Peter Finn

Beyond Abu Ghraib – Military Detention, Abuse, Iraq and US Power

The United States (US) military detention system in Iraq makes for an illuminating case study as it is possible to trace its creation, evolution and operation from a baseline of zero, as the US and its coalition partners invaded Iraq in the second half of March 2003, through to a fully-fledged bureaucracy, that, by the summer of 2005 was responsible for the housing of approximately 10,000 detainees. (Moss 2006) The initial responsibility for the running of the core of the system fell to Brigadier General Paul Hill who, as head of the 800 th Military Police (MP), had to ‘coordinate units that were mobilizing in Maryland, Indiana and Georgia’; most of whom had ‘some basic training in police duties […]. Exactly how well trained and how well they would work together was impossible to say’ (Karpinski & Strasser 2005: 149). Hill was replaced by US Army Reserve Brigadier General Janis Karpinski who was appointed to head up the system on the 30 th of June 2003 (Beaumont, Burke & Harris 2004; Karpinski & Strasser 2005: 151-173). Karpinski’s role as head of the 800th MP saw her ‘responsible for 3,400 soldiers at 16 facilities’ (Davenport, Higham & White 2004). Karpinski held this post until the outbreak of the Abu Ghraib scandal in April 2004 when Major General Geoffrey Miller was appointed to replace her (Briere & Koladish 2010; Department of the Army 2005: 1). Miller had been an important figure in the operation of the US’s detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and had previously also been involved in the operation of Abu Ghraib (Briere & Koladish 2010; Center for Torture Accountability 2011; Department of the Army 2005: 1; MacAskill 2011). Miller was appointed to head up the newly formed Task Force-134 (TF134) (Briere & Koladish 2010; Department of the Army 2005: 1). TF134 was conceived as a body specifically assigned to ‘oversee all aspects of the conduct of detainee operations’ in Iraq (Briere & Koladish 2010).


Peter Finn The US’s military detention system in Iraq was a multi-faceted and ever-evolving system that contained numerous types of sites that carried out various roles and engaged with the US’s wider mission in Iraq in differing ways. Detainees were generally captured by US forces engaged in the conflict and held initially at a Foreword Operating Base (FOB) (Phillips 2010: 56-58). These FOBs were spread throughout the country and included FOB Delta, which was in Eastern Iraq near the Iranian border, and FOB Packhorse, which was located in Tikrit in Northern Iraq (Department of the Army 2003: 1; Department of the Army 2004; Rowland 2009). While at such facilit ies, DTNs were ‘in -processed’ and allotted the same rations as US military personnel (Department of the Army 1 2003: 3-4). Following this, those detainees not released were transferred to larger facilities such as Abu Ghraib, located to the west of Baghdad, Camp Cropper Theatre Internment Facility, located at Baghdad International Airport, and Camp Bucca, in Southern Iraq near the border with Kuwait (Bill 2010: 421-424; Gourevitch & Morris 2009: 1; Jehl & Schmitt 2004). Detainees could be held for 14 days at FOBs before being transferred to central facilities (Jehl & Schmitt 2004). Some facilities utilised pre-existing infrastructure, with the most famous being the adoption of the notorious Baathist era jail at Abu Ghraib, while others, such as Camp Bucca, were constructed by US forces on their arrival in Iraq (Iraq-Business News 2010; UNHCR 2002). The system was in operation until the handing over of the last prisoner to Iraqi custody in December 2011 (Stewart 2011). This program of US military detention in Iraq came under close scrutiny as a result of pictures taken at Abu Ghraib prison (CBS News 2006; Hersh 2004). These pictures, among other things, depicted naked detainees in a human pyramid and a naked detainee (DTN) being dragged around by a lead tied round his neck (The Guardian 2004). The offending pictures were taken in the fall of 2003 and made public in spring 2004. The furore surrounding these pictures was one of the most high profile scandals of the War on Terror. It was asserted by numerous US officials that the events at Abu Ghraib were committed by a few ‘bad apples’ that carried out isolated acts of mistreatment against DTNs


Peter Finn (Paul Wolfowitz in CBS News 2009; Phillips 2010: 18; Simone 2009). These acts, it was claimed, were not indicative of a wider trend of mistreatment or abuse of DTNs during the early years of the US’s presence in Iraq (CBS News 2009). However, as Seymour Hersh notes:

‘The roots of the Abu Ghraib scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists, but in the reliance of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld on secret operations and the use of coercion – an eye-for-an-eye retribution – in fighting terrorism.’ (Hersh 2005: 46)

Moreover, as Joshua Phillips states:

‘To be sure, the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib was notorious and deserved much scrutiny. Yet it represented just one example. Reports by journalists and human rights organizations have shown that US detainee abuse and torture spread beyond that single prison during the war on terror’ (Phillips 2010: ix)

As stated by both Hersh & Phillips, the abuse at Abu Ghraib was but a small part of a larger story and, as alluded to by Hersh, without understanding the machinations behind these patterns it is not possible to grasp their wider significance. As well as containing numerous types of sites, the US military detention system in Iraq saw the interaction between numerous actors. The actor that anchored the system was the US Army, however, numerous other actors played crucial roles within it; these included the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and private corporations. Understanding the behaviour and roles 3

