In a hearing before Shays' Government Reform subcommittee last February, Provance testified that the Army had retaliated against him. Provance also made the disturbing allegation that interrogators broke an Iraqi general, Hamid Zabar, by imprisoning and abusing his frail 16-year-old son. Waxman was shocked. "Do you think this practice was repeated with other children?" he asked Provance. "I don't see why it would not have been, sir," Provance replied.
Zabar's son had been apprehended with his father and held at Abu Ghraib, though the boy hadn't done anything wrong. "He was useless," Provance said about the boy in a phone interview with Salon from Heidelberg, Germany, where he is still in the Army. "He was of no intelligence value."
But, Provance said, interrogators grew frustrated when the boy's father, Zabar, wouldn't talk, despite a 14-hour interrogation. So they stripped Zabar's son naked and doused him with mud and water. They put him in the open back of a truck and drove around in the frigid January night air until the boy began to freeze. Zabar was then made to look at his suffering son.
"During the interrogation, they could not get him to talk," Provance recalled. "They said, 'OK, we are going to let you see your son.' They allow him to see his son in this shivering, freezing, naked state," Provance said. "That just totally broke his heart and that is when he said, 'I'll tell you what you want to know.'"
Provance said the boy was timid and afraid. "He was so skinny and so frail, and he was scared out of his mind," Provance remembered. "He was so skinny the handcuffs would not fit securely on his wrist. I had to put this green sandbag on his head. I just felt like a horrible person doing this."
Provance was not an interrogator; at that time, he worked on a security detail at Abu Ghraib. He said he did not see firsthand the boy being abused in the truck, although an interrogator working on the general's case later explained the abuse to Provance in detail.
Provance's account does not appear to be an isolated allegation. It echoes similar accusations at Abu Ghraib and across Iraq. In an interview with military investigators conducted after he was imprisoned, Graner called kidnapping, in addition to detainee abuse, "the other big Geneva Convention violation" going on at the prison. "They were picking up, you know, Joe Snuffy's wife to get Joe Snuffy," Graner explained to military investigators. "So, more or less, we're holding this female with no charges, which happened a lot."
Graner did not say in the interview who was doing the kidnapping. There were a broad range of forces operating at Abu Ghraib, including military Special Operations troops and CIA operatives.
Similar allegations have shown that kidnapping may have been a systematic practice. Special Operations troops, working with an elite unit called Task Force 6-26, allegedly abducted the 28-year-old wife of a suspected Iraqi terrorist during a raid on a house in Tarmiya, Iraq, in May 2004, the month after the Abu Ghraib scandal broke. That is according to a memorandum buried in thousands of pages of documents obtained by the ACLU through the Freedom of Information Act. The memorandum, a formal complaint titled "Report of Violations of the Geneva Conventions," was filed in June 2004 by a 14-year veteran intelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency. The Department of Defense blacked out the officer's name.
We're the good guys apparently
This is from a recent article in Salon: