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Iraq Report: December 10, 2004

10 December 2004, Volume 7, Number 45
SHI'ITES ANNOUNCE UNITED IRAQI ALLIANCE LIST. A coalition of 22 political parties and groups announced on 9 December that they will contest national elections on the United Iraqi Alliance list in January, international media reported. The list includes candidates from the two largest Shi'ite political parties, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the Islamic Al-Da'wah Party. Other candidates on the list reportedly include Iraqi National Congress (INC) head Ahmad Chalabi, as well as Sunni, Kurdish, Yezidi, and Turkoman groups, and the Al-Shammar tribe. The tribe is comprised of both Sunni and Shi'a members.

Rebel Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Al-Sadr II Movement will reportedly not officially join the list, but Iraqi newspapers this week reported that the movement's representatives will be listed as independent candidates on it.

SCIRI's Voice of the Mujahedin Radio cited sources from the Al-Murtada Foundation's media committee and others close to al-Sistani on 4 December as saying that half of the candidates on the list are independents, while the other half consists of individuals representing Islamic and national parties. The report said that the Islamic Action Organization and the Al-Fadilah Party had also joined the list (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 December 2004).

Alliance members said that the announcement of the list is significant in that it brings together Shi'ite parties and independent leaders, and perhaps more important, because it is a "collective national list," representing other political and ethnic groups in the country. Even before the list was formally announced on 9 December, media interpreted the list as a coalition, which is true. But nothing prevents these parties from also placing candidates on other election lists, and it is likely that the major political parties will do so in order to increase the odds for their parties to gain additional seats in the National Assembly. For example, although INC head Chalabi is listed on the alliance's list, there is nothing to stop other INC officials from being listed as candidates on other lists.

Much attention has also been given to the Sunni-led "opposition" movement that is seeking to postpone elections. Opposition groups led by the Muslim Scholars Association (MSA) met with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa in Cairo this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 December 2004) to discuss their demands for a postponement and to seek Musa's support for a national reconciliation conference.

It is likely that many, if not all of the 17 political groups -- Sunni groups that do not include the more radical MSA or the Iraqi Islamic Party -- that demanded an election postponement last week (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 7 December 2004) would participate in January elections should they be held on schedule. While the MSA and their supporters have been adamant in their refusal to participate in elections, their stance should not be interpreted to mean that all -- or even the majority -- of Sunni groups will not contest or vote in the elections. It is simply not the case. Sunni political parties and independents have registered with the election commission and will likely forge some kind of coalition list in the coming days. The deadline for election lists to be submitted to the election commission is 15 December, commission Chairman Abd al-Husayn al-Hindawi said this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 December 2004).

The Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan announced a joint list last week that includes several Turkoman parties. It is unclear how many other election lists have been submitted to the commission. President Ghazi Ajil al-Yawir announced a political grouping called "Iraqiyun" (Iraqis) at a 1 December press conference broadcast on Al-Arabiyah television, saying the political grouping "is tantamount to a grouping for all the sons of Iraq from the different religions, sects, nationalities, and social classes." He supports the idea of a free, democratic, pluralistic, federal state, and advocates a national dialogue. "This [political] entity will be part of a team made up of several political entities and parties in the Iraqi arena," al-Yawir said. The president declined to name the parties and individuals affiliated with his party, saying the membership would be announced soon. He did not say whether Iraqiyun would present a list to the election commission. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

TO DELAY OR NOT TO DELAY IRAQ'S ELECTIONS. Interim government officials this week rejected calls by Sunni-led oppositionists to delay national elections in January by up to six months (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 7 December 2004). Several political parties, including the Iraqi Islamic Party, met in Baghdad on 5 December and demanded that the elections be postponed for six months. "All those who want elections to be held are Shi'ites. However, not all Shi'ites are for holding the elections on 30 January. No Arabs or Sunnis demand that the elections be held on 30 January because the security situation is not suitable in the Arab Sunni cities and communities," Al-Jazeera quoted Iraqi Homeland Party head Mish'an al-Juburi as saying.

