Autopsy reports on 44 prisoners who died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan indicate that 21 were victims of homicide, including eight who appear to have been fatally abused by their captors, the American Civil Liberties Union reported Monday.
The abuse involved cases in which detainees were smothered, beaten or exposed to the elements, sometimes during interrogation. Many of these cases had been brought to light previously but now have been confirmed through U.S. military autopsies. Some of the deaths followed abusive interrogations by elite Navy SEALs, military intelligence officers and the CIA, the ACLU said.
“These documents present irrefutable evidence that U.S. operatives tortured detainees to death during interrogations,” said Amrit Singh, an attorney with the ACLU. “The public has a right to know who authorized the use of torture techniques and why these deaths have been covered up.”
In one homicide case, a 47-year-old detainee died in U.S. custody from “blunt force injuries and asphyxia” on Jan. 9, 2004, in Al Asad, Iraq, after being shackled to the top of a door frame with a gag in his mouth, according to Army documents. Another document said the case involved “choking.”
In another case, an Iraqi captured by Coronado, Calif.-based SEAL Team 7 and questioned by OGA — an abbreviation for “other government agency,” a term that generally refers to the CIA — died under interrogation at Abu Ghraib due to “blunt force trauma complicated by compromised respiration” after suffering bruises and rib fractures, U.S. military documents show.