A memo issued last summer by a U.S. Army military intelligence officer appealed for suggestions on how to extract information from prisoners in Iraq and called for tougher means of getting intelligence.
"The gloves are coming off gentleman regarding these detainees," said the memo, which carried the signature of Capt. William Ponce Jr. The source of the memo, who refused to be identified, said it was sent by the intelligence staff of Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who was then commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, to all concerned military intelligence personnel in Iraq.
In an apparent reference to Sanchez's head of intelligence, Col. Steven Boltz, the memo asserted that "Col. Boltz has made it clear that we want these individuals broken. Casualties are mounting and we need to start gathering info to help protect our fellow soldiers from any further attacks."
The memo asked for a list by Aug. 17, 2003, of "what techniques would they feel would be effective" and could be reviewed by legal experts.
The authenticity of the document could not be independently confirmed. It was obtained by The Washington Post on Sunday, one day before pretrial hearings of four military police officers charged with abusing detainees late last year at Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad.
The four -- Cpl. Charles A. Graner Jr., Spec. Megan Ambuhl, Staff Sgt. Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick II and Spec. Javal S. Davis -- all belonged to the 372nd Military Police Company, based in Cumberland, Md.
Their hearings were to have been held in Baghdad but were shifted to a U.S. base because of the difficulties and danger that defense attorneys have encountered in trying to reach Iraq. If enough evidence is presented to merit a court-martial in any of the cases, trials would be held in Baghdad.
Another member of the 372nd Military Police, Spec. Jeremy Sivits, pleaded guilty in May and is serving a one-year sentence at a military prison in Germany.
The source of the memo said it was issued about a month before the visit to Abu Ghraib by the commander of the U.S. military's detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Defense attorneys for several of the defendants have said the visit by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who is now in charge of detention operations in Iraq, was designed to loosen restrictions on interrogation techniques and that the guards charged with abuse were acting under orders of military intelligence officers and other superiors.