Copy of part of Transcript. Highlted some parts for you.
Archives - November 09, 2005
Lifting the Hood- The Prisoners of Abu Ghraib.
Dateline lifts the hood, so to speak, on the torture scandal that was Abu Ghraib. Today, the US Senate decided not to examine whether torture was used
at Abu Ghraib and other US-run prisons overseas. That said Olivia Rousset has tracked down the Iraqi who says he's "the Hoodman", the man
famously photographed with arms outstretched and electrodes attached to his fingers.
REPORTER: Olivia Rousset
HAJ ALI (Translation): I entered through a door like this and I remember they had me stand like this, in this position.
This man has become an icon of everything that's gone wrong with America's occupation of Iraq.
HAJ ALI (Translation): He then stretched my hands in this position and attached the wires to them.
Ali al-Shalal Abbas, or Haj Ali as he is known, believes he is the man in this photo.
HAJ ALI(Translation): It just felt like my eyes were popping out. You know. I got a headache, then fell down. I couldn't stand it.
Haj Ali spent just three months in Abu Ghraib prison, but will spend the rest of his life reliving it.
HAJ ALI(Translation): This is the worst situation a human being can be in. I don't think a person can bear this. Am I a light bulb? A human
ABU MAAN(Translation): This is me. I swear to God. I was wearing this underwear. They even told me my underwear resembles Saddam Hussein's.
While the torturers in the notorious Abu Ghraib photos have been tried and sentenced, their victims have gone uncompensated and unheard. Abu Maan
spent 11 months being humiliated and tortured in Abu Ghraib.
REPORTER: When you look at these photos of yourself and other people how do you feel?
ABU MAAN(Translation): Of course I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed of the photos, except of this one. This is ultimate manhood. Courage. But there are photos
that disgust me. Even though I was forced to do it, I still hurt inside. A dark time in my life.
Amman, Jordan has become a refuge from Hell for many Iraqis like Haj Ali and Abu Maan. Abu Maan is a retired army general from the Iraqi Special
Forces. He says he was imprisoned before the war for criticising Saddam's regime.
Still, as a former army general in a brutal military
dictatorship he was of obvious interest to the Americans. So, Abu Maan was not surprised when he heard a helicopter above his house in the middle of
ABU MAAN (Translation): I told them the Americans were coming and to stay calm, because they were after me and I would be going with them. I was
worried about the kids, and my wife was pregnant. I woke her up. As I was waking her up the troops entered the bedroom.
MUTHANA(Translation): I was with Mum when I heard the Americans overhead. The glass was shattered. They tied up my brothers like that. They pulled
the cord so tight on my brother's neck he was choking. He was screaming and they punched him.
Abu Maan's wife Nadal was six months pregnant at the time of the raid.
NADAL (Translation): I was bleeding. I was shaking all over. In the morning I went to the hospital. I had a miscarriage.
While Nadal was in hospital her husband was being initiated into life at Abu Ghraib.
ABU MAAN (Translation): I entered the cell around 5am. Before that, they took photos of me in degrading positions. They'd stripped me and were
laughing at me. And I'd hear screaming. Men and women screaming. And children sometimes.
I found out later that my cell was number 11.
For four months Nadal had no news of her husband and assumed he was dead. As an unregistered 'ghost detainee' Abu Maan lived in constant fear.
ABU MAAN (Translation): I never thought that I would get out alive because they didn't give me a Red Cross number. That contravenes the Geneva
Convention. If someone wasn't given a number he remained in a situation of "deferred death".
Everyone who wasn't given a number felt he could
die in an hour, the next day, the day after.
Abu Maan was imprisoned in October 2003. Just two months earlier the Americans had reopened Abu Ghraib - one of the world's most notorious prisons
during Saddam Hussein's reign.
At the time there had been a major escalation in attacks by insurgents. The Americans desperately needed intelligence on the people behind these
killings and stepped up arrests and interrogations. The pressure was on, but it was obvious the Americans didn't know what to ask.
ABU MAAN (Translation): How often did you attack us? How often did you attack the US forces? Where has Saddam Hussein vanished to? My answer was "I
didn't attack you and I've never seen Saddam Hussein in person, only on TV."
As a local community leader Haj Ali was asked to inform on other people.
HAJ ALI (Translation): He eventually said "Don't you hate anyone? Give us the name of anyone you hate, we'll see it as cooperation, and help
Then he started escalating the threats, saying I knew Osama bin Laden in person and they'd send me to Guantanamo, my hand would rot, they'd
send me to a place where dogs couldn't live.
Haj Ali has come to see a surgeon in Amman. He injured his hand before he was arrested when a gun backfired at a wedding. Now he's hoping to get it
DOCTOR (Translation): You were at Abu Ghraib, right? Did anything specific happen to you there?
HAJ ALI (Translation): Anyone who had an injury or handicap, it was used in interrogations to pressure them. He told me to put my hand on the floor
and he stood on it and twisted his boot. I fainted.