this work will illuminate how a variation on the phenomena. the various actors within the system to be understood. To deal with these issues of conception and understanding this piece will present an analytical framework designed to help one begin to understand the differences between actors. the main actor framework will be examined. Actors external to the US government will be said to be outsourcing actors and those that form part of the US government but are separate entities to the US Army will be labelled as insourcing actors. Firstly. Main Actor: US Army 4 . This will be done with an examination of the core capture.Peter Finn of. Drawing on literature related to the development of the private military contractor (PMC) outsourcing industry in the postCold War era. and interactions between. can help one understand the roles played by various actors of the US government within the US military detention system in Iraq. with particular attention being paid to the similarities between the two phenomena. Next. This process will provide the groundwork for the examination of other actors. Throughout the piece. these various actors is key to conceptualising how the system functioned. As the actor in overall control of the lion’s share of the system. this piece will develop a framework that enables the actions of. the effects that these differences had on behaviour and the value these differences have for those responsible for the deployment of US power. as well as the interaction between. allegations of abuse will be drawn upon to illuminate discussions. which this piece shall label insourcing. the US Army will be labelle d the main actor. This work will draw distinctions between three types of actors. transport and detention functions of the system that were provided by the US Army. Building on research into the outsourcing phenomena that enables one to get a handle on its development. this outsourcing/insourcing dichotomy will be illuminated.

Detainee Capture At 22:45 on the evening of the 3 rd of January 2004 two Iraqi males reached a checkpoint in Samarra. Iraq. It is these three core functions (capture. the body in overall control of the system was the US Army. both before and after the creation of TF134. following the Abu Ghraib scandal TF134 was created to oversee the system.Peter Finn Bureaucratic structures. in part. The level of consistency of operation across such structures can relate. along with its ability to dictate similar codes of operation to those who interact with and operate within the structure but do not fall under the direct control of the central authority. In the case of the US military detention system in Iraq. This piece will now examine examples of US Army personnel involved in these three core operations and illuminate how the system would not have functioned effectively without them. As already mentioned. included front line soldiers who took DTNs into custody. this did not mean that those in other parts of the US Army ceased having contact with DTNs or the system itself. ‘They were warned that curfew was about to begin (2300 hours) 5 . The tasks related to detention operations carried out by those working in various roles within the Army. Without such operations other facets of the system such as interrogation would not take place. such as a detention system (regardless of whether they are part of a state’s foreign policy operations or not) tend to have a single overriding body that is responsible for the overall command and control of the system. those who were involved in transporting convoys containing DTNs between detention sites and those working for brigades dedicated to running larger detention sites such as Abu Ghraib. to the ability and will of the central body to implement consistent procedures amongst its own personnel. transportation & detention) that form the backbone of the operations carried out within the US military system in Iraq. however.

Following this. the other former DTN ‘could not swim and drowned’. let go and then stopped again and detained by the same soldiers. All information from (Department of the Army 1 2004) ---- The events of the 3rd of January 2004 at Samarra Bridge illuminate the central role that frontline US Army personnel played within the US military detention system in Iraq. as turned out not to be the case in this instance.Peter Finn but were released when they indicated they were close to home and would make it on time’. The platoon leader ordered three soldiers under his command ‘ to push the detainees into the river’. however. One soldier. their hands zip-tied behind their backs’. The initial choice to take the Iraqi men into custody meant that the soldiers then had to decide how to treat the men in their custody and. whether to hold them within the system for a prolonged period of time. or unwillingness. After driving away from the checkpoint they were stopped by US soldiers. The decision to push the DTNs of the bridge illuminates the inability. asked for identification. a specialist. The US soldiers in the Bradley fighting vehicle drove to a nearby bridge that crossed the Tigris River. of the US Army as the central authority within the system to adequately control the actions of those personnel 6 . refused to take part and acted as a guard instead. They were put into a ‘Bradley fighting vehicle. the soldiers ‘returned to their vehicle and returned to their Forward Operating Base’. One of the former DTNs managed to make his way to the river bank. The zip-ties were removed from the two DTNs who were then pushed into the Tigris from the bridge.

The abuse took place during the transfer and during the unloading of the DTNs at Camp Bucca. the actions of frontline forces were central to providing the lifeblood of the system and to determining its size and scope. As already alluded to. Sergeant Scott McKenzie and Specialist Tim Canjar were involved in transferring Iraqi DTNs in a bus from Talil Airbase. to Camp Bucca. Without a constant flow of DTNs captured by frontline forces. the system itself would not have evolved at the speed it did. without having been taken into custody in the first place. Finally. 7 . McKenzie and Canjar were discharged from the US Army due to allegations of abuse related to the transfer and the fact that they colluded to prevent full details of the events related to the abuse coming to light.000 DTNs (Moss 2006). As such. Iraq. the DTNs would not have been exposed to the actions of the US soldiers. the events at Samarra Bridge demonstrate that the abusive act of pushing the DTNs of the bridge is secondary to the act of detention itself as. thus revealing an inversion of the use of the chain of command to prevent instances of abuse happening.Peter Finn operating within its chain of command. Many of these DTNs were captured by US Army personnel in places such as Samarra and on patrols such as the one that led to the capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003 (BBC 2003). Detainee Transport On the 12th of May 2003 a number of US soldiers including Master Sergeant Lisa Girman. Girman. This lack of control over the chain of command is highlighted by the fact that three members of the platoon were directed to push the DTNs into the river by the platoon leader. by the summer of 2005 the US military detention system in Iraq housed over 10.

