Army Interview of Army Sergeant with the 377th Theater Support Command re: Processing Detainees at Abu Ghraib Prison, Baghdad, Iraq

This transcript is a continuation of a previously initiated interview with an Army Sergeant on the processing and handling of detainees. The Sgt describes his duties and the process of taking in detainees and how they were/are categorized. The Sgt described his experience at Abu Ghraib and specifically the shooting incident and subsequent riot. This may be part of the Taguba Report, but it is not clear from the transcript.

Doc_type: 
Interview
Doc_rel_date: 
Friday, July 29, 2005
Doc_text: 

IFIT-35-086 (Sgt. 41,11411111VAIO

Q:A

All right. This Sergeant WIMMOMMMUMMMOI with the 377th
Theatre support command. I'm resuming the interview with
Sergeant OOPASergeants's...1p. And, ah, all

ahA
right. We just finished saying the prisoners were the
holding area and they were going through in-processing, and
they were sending cards out.

A:A
Right.

Q:A
And then, oh. The English speakers. Let me as you
something. I've heard there is ways to identify Fedayeen
Ba'ath Party Members, and Republican Guard. Can you tell
you what some of those means are? And...

A:A
OK. They're... Fay-- Fedayeen, first off, was, is the
militia for basically Saddam Hussein's (inaudible),
(inaudible). They're basically, like his little pet group
or whatever. (inaudible) very popular. Uh, the ways you
can best identify anybody (on this place?) was if you
looked at them... a lot of times you'd look at them and
you'd talk to 'em. What's this guy supposed to be, you
know. And you look at -- they usually come in with capture
tags which say, would say if they're soldiers, that'd be
plain on there. If they're civilians, it'd say civilian on
there, where they were captures, what they say they were
doing, why they were taken to prison. A lot of times, you

01-4 "-.9A

1
can put one and one together and you come up with three on

this guy, you have an issue. Likes, , onie guy came in and
he's like, oh, no, I'm -- you know -- farmer, farmer. You
have prettyklgood English, Mr. Farmer. Htw're you doing?
You know? You're looking at him and you're sitting there,
well -- like, we do searches. When you're sitting there
and this guy tells you he's a farmer, and you look down at
his hands and he's got hands, you know, that look like he's
never done an honest day's work in his life, you know.

Manicured, no calluses.

Q:A

A:A

Yeah, manicured, no calluses. Looks like a politician.
You know, nice hair, you know. No... nothing, no little
cut, no real scars on the guy or anything. Feet are all
soft and stuff.

What about the clothes?

Q:A

A:A

Well, the clothes you've got to be kind of careful of. A
lot times, a lot times you'll see... some people would get
to us and their uniforms would be a little tattered, would
be the nice way of saying that. A lot times they'd end up

with other clothes that, you know, stuff that had been

given them after searching them or something. They try and

be careful, but yeah, if you had somebody there with a

$300.00 pair of pants on, he's telling, you know, he's

telling you no, no, I shoveled cow manure out of the back

014260
2

(laughter). You know, you're like, OK. Hey, why don't talk to me for a minute. You know, it's different little 411010,
or something like that, or just, you know. IMMMINIMINIIIIIM allealliOMMOMIllimidim You know, you say
something like and every -- you know. They won't get fed
until they get over to the compound. And then the next
question comes out of them.

1111111101mwmeMIIIIMM
0.11111111.1 You kind of picked up on little things like
that. Just basicIONIMpthat you know about. Smart ones
probably got away with it, and we never probably caught
them. You know, they played the game better, and then
they'd also get MI to look at them on the 14elvoittirlo

Q:A

Well it seems like to me you're more likely to catch them
coming in than going out, unless you have informers or
something.

A:A

Well,, they do have that. So I was saying, the MI catch
them before they go out of our forwarding, the initial
forwarding area. They, they'll talk to them to...

Q: OK.A

f
A:A

They start that„a_little
Q; OK.A
A

4
Yeah.

A:ABut you given them a --

1424
6

Q:A

Now, could you choose who your interpreters were, or...

A:A

You... interpreters... that'd be about the worst thing.
Interpreters were the worst part of dealing with people out
there. Just... I mean... they... I don't want to say... I
would basically (inaudible) (inaudible). All right, you
said... basically lazy, would be... it's not a work ethic
that, that we would expect. They're mostly from like
Kuwait or other areas, Arab nations and stuff. This, this,
is their first language and English is second or whatever.
And they really don't have what we would consider work
ethic, where, you know, you stick with it. You keep on
going, keep on doing the job, you know. OK, (inaudible)
here's a big cup coffee, let's go. You know. They would
pretty much, oh, I'm tired, I'm going to bed. They're
contractors, so you... we really don't have an option on
it. And we're military. You can order us to keep on
going. They're civilians, basically. In fact, they're not
even our civilians. You know, our national civilians,
they're, you know, Kuwaiti, whatever. So you'd all be
going in there and they'd just take off, or they'd go off
on breaks, and just disappear on you all the time. And
they'd, cause you problems like giving cigarettes out to
the inmates, or the prisoners, and that was, kind of bother
you a little bit every now and again.