President Ghazi al-Yawir said on 5 December that an election delay would increase resentment within the Iraqi community. "The worst thing we can do is to postpone the elections, because it will be a tactical victory for the rebels and dark forces. Therefore, I have formed a political movement and entity to encourage all Iraqi sects to participate, so that the silent majority in Iraq can have its say," al-Yawir said in Washington, Al-Jazeera reported.

Al-Yawir's comments came just one day after United Nations special adviser Lakhdar Brahimi said that elections in Iraq could not be held if the security situation remains as it is, the Dutch newspaper "NRC Handelsblad" reported on 4 December. Brahimi contended that Sunnis would be "denied a right" if elections were not held in all parts of the country due to insecurity. He criticized the approach of the United States and the Iraqi interim government in dealing with the insurgency, saying: "If the United States and Prime Minister [Iyad] Allawi kill 50 people whom they regard as their enemies and, by this action, incite 500 others to join the rebellion, this is no improvement."

Government officials have argued that postponing the elections may have little effect on the insurgency. Husayn al-Hindawi, head of the Iraqi Election Commission, told the Baghdad daily "Al-Manar al-Yawm" in an interview published on 5 December, "I emphasize that the security situation will be more difficult than it is now if the elections are not held or if they are postponed."

Regarding a possible boycott of elections by some political parties, he said: "A boycott is a democratic right. Several political parties in the world have boycotted their countries' elections. However, we urge everyone to participate in the elections since this is a national duty. The commission is not a guardian to those who boycott or [participate in] the elections. Nevertheless, we believe the majority is in favor of participation and this explains the high demand by political entities to register for the elections." Al-Hindawi said that no party had formally requested an election postponement, and contended that no party in Iraq or the UN has the power to decide on a postponement.

Al-Hindawi later said that he believed that the parties advocating an election delay were beginning to change their position, Baghdad's "Al-Bayan" reported on 7 December. "This development prompts a sense that the elections will be held on the planned date" with broad-based participation, he said. But he then contended that the commission might consider a request to postpone national and local elections should the interim government issue a formal request, Al-Jazeera reported on 9 December. Those comments followed reports a day earlier that interim Prime Minister Allawi told a French newspaper that elections could be staggered over several days to allow for better security. "One can imagine elections spread out over 15 or 20 days, with the dates differing according to the provinces," Reuters quoted Allawi as telling France's "Le Temps" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 December 2004). Allawi spokesmen denied on 9 December that the prime minister made such a suggestion, claiming instead that his comments were misinterpreted. The Interior Ministry, however, had already come out in support of the proposal. Reuters quoted an unidentified ministry spokesman as saying that staggering the voting would "improve security because people would not rush to vote and form long lines that could be attacked."

Western media have suggested this week that any postponement or delay in elections would anger Shi'ite political parties. However, the Shi'a are well aware that an election without Sunni participation would not be interpreted by observers as being all-inclusive and representative of the population. Shi'ite leader Husayn al-Shahristani, who helped create the Shi'ite dominated United Iraqi Alliance list this week, acknowledged to reporters this week that the issue was cause for concern, reported on 10 December. Al-Shahristani reportedly acknowledged that a staggered election might be necessary to ensure widespread Sunni participation. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

MILITANT LEADER'S SONS REPORTED KILLED IN AL-FALLUJAH. London-based "Quds Press" reported on 8 December that sources claim two sons of militant leader Sheikh Abdullah al-Janabi were killed in recent fighting in the volatile city of Al-Fallujah. Al-Janabi is the head of the Al-Fallujah Mujahedin Shura Council and imam of the city's Sa'd bin Abi Waqas Mosque. An arrest warrant was issued for him in June on charges that he incited locals to execute and mutilate the bodies of six Shi'ite youths from Al-Sadr City while they were in Al-Fallujah, "Al-Ta'akhi" reported on 30 June. Al-Janabi vowed in October to resist a U.S.-Iraqi incursion into the city. Xinhua news agency quoted Iraqi National Security Adviser Qasim Dawud on 14 November as saying that al-Janabi had escaped the fighting in Al-Fallujah along with suspected Jordanian terrorist Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

IRAQI CHURCHES BOMBED. Two churches were bombed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on 7 December, Al-Arabiyah television reported the same day. The bombings were carried out simultaneously. According to Al-Arabiyah, militants forced the guards of the Chaldean bishopric church and the Armenian Orthodox church to leave the buildings before detonating explosive charges inside the churches. The Chaldean church sustained severe damage, having caught fire following the bombing. Al-Arabiyah reported that 60 percent of the church was destroyed in the bombing. Reuters reported on 7 December that the attackers were not identified.

Militants have regularly targeted Christian churches in recent months. Two booby-trapped cars detonated in front of two churches in the Iraqi capital on 8 November; a bomb exploded outside a Mosul church on 1 August, killing one person (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August 2004); and five churches were bombed in Baghdad on 16 October (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 22 October 2004). The Christian community in Mosul has said that its members, particularly women, have been targeted in individual attacks and kidnappings in the city. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

NEW LOCAL POLICE CHIEF APPEALS TO CITIZENS FOR HELP. Brigadier General Fawaz Armut, the newly appointed police chief in Al-Anbar Governorate, told Al-Sharqiyah television that residents in the unstable city of Al-Ramadi must help bring security to the city, the news channel reported on 6 December. "We call on our people in Al-Anbar, namely tribes, sheikhs, and men of religion, in addition to the educated and all the sons of the governorate, to support our work," he said. "The police are the sons of the governorate and the sons of our tribes. We must support them and help them.... We do not want them to kill the police," Armut added. He said that the police do not support the presence of foreign forces in the governorate, saying, "Let [citizens] help us so that we can tell the foreigners to leave this governorate and carry out our duties and assigned responsibilities." (Kathleen Ridolfo)

MORE DEAD NATIONAL GUARDSMEN FOUND IN MOSUL. Iraqi police discovered the bodies of nine National Guardsmen in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on 5 December, Al-Sharqiyah television reported the same day. The report cited an official at Tel Afar Hospital as saying that four decapitated bodies of guardsmen were brought to the hospital, while Sinjar Hospital reported receiving the bodies of five guardsmen killed by gunfire. The television reported that more than 27 dead National Guardsmen have been found in the city in the past 10 days. "Al-Zaman" reported on 4 December that residents have reported a heavy presence of insurgents on the eastern side of the city, which is mostly inhabited by Kurds. Seventeen Kurdish peshmergas were killed and 40 wounded when a booby-trapped car exploded in Mosul on 4 December, Al-Arabiyah reported. AP reported that nine were killed and another nine wounded in the attack. Two U.S. soldiers were killed and four wounded in the city in a 4 December attack on a patrol, reported the following day. Militants tried to seize four police stations on 3 December, but were repelled, while 70 fighters ambushed a U.S. patrol in the city, AP reported on 5 December. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

IRAQI OPPOSITION MEETS ARAB LEAGUE CHIEF IN CAIRO. A delegation of Iraqi groups opposed to the U.S.-led occupation and at odds with Iraq's interim government has met with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa in Cairo, Al-Jazeera reported on 9 December. Muslim Scholars Association spokesman Muthanna Harith al-Dari said the group proposed the convening of a conference addressing national reconciliation. "The issue of national dialogue is a demand of the Iraqi national forces," al-Dari said. "The interim government is trying to avoid the issue of national reconciliation. Therefore, we have come to warn the Arab League, and through it tell the entire world that the Iraqi national forces have an alternative plan for solving the political issue." The plan includes a demand for drawing up a timetable for the withdrawal of multinational forces, he said. Al-Jazeera reported that the groups have said the conference should exclude those individuals with ties to the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

MOBILE PHONE COMPANY'S OPERATIONS SUSPENDED. The Telecommunications Ministry has reportedly suspended the activities of the Egyptian-owned Orascom mobile-telephone company in Iraq, which operates under the name Iraqna, due to mismanagement and poor performance, a Denmark-based website reported on 7 December ( The website reports numerous complaints regarding the service and Iraqi newspapers have widely reported similar complaints. Subscribers had reportedly complained that the company sold more phone lines than it could accommodate, which overburdened the system. "Al-Ufuq" reported on 30 November that the ministry had fined Orascom due to poor service. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

UN ENVOY DISCUSSES ELECTION PREPARATIONS WITH IRAQI OFFICIALS. United Nations special representative Ashraf Qazi held separate meetings on 5 December with Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih and Defense Minister Hazim al-Sha'lan to discuss preparations for national elections in January, the UN News Center reported on 6 December.

