The US military used veterans of its “dirty wars” in Latin America to set up secret detention and torture centers in Iraq and overseeing ‘some of the worst acts of torture’ during the US-led invasion of the country, a British daily reports.
Sectarian commando units, operating under direct supervision of American Special Forces veterans, who were involved in the so-called US counter-insurgency efforts against opponents of some of the most brutal Washington-backed dictatorships in Central America, “conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country’s descent into full-scale civil war,” The Guardian reports Thursday.
The principal US commanders of its detention and torture operations in Iraq, according to the report, were Colonel James Steel, who directly reported to then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and a retired colonel named James Coffman, who reported directly to General David Petraeus who later became the top American commander in Iraq and Afghanistan before his rise to directorship of the CIA spy agency.
Petraeus later resigned from his latest post after admitting to maintaining an extramarital affair with his biographer since he was a top US military commander.
The network of detention and torture centers in Iraq were funded “with millions of dollars of US funding,” the report insists.
“Coffman reported to Petraeus and described himself in an interview with the US military newspaper Star and Stripes as Petraeus’s ‘eyes and ears out on the ground’ in Iraq,” according to the daily.
“They worked hand in hand,” said Iraqi General Muntadher al-Samari, quoted in the report, which adds that he worked with Steele and Coffman for a year while the detention and torture centers were being set up.
“I never saw them apart in the 40 or 50 times I saw them inside the detention centers. They knew everything that was going on there … the torture, the most horrible kinds of torture,” General al-Samari added.
The daily says its probe of the US-sponsored detention and torture operations was triggered with the publication of classified US military logs by whistleblower group WikiLeaks, detailing “hundreds of incidents where US soldiers came across tortured detainees in a network of detention centers” run by US-funded sectarian commandos throughout Iraq.
The report further cites American and Iraqi sources as confirming that top US military commanders and officials, including Petraeus, were fully aware of the highly abusive detention and torture operations during the destructive US-led war in Iraq.