Some U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq interrogated prisoners "using
techniques they literally remembered from the movies," according to documents
from a U.S. military report released by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The civil rights group released on Thursday 1,800 pages of documents obtained
from the government as part of a federal lawsuit seeking information on the
treatment of U.S.-held detainees.
The U.S. military was widely criticized after pictures of guards abusing detainees
in Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad were made public in April 2004.
ACLU said the documents, taken from interviews conducted for a 2004
investigation by Lt. Gen. Paul Mikolashek, the Army's inspector general, contradict
the investigation's findings that there were no systematic failures that led
to detainee abuse.
One observation, taken from interviews of military personnel in the 4th Infantry
Division, said officers "engaged in interrogations using techniques they
literally remembered from the movies."
Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, said the documents were evidence
of widespread abuse.
"When troops rely on movies to learn interrogation techniques
rather than proper training, our government has failed and the blame is on Washington,
not Hollywood," he said.
Another observation of the same infantry division noted, "There was no
specific training on the treatment of detainees; the MPs relied on their common
knowledge in this area."
ACLU attorney Jameel Jaffer said the documents showed the conclusions of the
Mikolashek report, one of several military reviews into the treatment of detainees,
"The Mikolashek report concluded that the prisoner abuses were not a result
of systematic failures," he said. "These documents flatly contradict
that conclusion, and point to the failure to adequately train soldiers and a
failure to require that abuse be reported."
Several soldiers have admitted guilt or been found guilty in court-martial
of abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
Army investigations have found that top U.S. generals committed no wrongdoing
in the Abu Ghraib scandal, although Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski,
who headed the military police brigade at the prison, was relieved of her command
The documents were released by the civil rights group as part of a Freedom
of Information suit filed in 2003 regarding treatment of U.S-held detainees
in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.
So far more than 70,000 pages of documents have been handed over to the ACLU,
which has filed suit against several government departments, including the Department
of Defense, CIA, FBI and Department of Justice.
"These documents, like other documents already released, show that the
abuse was widespread and that the Mikolashek investigation, like the other military
investigations, simply ignored the evidence," said Jaffer.