The talks focused on progress made in the political process as well, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard said. Asked by reporters if Qazi has ruled on whether the security environment is stable enough to support elections, Eckhard said that it is up to Iraqi authorities to determine whether elections can be held.

Qazi has also held meetings with civil society organizations to discuss ways in which the UN can further contribute to advancing the political process in Iraq, the website reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

ALLEGED IRAQI NERVE-GAS SUPPLIER ARRESTED IN NETHERLANDS. Dutch police have arrested a 62-year-old man on suspicion that he supplied the regime of Saddam Hussein with thousands of tons of raw materials used to produce chemical weapons between 1984 and 1988, international media reported on 7 December. The chemicals were allegedly used in the 1988 attack on Kurds in the northern Iraqi city of Halabjah, prosecutors contended. The man, identified as Frans van Anraat, was arrested while preparing to leave the Netherlands, Reuters reported. Prosecutor Digna van Boedzelaer said of van Anraat: "We are talking about 36 shipments which amounted to tons and tons of chemicals to make mustard gas and nerve gas," Reuters reported. She said the chemicals were shipped from the United States to Belgium and then to Iraq via Jordan. The BBC reported that some of the chemicals also came from Japan.

Prosecutors said van Anraat was detained in Milan in 1989 at the request of the United States, but released two months later, Reuters reported. He fled to Iraq where he remained until the U.S.-led war in 2003, when he returned to the Netherlands via Syria. Reuters reported that the United States asked Dutch officials to arrest him in 1997, but police reportedly could not locate him. Van Anraat reportedly used a Panamanian front company based in Switzerland to carry out his transactions with Hussein's regime. He admitted in a 2003 interview with the Dutch magazine "Revu" that he sold chemicals to Iraq. "The images of the gas attack on...Halabjah were a shock. But I did not give the order to do that. How many products, such as bullets, do we make in the Netherlands?" Reuters quoted him as telling the magazine. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

RUSSIA WRITES OFF IRAQ DEBT FOR POSSIBLE OIL STAKE. Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi arrived in Moscow on 6 December for two days of talks with Russian officials. Issues high on the agenda included the announcement that the Kremlin will write off about 90 percent of Iraq's debt. Allawi and Oil Minister Thamir al-Ghadban also discussed potential deals with Russian oil companies, Russian media reported. The debt write-off will reduce Iraq's debt from $10.5 billion to between $700 million and $1 billion over eight years.

Moscow's "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 7 December that Russian officials viewed the two issues as inextricably linked. Russia will reverse its longstanding position that debt forgiveness was not an option in return for which the Iraqi government will reconsider agreements reached between Russian oil companies and the Hussein government on development of Iraq's vast oil reserves. Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the issue with reporters following a 7 December meeting with Allawi, saying: "We have agreed to write off the Iraqi debts to a greater extent than any other member of the Paris Club of creditors. We have done this in the name of solidarity with the friendly Iraqi people, but we also believe that the interests of Russian companies will be taken into consideration by [the Iraqi] leadership and the future Iraqi government after the [30 January 2005] elections," reported.

Iraqi Ambassador to Russia Abd al-Karim Hashim Mustafa told Interfax news agency in a 6 December interview that Russian companies were already benefiting from the Iraqi market. "Russian companies have advantages and certain privileges as compared to companies of other countries, because their relations with Iraq are rooted in history and they are experienced in working here," he said.

A 1997 production-sharing agreement gave Russia's LUKoil a 68.5 percent stake in the West Qurnah oil field, with Russian companies Mashinoimport and Zarubezhneft to be given 3.25 percent stakes each in the deal. According to a report in "Kommersant" on 27 May 2003, the contract would have brought the three Russian companies $70 billion worth of oil (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 6 June 2003). The deal never got off the ground due to UN sanctions.

In September, ConocoPhillips acquired a 7.59 percent stake in LUKoil held by the Russian government; the deal gave ConocoPhillips a 17.5 percent share of a joint venture the companies intend to present to the Iraqi government to develop West Qurnah, reported on 30 September. RIA-Novosti cited LUKoil head Vagit Alekperov in an 8 December report as saying that LUKoil will hold 51 percent of the project's shares, and the Iraqi government will hold 25 percent, in addition to ConocoPhillips' shares and the two 3.25 percent stakes held by Russian partners. Alekperov met with Allawi on 8 December, calling the meeting fruitful.

Meanwhile, Kurdish officials met a visiting delegation of Russian companies at the Dukan summer resort on 5 December, "Kurdistani Nuwe" reported the following day. The companies were identified as Inter Energa Bermins, Selfor Prom Export, Sayoz Gas, and Tamboru Nask. The delegation reportedly presented Kurdish officials, including Patriotic Union of Kurdistan head Jalal Talabani, with a list of projects they want to implement in Kurdistan in the fields of electricity, aviation, oil and gas, and minerals, the daily reported.

Allawi has not publicly commented on the possible oil deal. He was quoted, however, as saying that Russia's debt write-off will pay off for Russian business. "[Writing off the debt] is a very noble position," quoted the prime minister as saying on 8 December. "This certainly will help Russia play a leading role in rebuilding Iraq's economy and industry." In the long term, however, Allawi's opinion may have little weight. There is no guarantee that the government elected in January will give any preference to Russian companies. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

JAPAN EXTENDS TROOP MISSION TO IRAQ FOR ONE YEAR. The Japanese cabinet endorsed an extension of the humanitarian and reconstruction mission in Iraq of its Self-Defense Forces for one year, through 14 December 2005, Kyodo World Service reported on 9 December. The 570 ground-force troops are currently based in Samawah in south-central Iraq. The plan includes conditions under which Japan may judge whether to withdraw its troops from the city depending on the security situation, Jiji Press reported. Japanese media has reported that the situation in the city has been relatively calm in recent months. Meanwhile, Hungary announced on 8 December that it will send 150 noncombat troops to Iraq at midyear 2005 as part of a NATO mission. The troops will serve from 1 June until 30 September 2006, government spokeswoman Boglar Laszlo said, according to AFP. The troops will help provide security at a NATO training base outside Baghdad. Laszlo said the cabinet rejected a NATO request that Hungarian troops carry out logistical operations in Iraq. Hungary currently has some 300 troops in Iraq serving under the U.S.-led coalition. Those troops will be withdrawn at the end of December. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

WORLD BANK TARGETS IRAQI INFRASTRUCTURE WITH $90 MILLION GRANT. Iraq has signed an agreement with the World Bank by which the bank will provide a $90 million grant to fund 12 water- and sewage-treatment projects, Al-Arabiyah television reported on 9 December. Minister of Public Works and Municipalities Nisrin Barwari told Al-Arabiyah that her ministry is carrying out its work in more than 300 municipalities throughout Iraq. This latest agreement is the fourth between Iraq and the World Bank accounting for some $235 million in grants, Al-Arabiyah reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

CIA WARNS OF DETERIORATING SITUATION IN IRAQ. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reportedly received a classified cable last month following the Al-Fallujah incursion from its station chief in Baghdad warning that the situation in Iraq is deteriorating and may not improve any time soon, reported on 7 December, citing U.S. government officials. Another CIA official gave a similar assessment of the situation in the country following a trip to Iraq, reported. The cable warned that the security situation in Iraq is likely to worsen, and more violence and sectarian clashes are expected unless improvements are made by the Iraqi government in terms of economic development and assertion of authority, the website reported. U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte reportedly filed a written dissent, saying the assessment was too harsh. General George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, also reviewed the cable and initially did not object to it, reported. One official told the website that Casey may have voiced objection to the cable in recent days, however. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

