Cross-posted at DailyKos

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usIt’s on my mind. While the Army fusses about mud-wrestling (see below), what will happen to the prisoners who dug that tunnel at Camp Bucca, the largest U.S.-controlled prison in Iraq with 6,049 prisoners? (More photos below.)

This is the same prison where, writes the NYT, “[o]n Jan. 31, prisoners there rioted, and attacked guards with rocks. The guards opened fire and killed four prisoners and wounded six.”

I fear there’ll be hell to pay for the prisoners who plotted the escape because the GENERALS were coming:

The discovery of the tunnel came a day before Maj. Gen. William H. Brandenburg, the commander of American detention operations in Iraq, and Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top commander in Iraq, toured the camp.

There’s no word yet on any investigations of the January riot and killings — and those 17 other deaths won’t be investigated — but the Army urges discipline for the Oct. 2004 mud-wrestling scandal:

: : : more below : : :
Reports CNN International this morning:

Ten members of an Army military police unit should be disciplined for staging a mud-wrestling match at a U.S. military prison in Iraq, an investigation concluded.

It is up to the Army Reserves commander, Lt. Gen. James Helmly, to decide how to discipline the three female guards who wrestled, six sergeants who encouraged them, and a soldier who let one of the women change in his quarters … options included reprimand, reducing the soldiers’ ranks, discharging them or ordering a court-martial.

The New York Daily News published photos of the incident, including images of women wrestling in bras and panties in front of a crowd of male soldiers.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usI don’t give a shit about the mud-wrestling match. What I care about:

  • Systematic abuse of prisoners
  • Conditions so bad that prisoners riot and build elaborate escape routes
  • The lack of response to numerous accusations of abuse and torture (the accusations include a federal lawsuit; see below)

Systematic Abuse:

From and the New York Daily News:

Bone-Crushing Abuse At Bucca, Letters Say

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usNEW ALLEGATIONS OF abuse surfaced yesterday at Camp Bucca [PHOTO], the Army’s main lockup for Iraqi prisoners after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.

A group of Muslim clerics told reporters in Baghdad it received letters from detainees charging that American guards broke some prisoners’ legs, smashed others’ fingers and forced some to sit for hours inside large freezers. …

On Sunday, the Daily News reported that sergeants at Camp Bucca allegedly lent their rooms to G.I.s for sex parties and arranged a wild mud-wrestling bout with military policewomen. …

“There had to have been a progressive breakdown in command and discipline,” said John Pike, director of, a military think tank. “It makes abuse allegations more plausible to an objective observer and to someone opposed to American presence in Iraq.”

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usLast week, in what the military described as the largest prison death toll since the U.S. invaded Iraq, soldiers of the 105th MP Battalion shot and killed four Iraqi prisoners during a riot at Camp Bucca.

Iraqi Human Rights Minister Bakhtyar Amin sent a delegation to Camp Bucca last week to investigate the shooting.

“If we are convinced there was no justification for the degree of forced used, then we want them to be tried,” he said of the soldiers involved.

[Photos: BBC, caption for 2nd image: “The entrance to the longest tunnel was concealed under the wooden floor of a detainee tent.”]

Allegations of Abuse:

One former prisoner at Camp Bucca has filed a $350,000 lawsuit:

I was a prisoner of war in Iraq. Was tortured by Amercan soldiers and watched others being tortured

Released by: Hossam Shaltout 2004-04-30 18:12:22 …

Mr. Hossam Shaltout, a citizen of Canada and a longtime resident of Los Angeles, California, today filed a claim with the U.S. Army for torture, abuse, humiliation, and theft of property … suffered when he was arrested and imprisoned [at Camp Bucca] last spring. One of his torturers was Master Sergeant Lisa Garmin … previously discharged from the Army for mistreatment of POWs. … The Army held Mr. Shaltout for over 30 days in miserable conditions … when it realized that Mr. Shaltout was not an enemy, he was released.

