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This report was rescarched and written by Julia Hall, counsel and senior researcher in the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch. The report was edited by Rachel Denbor, acting executive director in the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch, Ben Ward, special counsel in the Europe and Central Asia division of I luman Rights Watch, and Joseph Saunders, deputy program director for Human Rights Watch. Dinah Pokempner, general counsel for Human Rights Watch, provided legal review. W'cndy latten, advocacy director in thc L.S. program of Iluman Rights Watch, reviewed and provided valuable comments on the section on the United States. Ian Gorvin, advocacy consultant to the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch, contributed to and reviewed the recommendations. Joanna Weschler, United Nations advocacy director of I luman Rights Watch, reviewed the United Nations recommendations. The manuscript was also reviewed by Joe Stork, Washington director of the Middle East and North Africa division of I luman Rights Watch, and Ophelia Field, consultant in the Refugee Policy program of Human Rights Watch. In addition to the above-named staff members, others at I luman Rights have directly contributed to our work on diplomatic assurances against torture, including Veronika Leila Szenre Goldston, advocacy director in the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch, and Diederik Lohman and Acacia Shields, senior researchers in the Europe and Central Asia division of Iluman Rights Watch. Victoria Elman, associate in the Europe and Central Asia division of Human Rights Watch, provided in valuable production support for this report.

Human Rights Watch gratefully acknowledges the contributions made to this report by a number of valued colleagues, including Andrea Iluber, Amnesty International (Austria); Yuval Ginbar, Amnesty International Secretariat (London); Anna Wigenmark, Swedish Ilelsinki Committee; and Maitre Johanne Doron (Montreal).


Human Rights Watch

April 2005 Vol. 17, No. 1(G)

Getting Away with Torture?

Command Responsibility for the U.S. Abuse of Detainees




16 19 26


Executive Sumınary
1. Official Sanction of Crimes against Derainccs..
IL A World of Abuse...
III. Getting Away with Torture.......

In-house Investigations down the Chain of Command..

Prosecuting Some Soldiers, Belatedly
IV. Impunity for the Architects of Illegal Policy.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld..
Former CIA Director George Tenet
Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez.
Major General Geoffrey Miller.
Other Generals in Iraq.

Abu Ghraib-based Officers.
V. Von-Governmental Attempts at Accountability.
Vl. The Need for a Special Prosecutor.
VII. An Independent Commission..
Annex A Note on Command Responsibility

29 49 63 71 76 78





Executive Summary

It has now been one year since the appearance of the first pictures of U.S. soldiers humiliating and torturing detainccs at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Shortly after thc photos came out, President George W. Bush vowed that the "wrongdoers will be brought to justice.”

In the intervening months, it has become clear that torture and abuse have taken place not solely at Abu Ghraib but rather in dozens of U.S. detention facilities worldwide, that in many cases the abusc resulted in death or severc trauma, and that a good number of the victims were civilians with no connection to al-Qaeda or terrorism. There is also evidence of abuse at U.S.-controlled "secret locations” abroad and of U.S. authorities sending suspects to third-country dungeons around the world where torture was likcly to occur.

To datc, however, the only wrongdoers being brought to justice are thosc at the bottom of the chain-of-command. The evidence demands more. Yet a wall of impunity surrounds the architects of the policies responsible for the larger pattern of abuses.

As this report shows, evidence is mounting that high-ranking U.S. civilian and military leaders including Secretary of Defcnsc Donald Rumsfeld, former CIA Director George Tunct, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, formerly the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Major General Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

– made decisions and issued policies that facilitatcd scrious and widespread violations of the law. The circumstances strongly suggest that they either knew or should have known that such violations took place as a result of their actions. There is also mounting data that, when presented with cvidence that abusc was in fact taking place, thcy failed to act to stem the abuse.

Thc coercive methods approved by scnior U.S. officials and widely employed over the last thrco years include tactics that the United States has repeatedly condemned as barbarity and torture when practiced by others. Even the U.S. Army field manual condemns some of these methods

as torture.

Although much relevant cvidence remains secrct, a scrics of revelations over the past twelve months, brought together here, already makes a compelling case for a thorough, genuinely independent investigation of what top officials did, what they knew, and how they responded when they became aware of the wickesprcad nature of the abusos.

