Despite Pentagon claims to the contrary, the officers who ran Abu Ghraib had a systematic method for handling ghost detainees. So much for the “few bad apples” defense.
Top military intelligence officials at the Abu Ghraib prison came to an agreement with the CIA to hide certain detainees at the facility without officially registering them, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. Keeping such “ghost” detainees is a violation of international law.
Army Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, who was second in command of the intelligence gathering effort at Abu Ghraib while the abuse was occurring, told military investigators that “other government agencies” and a secretive elite task force “routinely brought in detainees for a short period of time” and that the detainees were held without an internment number, and their names were kept off the books.
Jordan, in a statement that was included in the abuse investigation of Maj. Gen. George R. Fay, said that it was difficult to track ghost detainees and that he and other officers recommended that a memorandum of understanding be drafted between his 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, the CIA and the 800th Military Police Brigade “to establish procedures for a ghost detainee.” An Army major at the prison “suggested an idea of processing them under an assumed name and fingerprinting them,” but Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the top military intelligence officer there, “decided against it.”
Instead, Jordan’s statement said, Pappas “began a formalized written MOU [memo of understanding] procedure” in November 2003, with the CIA and members of Task Force 1-21, “and the memorandum on procedures for dropping ghost detainees was signed.”
Defense Department officials have said that there were as many as 100 ghost detainees held in prisons in Iraq but that the detainees slipped through the cracks and were not part of any official agreement. A Navy report issued yesterday said there was evidence of about 30 ghost detainees, but Pentagon officials said they could find no evidence of a signed agreement.