Mr. Shaltout has filed a claim with the Commander of the U.S. Army Claims Service who oversees a program designed to compensate those wronged by the Army. Mr. Shaltout is seeking $350,000 for his ordeal, … far less than the amount he actually lost. … Mr. Shaltout describes in some detail the beatings, threats, and humiliations … inflicted on him and others. [T]o deter further torture, Mr. Shaltout began to refuse meals; this led to Master Sergeant Girman’s attack on him, which included beating Mr. Shaltout in the face and body and kneeing him in the groin.

Mr. Shaltout made a complaint against her to the army criminal investigating Division while incarcerated and Master Sergeant Lisa Girman was later discharged from the Army with other than honorable discharge for torture of prisoners of war. [I cannot find corroborating evidence of this.]

… Because he was slapped repeatedly … he has lost most of his hearing in his left ear. The Army withheld his prescription medications [aggravating] existing medical conditions. He now suffers from a variety of post-traumatic stress disorders, for which he is under treatment. Finally, the American forces took large amounts of cash from his hotel room [and] all of his personal property; as a result, today Mr. Shaltout’s business enterprises are in shambles.

Mr. Shaltout is represented by attorney Thomas H. Nelson of Portland, Oregon. Mr. Nelson noted, “One of the reasons given for the American invasion of Iraq was to protect innocent civilians from the brutality of the Saddam Hussein regime. One might forgive American brutality if it occurs in the heat of combat; here, however, the mistreatment and torture were systematic, continuous, and not in response to immediate provocations. These actions clearly violated International and United States law, and Mr. Shaltout deserves redress. …”

Another story:

Family’s torture fear for Briton held in Iraq

The family of a British man held in a US detention centre in Iraq are calling for him to be handed over to the UK authorities because they fear he is being tortured by American soldiers.

Mr Muneef has now been in US custody for three and a half months. … He has had no legal representation, nor any independent medical assessment, and just two visits from British Foreign Office staff.

His brother, Amaer Muneef, told the Guardian: “Armed US soldiers and civilians have been present throughout these visits and he was brought to the meeting room manacled and wearing blacked out goggles, similar to those seen at Guantánamo Bay.

His family has received one letter from him, via the Red Cross, but it was heavily censored, so they have no real idea of the conditions in which he is being held, or what is going to happen to him.

Learn more about the family’s ordeal.

The Almost-Great Escape

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usIraqi inmates have used bits of plastic, metal and wood [SEE PHOTO] to dig two tunnels out of the country’s main prison, US officials say.

One of the tunnels was 200m (600ft) long and went beyond the security fence of Camp Bucca but no-one escaped, US army spokeswoman Maj Flora Lee said.

Troops mounted an extensive search after finding dirt in the toilets and other places in the compound, she said. … (BBC)

From the U.S. Army’s own “US Army Report on Iraqi Prisoner Abuse” — reposted at, there is ample evidence of systematic abuse at Camp Bucca:

The 800th MP Brigade operated these facilities.
In addition, four Soldiers from the 320th MP Battalion
had been formally charged under the Uniform Code of
Military Justice (UCMJ) with detainee abuse in May 2003
at the Theater Internment Facility (TIF) at Camp Bucca,
Iraq. (ANNEXES 5-18, 34 and 35)

13. (U) Another obvious example of the Brigade Leadership
not communicating with its Soldiers or ensuring their
tactical proficiency concerns the incident of detainee
abuse that occurred at Camp Bucca
, Iraq, on May 12, 2003.

Soldiers from the 223rd MP Company reported to the 800th
MP Brigade Command at Camp Bucca, that four Military
Police Soldiers from the 320th MP Battalion had abused a
number of detainees during inprocessing at Camp Bucca.
An extensive CID investigation determined that four
soldiers from the 320th MP Battalion had kicked and
beaten these detainees
following a transport mission from
Talil Air Base. (ANNEXES 34 and 35) …

I hope that the ACLU and other human rights groups step up the pressure on the military. Screw the mud-wrestling.

Let’s not create more records of terrible abuse and neglect, more desperate prisoners rioting and trying to escape, more arrests of innocents caught up in an unending cycle of PTSD and financial ruin. Let’s — quite simply — obey international law.

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