McKenzie & Canjar included the kicking of a DTN in the ‘groin. McKenzie & Canjar were formally punished for the events related to the prisoner transfer to Camp Bucca on the 12 th of May 2003. Iraq. at Camp Bucca. among others.’ As such. Girman was accused of encouraging a ‘potential subject and/or witness’ to the case ‘not to take a polygraph examination’ and of ‘winking at’ them while ‘telling him that h e did not see anything regarding the maltreatment of the Iraqi prisoners of war’. In a document entitled Allegations of Detainee Abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan the potential involvement of other US personnel in the abuse is alluded to. Girman. Girman. ---8 . all deny that their conduct constituted abuse and claim they acted in self-defence. All information from (CNN 2004. Department of the Army 1 2005). it is possible that others were also involved in the multiple instances of abuse discussed above. It is alleged that one of the DTNs’ subject to abuse was targeted because he was ‘accused of multiple rapes’. despite accepting being discharged over the abuse. the ‘kicking and punching’ and the dragging around by the armpits of a DTN and the kicking in the leg and face of a DTN. and head’. abdomen.Peter Finn The abuse metered out to DTNs by. Department of the Army 2 2004. states that: ‘On 12 May 03. ten USAR enlisted MP soldier physically assaulted seven Iraqi detainees during in-processing at the facility. which lists a number of allegations of abuse in both theatres of combat. The document. McKenzie & Canjar. although Girman.

From the point view of those who ran the US military detention system. either by fault or design. even in the early stages of the Iraq War the US Army had failed. the abuse of the DTNs came about from the lack of strictly observed parameters for DTN transportation.Peter Finn The events of the 12th of May 2003. illuminate that. Karpinski & Strasser 2005: 185-190). to move DTNs to Abu Ghraib after its interrogation and intelligence capabilities were ramped up or to move DTNs between sites to deal with practical considerations such as overcrowding and rioting (Joint Training Readiness Center 2003. The fact that the assaults were potentially carried out by up to ten members of the US Army against seven DTNs demonstrates the permissive nature of the culture that surrounded this particular DTN transport mission. as with the events in Samarra. Thus illuminating that the abuse itself was a consequence of the manner in which the core function of transportation was carried out. the ability of the US Army to deal with a growing DTN population would have been aided significantly by the ability to determine when. offered a key tool that greatly enhanced its flexibility. Finally. Moreover. coming less than two months after the initial invasion of Iraq. regardless of whether abuse took place or not. McKenzie & Canjar colluded to prevent the full extent of events coming to light would further indicate that they had not been adequately trained in the serious nature of DTN abuse or the obstruction of justice. the ability to circulate DTNs within it. for instance. Such transportation missions could. the fact that Girman. where and for how long DTNs were held. be used to move DTNs from smaller FOBs after their capture and initial detention to larger facilities such as Camp Bucca. however. to adequately train its personnel in the treatment of DTNs. Detainee Detention 9 . As the system grew.

‘with no greater clarity as to the cause of death expected’. noted that ‘a total of four rioters [were] killed that day in order to calm the riot’. The captain also noted that ‘[t]here were a number of my soldiers injured that day’ and that ‘The ROE [rules of engagement] was adjusted after the incident.Peter Finn In late November 2003 a ‘riot’ broke out at Camp Ganci. (Department of Defense 2004) On the 11th of September 2003 at FOB Packhorse ‘an Iraqi detainee died while in US custody’. (Department of Defense 2004) On the 4th of January 2004 a former Iraqi Army Lieutenant Colonel ‘ was taken into custody […] [and] was subsequently placed in an isolation cell and questioned at least two times in ensuing days’. and the body released for burial’. a section of the wider Abu Ghraib complex. An examination of his body on the 11 th of January revealed ‘extensive bruising on his upper body’. The death was classified as ‘’’undetermined’’’. no autopsy was conducted. but ‘the body did not exhibit signs of abuse or foul play’. with ‘no greater clarity as to the cause of death […] expected’ as ‘no forensic examination of the body was conducted ’. He further went on to state that ‘[o]ne of my soldiers killed an Iraqi rioter after expending his non-lethal rounds’. The captain of the 320th US Army Military Police Company. so that the MP's could go to lethal force a lot sooner’. whose company was stationed at Abu Ghraib at the time. The DTN had been ‘throwing rocks’. The manner of the death was classified as ‘’’undetermined’’’. An autopsy was not carried out. The fatality occurred when an ‘enlisted soldier on guard duty. (Matrangelo 2004) On the 3rd of August 2003 at Camp Cropper ‘an Iraqi detainee died while in US custody. failed to follow the ROE and shot the detainee’. (Department of Defense 2004) On the 9th of December 2003 at the 2nd Brigade detention facility in Mosul ‘an Iraqi detainee died while in US custody’. A subsequent autopsy indicated that ‘the 10 . The US Army’s Criminal Investigation Command was notified of his suspicious death on the 9th of January.

The causes of some fatalities. that dogged the system. the descriptions of the above fatalities reveal some of the methods of control. such as the shootings described above. a number of the fatalities within the US military detention system illustrate either a lack of awareness of. This research has currently documented over 70 DTN deaths that took place between the 29th of March 2003 and the 14th of June 2004. Firstly they demonstrate that the US had various types of sites. Just as importantly. are known while the reasons for others are not. Thirdly. the description of the five fatalities above is exceedingly revealing. the DTN fatalities described above illuminate some of the practicalities. from dealing with riots to the disposing of bodies. with the manner of death listed as homicide’. Yet. from isolation cells to the use of lethal force. they show that these problems manifest themselves across the system at various times and places rather than being selfcontained and isolated issues. from small FOBs through to large complexes that were used to house DTNs. Fourthly. for those attempting to understand how the US military detention system played into the wider parameters of US power in Iraq.Peter Finn cause of death’ was ‘blunt force injuries and asphyxia. Secondly they highlight that these sites were spread across broad swathes of Iraq. that were utilised within the system. DTN fatalities took place at a number of detention sites and came about for a number of reasons. As with the abuse that DTNs were subject to at capture and during transportation. 11 . standard operating procedures. or a refusal or inability to follow. (Department of Defense 2004) ---- The five DTN deaths described above are broadly reflective of those that took place across the US military detention system. from Mosul in the north to Camp Cropper and Abu Ghraib in the vicinity of Baghdad.

