S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 BAGHDAD 005020
SUBJECT: BUNKER INVESTIGATION FALTERS, NATIONWIDE INSPECTIONS GATHER STEAM
REF: A. BAGHDAD
4745B. BAGHDAD 4921
Classified By: Counselor for Political-Military
Affairs David C. Litt for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)
¶1. (S/REL GBR AUS) The committee appointed by PM Ja'afari to investigate abuse discovered by Coalition Forces on November 13 at the Ministry of the Interior "Bunker" site in Jadiriyah has made little progress. On December 13, Deputy Prime Minister Rowsh Shaways passed Post the committee's first report, a slender two-page letter to the PM that reflects little independent investigation,glosses over evidence of abuse presented by the USG, and requests additional time to complete its work.
¶2. (S/REL GBR AUS) Conversely, the joint ITG-USG committee established separately to inspect and report on Iraqi detention facilities nationwide has prepared substantive reports on its December 8 inspection of the MOI Special Police Commando facility at Site 4, which discovered 625 detainees held in over crowded, filthy facilities, some suffering from serious injuries. The committee will present their report to the PM and MOI in the coming days; joint inspections will resume directly following the election.
"THE AMERICANS, THEY HAD NO PERMISSION TO ENTER..."
¶3. (S/REL GBR AUS) On December 9, Rule of Law Coordinator, MNF-I Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence and Pol-Mil Off met DPM Shaways at his home to discuss progress on investigations into human rights abuses at the MOI Bunker. The DPM, recently returned from the north, asked if the USG had noticed any "irregularities" in the committee meetings held in his absence, which were chaired by Minister of State for National Security Affairs Safa al Din al Safi.
¶4. (S/REL GBR AUS) ROL Coordinator noted that little effort had been made by the committee to move forward. Shaways nodded. "I told you before,"he said, "that the composition of the committee may not be neutral. The viewpoint of the PM himself will impact the ability of the committee to operate freely. And with the situation of the election - even if you put something down that is correct, it can be made political."
¶5. (S/REL GBR AUS) ROL Coordinator asked if DPM Shaways was still considering, as he had previously mentioned (see Reftel A), seeking the replacement of committee members. The DPM shrugged and spread his hands. "The committee was appointed by the PM by name," he said. "What we can do - what we have tried to do - is make the role of the Ministry of Human Rights stronger."
¶6. (S/REL GBR AUS) The next day, ROL Coordinator,COS C2, and Pol-Mil Off attended the first committee meeting held since the DPM's return. No MoHR personnel were present. After a brief introduction by DPM Shaways, MoS for TNA Affairs al Safi launched into a verbal attack on MNF-I's legal authority to conduct the November 13 search of the MOI Bunker which led to the discovery of 168 detainees, of whom more than 100 showed signs of abuse.
¶7. (S/REL GBR AUS) "When US officials entered the Bunker," al Safi said, "they were looking for aspecific person. When they found that person was not there, it should have ended. Instead they took in appropriate actions. They had no permission to enter, to open everything up, to talk to detainees, to take the evidence, to remove detainees without any official order. This was illegal."
¶8. (S/REL GBR AUS) ROL Coordinator noted that Coalition Forces had stepped into prevent on going abuse in order to promote stability and security in Iraq, in accordance with the legal authorities provided by UNSCR 1546 and UNSCR 1637, as well as principles of moral decency. Al-Safi jumped back in. "We have investigated these detainees," he asserted, "and they were all detained by the previous MOI. 90% were associated with the former regime.
"¶9. (S/REL GBR AUS) DPM Shaways broke back into the conversation. "I am in charge of the committee," he said, "and I want to hear what's been investigated. As a committee, we need to focus on two points: did torture happen in the Bunker,and were the detainees held legally or not? Then we can decide whether people can be punished for this under Iraqi law."
¶10. (S/REL GBR AUS) After a respectful pause, alSafi resumed. "All of the evidence the US gave us has discrepancies," he said. "This paper says that this person died on this day. Where is the documentation? In this paper, it says Ahmed died of starvation. There is only one witness to this, a detainee. Who is Ahmed? What are we supposed to think about this? This is Iraq, there are lots of Ahmeds."
¶11. (S/REL GBR AUS) "There is evidence that detainees in the Bunker were tortured," said DPM Shaways wearily, "and there are pictures." "Who took the pictures?" asked al-Safi, gesturing at theUS attendees. "There are witnesses that more than 100 were abused," said the DPM. "We have the names of people working at the Bunker. We'll interview them, investigate who was in charge, who they are linked to."
¶12. (S/REL GBR AUS) Al Safi persisted: "MOI was surprised when Coalition Forces entered like they did, when they found the child they were looking for was not there. Is the committee going to investigate this as well? Was it legal for Coalition Forces to enter the Bunker? Was it legal for them to remove the detainees?" The meeting ended with al Safi insisting that the USG had leaked falsified photos of abused detainees to the Iraqi press.
¶13. (S/REL GBR AUS) Three days later, DPM Shaways passed Post a copy of his committee's initial report. Most of the report's scant two pages are taken up by a list of meetings held; the remainder minimizes USG reports of abuse, claiming that"after the preliminary investigation, it was discovered that some of the detainees had physical disabilities and organ-related diseases which they pretended were the result of torture."