411 3InIr!'a

11

going to be stuck in. If they had medical problems, the
medics treated them or gave them whatever medication they
needed, and then they stuck in the rows. At that point,
once you got enough people or the coor, the coordinators
open up to where they could receive prisoners, because they
only receive during (inaudible) and other times. Load them
all in the back -- load as many as you can on the deuce and
half, drive the deuce and a half over, drop them off -- our
escort company, or our escort's attachment was down there,
and that was where the IHA stop and the core started. Drop
them off to there --

Q:A
I'm sorry, what's the IHA and the --

A:A

The IHA is the initial holding area.

Thank you.

Q:A

A:A

The whole process I just described is the first part of
that. And then the corps cage, you know, is kind of a
reversal. Like supposedly, the core cage acted like our...
internment facility. The first part. Seeing, yeah, if I
can remember the actual meaning behind the word there. But
we were using the core cage as our internment facility for
a while. And it's kind of, it basically was -- it is
substandard. That's basically why they got rid of them.
It was substandard. It was built for 1416, we're holding

gm (inaudible). It just wasn't set up to hold that many

014272 14

civilians on the other, you know. Keep the -- you always

keep people segregated by, you know, rank or occupation or

whatever. It was -- the lay guys didn't want to have

anything to do with this hunger strike. The military guys

said they were. And so you start getting, "Soldier,

soldier! Move out of the way, move out the way." And this

is, this is like, the military guys telling you that.

(inaudible) civilian guys. And you're sitting there, and

getting these guys, and your sitting there looking. I go,

what the h-- and all of a sudden, rocks. Wooshhh!

Wooshhh!A

They start chucking rocks back and forth. They
sit there and they'd tell the soldiers, they'd be like, get
out of the way, we're going to start chucking rocks. They
had the courtesy to tell the soldiers. They didn't want to
hit the soldiers. They figured if something happened to
the soldiers, bad news is going to befall them, but they
could sit there and wing rocks. You know, it's like, you
know, you got like 44. peopiere, 410Ppeople here. And
they're all sitting out in front of their tents chucking
rocks and stuff back and forth at each other.

And one which is disciplined, and one which is
undisciplined but criminals, probably.

Q:A

Well, no. This is just the civilians they picked up, you
know, that were suspicious. They had found weapons on them

A:A

ni.1114;i c• -1..t

the rotational people. When they'd rotate people off the

guard stations or something?

Q:A

Oh, OK.

A:A

Then they'd move them in. So it wasn't just designated that
way.

Q:A

Interesting. That was pretty (inaudible) (inaudible)
control as a quick reaction force as well. When they were
rotated, were they all from the same unit or different
units?

A:A

I think it was the same unit.

Q:A

OK.

A:A

The same (inaudible).

Q:A

So they had an established working relationship. It wasn't
a bunch of (inaudible). That's what I was thinking.

A:A

Yeah, it wasn't just like, you know, here's one guy, here's
a guy, here's a guy, here's a guy.

Q:A

Yeah, we're still, we're here.
M?: (inaudible) key to the door. You left the key to the door
(inaudible).

Q:A

Oh, OK. Thank you, yeah. I'll give it to Sergeant

12 (-2 11100?)
M?: Not a problem. I mean, if you're in here working, that's
fine, because you're (inaudible) leave the key in the door.
We know (inaudible).

nitOni
ui 14.01

A:A

Yeah, the connexes are a heck of a lot more secure than what we'd had down there where you had three strands of concertina wire to stop, you know... what, maybe 0111001 6,23 people, just letting them run over the berm. Yeah. Yeah. Connexes were pretty good for security. But yeah, you got them doing that and just chucking -- the extraction team's just going in and grabbing people and pulling them out. And I think that's what actually calmed them down for a day or two. Normally, normally every night -- we live right down the bank (inaudible) where, right next to where it was at, and every night, you hear them up hooting and hollering, and they're all, you know. And everybody said they were always so, so much trouble. When that (ratch?) force went back in there that second time after the shooting and stuff, everybody's pretty much, pretty damn cooperative. They're pushing the ring leaders right out front to you (laughter). They were just throwing them at you. Then they grab them, take them down there, throw them into the segregation unit. But that was, that was about the worst of it I saw.
Let me ask you about the shooting. And... why was it done,
who was it done by -- but don't name names. I'm just
asking, you know, was it U.S. forces they -- I'm assuming
it's U.S. soldiers --

