Following up on our July 6 post Congress Demands DOD Documents On Abu Ghraib Whistleblower, it turns out that some of these documents relate to a program in which families of detained Iraqi prisoners were kidnapped to exert pressure during interrogations of their relatives.
The deadline for the Defense Department to provide these documents is 5:00 pm today.
Congress has demanded that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld hand over a raft of documents to Congress that could substantiate allegations that U.S. forces have tried to break terror suspects by kidnapping and mistreating their family members. Rumsfeld has until 5 p.m. Friday to comply.
It now appears that kidnapping, scarcely covered by the media, and absent in the major military investigations of detainee abuse, may have been systematically employed by U.S. troops. Salon has obtained Army documents that show several cases where U.S. forces abducted terror suspects' families. After he was thrown in prison, Cpl. Charles Graner, the alleged ringleader at Abu Ghraib, told investigators the military routinely kidnapped family members to force suspects to turn themselves in.
A House subcommittee led by Connecticut Republican Christopher Shays took the unusual step last month of issuing Rumsfeld a subpoena for the documents after months of stonewalling by the Pentagon. Shays had requested the documents in a March 7 letter. "There was no response" to the letter, a frustrated Shays told Salon. "We are not going to back off this."
The subpoena demands that the Pentagon turn over documents about apparent retribution by the military against Army Spc. Samuel Provance, a whistle-blower, who sought to expose abuse at the infamous prison by talking to military investigators and the press. Following his revelations, the Army demoted Provance from sergeant and revoked his security clearance.
The subpoena also includes a separate demand, at the behest of Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., for any documents that might show that U.S. forces were systematically detaining family members of suspects at Abu Ghraib, and mistreating them to force suspects to talk.
In a hearing before Shays' Government Reform subcommittee last February, Provance testified that the Army had retaliated against him. Provance also made the disturbing allegation that interrogators broke an Iraqi general, Hamid Zabar, by imprisoning and abusing his frail 16-year-old son. Waxman was shocked. "Do you think this practice was repeated with other children?" he asked Provance. "I don't see why it would not have been, sir," Provance replied....
Provance's account does not appear to be an isolated allegation. It echoes similar accusations at Abu Ghraib and across Iraq. In an interview with military investigators conducted after he was imprisoned, Graner called kidnapping, in addition to detainee abuse, "the other big Geneva Convention violation" going on at the prison. "They were picking up, you know, Joe Snuffy's wife to get Joe Snuffy," Graner explained to military investigators. "So, more or less, we're holding this female with no charges, which happened a lot."
Graner did not say in the interview who was doing the kidnapping. There were a broad range of forces operating at Abu Ghraib, including military Special Operations troops and CIA operatives.
Similar allegations have shown that kidnapping may have been a systematic practice. Special Operations troops, working with an elite unit called Task Force 6-26, allegedly abducted the 28-year-old wife of a suspected Iraqi terrorist during a raid on a house in Tarmiya, Iraq, in May 2004, the month after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. That is according to a memorandum buried in thousands of pages of documents obtained by the ACLU through the Freedom of Information Act. The memorandum, a formal complaint titled "Report of Violations of the Geneva Conventions," was filed in June 2004 by a 14-year veteran intelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency. The Department of Defense blacked out the officer's name.