For those who need to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, Human Rights Watch has recently issued a report called “No Blood, No Foul”: Soldiers’ Accounts of Detainee Abuse in Iraq.  Many of the soldiers interviewed stepped forward to report abuses that outraged and angered them, but that they could do little about due to their systemic nature: “Standard Operating Procedure” as some soldiers called it.  Soldiers reported that when they expressed concern over the abuses, they were threatened and intimidated by commanding officers, told that their email was being screened, etc.

The report includes numerous accounts of horrors, such as the following:

Standard procedure, when I was there, you [i.e., the detainees] had twenty-four hour inside the Conex [container] . . . you’re blind-folded, you’re zip-stripped, your hands are behind your back; your feet usually weren’t, unless there was a particularly volatile prisoner—somebody who’d caused a lot of trouble, they’d hitch the feet as well. You were there, twenty-four hours: no sleep, no food, no water . . . Early on, when I first got there, it only got up to about 115, but by July and August, we were regularly between 135 and 145 [Fahrenheit]. [Inside the container] it was really extremely hot, to the point where it was irritating to go into the back of the Conex to get somebody out to use the restroom, which is usually the only thing they were allowed to do. . .

Nick said that the MPs were instructed to keep the detainees awake for the initial 24-hour period, by forcing them to stand in the metal shipping container: It was your job to make sure that they weren’t sleeping. . . .

At night time, a lot of the guards would walk by, unload the magazine from the rifle, bang on the side [of the metal container] for a little bit to make sure that you know, everybody was awake. And you’d catch them if they’d fall asleep—they’d fall over because they’re bound. You see, they’d try to lean their head against the wall [but] you’d slap on [the container] to make sure they lift their head back up off the wall, or do whatever it took to make sure they’d stay awake.

Other soldiers reported severe beatings and the use of dogs to terrorize.  Many of the techniques used could have been life-threatening, and, in at least one case, resulted in death. 

Some of these detainees had allegedly been involved with setting off IEDs, despicable yes, but the phenomena of insurgent activity and IEDs was a direct result of US occupation of a country that was oppressed but stable under the rule of a dictator.  Corrupt autocracy was not exclusive to Iraq.

These detainees are not the people that were responsible for 9/11 or the Madrid bombing.  Iraqi insurgents, sometimes under the rubric of Al-Quaeda, use mayhem to destroy their own country, their own people, and the occupiers that never had any business being there in the first place. 

These interrogation techniques, beyond being morally reprehensible and in violation of international law, have been more a part of the problem than the solution, as evidenced by the escalating violence and ongoing chaos that is part of the daily life of far too many Iraqis.