¶14. (S/REL GBR AUS) "There are many objections on the method through which the (Bunker) was raided,and the way detainees and records were taken by MNF-I", the report continues. As a way ahead, the committee notes that it "needs more time". NOTE:the committee has had more than a month to start substantive investigations. END NOTE.
"BAD BLANKET AND OTHER STUFF...VERY BAD PLACE"
¶15. (S/REL GBR AUS) In contrast, Iraqi members of the team assembled (with Post's and MNF-I's prodding) to conduct nationwide detention facility inspections have quickly produced high-quality initial reports on the December 8 inspection of MOI's "Site 4" facility, even in (or perhaps due to) the absence of a high-level Iraqi lead following the resignation of PM military aide MG Talib al Kinani.¶16. (S/REL GBR AUS) Shortly after the inspection,the Iraqi Inspectors General sub-committee for warded Post an English-language check list completed on care and custody at Site 4. The IGs assessed the site on a pass/fail test on nearly seventy inspection criteria: Site 4 passed two,"protection from elements (roof)" and "adequate drinking water". It was given a failing mark on all other criteria.¶17. (S/REL GBR AUS) The IG sub-committee's report,shared with Post on December 13, is consistent with the report provided by Post in Reftel B, and contains strong criticism of Site 4's conditions,overcrowding, and management. The IGs also describe evidence of serious physical abuse and possible torture, including a detainee who "had been beaten with a water pipe, and there were clear signs all over his body".
¶18. (S/REL GBR AUS) The Iraqi MoHR produced aten-page report listing extensive abuses discovered during the same inspection. "Detainees (at Site 4)sleep on the ground using cardboard and in a mad state of over- crowdedness," says the MoHR, adding that "all the detainees suffer from malnutrition."Lists of alleged murders associated with the facility are attached.
¶19. (S/REL GBR AUS) The MoHR report also documents extensive procedural violations at Site4, noting that the lack of documentation for detainees on-site is in violation of Iraqi law,that detainees have been denied access to counsel,that MOI law enforcement personnel acting as guards have not been trained in detention operations, and that Site 4, like all MOI detention facilitiesaside from police station jails, should be transferred to the control of the Ministry of Justice.
¶20. (S/REL GBR AUS) Both reports, as well as an independent (but similar) report prepared by MNF-I,will be bundled and presented to Minister Jabr and PM Ja'afari later this week. Iraqi committee members have requested consultation with the Ministries of Interior, Defense, Justice, Labor,Health, and Human Rights on next steps, and have made a number of specific suggestions for reform.
21. (S/REL GBR AUS) Iraqi members of the committee continue to report intimidation from MOI officials. Employees of Colonel Abbas have asked MOI personnel for the addresses of two MOI IG officials working with the committee; their homes are now apparently under surveillance, and both are sleeping in their offices. Rumor at MOI has it that both will be fired soon; ROL Coordinator has protested to Minister Jabr.
WAY AHEAD: PARALLEL INSPECTIONS
¶22. (S/REL GBR AUS) New joint inspections of MOI and MOD facilities are planned for the weeks of December 20 and 28; targeted sites include at least one "secret" or unauthorized facility on which MNF-I C2 has developed intelligence. As noted before,we expect to encounter systemic care and custody failures at most Iraqi detention facilities inspected, and cases of abuse and/or torture at many.
¶23. (S/REL GBR AUS) MNF-I also intends to conduct rapid independent spot inspections of off-the-book facilities identified by Iraqi (primarily Sunni)interlocutors as locales at which illegal detention, severe neglect, and physical abuse and/or torture are practiced. The results of the USG inspections, which we expect will start the week of December 19, will be briefed to the responsible ministers and PM Ja'afari.
¶24. (S/REL GBR AUS) The ITG committee investigating detainee abuse at the Jadiriyah Bunker has succumbed to a combination of inexperience, ennui, and high-level political incentives for inaction. DPM Shaways' absence and temporary replacement by al Safi did not help matters, and the committee's report indicates the DPM may have little ability to re-direct the staff's agenda from obfuscation to investigation.
¶25. (S/REL GBR AUS) Post will make it clear tothe PM that we are disappointed at the Bunker committee's lack of progress, and will note that the absence of a full and open investigation into the credible allegations of abuse that emerged from the impromptu Bunker inspection will have a significant negative impact on the Iraqi public's trust in the ITG's interest in due process and rule of law.
¶26. (S/REL GBR AUS) The reports of the joint ITG-USG team investigating Iraqi detention facilities nationwide should provide a stronger mechanism for ensuring accountability for Iraqi officials implicated abuses and promoting tangible change in Iraqi detention operations. We anticipating an extended Iraqi-led inspection regime including competent medical triage, site evacuation, and legal review.
¶27. (S/REL GBR AUS) In the medium-term, ITG-USG inspections - which by logistical necessity will proceed at a slower, although steady, pace than USG-only efforts - are key to the larger project of building capacity for independent Iraqi monitoring of human rights abuses and winning the trust of the Iraqi public that the ITG and its success or government have the capacity and will for honest assessment and necessary reform.¶28. (S/REL GBR AUS) Shorter-term, supplemental USG inspections of locations believed by Iraqis to serve as illegal and/or abusive detention sites are also critical in re-assuring the Iraqi (and particularly the Sunni) public that we hear their concerns, and are prepared to act rapidly on credible intelligence and information on human rights abuses shared by Sunni contacts while we work with the ITG to establish independent Iraqi inspection capacity.
(Edited and reformatted by Andres for ease of reading.)