Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The ol' sleeping bag trick yields bupkus

The US Government believed Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush was behind some terrorist attacks and could possibly stop other attacks so they tortured him until he finally suffocated to death inside a sleeping bag - all in the name of "interrogation". From WaPo [emphasis added]

Hours after Mowhoush's death in U.S. custody on Nov. 26, 2003, military officials issued a news release stating that the prisoner had died of natural causes after complaining of feeling sick. Army psychological-operations officers quickly distributed leaflets designed to convince locals that the general had cooperated and outed key insurgents.

The U.S. military initially told reporters that Mowhoush had been captured during a raid. In reality, he had walked into the Forward Operating Base "Tiger" in Qaim on Nov. 10, 2003, hoping to speak with U.S. commanders to secure the release of his sons, who had been arrested in raids 11 days earlier.

Officials were excited about Mowhoush's appearance.

The general, they believed, had been a high-ranking official in Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard and a key supporter of the insurgency in northwestern Iraq. Mowhoush was one of a few generals whom Hussein had given "execution authority," U.S. commanders believed, meaning that he could execute someone on sight, and he had been notorious among Shiites in southern Iraq for brutality.


The heavyset and imposing man was moderately cooperative in his first days of detention. He told interrogators that he was the commander of the al Quds Golden Division, an organization of trusted loyalists fueling the insurgency with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, sniper rifles, machine guns and other small arms.

A week into his detainment, interrogators determined harsher methods were needed because Mowhoush wasn't playing ball. The new techniques, including putting him into "stress" position in front of other detainees backfired and Mawhoush was transferred to the "Blacksmith Hotel" where Army Special Forces and the CIA were leading interrogations.

On Nov. 24, the CIA and one of its four-man Scorpion units interrogated Mowhoush, according to investigative records.

"OGA Brian and the four indig were interrogating an unknown detainee," according to a classified memo, using the slang "other government agency" for the CIA and "indig" for indigenous Iraqis.

"When he didn't answer or provided an answer that they didn't like, at first [redacted] would slap Mowhoush, and then after a few slaps, it turned into punches," Ryan testified. "And then from punches, it turned into [redacted] using a piece of hose."

"The indig were hitting the detainee with fists, a club and a length of rubber hose," according to classified investigative records.

Soldiers heard Mowhoush "being beaten with a hard object" and heard him "screaming" from down the hall, according to the Jan. 18, 2004, provost marshal's report. The report said four Army guards had to carry Mowhoush back to his cell.

Two days later, at 8 a.m., Nov. 26, Mowhoush -- prisoner No. 76 -- was brought, moaning and breathing hard, to Interrogation Room 6, according to court testimony.

Chief Warrant Officer Lewis E. Welshofer Jr. did a first round of interrogations for 30 minutes, taking a 15-minute break and resuming at 8:45. According to court testimony, Welshofer and Spec. Jerry L. Loper, a mechanic assuming the role of guard, put Mowhoush into the sleeping bag and wrapped the bag in electrical wire.

Welshofer allegedly crouched over Mowhoush's chest to talk to him.

Sgt. 1st Class William Sommer, a linguist, stood nearby.

Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Williams, an intelligence analyst, came to observe progress.

Investigative records show that Mowhoush "becomes unresponsive" at 9:06 a.m. Medics tried to resuscitate him for 30 minutes before pronouncing him dead.


The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology's standard "Autopsy Examination Report" of Mowhoush's death was manipulated to avoid references to the CIA. In contrast to the other autopsy reports of suspicious detainee deaths released by the Army, Mowhoush's name is redacted and under "Circumstances of Death," the form says: "This Iraqi [redacted] died while in U.S. custody. The details surrounding the circumstances at the time of death are classified."

Williams & Welshofer is being court-martialed and charged with murder. They never did get that information they needed.

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