This is true across all three core functions of capture. transport and detention carried out by the US Army the other actors. and sometimes misunderstanding or misrepresentations of the legal frameworks and chains of command that various actors were working to was exploited. provided an outlet for those DTNs captured by frontline forces who could. however. in turn. However. or plain disregard for. transport and detention and between time and place. The detention system run by the US Army allowed the US to control a substantial population of DTNs in Iraq.Peter Finn The US Military Detention System When examined as a whole. without the core competencies of capture. the core of the US military detention system operated by the US Army illuminates the lack of control and fail-safes to prevent DTN abuse. in theory. This. The muddied understandings of. would not have had a system to plug into. be exploited for their intelligence value. the flaws described above do not necessarily take away from the effectiveness of the system itself. As will be discussed in more detail later. The use of the chain of command to direct abuse and the evidence of collusion to prevent knowledge of events seeing the light of day in separate incidents help put paid to the myth that events at Abu Ghraib were carried out by ‘bad apples’ and were not reflective of wider events. the differences in. if one is thinking in terms of US power. Much of this attempted intelligence exploitation was carried out by the other actors within the system. whether they were outsourcers or insourcers. the importance of preventing DTN abuse may have played into the hands of the other actors who plugged into the system. when viewed in a wider context. 12 .

as a conservative estimate. Some of 13 . 6% were working within 'Security' roles. of which 7.800 (Belasco 2009: 9). Scahill 2008: Loc 113-214). Off this number. according to the Congressional Research Service the average monthly ‘Boots on the Ground’ total for US forces in Iraq in 2008 was 157. 5% were working within ‘Transportation' . while at the other end contractors have engaged in fire-fights (Chatterjee 2004 16.Peter Finn Outsourcing & Insourcing Outsourcing of military functions has been an important facet of the post-Cold War world. The US DOD classified 7. By contrast. for instance.611 of these contractors were US citizen. In other words.167 were Iraqi nationals (CENTCOM 2008). PMCs have made at least $138 billion in contracts related to Iraq awarded directly by the US government since the invasion by the US and its partners in March 2003. The full scope and scale of PMC engagement in Iraq was laid bare by analysis carried out in March 2013 by the Financial Times which showed that. 62.428 contractors working on its behalf in Iraq at this time (CENTCOM 2008). 2% were working within 'Communication Support' while the final 5% were classified as 'Other'. 22% were working within 'Construction'. reveals that the US DOD had 162. This variety in roles is reflected in the Quarterly Contractor Census Reports that are published by CENTCOM. The August 2008 version of this report.650 where classified as 'Third Country Nationals' while 70. in August 2008 the total number of contractors working just for the US DOD exceeded the total number of troops under the DOD’s command in the country. At one end of the spectrum they encompass logistical and administrative tasks previously carried out by military personnel such as the running of catering facilities for US troops.121 were armed (CENTCOM 2008). 5% were working within 'Translator/Interpreter' services. 29.704 out of the 162. The tasks carried out by PMCs in Iraq and in the wider WOT are exceedingly varied.428 as contractors who would perform 'personal security. convoy security and static security mission'. 55% were working as 'Base Support'.

Sleep deprivation 9. Stress positions 8. Wall standing 7.Peter Finn the largest earners included Kellog Brown and Root. Assistant Attorney General. Cramped confinement 6. Dyncorp. Poland and Morocco and rendered between these sites within the CIA rendition system (The Rendition Project 2012).3 billion of contracts. Bush issued a declaration to his senior staff that members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda were ‘unlawful combatants’ who were not entitled to the protections normally afforded Prisoners of War under the Geneva Conventions (Bush 2002). This filtering down is illustrated by a memo. This memo. which completed contracts equal to at least $7. The example of the removal of Geneva Convention rights from suspected members of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks help illuminate this point. Zubaydah was also held at numerous sites in places such as Thailand. (Fifield 2013: 1/5) ---- Two important facets of US foreign policy are the differentiation between and interaction of the various institutional actors within the US’s governmental bureaucracy that are responsible for the implementation of foreign policy. along with numerous others by members of the Bush 14 . and Blackwater. which booked at least $1. Attention grasp 2. On February the 7th 2002 President George W. dated 1st of August 2002. Facial slap (insult slap) 5.5 billion. Walling 3. which took at least $4. This legal framework quickly filtered down into policy construction. by Jay Bybee. Facial hold 4. Insects placed in a confinement box 10. As well as being held at Guantanamo Bay. The waterboard’) to be used during the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah at Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba (Bybee 2002: 2). Understanding this differentiation and interaction is often key to a full understanding of events.1 billion. which made at least $39. which recommended the adoption of ten techniques ( ‘1. The Financial Times drew its information directly from Federal Procurement Data. Agility.4 billion.

Understanding the differentiations and interactions between the various bodies involved in this process aids a deeper understanding of these events. many of the parameters present in outsourcing are reflected in bureaucratic structures that draw on other sections of the US government to provide capabilities and capacities not present in the lead actor. as being an actor who made up the shortfall in the capabilities of the intelligence agency. By all buying into the same narrative the head of the executive. ---- Outsourcing to PMCs can have. Or. aided in the application of repressive policies and the removal of the legal rights of DTNs (Rumsfeld 2002). the US Navy acted as an insourcing institution for the CIA. These benefits include the ability to draw on PMCs as force multipliers and capability multipliers. This piece will now move on to examine the manner in which the phenomena of outsourcing and insourcing reflect one another. often interrelated. the ability to exploit the muddied legal structures that govern PMCs. which pitched in its Cuban base. both of which contravene international law in their operation. benefits for those states that choose to engage in the practice. or is at least perceived to have.Peter Finn administration such as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. the globe straddling rendition system run by the CIA can be seen as the main actor and the US Navy. those in the upper echelons of the justice department and head of the DOD combined to help construct a situation that allowed the CIA to run a system of extraordinary rendition that feed the Guantanamo bay detention site run by the US Navy. numerous. put another way. When considered through such a prism. the ability to deploy additional force with political cover. Moreover. the ability to exploit the opacity of the operations of many 15 . when one begins to examine the differentiations and interactions between various government agencies responsible for the implementation of US foreign policy.