INTERIM PRESIDENT MEETS BUSH IN WASHINGTON. Ghazi al-Yawir met with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington on 6 December, RFE/RL reported. Speaking with journalists at the White House, al-Yawir remained adamant that January elections be held on schedule. "Nobody in Iraq wants to boycott elections, except for some politicians. But I am talking about the mass public of Iraq, they all are very anxious to go and cast their votes and practice for the first time in 45 years, their right and duty of voting for whoever they feel confidence in." Bush told the press that the United States will help provide security for the elections. "We'll do everything we can, working with the Iraqis, to make the election sites as secure as possible. That is why the [U.S. military] commanders on the ground have been asked for additional troops to help with the election process," Bush said. "You can never guarantee 100 percent security, but the Iraqi people have a chance to say to the world, 'We choose democracy over terrorism.' And it is going to be a defining moment in that country." (Kathleen Ridolfo)


By Kathleen Ridolfo

New evidence, including eyewitness accounts, has surfaced this week about prisoner and civilian abuse in Iraq. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) posted government documents on its website ( on 7 December that show a special operations task force in Iraq sought to silence Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) personnel that witnessed abuse during interrogations. The documents were obtained through a lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act. A federal court ordered the Defense Department and other agencies to release the documents in compliance with a year-old request filed by the ACLU and other organizations, the ACLU said in a press release.

The documents show that interrogators in Baghdad continued to abuse detainees long after the incidents at Abu Ghurayb Prison became known. The reports of prisoner abuse first broke publicly when U.S. CBS television broadcast photographs taken by U.S. soldiers while they were committing the abuses (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 7 May 2004). It was later revealed that the U.S. military had been investigating allegations of prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghurayb Prison west of Baghdad since fall 2003, reported on 30 April. The first of two military investigations into the allegations was completed in November, while the second, a classified report obtained by the website and written by U.S. Major General Antonio Taguba, was completed in February. Taguba reported that between October and December there were numerous instances of "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" at the prison, which he characterized as a systematic and illegal abuse of detainees, the website reported.

A third report, written by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) was given to Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) officials in Baghdad in February. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice told U.S. Congressman Ike Skelton, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, in a 20 May letter posted on the ACLU website that her staff learned of the ICRC report in mid-February. Pentagon officials at the time told her staff that they were generally aware of the allegations and were investigating them, Rice said in the letter. The National Security Council obtained a copy of the ICRC report in early March. The State Department said in a letter to Skelton dated 1 June and posted on the ACLU website that the department received the ICRC report on 5 March, and Secretary of State Colin Powell received an internal memorandum on the report on 11 March.

The ACLU website has also posted an FBI e-mail (sender and recipient names redacted) that discusses the role of Major General Geoffrey Miller, who was transferred from Guantanamo Bay to Baghdad in January to replace dismissed Brigadier General Janet Karpinski as head of the Iraqi prison system. The sender refers to remarks made by Karpinski to the media about Miller's intention to "gitmoize" Abu Ghurayb Prison. "I am not sure what this means. However, if this refers to intell[igence] gathering as I suspect, it suggests he has continued to support interrogation strategies we not only advised against, but questioned in terms of effectiveness," the sender writes. He adds that he was surprised to read an article quoting Miller as saying he believed in the rapport-building approach during interrogations. "This is not what he was saying at gitmo when I was there." The e-mail, the ACLU argues, shows the rift between the FBI and Defense Department over the use of certain interrogation techniques on detainees.

Miller said on 4 May that physical contact, hooding, stress positioning, and questioning naked detainees are not authorized U.S. interrogation techniques in Iraq, the CPA noted in a press release on its website ( Miller added that civilian contractors acting as interrogators would be held to the same standards as the military (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 7 May 2004).

Just one week later, DIA personnel witnessed the physical abuse of detainees by a clandestine military task force identified as Task Force 6-26. In a 10 June memorandum posted on the ACLU website, a DIA civilian intelligence officer with 14 years' service with the Defense Department reported witnessing two counts of violations of the Geneva Conventions as they pertain to detainee abuse and one count of violations of the conventions as they pertain to the illegal detainment of noncombatants. The officer said that on or around 11 May, he witnessed four or five "non-interrogator personnel" from the task force disrupt an interrogation being carried out by a U.S. Army officer. It is unclear whether the task-force personnel were military or civilian. The men entered the room "and began slapping the detainee while he was attempting to respond to the questioning. After approximately 15 minutes, a senior NCO [noncommissioned officer] going by the call sign 'XO3' entered the room and asked most of the personnel to leave, to include all of the interrogators. I am not aware of what specifically occurred during my absence," he wrote.

