocuted:

March 6 2006
The IP [Iraqi Police] took the detainee to the police station for interrogation. During the interrogation the IP beat and shocked him with unknown electrical device.

The logs reveal the Americans continued to receive reports of alleged abuse and torture throughout the occupation by the very authorities they were handing power to. Yet in public they played it down.