We know, for cxample, that the coercive interrogation methods approved by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for use on prisoners at Guantánamo — including the use of guard dogs to induce fear in prisoners, “stress” techniques such as forced standing and shackling in

painful positions, and removing their clothes — “nigrated to Afghanistan and Iraq, where they werc ncither limited nor safeguarded,” and contributed to the widespread and systematic torture and abuse at U.S. detention centers there. Inquiries established by the U.S. Department of Defense itself have shown as much, though they did not explicitly say so.

We know that some detainees in the "global war on terror” have even been “disappeared” after entering C.S. custody: the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) continues to hold al-Qaeda suspects in prolonged incommunicado detention in "secret locations,” reportedly outside the United States, with no notification to their families, no access to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or oversight of any sort of their trcatment, and in some cases no acknowledgement that they are even being held. It is widely reported that some of these "disappeared detainees” have been tortured through techniques such as “waterboarding,” in which the prisoncr's head is submergut into water or covered with a wet cloth until he bclicves that he is drowning.

We also know that some 100-150 detainees have been "rendered” by the United States for detention and interrogation by governments in the Middle Fast such as Syria and Egypt, which, according to the U.S. State Department, practice torture routinely. Such rendition is, again, a violation of U.S. and interational law. In an increasing number of cases, there is now credible evidence that rendered detainees have in fact been tortured.

Despite these revelations and findings, the United States has not engaged in a serious process of accountability. Officials have denounced the most egregious abuses, rhetorically reaffirmed the C.S. commitment to uphold the law and respect human rights, and belatedly opened a number of prosecutions for crimes committed against detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq. To date, however, with the exception of unc major personally implicatul in abuse, only low-ranking soldiers privates and sergeants have been called to account.

While there are obviously steep political obstacles in the way of investigating a sitting defense secretary and other high-ranking officials, the nature of crimes is so serious, and mounting evidence of wrongdoing is now so voluminous, that it would be an abdication of responsibility for the United States not to push this to the next level.

The Price of Impunity Unless those who designed or authorized the illegal policies are held to account, all thc protestations of "disgust” at the Abu Ghraib photos by President George W. Bush' and others will be meaningless. If there is no real accountability for these crimes, for years to come the perpetrators of atrocities around the world will point to the U.S.'s treatinent of prisoners to deflect criticism of their own conduct.

Indeed, when a goverment as dominant and influential as the United States openly defies laws against torture, it virtually invites others to do the same. Washington's much-needed credibility as a proponent of human rights was damaged by the torturc rcvclations and will be further damaged if torture continues to be followed by complete impunity for the policy-makers.

Torture, unfortunately, can occur anywhere. What matters, and what determines whether torture is a mere aberration or state policy, is how a government responds. Secretary Rumsfeld recognized this when, shortly after the first public revelations, hc “[said) to the world: Judge us by our actions. Watch how Americans, watch how a democracy deals with wrongdoing and scandal and the pain of acknowledging and correcting our own mistakes and weaknesses." Then-Sccretary of State Colin Powell recognized this, too, when he told forcign Icaders: "Watch America. Watch how we deal with this. Watch how America will do the right thing.";

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Regrettably, however, the Lnited States is not doing the right thing. Rather, it is doing what dictatorships do the world over when their abuses are discovered — loudly proclaiming its respect for human rights while covering up and shifting blame downwards to low-ranking Officials and “rogue actors.”

Official Responses to Date To the extent that officials have addressed the issue of accountability for the pattem of abuse, they have either argued that the military justice system must be given time to run its course, or they have pointed to the many Department of Defense and related investigations that have been undertaken.

Thom Shanker and Jacques Steinberg, "Bush Voices 'Disgust at Abuse of Iraqi Prisoners," The New York Times, May 1, 2004.

?Donald Rumsfeld, “Congressional Testimony of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld," Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Mistreatment of Iraqi Prisoners, Federal News Service, May 7, 2004. **Abuse Scandal Terrible' for U.S. Powell Concedes," MSNBC, May 17, 2004 (online), http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4855930/

On March 29, 2005, Secretary Rumsfeld was asked on National Public Radio (NPR) 'whether it's right or wrong ... that no senior military official has been disciplined, fired or prosecuted for the allegations of abuse and torture in Iraq and elsewhere?" The interview continued:

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