Document a Day: I Believe the Technique Used Was Acceptable

A graphic example of the shocking lack of accountability for the gravest human rights abuses, these documents follow the murder of Iraqi general Abed Hamed Mowhoush in US custody in December 2003.

Mowhoush died during an interrogation in which he was forced into a sleeping bag that was bound with an electrical cord. The autopsy report on the left lists the cause of death as “asphyxia due to smothering and chest compression” and rules it a homicide. The lone interrogator disciplined for the murder was reprimanded and fined $6,000; the document on the right is his statement protesting his letter of reprimand. The interrogator insists he was using what he believed were approved SERE-based techniques; “the ‘sleeping bag technique' is a stress position I considered authorized by the [Coalition Joint Task Force] in their memo “CJTF-7 Interrogation and Counter-Resistance Policy.” He argues that “the sleeping bag had been used on prior occasions on other detainees without incident” and says, “while I have not examined the autopsy report, I do not believe that the sleeping bag was responsible for his death.”

This prompts a handwritten comment: “Death was from asphyxiation! I expect better adherence to standards in the future!”




Autopsy report, the General (pdf pages 9 - 16)



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