Q:A

27

tea-- (inaudible) they bring tea out in jugs or whatever.
It basically works like that. And they drive it over to
the compound, they unload it, they put it on the -- inside
the compound they usually have the inmates serving each
other. Depends on the situation. Sometimes they have the
inmates come outside the wire -- well, I don't think they
did that down there, but outside the wire and serve one
individual at a time and they go back in.

OK.

Q:A

A:A

Well, apparently they were doing that. They were having --

Just, right here.

Q:A

M:A

Oh, OK.

Q:A

Someone brought it in because -- what happened was I shut
the door because I didn't want people coming in here

because I don't know your place and I don't know who's
authorized and who isn't. So I shut it, and then they
said, hey, the key's on the outside. And I realized when I

shut it, I (inaudible).

M:A

I'll be back.

Q:A
OK. Cool.

A:A
Anyway, so they bring in the feed teams. The feed teams go
in and dish out -- they basically do it like an assembly
line. Guy walks down with his plate or whatever, and they
just scoop out whatever he gets for that -- or for that

O 1 4 2 C 0
31

meal. And he goes back. And apparently, some guy rushed
the feed teams with a pipe or a tent stake or something
like that. And one of the MPs used deadly force to stop
him. Thought the person he was using it -- the other -- he
thought the other individual was in danger for his life
from the inmate, and so he fired, and shot him, and he's no
longer with us.

Q:A

Oh.

A:A

Actually buried out back somewhere.

Q:A

(inaudible).

A:A

But yeah, that's the only one I heard dying there by

gunfire. That one.

Q:A

What about the Iraqis. I know during the Korean War, and
you kind of touched on this -- except a different
situation. During the Korean War, when we had Korean
prisoners, there was an internal battle between those loyal
to the communist government and then those who wanted
nothing to do with it and even some who wanted to stay
South. Is there something like that going on with the
prisoners in this compound?

A:A

I wouldn't say that, because... they... for all intents and

purposes, they could care less at that point about Saddam

Hussein. They don't really love us. I'll give you that --

I mean, I guarantee that. They really just, they don't

014290
32
love us. Some of them tolerate us, some of them like, like

us, or get along with us, or want our business after all
this is over, but there's, there's not going to be a whole
lot of love lost (inaudible). Most of them are happy that
he's gone -- 99%, most of them are happy. The other few

percent are like the Ba'ath Party people who are a decided

minority. And then you have like the Republican Guard. We

haven't got a whole lot of them that really like him
either. They could care less about him being in. They're
like, OK, he can't threaten my family anymore. Fine.

don't care about it really, to tell you the truth.

Q:A

Salary and good times are gone.

A:A

Yeah, so you don't really have that internal conflict.
Plus you keep the military separate from the civilians, and
the officers are all completely separate, too, so. It kind
of cuts down on anything like that. They're just worried
about their next meal, pretty much, and getting out of
here. They know this is not going to last very long, and
they know that it's almost over, so they're pretty much
just... they just want to go home. That's their main goal.

Which group cause the most problems? Officers? Enlisted?
Civilians? Criminals?

Q:A

A:A

Officers have actually been really good. That's
surprising, because the way we, the way we're taught is

01 11 2 13 I
33

escape, you know. Your -- even if you're and EPW, your

mission is to escape at that point. You know - you're

supposed to leave that, you know, direct and everything

like that. Their officers are just pretty much sitting

down there, kicking back, relaxing, smoking a cigarette.

They get more cigarettes than the enlisted.

OK. They're just kicking back, smoking cigarettes,

relaxing, chilling. They're like, you know... you have,

you have to yell at them every now and again. But that's

just enforcing compound rules. It'd be like, you know,

they'd wander too close to the wire, you have to be three

meters back. "Get back from the wire." You know,

something like that. For the most part, they're like, "No,

no, mister, mister, me not go to the wire, me not go to the

wire. I go through the gate when you release me, I go..."

90% of the officers speak English. You know, pretty good

English. So they're like, Oh, no, no, no. I'll wait until

I go out the wire. I'm not taking my chances running over

the berm and getting shot. I'll stand here and I, you

know, I ain't going anywhere. What am I going to do? Go

home? Go back to work? No. Army's gone. But yeah,

they're good. The enlist-- the lower enlisted. Well,

that's pretty much 90% of them. The lower enlisted. They

really didn't cause too much trouble. They were used to...

