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Context of 'July 15, 2004: Pentagon Delivers Red Cross Reports to Senate Armed Services Committee'

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At Camp Bucca, a large detention camp at Umm Qasr near the Kuwaiti border (officially called the Bucca Theater Internment Facility), representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) witness a shooting incident resulting in the death of one prisoner and the wounding of another. (International Committee of the Red Cross 2/2004)

A delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) interviews a 61-year-old Iraqi who has been imprisoned in Camp Bucca. The elderly man tells the ICRC that at the time of his arrest, he was “tied, hooded, and forced to sit on the hot surface of what he surmised to be the engine of a vehicle….” The ICRC verifies his account noting that the presence of “large crusted lesions” on his buttocks were consistent with his allegation. (International Committee of the Red Cross 2/24/2004 pdf file)

A delegation from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visits Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad and is appalled by the condition and treatment of the prisoners. The ICRC breaks “off [its] visit and [demands] an immediate explanation from the military prison authorities.” The delegation witnesses prisoners who are “completely naked in totally empty concrete cells and in total darkness.” According to its February 2004 report to Coalition Forces, “The military intelligence officer in charge of the interrogation explained that this practice was ‘part of the process.’” The ICRC subsequently complains to Coalition Forces. (Lewis 5/11/2004; US Department of Defense 8/23/2004 pdf file)

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) complains in writing to Coalition Forces about the treatment of prisoners being held at Abu Ghraib prison (see October 2003). (US Department of the Army 3/9/2004; Lewis 5/11/2004; Associated Press 5/16/2004; Jehl and Schmitt 5/19/2004) The ICRC’s complaints are then discussed at high levels inside the Bush administration. “We knew that the ICRC had concerns, and in accordance with the matter in which the ICRC does its work, it presented those concerns directly to the command in Baghdad,” Powell will later recall on “Fox News Sunday.” “And I know that some corrective action was taken with respect to those concerns,” he adds. (Associated Press 5/16/2004)

After months of ignoring requests from the Senate Armed Services Committee for Red Cross reports on detention operations at US-run prisons in Iraq, (New York Times 7/24/2004) the Pentagon finally delivers 24 of the organization’s 25 reports. (New York Times 7/16/2004) But the reports are shown only briefly to senators and a few members of the Armed Services Committee staff before being taken back to the Pentagon. (New York Times 7/16/2004)

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