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Inspectors Find More Torture at Iraqi Jails

A U.S.-Iraqi inspection team photographed men being held at an Interior Ministry detention center in Baghdad Feb. 16.
A U.S.-Iraqi inspection team photographed men being held at an Interior Ministry detention center in Baghdad Feb. 16. (Photos Provided To The Washington Post)

After the Nov. 13 disclosures, the highest-ranking U.S. officials in Iraq -- Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. -- issued rare public rebukes to their Iraqi government allies.

At the insistence of U.S. officials, Iraq agreed to the joint inspections of what the United States said would be all of Iraq's more than 1,000 detention centers.

The two sources involved in the joint inspections said the visits after November included an Interior Ministry detention center in Baghdad, which was inspected twice; a Defense Ministry site near the Green Zone; an Interior Ministry site in the city of Kut; an Interior Ministry site in the Muthanna neighborhood of Baghdad; and a "maximum crimes facility" in Baghdad.

The two sources said that at three of those sites, prisoners were being held by the Wolf Brigade, one of the Interior Ministry commando forces most feared by Sunnis.

After the Nov. 13 raid, Iraqi-U.S. teams inspected ministry sites on Dec. 8, Dec. 20, Dec. 28, Jan. 19, Feb. 16 and March 22, according to Lt. Col. Kevin Curry, spokesman for U.S. detention operations.

Curry added in a statement: "At one of the sites, thirteen detainees showed signs of abuse that required immediate medical care. The signs of abuse included broken bones, indications that they had been beaten with hoses and wires, signs that they had been hung from the ceiling, and cigarette burns. These individuals were transferred to a nearby Iraqi detention facility and provided medical care. Most of the abuse appeared to have occurred prior to arriving at that site.

"There were several cases of physical abuse at one other inspection site. These included evidence of scars, missing toenails, dislocated shoulders, severe bruising, and cigarette burns. At the time of the inspection, most of the apparent injuries were months old; however, there were indications that three cases of abuse occurred within a week of the inspection. No detainee required immediate hospitalization for injuries at that site," Curry said.

"If a soldier at any level sees abuse of an Iraqi somewhere or hears of it . . . we certainly take it seriously and pursue it," Gardner said. "We take it extremely seriously, and part of the goal is to develop a detention process that's free of abuse."

Curry's statement confirmed abuse depicted in accounts and photographs given earlier to The Washington Post by the U.S. and Iraqi officials involved in the inspections, including the dislocated shoulders that the officials said were caused by hanging detainees from ceilings.

"I don't want to downplay the level of abuse," Gardner said of the cases found during inspections. "In some of them, there were a couple where it was pretty severe."

"Two facilities had clear signs of abuse, although we found some signs of prior abuse in select detainees at each of the six inspections," Gardner said in a statement. "Cases where the abuse appeared to have been committed within the last 3-4 days the detainees were evacuated for medical attention. We do not leave the facility until we are assured that the detainees are safe from physical abuse at that site.

"During all six inspections other deficiencies were noted and provided for corrective action," Gardner said in the statement. "We feel these actions are consistent with the comments Gen. Pace made earlier in the year."

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