Air Force Memo re: Legal Review of Detainee Photograph

This memo details how a Staff Sergeant took photos of himself standing with his rifle with his left foot propped on the detainee's buttocks, who is lying in the sand with hands bound behind his back and a sack covering his head. Photo was taken on 08/10/2003. The Ssgt. exercised right to remain silent when approached for questioning on the photograph. Investigation indicates that 31 SF personnel were not given any written Standard Operating Procedures, Special Security Instructions or other guidance on detainee handling. Analysis of applicable law and policy is completely redacted.

Doc_type: 
Non-legal Memo
Doc_date: 
Thursday, July 8, 2004
Doc_rel_date: 
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Doc_text: 

DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
31ST FIGHTER WING (USAFE)
8 July 2004
MEMORANDUM FOR 31 SF/CC
(b)(6),(b)( 7)(C),(b)(
FROM: 31 FW/JA
7)(F) SUBJECT: Legal Review of Detainee Photograph—Subject: SSgt
1. I have reviewed the subject photograph and the statements obtained by the AFOSI from witnesses concerning the nhotogranh,,
(b)(5),(b)(6),(b)(7)(C)
2. FACTS.
a. By message DTG 131539Z May 04, Subject: Review of Air Force Detainee Operations, HQ USAF/XO directed all MAJCOMs to "report any known incidents, allegations, or investigations involving personnel in your commands regarding inappropriate detainee handling/operations (including, but not limited to, photographs or videos of detainees) from the beginning of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM/IRAQI FREEDOM until present that deviate from proper detainee procedures and requirements. Detainee operations are defined broadly to include, but not limited to, detainee handling, interrogation, transport, photography, and internment by Air Force personnel." The message requires commands to conduct a thorough review of any situations found that fall within the requested information.
(b)(6),(b)(
b. In response to the HQ AF/XO message, 31 FW Security Forces (SF) personnel (
7)(),(b)(
recalled seeing a photograph of one of their personnel with a detainee while deployed to Kirkuk 7)(F)
(b)(7)(C)
Air Base, Iraq in supp7tofOperation IRAQI FREEDOM. They located the photograph and
... ••••
tO ( ..... . ..
providedit -for review and further investigation. The ..... ... . .. ...
''''''
(Attachment) depicts an Air Force member, identified as SSgt (,standing ......
next to a detainee. The detainee is lying prone on the ground in the sand. There is a hood, which appears to be a canvas sack, covering the detainee's head, and his hands appear to be bound behind his back. The detainee appears to be neatly attired, wearing a light blue shirt, brown
(b)(6),(b)( pants, light blue socks, and light blue loafers.. SSgt (is holding his rifle, with the muzzle
7)(C),(b)( pointed at an angle towards tlw ground: He is standing with his left foot propped on the
7)(F) detainee's buttocks: --He is looking towards the photographer, seemingly posing for the . . - photograph. The timeframe of the photograph is the summer of 2003. The photograph is a digital photo. An analysis of the .jpg file used to transmit the photo via email indicates the photo was taken on 10 August 2003.
c. The statements obtained by the AFOSI indicate that the 31 SF personnel were not given any written Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Special Security Instructions, or other specific, written guidance or training regarding the handling of detainees. Instead, the
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DOD JUNE 2430
DOD056246
information indicates that they followed AFI 31-302, Air Base Defense Collective Skills, and LOAC in handling detainees. The practice was to cover the head of any enemy prisoner of war (EPW) with a sandbag, and to handcuff them with either flexi-cuffs or duct tape. The detainees would be searched, then taken to the Detention Facility on base and turned over to the U.S. Army for processing.
(b)(6),(b) d: .SSgt (exercised his right to remain silent when approached for questioning (7)(C),(b about the photograph. Thus, there is no information available as to the exact facts and )(7)(F) circumstances surrounding the situation depicted in the photograph.
(b)(5),(b)(7)(C)
3. APPLICABLE LAW AND POLICY. I reviewed the following sources in arriving at my conclusions regarding the subject photograph.
(b)(5)
(b)(5)
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C)
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C)
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C)
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C)
(b)(6),(b)( 7)(C). (b)(6),(b)( 7)(C).- -
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C) .
6. If you have any questions about this review, please contact me at DSN 632-7843.
t Col, USAF Staff Judge Advocat
Attachment:
Copy of Photograph