DOCTOR (Translation): So you put your hand down and they crushed it?
Haj Ali was picked off the streets by the Americans around the same time as Abu Maan. In Abu Ghraib, the two men were classed as high value detainees
and put in cell block 1A reserved by military intelligence for special interrogations.
It has been widely reported that in August, 2003 Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld encouraged the physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi
prisoners to try to get information on the growing insurgency.
The guards were told the gloves are off and to loosen up the detainees for interrogations. Those in the solitary cells of Abu Ghraib were to feel it
the most. Haj Ali describes his arrival at cell block 1A.
HAJ ALI (Translation): They started throwing water on me and there were fans turning. They were writing on my body with a magic marker. Later on,
others read the words to me. Words like "Colin Powell" here and here. "Rotten hand". Words that are not good. They'd load a pistol and put it
here and tell me in Arabic, "Execution. Execution. Execution." I stayed like that until the dawn prayer. They took the hood off my head and I saw a
bearded, blond, tall man in front of me.
Haj Ali believes his first interrogator was Israeli. The interrogators at Abu Ghraib included CIA officers and private defence contractors.
HAJ ALI (Translation): He said "Do you know who I am? I'm a famous interrogator. I've interrogated in the Gaza Strip, in the West Bank, in south
Lebanon. When I interrogate someone either he dies or he tells me what I want to know." He asked me the same questions. "You can get out of this.
Don't think this is the end, it's only the beginning."
ABU MAAN (Translation): If they came and found me asleep they'd piss in a bottle and either pour it on me or tie me up and make me drink it. What has
information got to do with making you drink urine? If his aim was to get information. What has information got to do with not giving you medicine for
diarrhoea and leaving you in the cold? What has information got to do with this? What has information got to do with finishing interrogation, then
dying in the camp? It's not about information at all. It's about a few Americans in a frenzy of sadism, headed by Rumsfeld, sadist number one. And
sadism filtered down to some Americans, not all.
During his first four days Haj Ali says he was deprived of food and water, beaten and sexually assaulted with a rifle. But he says the worst thing
that happened was the psychological torture at the end of those four days.
HAJ ALI (Translation): They took me into the cell, tied me up like that and brought a speaker as big as this table. Exactly this size, the width of
the cell door. It was about 10cm from me and you could hear it over at the Arab Bank. Songs. The same song. 'Babylon, Babylon' Sung by a group, a
band. 'Babylon' was all I could understand.
When they took the speaker away I kept hearing the song in my head for hours on end.
The soundtrack at Abu Ghraib also included the screams of women. Haj Ali says he heard women being raped every night. Little is known about these
women they don't appear in any of the photos, and it is near impossible to find women willing to tell their stories.
HAJ ALI (Translation): It wasn't unusual at Abu Ghraib prison. We could hear their cries for help nine metres away. We even found out the name of one
rapist. He wore glasses and had MP here, whatever MP means.
In January 2004, without charge or apology, Haj Ali was hooded, put on the back of a truck with a group of other prisoners, driven to a highway in
Baghdad and pushed off. It wasn't long before the world found out what had happened to him.
On January 13, Military Police Officer Joseph Darby blew the whistle on prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, handing copies of the graphic photographs to
army investigators. Nearly four months later the photos were beamed worldwide and Washington went into damage control.
DONALD RUMSFELD: In recent days there has been a focus on the few who have betrayed our values and sullied the reputation of our country. Like each of
you I am sure, like most Americans, I was stunned. It was a body blow.
It wasn't long before the 'New Yorker' magazine reported that the Secretary of Defence was personally responsible for authorising the use of
torture at Abu Ghraib.
DONALD RUMSFELD: I've stopped reading the newspapers.
Despite a damning report by Major General Antonio Taguba... only six officers were disciplined in relation to the abuse at Abu Ghraib. No other senior
officers or interrogators from private contracting companies have ever been punished.
HAJ ALI (Translation): We've seen none of the Titan Corp or CACI interrogators who'd rape a man in front of his wife, and a woman in front of her
husband and a girl in front of her family. We haven't seen any of them being charged. This company hides behind its billions. A month after Abu
Ghraib, its contract was renewed.
Of the entire chain of command, only nine low-ranking soldiers have ever been jailed.
HAJ ALI (Translation): I can never forget their faces. It's true their features differed but the monster was the same behind the masks they were
wearing. But I could recognise Davis, Graner. But not the interrogators. They were very careful. Up to now, everyone in the photos have been soldiers
Most guards were only jailed for a few months. Specialist Charles Graner received the longest sentence - 10 years.
ABU MAAN (Translation): Oh dear!
According to the victims, Graner was the most brutal of all the guards.
ABU MAAN (Translation): This is the problem. He's the root of all problems.
REPORTER: You remember him?