Q:A

niAg92

34

their leaderships, the leadership for the Iraqi army is a

little different, you know. They pretty much follow orders
from the officer, but they just do what they're told. You
know. It's not a whole lot of questioning or else there's
going to be a bullet in it for you, apparently. So they
learn not to ask questions the easy way. They don't get
shot. But, you know, they're like... you know, we tell
them to do something, usually they do it. They're not real
organized, they're not real clean, stuff like that.
They're probably from some of the poorer towns and stuff
like that, so there's not a real high level of education
and all that stuff, but they really didn't give us too much
trouble. Civilians, the civilians were pretty much a pain
in the butt. And I can understand their whole point behind
that. You know, I'm not a soldier, I'm not involved with
the Iraqi government, I'm some Joe Schmuckatelli who owns
an AK47 because everyone here owns an AK47 to shoot at each
other. You know, because that guy's going to steal my
cattle, you know. And the police don't really do anything,
so I'm going to keep that here. And he got picked up in a
dragnet or something, you know. And he's down here and he

wants to go home to his wife and kids and he doesn't really
understand why he has to be here, and so they cause us
problems. But that's probably. The only criminals, we

014293
35

really haven't received enough of them for them to be a...

to have escalated up... you know. Where you're dealing
with -- we have like usually about 411, people in a compound

.2-3
now. (inaudible) you can get a whole group riled up real
quick and easy. Whereas, you know, for (inaudible)
criminals we have, I don't, a couple hundred maybe. Maybe

we have that many. And they're all segregated, inside

their own compound they're segregated out. So they don't
really have enough to --

Q:A
Segregated out by choice or by --

A:A
Segregated by choice. We keep them. We keep them. Yeah.
As another class, (inaudible), officer, enlisted, civilian,
civilian criminals. And it's just the way we work it. But
pretty much everybody keeps... for the most part it keeps
itself all leveled out. It probably happens... I had never
understood... I understand why these people -- I'm not
going to say these people are so violent, but they happen
to be, when they go to the violence, they tend to grab a
gun. And if you ever go down there and watch one of them
get into a fight, it's like girls junior high school fight.
It is just slapping, and like pulling hair, and it looks
like, it looks like a couple of little girls fighting. I
swear to god, if you dropped any of these people into a
junior high school in like, a decent-sized city, they would

014204
36

put out a bent, by one of our NCOs, so he might have

stretched the truth... a really hard. OK, he lied. But he
made some allegations which basically prompted us getting
removed from up there. And punished by getting sent down
to stand (power?) guard and stuff like that.

Q:A

So you got -- all right, so you guys never were really in

the holding pen. Or in the compound.

A:A

Not down there. It's called, it's a core cage. All we
would do is we would escort people out of their cages and
take them different places, like tribunals were held down
there. We'd take them and maybe get like a group ofillp or
so and take them down there and bring them back. Or --

L.2-3
Q:A

They wouldn't beAover (inaudible).

A:A

No, you'd walk them. Walk them down, however they -- in
their coveralls or whatever they were wearing, you'd go
down there and get in a line. Follow this guy. And

(inaudible).

How would they have to walk? I mean --

Q:A

A:A

Single file. We tried to keep them as tight together, just
easier to control at that point. If they're spread out,

you have more (inaudible) to guard. You're further from

the middle at the end. Each guy's farther from the middle

guy. Something happens up front, it takes time for the

back guard to get up to the front. All that stuff.

014296
38

can walk with about IMMO or do of these guys, and I know that if they were to jump me, I probably could get the 10111h1111111110, just throw them off with no real problem, and be able to control the rest hopefully, if the rest of
fi(5A
the jump me with a weapon or another level of force. But
when you start getting up into where you're dealing with
like. guys... I'm (inaudible) (laughter). You know, you
start out, put restriction on movement. Keep your hands on
your head. So you have the walk along with their fingers
interlaced and walking with their hands on their head, and
you'd walk behind them or walk off to the side and make
sure they keep their hands on their head. (inaudible)
comes (inaudible) until that last guy figures out he needs
to place hands on his head. You remind him, of course.

Q:A

And no one else would say anything. (inaudible) you know,
"Shut up you idiot. Put your hands on your head." Because
they had to be quiet.

A:A

I'm sure, yeah. I'm sure some people were thinking it.
And you get some pretty good looks out of those situations.
But, yeah, for the most part, everybody just played nice.
Especially when we were working at the IHA. In part
because at that point they were so scared and (inaudible).
I'm in prison (inaudible). You know, stuff like goes
through your head.

