Yesterday, the Washington Post finally caught up to where Marcy was over two weeks ago and discussed the UN report “Treatment of Conflict-Related Detainees in Afghan Custody” (pdf). I’d like to move beyond the primary findings of the report, that torture is widespread in Afghan detention facilities and that the US continued bringing prisoners to these facilities long after other nations discontinued the practice due to concerns over reports of torture, and to examine US denials of knowledge regarding the torture.
First, to set the stage from the Post article:
Department 124 was long sealed off from the outside world; the ICRC, the United Nations and other organizations concerned with human rights were barred by Afghan officials from monitoring conditions there.
But American officials frequently went inside, according to Afghan officials and others familiar with the site. U.S. Special Operations troops brought detainees there, and CIA officials met with Department 124’s leadership on a weekly basis, reviewed their interrogation reports and used the intelligence gleaned from interrogations to inform their operations, the officials said.
And now the denial I’m most interested in:
One U.S. official in Kabul said the CIA officers and Special Operations troops would not have ignored torture. “Not in the post-Abu Ghraib era,” the official said. “All American entities out there are hyper-aware of these allegations and would report them up the chain.”
We will dismiss the CIA denial out of hand: documentation of CIA torture practices and the CIA’s attempts to have DOJ provide legal cover for them now fills many books. However, JSOC involvement in torture is less well-documented despite the fact that JSOC torture played a central, but under-reported, role in David Petraeus’ COIN strategy as implemented in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Petraeus’ primary operative in implementing the torture strategy in both countries was Stanley McChrystal. Read more