ABU MAAN (Translation): Yes. Even now whenever I sleep, I have nightmares about him and can't go back to sleep. He'd come and say "Why isn't there
any noise? I want to drink my Nescafe and enjoy music. Who wants to volunteer to make music for me?” No one would volunteer so he'd pick someone,
hang him up and make him scream. And he'd bring his chair and take pleasure in it and say, "This is my favourite music." Miss Olivia, in Australia
if a dog died would you drag it like that?
Along with Charles Graner, Lynndie England was a regular feature of Abu Maan's nights.
ABU MAAN (Translation): She's Graner's girlfriend. Or his wife, they said later. He used to kiss her like that, one kiss would last 10 minutes. My
mother is prettier, and she's an old woman. My father's prettier.
When I interviewed Abu Maan, Lynndie England had just been sentenced to three years in prison for her role in the torture.
ABU MAAN (Translation): I spit on you, you daughter of a [Edited Out]! I spit on you, [Edited Out]! Just three years. Three years only!
This is specialist Sabrina Harman. She was released after serving only a few months in prison.
ABU MAAN (Translation): She's gloating over a dead man. What would she have inside her? She must have the devil inside her. But she looked - I
fancied her. She was pretty. At that time I saw her as pretty.
The body is that of Munadel al-Jumaili who was tortured to death within a day of his arrival at Abu Ghraib. And this is Munadel's wife and daughter,
at home in Baghdad. An actor and part-time driver, Munadel was arrested at home in November, 2003. 5.5 hours later, he was dead. Ilham spent the
following seven months looking for her husband.
ILHAM (Translation): We didn't know that we'd see Munadel dead on TV. If Saddam took someone they'd go and never come back. We didn't expect
America to take Munadel and never return him.
The CIA alleges Munadel supplied explosives used by insurgents in several attacks, including the bombing of the Red Cross office, in Baghdad. His
daughter Hajer says this is ridiculous.
HAJER (Translation): He was informed on. No more than that. There was nothing against Dad. I don't think there was anything that showed he'd hurt
the Americans or, as they say, was a terrorist or they found weapons at home. There's nothing of this sort. Nothing. They're all lies.
According to army witnesses Munadel was interrogated by CIA operatives. For up to two hours he was hung from window bars, with both his arms
stretched out behind him bearing his full weight, one of the military police summoned to reposition Munadel said blood gushed from his mouth as if a
faucet had been turned on. His body was packed in ice overnight, and the next day medics put a fake IV in his arm, and took his corpse away on a
stretcher. No-one ever contacted Munadel's family to tell them he was dead.
ILHAM (Translation): He was our father, brother, husband, he was everything to us. The father of my children.
HAJER (Translation): What else can they say other than terrorist operations? They say Muslims are terrorists when they are the terrorists. Who can
do this? Is this a human being? Isn't he a human like him? How do you explain this photograph? When you see it what can you say other than this is
A military autopsy concluded Munadel's death was a homicide, and that he died from a blunt trauma to the chest, which broke five ribs. Combined with
the hood on his head and the position he was hung in, his injuries caused his asphyxiation.
ILHAM (Translation): We waited for him from minute to minute, for seven months. There was nowhere we didn't look for him. We asked anyone who came
out if they had seen Munadel and they said they hadn't seen him.
No-one has been charged with murdering Munadel. He died in the custody of a CIA interrogator who is still working for the agency.
It is now two
years since Munadel was murdered and the CIA says the case is still under investigation. The family has filed a lawsuit in the US. While they don't
expect justice, they are hoping for some compensation to help them survive.
Haj Ali has started an organisation called Victims of the American Occupation Prisons which claims to have 40,000 members. He now spends most of his
time trying to help other ex-detainees and documenting new stories of abuse.
HAJ ALI (Translation): Only one thing has changed in Abu Ghraib. The cameras they used to take photos have now disappeared. Abuse now is more than
before. Humiliation is more. The number of jails has risen drastically.
The Americans reopened Abu Ghraib to try to counter the insurgency, but over the past two years the attacks have only intensified. Haj Ali says the
abuse at Abu Ghraib has played a major role in this.
HAJ ALI (Translation): When a man's honour is violated before his eyes, or when he refuses sexual intercourse with a female soldier and then she
straps on a dildo and rapes him, what do you expect from that man?
Haj Ali and Abu Maan are both broken men. Abu Maan lives here in exile - too afraid of the new regime to go back to Iraq. He will always be haunted by
his memories of Abu Ghraib.
NADAL (Translation): He's suffering too many things. Mainly his psychological condition is not well. He's constantly nervous.
ABU MAAN (Translation): Dreams at night.
NADAL (Translation): He gets startled at night. He remembers the Americans when they first detained him. He's not well. He's not normal.
HAJ ALI (Translation): Of course it has changed my life. I had simple and humble interests before. I had an ordinary life - wife, children, garden,
planting. I've lost all of that. My experience made me forget everything that was beautiful.
[edit on 9-11-2005 by Syrian Sister]