as the myriad of options offered by the many combinations of the numerous actors can be deployed and altered. the potential economic benefit of outsourcing military and security functions. The insourcing that took place within the US military detention system in Iraq was reflective of this flexibility. As such. it offers the advantage of flexibility for those shaping manifestation of US power. Interestingly. Stranger & Williams 2006) As highlighted by Table 1. however. perhaps most obvious. Singer 2008. This piece will now move on to examine how outsourcing and insourcing actors offer the possibility of many of the same benefits to those implementing US power.Peter Finn PMCs and. many of the same benefits can arise from insourcing into bureaucratic systems such as the US military detention system run by the US Army in Iraq. insourcing offers the potential for main actors and policy makers to benefit from many of the characteristics that are often discussed as being benefits to states who engage in outsourcing. Table 1 Some Outsourcing Benefits for States Force Multiplier Capability Multiplier Political Cover Legal Cover Opacity of Operation Economic Efficiency Outsourcing Y Y Y Y Y Y Insourcing Y Y Y Y Y N (Avant 2010. It will do so largely by the examination of outsourcing and insourcing within the US military detention system in 16 .

As such. Such firms are able to compete in national. minus their profits. before doing so. this piece will briefly lay out the perceived economic efficiencies that are derived from the use of PMCs by states. they do not have to pay for the long-term upkeep of a force once a contract is finished (Singer 2008: 101-118). budget sensitive atmosphere. many governments cut the military forces at their disposal as the bipolar US-Soviet Union conflict receded from the international stage. It is by passing on such savings. Nor do they have to concern themselves with maintaining large stocks of ammunition. PMCs do not have to worry about paying enduring costs such as medical bills or pensions. the perceived economic benefit derived from their use flows from the ability of PMC firms to act in an agile manner in the market place (Spear 2006: 20).Peter Finn Iraq. As Zamparelli notes: 17 . However. Economic Efficiency While those working for PMCs can gain attractive salaries. regional and global markets for staff and military hardware and. unlike standing militaries. to states that hire them that PMCs are said to be able to benefit the bottom lines of governments looking to operate in the complex. of the post-Cold War era. Force Multiplier In the post-Cold War world. logistical supplies or permanent staff as all of these can be procured from the open market to suit each individual contract or mission.

as Hennefer notes. CACI. PMCs have been drawn on by the US.000. this ‘gap […] has required the [US] military to outsource not only in the area of logistics.000 were Iraqi Armed guards. during the same period the DOD has cut slightly more than thirtyseven percent of its civilian workforce. 1:50. This reality fed into the operation of the US military detention system in Iraq and in the summer of 2003 the US government turned to a private corporation. but other key areas including: intelligence analysis. of whom 14. to fill the hole in their military capabilities left by the post-Cold War troop drain. the DOD cut approximately thirty-five percent of its uniformed positions. The total rose during 2004 to around 30. leading Geraghty to point out that: ‘During the first Gulf War in 1991. During the 2003 invasion it was 1:10. Put simply it was. at b est. This rise in the number of PMC personnel has been incredibly stark. interrogation. Going along with this reduction in uniformed personnel. to act as a force multiplier for its interrogation operations within the system. detainment and systems maintenance’ (Hennefer 2008: 37). In the summer of 2003 the need for intelligence in Iraq outstripped the US military’s ability to produce it. as well as other states. the ratio of freelancer soldiers to regulars was.’ (Zamoarelli in Hennefer 2008: 37).Peter Finn ‘During the 12 years between the end of the Cold War and the year 2001. according to the US Government Accounting Office 18 . This reduction in capabilities left a gap that has been filled in recent conflicts by PMCs who have rushed into the vacuum left by the reduction in state forces and. The numbers increased after that.’ (Geraghty 2009: 188) In short.

Around the 11th of May 2004 an intelligence officer of the DIA witnessed what he characterised as the ‘mistreatment’ of a DTN. It is also noted that another officer. the contract for this work was renewed in December 2003 (Harris 2004. (US Government 2004) After about fifteen minutes a ‘senior NCO [Non-Commissioned Officer] going by call sign 'XO3' entered the room and asked most of the personnel to leave. ---- However. The DIA intelligence officer states that they were ‘not aware of what specifically occurred during [their] absence’ from the interrogation room. the outsourcing capabilities of CACI were drawn on to quickly multiply the interrogation capabilities within the US military detention system in Iraq. which had ‘operational control of troops in Iraq’ at the time. as the following discussion of abuse makes clear. were also utilised. This occurred during the initial interrogation of the DTN after capture. The DIA. to include ALL of the interrogators’. London 2008: XV). In August of 2003 CACI was asked on behalf of the US ‘military's Combined Joint Task Force 7’. During this interrogation ‘four or five non-interrogator personnel’ arrived in the room and ‘began slapping the detainee while he was attempting to respond to the questioning’. to provide ‘intelligence support and logistical services in Iraq’. (US Government 2004) 19 . along with other bodies such as the CIA. whose name is redacted. was also present at the incident. As such.Peter Finn (GAO). To rectify the problem the US government turned to outside contractors in order to ‘obtain interrogation and other services quickly’ ( Government Accounting Office 2005). CACI was not the only actor that was drawn on to supplement the interrogation capabilities of the US Army. an ‘extraordinary-a wartime environment and an atmosphere of turmoil and urgency’ (Government Accounting Office 2005).

