Michael Fordham, the lawyer for the former detainees, said they had been subjected to beatings, starvation, sleep deprivation, electric shocks, prolonged periods of nakedness and sexual humiliation by female soldiers, sensory deprivation through the enforced use of hoods, earmuffs and blackened goggles, and exposure to pornographic DVDs.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) opposes a public inquiry, arguing in a blog post that a public inquiry would be too expensive and less effective than the MOD investigation, especially since the MOD has already assembled a team to investigate the claims.
The casualty figures released by the United States are lower than Iraqi government accounts. Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry reported last year that 85,694 Iraqis, including military and police personnel, were killed from the beginning of 2004 through October 2008.
A controversial 2006 survey in the Lancet, a British medical journal, estimated that more than 600,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the war, a figure more than 10 times as high as other estimates at the time. Iraq Body Count, a public database of civilian deaths since 2003, puts the number between 98,252 and 107,235.
In the period covered by the U.S. report, at least 121,649 Iraqis were
wounded. Among coalition troops, 3,592 were killed and 30,068 wounded.
The report proposes a number of guidelines to be followed by the Iraqi prison authorities in order to help protect detainees, including immediately halting the ill treatment of prisoners and ensuring the detainees are given full due process rights and access to legal representation.
AI urged the US and Iraqi authorities to respect international human rights law for the protection of prison detainees by immediately releasing any uncharged detainees. AI also recalled that the practice of arbitrary detention violates both Iraqi legislation (the 2008 Iraqi amnesty law prescribes that uncharged detainees are to be released after a period of six to 12 months in detention) and international human rights law.
Iraqi Deputy Justice Minister Busho Ibrahim and a US military spokesman both refuted the AI investigation, saying that all detainees are being held on judicial warrant and that the report is “baseless” and the claims of detainee mistreatment are “not true.”
According to Lt. Col Velliquette, the Iraqi system has approximately 750,000 records in its database. Earlier, EPIC, Privacy International, and Human Rights Watch wrote to the US Secretary Defense to warn that the system will lead to reprisals and further killings. For more information, see Transcript of “The Role of Biometric in Counterinsurgency,’ blogs at Harpers and Wired.
The collection in Iraq is part of a global attempt to find and track terrorist suspects. Stephen Morris, deputy assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division, said the bureau helps dozens of countries collect biometric information, usually in exchange for access to data. The FBI has agents stationed in Jordan, Italy, Mexico, Germany, and elsewhere to organize “fingerprint exchanges’’ of thousands of terrorist suspects.
Going forward, a transitional force of U.S. troops will remain in Iraq with a different mission: advising and assisting Iraq’s Security Forces, supporting Iraqi troops in targeted counterterrorism missions, and protecting our civilians. Consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government, all U.S. troops will leave by the end of next year. This new approach reflects our long-term partnership with Iraq — one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect. Of course, violence will not end with our combat mission. Extremists will continue to set off bombs, attack Iraqi civilians and try to spark sectarian strife. But ultimately, these terrorists will fail to achieve their goals.
Americans across the political spectrum supported the use of force against those who attacked us on 9/11. Now, as we approach our 10th year of combat in Afghanistan, there are those who are understandably asking tough questions about our mission there. But we must never lose sight of what’s at stake. As we speak, al Qaeda continues to plot against us, and its leadership remains anchored in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, while preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists. And because of our drawdown in Iraq, we are now able to apply the resources necessary to go on offense. In fact, over the last 19 months, nearly a dozen al Qaeda leaders — and hundreds of al Qaeda’s extremist allies — have been killed or captured around the world.