014298
40

All right. So you, when you had allegations made against
you, can I ask what those allegations are? Or...

Q:A

A:A

Yeah. (inaudible). (inaudible) to have them, then
somebody can look it up in a few years. Yeah, a certain
officer... I'll tell the background. A certain officer
came down when we were working at the IHA, we were getting
prisoners from an escort guard company that formed our,
that formed their outer parameter. I was not there this
day. It was the other platoon working. We worked the
other shift. They had their outer perimeter form done,
they had their inner perimeter, and their doing searches on
the inside. Now, this officer comes up and he's like...
starting to walk like he's going to go against the
perimeter. Which is a no-no. Once you start, nobody comes
in, nobody goes out. It, you stay until you're finished.
This officer and his group-entourage as we call it -- was
coming down there, and one of our NCOs, sir, I urge you to
stay out here, we're in there, you know, we're working with
prisoners right now, we need to do this. (inaudible) we
can't allow people to come in or out. He said his rank and
(inaudible}, you know, such and such and such, I'm coming
in there. He's like, no sir, you're not. That's my AO,
right now. I need you to respect that while I'm working

here, dadadadada. Well, the guy kind of stormed off and he

41

01_299
wasn't so happy because he just got made to look bad in
front of the whole group that he was trying to pull rank in
a place where he shouldn't be sticking his nose in. He
basically told them, he said, hey, you want to go down
there and see that? I'm (inaudible), I can get, yeah, I
can get you in there. And so the next day it came down
from higher that two of our E7s and one E6 basically beat
the crap out of two prisoners, kicking him, beating him,
you know, while he was down, during the search area, stuff
like that. Some officer had filed char-- or had filed
official pap-- two official statements to that effect. You
know, saying that he saw... we only have two E7s and the
other E6 -- well, we have a couple of them, but yeah. They
also... obviously he was pointing a finger at these people.

(inaudible) major does an investigation, starts his
investigation. He's the investigating authority.

He's not for the (inaudible) battalion, is he? I think
that came down from battalion (inaudible).

Q:A

A:A

I'd have to check on where on the officer came from and
stuff, but yeah. So. (inaudible) came down, (inaudible)
star major --

End of Tape 1, Side A

A:A

-- their name's cleared from this.

Q:A

Yeah.

1 4 3U.
42

We have Ow. for every Mph

compounds that are stacked across from each other. It just
depends on which compounds are filled with how many people,
so that you have to rotate your guards around depending on
which compound. (inaudible) about ',people.
That's kind of what I was wondering is how many people are/

Q:A/)-3
required to man them. So 0 people, that means 01111-houf
shifts is what I'm figuring out here. And that means
pretty much no one's getting a day off. Am I right or
wrong about that?

A:A

Yeah, pretty good. You figure pretty well. That was for a
few days, and then they brought in another company and we
started to be able to get breaks and stuff like that.

Q:A

OK.

A:A

So that was pretty good. It's bad when you get exciting
going from a 12-hour day and you're happy just to go down
to an eight. It's like, "Woo hoo!"

Q:A

I still don't know what that's like.

A:A

It's like, "Yeah! I'm only working eight hours everyday
now!" (laughter)

Q:A

And I've got four extra hours to stare at the sand.

A:A
Yeah. It was really good.

Q:A

Let me just ask you a little bit more about the interment
area -- so, about dipp towers. Communication with people?
b2-3

014302 44
Or...

A: 4110 radio.
1)L.3 11111110141111p? Or --

Q:A

1.11

A:A1111111, I believe they are.

Q:A

OK.

A:A

My bad.

I'm still recording.

Q:A

A:A

Uh oh.

Q:A

We're going to go ahead and stop the interview right now.
(Break in tape)A

66-;k

All right, this is Sergeant 4111111111111111111111, we are about to
conclude the interview --

Q:i

A:A

Steaks for dinner. (laughter)

Thanks for dinner. I'm sorry, but history be damned
sometimes. You know, we've got two and a quarter hours
I've done my part for history today. (laughter)

Q:A

A:A

History takes millions of years to build.

All right. (Armament?). 4110guards...

Q:A

A:A

OK. It varies per position. Inner facilities -- if you're

b2 3
in a tower between Olpfacilities -- will have., (1141100, usually, with iiM1111111. rounds, ,, and basically ip¦upomp for crowd dispersal. Then you have usually or or
A
they can also carry 011111110.11110 as well.

014303

Doc_nid: 
3718
Doc_type_num: 
73