000 linguists working in Iraq. The operations carried out in Iraq by Titan were on a much larger scale than those of CACI. the initial detention of DTNs while working alongside US combat forces at numerous locations throughout Iraq. Titan Corporation 2004). the translation of documents at various sites and its contractors have been implicated in the abuse of DTNs at a number of locations (Corpwatch 2008: 18-19. Formica Report: Annex 41 2004/2: 3-4. Titan’s previous work included translation and inte rpretation services at Guantanamo (Hettana 2002. such as the DIA. PMCs also offer militaries the opportunity to contract for services that they have little or no expertise in. Capability Multiplier As well as acting as force multipliers for capabilities that need extending. This capability 20 . US Army Criminal Investigation Command 2004. with the number of interpreters and translators contracted by the firm being well into the thousands. Titan was involved in the interrogation of DTNs at various sites. Those working for Titan in Iraq were from Iraq. By drawing on a global pool of contractors Titan was able to act as an outsourcing capability multiplier in the area of language translation and interpretation.5/1: 8-9). like CACI. By doing so they. this was highlighted by the fact that by May 2005 Titan had over 4.Peter Finn This example highlights how other actors. Calbreath 2004). In the US military detention system in Iraq the Titan Corporation was drawn on to provide interpreter and translation services. although it must be noted that not all of them worked strictly within the US military detention system (AP 2005). It began providing such services to the US government in 1999. plugged into the system operated by the US Army and were drawn on to interrogate suspects. Turkey the US and other states (AP 2005. acted as a force multiplayer that allowed the system to operate at a higher capacity than if they had not been present.

in either Iraq or Afghanistan. This implication is heightened when one considers the fact that the FBI was specifically brought in to collect such data on Mujahedin-E-Khalq (MEK) fighters held at Camp Ashraf in Eastern Iraq. and exploitation of documents collected from many former Iraqi Intelligence Service sites in Ira q’ (US Department of Justice 2009: 38). This is not to suggest that other agencies did not collect such data. DNA samples and standard photographs’ (US Department of Justice 2009: 26). with reference to the biometric data the FBI collected in Afghanistan. however. that the ‘FBI also collected and disseminated to other agencies detainee biometric information such as fingerprints. it does seem to imply that the FBI was particularly adept at specialising in its collection. murders. such as interviewing DTNs. The possibility of the capability multiplier role of the collection of biometric information can be ascertained by a 2009 review of FBI detainee operations in Guantanamo Bay. While most of these functions. and (3) participation in a limited number of military sensitive site exploitation missions’ as well as ‘investigations of bombings. could be considered a capability multiplier within the system (US Department of Justice 2009: 43). following this period the FBI’s activities in Iraq included ‘ (1) detainee interviews. However.Peter Finn multiplication took place both inside and outside of the military detention system and saw Titan’s contractors engaged in tasks that were crucial to both the detention system itself and the wider mission of the US in Iraq. Afghanistan and Iraq which stated. Of the approximately 3. could be considered as force multiplication functions the collection of biometric data. which took place within the system run by the US Army. and kidnappings involving American citizens in Iraq’ (US Department of Justice 2009: 38). ---- Between March and July 2003 ‘FBI agents were deployed to Kuwait and Iraq to focus on the collection.800 members of the MEK. ‘an anti21 . (2) the collection of biometric information from detainees. analysis.

PMCs in Iraq offered the Bush administration the ability to pursue its preferred policy without having to draw as extensively as it otherwise might have done on politically sensitive state military forces. or at least perceived as being so. As already discussed. CACI had at least 55 contractors within the system as part of its 22 .600 MEK detainees’ between November 2003 and January 2004 (US Department of Justice 2009: 43). During the Iraq war as a whole. If FBI personnel were not particularly adept. Yet. the PMC industry ‘offered the potential backstop of additional forces but at no political cost’ (Singer 2008: 245). it would seem strange that scarce resources would be wasted by assigning them the collection of biometric data. it is vital to bear in mind that the FBI would not have been able to insource such services. the US military detention system in Iraq was not immune from the use of PMC forces. maintained and operated by the main actor. Moreover. […] [I]f the grad ual death toll among American troops threatened to slowly wear down the President’s approval ratings. As well as other benefits such as force and capacity multiplication. at the collection and analysis of such data. Political Cover The development in the post-Cold War era of the PMC industry has provided a policy tool for politicians worried about the political consequences of their favoured foreign policy choices. As such.Peter Finn Iranian paramilitary group designated as a terrorist organization by the State Department in 1997’. as Singer moves on to point out ‘there was no outcry when contractors were called up and deployed. as Peter Singer notes. the US Army. it seems safe to assert that the insourcing of these skills into the operation of the US military detention system in Iraq acted as a capability multiplier similar to the introduction of translation and interpretation services provided by Titan. contractor casualties were not counted in official death tolls and had no impact on these ratings’ (Singer 2008: 245). had the system itself not been constructed. held at Camp Ashraf ‘FBI personnel biometrically processed some 3.

