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More Abuse by Pentagon, Contractors

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As human rights groups demanded the release of a report on a long-running investigation of the role of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the unlawful interrogations of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, new torture claims were leveled at two U.S. military contractors by a former Abu Ghraib “ghost” detainee who was wrongly imprisoned and later released without charge.


The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request this week with the Departments of Justice and Defense demanding release of a report by the Justice Department's Inspector General (OIG), which the group says has been completed for months but blocked by the Defense Department.


The OIG investigation was initiated in 2005 after the ACLU obtained

documents in which FBI agents described interrogations that they had

witnessed at Guantánamo Bay.


While the documents were most notable for their description of illegal

interrogation methods used by military interrogators, they also raised

serious questions about the FBI's participation in abusive interrogations, the actions of FBI personnel who witnessed abusive interrogations, and the response of FBI officials to reports of abuse.

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Testifying before a Congressional committee last week, FBI Director Robert Mueller denied that the FBI participated in any of the interrogations. The Defense Department has said the OIG’s report must be reviewed and redacted to eliminate classified information before it can be made public.


The OIG report and all documents related to this investigation is part

of a broader effort to uncover information about the Bush administration's torture policies. To date, more than 100,000 pages of government documents have been released in response to the ACLU's FOIA lawsuit enforcing the request -- including the Bush administration's 2003 "torture memo" written by John Yoo when he was a deputy at the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel.

This week, Yoo – under threat of subpoena -- agreed to testify voluntarily before a congressional committee investigating the legal basis used to justify the Bush Administration’s torture policies.

Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, told us, The Inspector General completed this report many months ago.  The problem is with the Defense Department, which is using its classification review as a pretext for delaying the report's release.  In this case as in many others, the Defense Department is misusing its classification authority to suppress information about the abuse and torture of prisoners.”   

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“There's no good reason why the report should be withheld from the public.  It's being withheld not for legitimate security reasons, but in order to protect high-level government officials from embarrassment, criticism, and possibly even criminal prosecution,” he said. 

In related developments, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), an advocacy group, leveled new torture claims against two U.S. military contractors by a former Abu Ghraib “ghost” detainee, and labeled as “wholly inadequate” a single page unclassified summary of the OIG’s report released on the case of Maher Arar, the Canadian rendition victim “rendered” by U.S. authorities to be tortured in Syria for ten months more than five years ago.  

In a letter to the OIG, CCR lawyers contrasted the one-page summary with the Canadian public inquiry, which released two public reports after a two-year investigation. The Canadian Government issued a formal apology to Arar and paid him $10 million. It was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) that provided U.S. authorities with information that Arar was a suspected terrorist . 

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William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)

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