GI: Boy mistreated to get dad
Says 16-year-old was stripped naked
WASHINGTON -- A military intelligence analyst who recently completed
duty at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq said Wednesday that the 16-year-old son of
a detainee there was abused by U.S. soldiers to break his father's
resistance to interrogators.
The analyst said the teenager was stripped naked,
thrown in the back of an open truck, driven around in the cold night air,
splattered with mud and then presented to his father at Abu Ghraib,
the prison at the center of the scandal over abuse of Iraqi detainees.
Upon seeing his frail and frightened son, the prisoner broke down and cried
and told interrogators he would tell them whatever they wanted, the analyst
The new account of mistreatment came as Army Spec. Jeremy Sivits was
sentenced in Iraq to a year in prison Wednesday and a bad-conduct discharge
after pleading guilty in the first court-martial stemming from the abuses at
In Washington, top commanders for U.S. forces in Iraq told senators they
never approved abusive techniques for interrogating prisoners. But they also
promised that investigators would scrutinize everyone in the chain of
command, including the generals themselves.
Sgt. Samuel Provance, who maintained the 302nd Military Intelligence
Battalion's top-secret computer system at Abu Ghraib prison, gave the
account of abuse of the teenager in a telephone interview from Germany,
where he is now stationed. He said he also has described the incident to
Provance's account of mistreatment of a prisoner's son is consistent with
concerns raised by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which had
received reports that interrogators were threatening
reprisals against detainees' family members.
Provance already has been deemed a credible witness by Maj. Gen. Antonio
Taguba, who included the Army sergeant in a list of witnesses whose
statements he relied on to make his findings of prisoner mistreatment at Abu
Although Pentagon officials have portrayed the abuses at the prison as the
isolated conduct of a few out-of-control guards, Provance's account offers
fresh evidence of broader participation. He said members of Abu Ghraib's
military intelligence unit were well aware that prisoners were subjected to
sexual humiliation and other abuse.
One female interrogator told him of forcing detainees to wear nothing but
women's underwear and questioning a male prisoner who was kept naked during
interrogation, Provance said. He said he overheard colleagues in the
military intelligence battalion laughing as a soldier in the unit described
watching MPs use two detainees as "practice dummies,"
first knocking one prisoner unconscious with a blow and then doing the same
to the other.
Account is 2nd-hand
Provance, 30, said he was not present for the mistreatment of the detainee's
son, which he said occurred in December or possibly January. But he said an
interrogator described the incident to him shortly afterward. When contacted
by the Tribune on Wednesday, that soldier declined to comment.
Provance said he escorted the boy from the interrogation cellblock to the
prison's general population immediately after the encounter between the
teenager and his father.
"This kid was so frail. He was shaking like a leaf," he said.
Provance said he urged the interrogators not to put the teenager in the
prison's unruly, poorly supervised general population, but was rebuffed.
"I even went inside and said, `This kid is scared for his life. He's
probably going to be raped. He can't be put in general population,'"
He said he did not know the identity of either the father or son but said
the father was described to him as a "high-level individual" who had not
provided useful intelligence in previous questioning.
Army spokesman Col. Joseph Curtin said he could not comment on the incidents
described by Provance because they are part of an investigation. But Curtin
said, "We are working very hard to get to the truth."
Maj. Paul Karnaze, a spokesman for the Army Intelligence School at Ft.
Huachuca, Ariz., said Army policy forbids any abuse or threats of abuse
against family members during interrogations. "That's just so far from the
Army values we train," Karnaze said.
Provance said he described the incidents to investigators, most recently in
an interview this month with Maj. Gen. George Fay, who is overseeing the
Army's investigation of military intelligence officials' involvement in
Concerns over a cover-up
Provance said he became concerned about a possible cover-up of the role of
military intelligence officials after receiving written instructions shortly
after the interview telling him not to discuss Abu Ghraib.
In addition, Provance said, Fay warned that he likely would recommend
administrative action against Provance for not reporting abuses before his
first sworn statement, made in January. The administrative action would
effectively bar promotions for Provance.
"I felt like I was being punished for being honest,"
An Army official said it was routine procedure for military investigators to
instruct witnesses not to discuss events that are under examination.
Provance said he questioned treatment of prisoners several times last fall
"I would voice my opinion . . . and they would say, `What do you know?
You're a system administrator,'" he said. Among the interrogators "there's a
certain cockiness," he added.
Provance said his duties recently were switched from a computer systems
administrator to a military intelligence analyst but he remains on duty with
his unit, which returned from Iraq in February. He is now stationed in
Heidelberg, Germany, he said.
source: The Chicago Tribune -
May 20, 2004