(Fay & Jones 2004: 44/53) According to the Fay-Jones Report into events at Abu Ghraib ‘[t]he CIA’s detention and interrogation practices contributed to a loss of accountability and abuse at Abu Ghraib’ (Fay & Jones 2004: 9). Titan had thousands of contractors working as translators and interpreters. ---- The potential for political cover can also be afforded by insourcing. Moreover. This led to confusion regarding DTNs who ‘were unidentified or unaccounted for’ and ‘detention operations at large were impacted because personnel at the operations level were uncertain how to report them or how to classify them. As a result of outsourcing. Such DTNs were known by US Army personnel as ‘’’Ghost detainees’’’ and created a ‘mystique’ around CIA operations. or how to database them’. As such. interrogators and site leads (London 2008: 97). Despite the fact that it was housing DTNs within the system the ‘ CIA did not follow the established procedures for detainee in-processing’. Moreover.Peter Finn original contract who worked as screeners. By inserting themselves into existing systems provided by other governmental actors. a large number of which were working either directly within detention sites or went out on missions with frontline US Army personnel that could lead to the capture of DTNs (AP 2005). insourcing actors can attempt to operate under the radar and prevent their actions coming to light. Such a tactic was used by the CIA within the US military detention system in Iraq and came to light as a result of the investigations that followed the Abu Ghraib scandal. as ‘[n]o memorandum of understanding existed on the 23 . the US military detention system in Iraq was able to benefit from the same political cover afforded to other US operations in Iraq. both the force and capability of the system was increased without any concurrent rise in political consequences for the Bush administration.

and raises many questions regarding domestic accountability. would have done so without passing on any of the potential negative political consequences to the political leadership of the US. Due to the difficulty of identifying and classifying PSCs.’ (Kang 2013: 37) These issues are as true for the PMC contractors that worked within the US military detention system in Iraq as elsewhere. As Stephanie Kang notes: ‘The ambiguous nature of the private security industry has significant implications for foreign policy and the laws that apply to such a lucrative market. Such an actor could be exceedingly useful to those wanting to make use of a politically explosive policy while keeping the details out of the public eye. After the Abu Ghraib scandal. a number of Titan and CACI employees working at the site were mentioned. Legal Cover The opaque nature of the PMC outsourcing industry makes it hard to fully examine. in a number of the investigations that 24 .Peter Finn subject interrogation operations between the CIA and CJTF-7 […] CIA officers convinced military leaders that they should be allowed to operate outside the established local rules and procedures’ (Fay & Jones 2004: 9). for instance. most importantly. If. either by name or in code. events at Abu Ghraib had not come to light then the CIA would have been able to piggyback on the detention capacity provided by the US Army and would have utilised this capacity to abuse DTNs as part of its intelligence gathering strategy and. In part these issues stem from a lack of legal frameworks designed to clearly regulate and police contracted military personnel. The actions of the CIA within Iraq illuminate how an insourcing actor with access to a system can circumvent safeguards and procedures. the issue of maintaining accountability in such a market becomes even more difficult.

with counsel for the corporations arguing that they were embedded in the US military chain of command and the DTNs representatives claiming that they took orders from the CACI and Titan corporate structures (Robertson 2007: 8/19). The difference between the procedures utilised by the US military and the FBI was highlighted by an FBI 25 . hypothetically. With no clear legal structures in place contractors can be hired to act with relative impunity and.Peter Finn followed (Fay & Jones 2004: 40. As of June 2013 the CACI case is on-going. ---- The numerous US government actors involved in detention and interrogation operations in Iraq worked to differing standard operating procedures. Inc.’ (Singer 2008: 251) It is in this grey area of operation alluded to by Singer that the potential for legal cover exists. The Titan case was brought to a close in 2012 via an out of court settlement when Engility Holdings. but they and their employees are not part of the military . The potential cover afforded by these legal ambiguities to those drawing on military outsourcing services is. These revelations led to court cases being brought against the corporations in the US. Taguba 2004: 17). a company that inherited the law suit via a series of mergers and acquisitions. 2012 and paid in October 2012’ (Engility Holdings. potentially. One of the key points of dispute between the counsel for DTNs held in the system and the representatives of CACI and Titan relates to the chain of command the interrogators were working under. As Singer notes ‘Private military firms may be part of the military operation. huge.28 million’.nor its chain of command or code of justice. deployed to do things that members of the more accountable military cannot. with a number of motions related to the case ‘currently under consideration’ by a judge (CCR 2013). this payment ‘was accrued as of September 28. Inc 2012). and 72 ‘plaintiffs agreed to resolve and dismiss the action in return for a payment of $5.

The first part of the reasoning laid out above would seem to illuminate the operation of a chain of command. By stating that he felt that one of the main investigative bodies of the 26 . Secondly. felt able to make clear its concerns over the interrogation techniques being utilised by the US military. A January 2004 email to FBI agent Gary Bald. a reluctance to take part in the investigation of abuses that may have flowed from the use of such ‘’’coercive and aggressive’’’ techniques existed among FBI personnel. the second part of his reasoning is incredibly revealing. the main actor within the system. Firstly. However. from FBI agent Edward Lueckenhoff stated that ‘unless instructed otherwise by FBIHQ’ the FBI in Iraq would ‘not enter into an investigation of the alleged abuse’ at Abu Ghraib (Lueckenhoff 2004). its position as an insourced actor made it dependant on the continued largesse of the US Army. Afghanistan and Iraq clear to Miller.Peter Finn memo from May 2004. by that point no longer based at Guantanamo but in Iraq as the head of TF134 (FBI 2004). with Lueckenhoff wanting to wait until directed by his superiors before directing scarce FBI resources toward an investigation into the abuses at Abu Ghraib. despite these concerns. The memo went on to note that in each location where FBI staff had been questioned as part of an internal FBI surve y they had been ‘aware of rumors of abuse which have surfaced as a direct result of pending Military investigations into abusive interrogation techniques’ (FBI 2004). It highlights the machinations and manoeuvring related to the investigation of such allegations. Lueckenhoff believed that the topic was ‘outside our [the FBI’s] mission’ and that pursuing it would see the bureau ‘squander resources’ (Lueckenhoff 2004). While the FBI was in theory an independent actor that. This memo noted that the bureau had made its concerns related to the ‘’’coercive and aggressive’’’ techniques utilised by US military personnel in Guantanamo. Lueckenhoff stated that it was in the FBI ’s interest ‘to maintain good will and relations with those operating the prison’ and that any involvement by the bureau in such an investigation ‘of the alleged abuse might harm our liaison’ ( Lueckenhoff 2004). The reasoning behind Lueckenhoff’s assertion was twofold. however. at times. but copied to a number of other FBI personnel. However.

