In June 2004, DOD Issued Instructions to Ignore Iraqi-on-Iraqi Torture

Al Jazeera has this video and the Guardian a story on Frago 242, which both outlets say is one of the most alarming revelation in Wikileaks’ new document dump. From the Guardian:

This is the impact of Frago 242. A frago is a “fragmentary order” which summarises a complex requirement. This one, issued in June 2004, about a year after the invasion of Iraq, orders coalition troops not to investigate any breach of the laws of armed conflict, such as the abuse of detainees, unless it directly involves members of the coalition. Where the alleged abuse is committed by Iraqi on Iraqi, “only an initial report will be made … No further investigation will be required unless directed by HQ”.

Frago 242 appears to have been issued as part of the wider political effort to pass the management of security from the coalition to Iraqi hands. In effect, it means that the regime has been forced to change its political constitution but allowed to retain its use of torture.


Hundreds of the leaked war logs reflect the fertile imagination of the torturer faced with the entirely helpless victim – bound, gagged, blindfolded and isolated – who is whipped by men in uniforms using wire cables, metal rods, rubber hoses, wooden stakes, TV antennae, plastic water pipes, engine fan belts or chains. At the torturer’s whim, the logs reveal, the victim can be hung by his wrists or by his ankles; knotted up in stress positions; sexually molested or raped; tormented with hot peppers, cigarettes, acid, pliers or boiling water – and always with little fear of retribution since, far more often than not, if the Iraqi official is assaulting an Iraqi civilian, no further investigation will be required.

If we had a functioning media, the Sunday shows would be focused on the lie at the heart of the NeoCon project–that they invaded Iraq to bring democracy and rule of law to the country.

Instead, with the NeoCons in charge, they instituted a policy of looking the other way from torture.

  1. donbacon says:

    November, 2005

    SecDef Rumsfeld: “obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility” other than to voice disapproval of torture.

    General Pace (CJSC): “It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it.”

    Rumsfeld: “I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it’s to report it.”

    Pace: “If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.”

  2. tjbs says:

    This one, issued in June 2004, about a year after the invasion of Iraq, orders coalition troops not to investigate any breach of the laws of armed conflict, such as the abuse of detainees, unless it directly involves members of the coalition.

    Shouldn’t this end with a /s because of all we know ?
    What, is there a backlog of torturer’s trials in the USA we don’t know about?

  3. TarheelDem says:

    June 2004, eh. The Taguba Report was release in May 2004, was it not? And it depended on field reports in part, didn’t it?

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      FWIW, George Tenet abruptly resigned for “personal “reasons, on June 3,2004.

      This was just one month following the CID’s reopening the case into Wali’s death- and exactly two weeks before David Passaro (remember him?)was indicted on June 17,2004.

  4. Synoia says:

    Duties of the Occupying Power:

    Hague Conventions of 1907
    Art. 43.
    The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.

    Oh well, what’s another war crime or two….

  5. Oval12345678akaJamesKSayre says:

    The American military has been torturing, murdering, bombing and killing in the third world for one hundred and twelve years now, to enable US corporations to get raw materials on the cheap. These murderous activities are the basis of large part of our wealth. Theft. It made colonial Spain rich, colonial Portugal rich, colonial Holland rich, colonial France rich and colonial England rich, before we got in on the act.

    The Bush bible says, “Thou shalt kill.”

    The Obama bible says, “Thou shalt kill.”

  6. TomThumb says:

    It is encouraging that The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, and the NYTs all got copies of the documents from Wikileaks, and that the NYTs did not squash these as the Pentagon and Hillary had requested. Hopefully, between the four newspapers and wikileaks, we will get the whole story eventually.

  7. PeasantParty says:

    242! I don’t know about that military rule change system, but does that mean that there are 241 other rules against standard procedure?

  8. Mary says:

    That would have been under Myers, but remember that nifty exchange between Pace and Rumsfeld in 2005?

    Q Sir, taking on Charlie’s question a bit — and I can give you actual examples from coalition forces who talked to me when I was over there — about excesses of the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Defense, and that is in dealing with prisoners or in arresting people and how they’re treated after they’re arrested. What are the obligations and what are the rights of the U.S. military over there in dealing with that? Obviously, Iraq is a sovereign country now, but the United States is responsible for training and expects to turn over the security mission to them. So what is the U.S. obligation in addressing that, preventing that? And what can we do? And what are we doing?

    SEC. RUMSFELD: That’s a fair question. I’ll start, and Pete, you may want to finish. But we are working very hard to train and equip the Iraqi security forces. So is NATO. So are some neighboring countries. There are a lot of people involved in this and dozens of countries trying to help train these Iraqi forces.

    Any instance of inhumane behavior is obviously worrisome and harmful to them when that occurs. Iraq knows of certain knowledge that they need the support of the international community, and a good way to lose it is to make a practice of something that’s inconsistent with the values of the international community. And I think they know that.

    Now, you know, I can’t go any farther in talking about it. Obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility when a sovereign country engages in something that they disapprove of; however, we do have a responsibility to say so and to make sure that the training is proper and to work with the sovereign officials so that they understand the damage that can be done to them in the event some of these allegations prove to be true.

    Q And General Pace, what guidance do you have for your military commanders over there as to what to do if — like when General Horst found this Interior Ministry jail?