The same NCO ignored the DIA officer's recommendation that the wife of a wanted insurgent not be detained during a raid on a family member's home. Task-force personnel had recommended before the raid that should the husband not be located, she be taken as leverage to obtain the suspect's surrender. "I determined that the wife could provide no actionable intelligence leading to the arrest of her husband. Despite my protest, the team leader [XO3] detained her anyway." The 28-year-old woman had three young children at home, one still nursing. She was held for two days and then released.

Another memorandum posted on the ACLU website, written by DIA Director L. E. Jacoby to Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Steven Cambone, describes more alleged abuse by the Task Force 6-26 personnel. Two DIA Directorate for Human Intelligence (DIA/DH) interrogators/debriefers working with the task force reported on 24 June that they observed prisoners arriving at the temporary detention facility in Baghdad "with burn marks on their backs. Some have bruises, and some have complained of kidney pain." One of the DIA/DH personnel witnessed task-force officers punch a prisoner in the face "to the point the individual needed medical attention." The task force did not record the incident, Jacoby writes. "One DIA/DH interrogator/debriefer took pictures of the injuries and showed them to his task force supervisor, who immediately confiscated them," he added, indicating a cover-up may have taken place.

Jacoby notes that Task Force 6-26 personnel have confiscated vehicle keys from DIA/DH interrogators/debriefers, threatened them, instructed them not to leave the compound without permission, ordered them not to speak with anyone in the United States, and told them that their e-mails were being screened. A "New York Times" report on 8 December cited one Pentagon official as saying that when Jacoby's letter reached Cambone, the issue was immediately raised with Cambone's senior staff and officers at the military's Special Operations Command. An investigation is reportedly under way.

Meanwhile, a former U.S. Marine staff sergeant told a Toronto court on 7 December that his unit killed at least 30 unarmed civilians in Iraq during the war in 2003 and that Marines regularly shot and killed wounded Iraqis, reported on 8 December. The Marine, Jimmy J. Massey, was testifying on behalf of U.S. Army deserter Jeremy Hinzman, who is seeking asylum in Canada rather than serve in Iraq. Massey said that he and his men shot and killed four Iraqis at a demonstration and killed a man whose hands were raised in surrender, as well as women and children at roadblocks between April and May 2003, the website reported. He said that he had complained to his superiors about the "killing of innocent civilians" but said nothing was done. A Marine Corps spokesman said the charges were investigated and not proved.

In Berlin, a U.S. Army tank company commander stood trial on 7 December on charges alleging he killed a critically wounded Iraqi who worked for Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, AP reported. Captain Rogelio Maynulet is charged with assault with intent to commit murder and dereliction of duty. Witnesses testified at Maynulet's Article 32 hearing -- the equivalent of a grand jury investigation -- that the driver had been shot by U.S. soldiers near Kufa on 21 May. Maynulet later approached the man and shot him, telling a fellow officer that he did so out of compassion for the injured man.

An 8 December report by human rights group Amnesty International ( entitled "Lives Blown Apart: Crimes Against Women in Times of Conflict," discusses allegations that women in Iraq have been "subjected to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment." It refers to the Taguba report, which documents an incident of a male guard having sex with a female detainee. Some former female detainees told Amnesty International they were threatened with rape, beatings, humiliating treatment, and long periods of solitary confinement. The report also contends that women, children, and the elderly bear the brunt of modern warfare techniques, estimating that some 90,000 unexploded munitions may now be on Iraqi soil. It also documents the effects of the 1988 chemical attack on Halabjah by the Hussein regime, noting that a 2004 study suggested increased infertility rates in the area; babies born with disabilities; and various cancers among women and children who were present during the attacks.