Following Orders at Abu Ghraib

From Holden:

Of course they were, Bush himself issued an executive order authorizing torture, while Donald Rumsfeld authorized specific torture techniques. Now the orders are coming out in court.

The military police at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq received direct orders from at least three interrogators to treat detainees harshly in the weeks leading up to the night that a group of soldiers put naked and hooded prisoners in sexually humiliating positions and photographed them, one of the police soldiers involved testified in a military court here today.

The orders started with instructions to leave detainees naked, force them to do calisthenics or use “pressure points,” applying pain to sensitive areas. And as the weeks wore on, the tactics changed.

“It became more aggressive,” the soldier, Pvt. Ivan L. Frederick II, testified, so much so that on one occasion the military police even refused to follow an interrogator’s orders to mistreat a detainee.


Private Frederick, now serving eight years as part of guilty plea in the case, recalled one civilian interrogator cursing as he handed off a Iraqi detainee, saying he didn’t care what the military police did to him: “Just don’t kill him.”

The detainee, nicknamed “Gilligan” by the soldiers, was draped in black cloth and forced to stand on a meals-ready-to-eat box with wires attached to him, in a photograph that has become iconic of the abuse scandal.

Interrogators, Private Frederick testified, taught the soliders to use “goose neck come along,” twisting detainees’ arms in extreme positions behind their heads. Military intelligence officials consistently praised the military police, he said. “They would tell us we were doing a good job, to keep up the good work.”

Defense lawyers presented the jury with a written report given to Specialist Graner in mid-November, weeks after the photographs at the center of the abuse scandal were taken, saying that the military intelligence officer in charge of the intelligence unit, Lt. Col. Steve Jordan, “says you are doing a good job.”