    GEN. PACE: It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene to stop it. As an example of how to do it if you don’t see it happening but you’re told about it is exactly what happened a couple weeks ago. There’s a report from an Iraqi to a U.S. commander that there was possibility of inhumane treatment in a particular facility. That U.S. commander got together with his Iraqi counterparts. They went together to the facility, found what they found, reported it to the Iraqi government, and the Iraqi government has taken ownership of that problem and is investigating it. So they did exactly what they should have done.

    SEC. RUMSFELD: But I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it’s to report it.

    GEN. PACE: If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it.

    Emph added

    • Mary says:

      IIRC, he later backed down from that “obligation” and instead became a crusader against gays in the military and a respectfuly follower of the God-led Rumsfeld.

      He did manage to not have to take the fifth in any direct abuse investigations, but then again, Gates pulled his nomination so that he didn’t actually have to answer more questions under oath.

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      Well, at least they were asked questions. In the Obama administration, the press and most of the blogosphere has been silent. In May I commented that a report then by Human Rights Watch, noted in the LA Times, that a massive torture operation by Maliki’s security office took place between Sept. and Dec. 2009, even as Maliki was a visitor (Oct. 20, 2009) to the Obama White House, complete with Oval Office photo ops.

      I noted the timing, but after just a couple of stories (LA Times, NYT), based on a Human Rights Watch report, nothing more. And no one picked up the timing of the Obama-Maliki meeting, but me. I can’t help but think if it was Bush meeting Maliki and that report had come out, many in the blogosphere (at least) would have been all over that.

  9. franklydoubting says:

    Will someone please forward this article to all those folks clamoring for their “freedom, liberty and equality” to serve in the monstrous murder and torture organization known as the US military?

  10. Jeff Kaye says:

    Apropos: From one of the NYT stories today:

    … documents show that Americans did sometimes use the threat of abuse by Iraqi authorities to get information out of prisoners. One report said an American threatened to send a detainee to the notorious Wolf Brigade, a particularly violent Iraqi police unit, if he did not supply information.

    Some of the worst examples of Iraqi abuse came later in the war. In August 2009, an Iraqi police commando unit reported that a detainee committed suicide in its custody, but an autopsy conducted in the presence of an American “found bruises and burns on the detainee’s body as well as visible injuries to the head, arm, torso, legs, and neck.” The report stated that the police “have reportedly begun an investigation.”

    • emptywheel says:

      There are also reports of using death threats (more direct ones, of the kind used with al-Nashiri.

      Even John Yoo said that was illegal.

      So what happened?

      (Don’t answer that.)

      • Jeff Kaye says:

        You saw Andy Worthington’s article on Judge Walton’s decision in the al-Bihani case, denying habeas, which I reposted at The Seminal?

        Re threats, this in a letter from Tawfiq al-Bihani to his attorney. Albeit, for purposes of this thread, the U.S. torture took place in Afghanistan, not in Iraq, after Iran (!) rendered prisoners to the Americans.

        I was handcuffed behind and they put a hood on my head so that I could not see anything. When I entered the interrogation room, the American guards pushed me down to the ground in a very savage manner. They started to cut my clothing with scissors. They undressed me completely and I was nude. They made me sit on a chair and it was very cold. I was also afraid and terrorized because the guards were aiming their weapons towards me. The interrogator put his personal gun on my forehead threatening to kill me.

  11. Jeff Kaye says:

    From a document offered online at NYT:

    For information, the attachment documents an alleged IP on IZ LOAC violation (detainee abuse) as reported by 3/7 MiTT. As Coalition Forces were not involved in the alleged abuse, no further investigation is necessary. A summary of the alleged incidents is as follows:

    On 2 Jan 07 after their apprehension, unknown IP took –––– –––– ––––– –––– –– ––––– and ––––– –––– –––– –––– –– ––––– to a gymnasium and then to an abandoned house in Husaybah where the IP beat them. ––––– –––– –––– –––– –– ––––– died as a result of the abuse.

    This is an MNC-I reportable incident it will be reported through operational channels as required.

  12. knowbuddhau says:

    From the conclusion of Der Spiegel‘s main article:

    One month before the beginning of the invasion, Bush had blustered that the overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein and “a new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region.” But the military that withdrew after seven years of war was a demoralized force that had long since ceased to believe in the noble goals of the campaign.

    The documents faithfully reflect this change. In the roughly 400,000 documents, the word “democracy” appears only eight times. The “improvised explosive devices” which instilled fear in the hearts of American soldiers, however, are mentioned 146,895 times.

    And if Bill Black gets to review the records of the monsters who’re still hosing us, I’ll bet the same result will obtain, only in this form:

    Fulfillment of the American dream, promoting the general welfare, preserving and protecting domestic tranquility and all that versus CDOs and MBSs and the other weapons of mass financial destruction.

  13. Mary says:

    You have to wonder who was involved in the percerption of the coalition forces who could, still, be reported.


    In May, 2004, the US was contracting with USIS (owned by the Carlyle Group) to train Iraqi commandos for emergency response

    What is clear is that the ERU is just one of at least six different U.S. “security” training programs worth over $20 billion that a variety of U.S. agencies have provided to the many factions in Iraq.

    The corpwatch article is from 2007, 3 years ago, but at that point, we were spending 20 billion in “training” that included sitting back and doing nothing during torture, or affirmatively handing over people to torture. We were really getting going with the private contractors doing “training” at about the same time the order was going out to let their trainees get by with torture and murder.

    As the article notes, Allawi was taking charge in July of 2004 as well. At least we can be sure it’s not like Rumsfeld & Bush would give him a wink and a nod for carte blanche to whip things into shape. /s