Camp Nama: New Details of the US-Run Torture Prison in Iraq
by John Glaser
The Guardian has published a report based on new interviews with British soldiers who witnessed torture and abuse of Iraqi detainees at the US-run prison Camp Nama following the invasion in 2003.
“On the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq,” the report says, a number of British personnel who cooperated with US forces and officials at Camp Nama “have come forward to describe the abuses they witnessed,” which include:
- Iraqi prisoners being held for prolonged periods in cells the size of large dog kennels.
- Prisoners being subjected to electric shocks.
- Prisoners being routinely hooded.
- Inmates being taken into a sound-proofed shipping container for interrogation, and emerging in a state of physical distress.
The full extent of the torture and abuse that took place in US-run facilities in Iraq will never be known. Most Americans think the scandal went no farther than a few bad apples at Abu Ghraib, where leaked photographs revealed blood-streaked floors, detainees on dog collars, sadistic sexual abuse, evidence of homicide and more. But the true scandal was bigger. Much bigger.
Suspects were brought to the secret prison at Baghdad International airport, known as Camp Nama, for questioning by US military and civilian interrogators. But the methods used were so brutal that they drew condemnation not only from a US human rights body but from a special investigator reporting to the Pentagon.
A British serviceman who served at Nama recalled: “I saw one man having his prosthetic leg being pulled off him, and being beaten about the head with it before he was thrown on to the truck.”
The abuse at Camp Nama has been reported before. One Army intelligence sergeant “told his commander three members of the counterintelligence team had hit detainees, pulled their hair, tried to asphyxiate them and staged mock executions with pistols pointed at the detainees’ heads,” The Washington Post reported in 2005. In 2006, The New York Times revealed that American interrogators at Camp Nama severely beat detainees and even shot paintball guns at them for target practice, among other cruelties.
“Torture and other abuses against detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq were authorized and routine, even after the 2004 Abu Ghraib scandal,” Human Rights Watch found in 2006. According to the report, “detainees were routinely subjected to severe beatings, painful stress positions, severe sleep deprivation, and exposure to extreme cold and hot temperatures.”
Many of these reports indicated there was official sanction of this abuse from high up the US chain of command, including full knowledge of it by Stanley McChrystal. The Guardian report adds further weight to this, revealing that UK soldiers had to go through certain procedures because US officials knew they would be in violation of international law.