related to the opaque nature of some PMC operations. at least in part. Opacity of Operation As already noted. These benefits are. it also illuminates the complexity and opaque nature of some of the contracts issued to PMCs with operations in the country. CACI operated at numerous sites other than Abu Ghraib in Iraq. This problem of tracking is not confined solely to those outside of governmental circles. These included sites in Fallujah and at Baghdad International Airport. Despite the fact that in the wake of the Abu Ghraib scandal the company went on the offensive to defend itself (via an aggressive campaign that culminated in 2008 with the publication of a 780 page book entitled Our Good Name: A Company’s Fight to Defend its Honour and Get the Truth Told About Abu Ghraib which was replete with photos. This opacity makes it hard to fully track the development of contractors working for PMCs. however. timelines and appendices) the true extent of CACI’s operations in Iraq is hard to discern (London 2008: 1 -780). information about such operations must be reconstructed together in a piece meal fashion from disparate sources (Anderson 2003. present or future operations that deviate from legal norms and procedures. This complexity and opacity could be exploited by policy makers wanting to outsource a policy in order to avoid the political and legal consequences of it.Peter Finn US government should not pursue an investigation in order to maintain good relations with those running a detention site at the centre of serious abuse allegations. While the anecdote from Singer demonstrates a lack of poor governance within the DOD. Lueckenhoff demonstrated the kind of thinking that could be utilised by those looking to leverage legal cover for past. This opacity is reflected in the operations of CACI in Iraq. PMCs offer the possibility of legal cover and the chance to reduce the potential political costs to those choosing to use military force. Fair 27 . Singer has stated that in 2005 he was ‘contacted by the Pentagon to help them determine’ the number of contractors working in Iraq (Singer 2008: 245).

20 said they had information regarding ‘non-FBI personnel impersonating FBI agents’. As such. ---- The myriad of actors involved in the implementation of US foreign policy mean that opportunities exist for exploitation and misinformation. Such impersonation and misinformation may also have taken place within the US military detention system in Iraq.Peter Finn 2007). This ‘agent was deployed to GTMO from December 2003 through September 2004’ and claimed to have been present on ‘two occasions when a CIA interrogator represented herself as an FBI agent in a detainee interrogation ’ (US Department of Justice 2009: 200). with one agent stating that she had ‘personally observed this conduct’ (US Department of Justice 2009: 200). These sources include news articles and confessional pieces by former CACI contractor Eric Fair. great opacity remains about CACI operations in Iraq. who has admitted to abusing a DTN in Fallujah (Fair 2007). In a survey of FBI agents working at Guantanamo. CACI does not refer to its other operations in Iraq. but none stated that they ever observed such conduct’ (US Department of Justice 2009: 200). 28 . The fact that CACI has been able to maintain this opacity in the light of great public scrutiny and almost a decade of legal proceedings is tantamount to the attraction that utilising PMCs might offer to policy makers looking to implement controversial policies. The US Justice Department stated that ‘[s]ome agents reported in […] survey responses that they had heard that military or CIA personnel had falsely represented themselves as FBI agents’ and that ‘[f]ive FBI agents reported that they heard about the impersonation of FBI personnel in Iraq. While vigorously defending itself from any wrongdoing in its book.

The carrying out of actions under incorrect names. The model developed in this piece provides a structured understanding of the US military detention system in Iraq. much of the context for the numerous instances of abuse discussed in this piece would be missing. Such impersonation and misinformation offers the possibility of the exploitation of the differences between actors within a system. can help one comprehend how US power manifested itself in the aftermath of 9/11. as a consequence.Peter Finn . While there are real and important differences between PMCs and the myriad of 29 . could add an extra layer of legal cover and deniability to an operation or policy. It was integral to the manifestation of US influence in the country and. Insources and US Power The US military detention system in Iraq was a complex. Without an understanding of this facilitation function. within the Middle East as a whole. sometimes more controversial. if they could be maintained. facets of the system such as abuse and interrogation. Moreover. Understanding its operation. Main Actors. Outsourcers. and the contributions that numerous actors made to it. It helps illuminate the importance of the operational and developmental role played by the US Army. On a number of occasions this piece demonstrated how these core functions were key to facilitating other. aliases or under the false auspicious of another actor could add a similar level of opacity to the operations of those employed by the US government that are often associated with the actions of those contracted by PMCs. outsourcers or insourcers. be they the main actor. and highlights the importance of core competencies. The outsourcing/insourcing actor dichotomy is key to the model introduced in this piece. multifaceted and ever evolving structure that drew on the input of numerous actors. the adoption of such smoke screens by insourcing actors.

can offer important insights to those seeking to understand the workings of a system. 30 . The brief examinations of the rendition system run by the US in the post 9/11 era seem to suggest that the model introduced in this piece could be drawn on to gain insights into other manifestations of the US’s foreign policy bureaucracy. there can also be similarities when such US governmental actors operate as insourcers within a pre-existing bureaucracy such as the US military detention system in Iraq. legal or political cover or opacity of operations. regardless of whether they flow from force or capability multiplication. Examining such similarities. Manifestations that feature a main anchoring actor and numerous secondary actors whose contribution hinges on the implementation of core functions by the main actor are likely to be of most relevance to this model.Peter Finn actors within the foreign policy bureaucracy of the US.

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