cc:
16 AMA°
Det 531, AFOSI/CC

"Return With Honor"
7
10085

PHOTO
DENIED IN FULL
EXEMPTION
6&7

19 August 2004
MEMORANDUM FOR 16 AF/CC
FROM; 16 AF/JA SUBJECT: Legal Review on Detainee Photograph ACTION. We reviewed the photograph, statements obtained through AFOSI interviews, the applicable law and regulations, and U.S. policy regarding the treatment of detainees. (b)(5)
2. FACTS.
a. On 14 May 2004, USAFE/DS sent the HQ USAF/XO message directing all "commands" to "report any known incidents, allegations, or investigations involving personnel in their commands regarding inappropriate detainee handling/operations (including, but not limited to, photographs or videos of detainees) from the beginning of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM/IRAQI FREEDOM until present that deviated from proper detainee procedures and requirements. Detainee -operations were defined broadly to include, but not limited to, detainee handling, interrogation, transport, photography, and internment by Air Force personnel." The message required commands to conduct a thorough review of any situations found that fell within the requested information. In addition to the HQ USAF/XO message, USAFE/DS directed NAF commanders and installation commanders to report any allegations of prisoner abuse within USAFE's area of responsibility (AOR) to USAFEISF.
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C) b. 31-SF/CC, LA Cul-/recalled an e-mail containing a photograph of SSgt (b)(6),(b)(7)(C) . and a detainee thatssibly met the criteria outlined in the message. The (b)(6),(b)(7)(C) --photograph wastaken-whileS was deployed to Kirkuk Air Base, Iraq (Kirkuk), in
support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Several members of the 31" Security Forces Squadron (SFS) received a copy of the photograph in an e-mail. 31 SF/CC subsequently reported the photograph and turned it over to AFOSI, Detachment 531 (Det ?DAL Arian° Air Base, Italy.
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C) The photograph depicts an Air Force member, identifiedsa -SSgt standing next to a detainee. The detainee is rg1-4.1 the ground. A hood covers the detainee's head, and his hands1
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C) -are behind-his-bark—83st is holding his rifle, with the muzzle pointed towards the ground away from the detainee. He is standing with the ball of his left foot resting on the detainee's buttocks. is looking towards the photographer. The timeframe of the
photograph-is-10-August 2003.
(b)(6),(b)(7)(t) '
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C) c. On 18•May, Lt -Col 31 FW/JA, notified 16 AF/JA of this photograph and indicated it fit the criteria of the 14 May 2004, USAF/XO message. This e-mail was forwarded to HQ USAFE/JA. She indicated that the photo was also reported to USAFE/SF through security police channels. OSI reported the matter to their higher headquarters.
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C) d. AFOSI agents from Det 531 did an assessment of the ph to h and the facts surrounding it by interviewipg3l;SFS members . whodeployed-with-S8gt AFOSI also attempted to .intervieWl ... regarding the potential . I, ...................... exercised his right
(b)(6),(b)(7)TC
to.remain-silent-tmdrequested -Cdtiniel. buring interviews, some of the deployed 31' SFS
(10)(6),(b)(7)(C) members recalled the incident with the detainee illegally entering Kirkuk but did not know that a photograph was taken or who took the photograph. They indicated that the detainee in the photograph allegedly jumped the fence surrounding the area patrolled by the SF. Apparently
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C) ..
such incidents occurred frequently at Kirkuk. Standard procedure at the time when someone illegally .................. . to.detain the person, tie their hands with plastic flexi-cuffs or duct
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C) tape, place an empty sand bag over theiiheadiandtorn-themovertotoArmy detention facility assoonas.possible.--TSgt deployed to Kirkuk at the same time --------According -to-TSgt this was briefed as a standard operating procedure during in-flight
(b)(6),(b)(7iP-
orientation at Kirkuk.
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C) e. On I June 2004, AFOST interviewed Major the current Operations
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C) 'Officer at Kirkuk: -- Major stated that deploying USAF security force personnel received normal LOAC training, but his unit did not receive any specific training on how to handle detainees. He also stated that he knew of no official Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) or Special Security Instructions (SSIs) on how security forces were supposed to handle detainees. Accordingly, he stated that his unit followed (in Air Force Instruction (AFI) 31-302 and
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C) -LOAC when hati-dlingdetainees. Major also indicated that unwritten operating procedures used by previous deployed units regarding how to handle detainees continued to be the standard practice: using empty sandbags and cuffing them. The rationale for these procedures was to ensure the detainee remained secure and did not see the interior of the base when escorted to the Army detention facility.
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C) f. On 8 July, -- Lt Col 11 FW/.1A rnmnleed a lava' review of the photograph and facts surrounding it. (b)(5)
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C) g. Special Agent (S-A) , Commander, 53' Field Investigative Squadron, Aviano, confirms the case is now closed since no LOAC violation was found. He stated the matter has been closed out with the Air Staff via SAF/IGX (who was responsible for tracking the AF/XO tasker) and DoD via DoD/IG (who was tracking the OSD Luker). No one in AF/XO asked to seethe photograph.
3. APPLICABLE LAW & POLICY.
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C)
a. To determine whether or not the actions of and the photograph taken in the August 2003 rise to the level of a LOAC violation, we reviewed the following relevant
international law, treaties, U.S. law, DoD Directives and USAF policy concerning the treatment of detainees.
(b)(5)
(b)(5) (b)(5)
b)(5)
(b)(6),(b)(7)(0) 6) ,(b)(7)(c, (b)(
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C)
l(b)(5)
.........

(b)(6),(b)(7)(C) (b)(6),(b)(7)(C), .(b)(6),(b)(7)(C)

8g3=83
(b)(6),(b)(7)(:;) (b)(6),(b)(7)(S)
(0)(6),(b)(7)(C) .
00(6),(b)(7)(c) ---
(b)(6),(b)(7)(C)
l
ib)(6),(b)(7)(0)
( 1
0),(b)(7)(C)
. 20455
(b)(5)
b)(6)
SAF
Judge Advocate, 16 AF
I concur.
(b)(6)
onel, USAF
Staff Judges Advocate
Attachment
31 FW/JA Legal Opinion

DOD056263

Doc_nid: 
4754
Doc_type_num: 
63