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McChrystal Role in Torture

June 23, 2010

’06 Human Rights Watch Report:
McChrystal Knew About Torture

The controversy over General Stanley McChrystal’s unguarded comments about his Commander in Chief has also revived attention to his role in authorizing – or at least turning a blind eye to – torture of detainees at Camp Nama in Iraq, as documented in a July 22, 2006, report by Human Rights Watch.
          Somewhere past the middle of Michael Hastings’ revealing Rolling Stone article, scheduled to hit newsstands this Friday, appears the following:

“…in 2006, McChrystal was tainted by a scandal involving detainee abuse and torture at Camp Nama in Iraq. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, prisoners at the camp were subjected to a now-familiar litany of abuse: stress positions, being dragged naked through the mud. McChrystal was not disciplined in the scandal, even though an interrogator at the camp reported seeing him inspect the prison multiple times…In May 2009, as McChrystal prepared for his confirmation hearings, his staff prepared him for hard questions about Camp Nama…But the scandals barely made a ripple in Congress, and McChrystal was soon on his way back to Kabul to run the war in Afghanistan.”
          Following are some excerpts from the Human Rights Watch Report, “No Blood, No Foul”:

“HRW asked [a respondent referred to as “Jeff”] whether any representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) ever came to the facility, or requested access:”

“Absolutely not. I never saw any Red Cross people…they said that the Red Cross would never be able to get in there at all…Somebody brought it up to somebody else. I think the colonel, or somebody in charge. You know, will they come here? It was the colonel, yeah. And he said absolutely not.”

…Jeff explained that the colonel told them that he “had this directly from General McChrystal and the Pentagon that there’s no way that the Red Cross could get in…They just don’t have access, and they won’t have access, and they never will.” 

“…Jeff told Human Rights Watch that written authorizations were required for most abusive techniques, indicating that the use of these tactics was approved up the chain of command.”

“There was an authorization template on a computer…a checklist. And it was all already typed out for you, environmental controls, hot and cold, you know, strobe lights, music, so forth. Working dogs, which, when I was there, wasn’t being used. But you would just check what you want to use off, and if you planned on using a harsh interrogation you’d just get it signed off.”

“…Human Rights Watch asked whether Jeff knew whether the colonel was receiving orders or pressure to use the abusive tactics. Jeff said that his understanding was that there was some form of pressure to use aggressive techniques coming from higher up the chain of command…Jeff said that he did see Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. Joint Special Operations forces in Iraq, visiting the Nama facility on several occasions.”

“I saw him a couple of times. I know what he looks like.”

Also according to HRW, a June, 2004, memo from Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby to the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, Stephen A. Cambone, cited reports that DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) personnel had observed multiple abuses at Camp Nama – and described efforts by Camp staff to interfere with his investigation. Despite that interference, according to the memo, “DIA personnel reported the abuses they witnessed to other Department of Defense officials, who forwarded them to the Defense Intelligence Agency Inspector General, the Deputy Commander for Detainee Affairs, to Gen. Stanley McChrystal and the commander of Centcom.”

All of this information was available to President Obama, to Congress, and to the public at the time of General McChrystal’s appointment. It was reported on by Tim Heffernan in Esquire, May 19, 2009 (Who the Hell Is Stanley McChrystal?) and in the same source by John H. Richardson (Stan McChrystal, Dick Cheney, and the Nuances of “Torture”)

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