Fay Report Annex: Interview of Sergeant First Class Keith A. Comer, Platoon Sergeant, 229th Military Police Company re: Allegations of Detainee Abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison

<p>This document is part of the Taguba Report (Annex 83) and included here in the Fay Report. The interview is of Sergeant First Class Keith A. Comer, Platoon Sergeant of the 229th Military Police Company assigned to Abu Ghraib Prison in 2003. The 1SG states that he witnessed incidents of detainee abuse while at Abu Ghraib. The Taguba Report version of this document is substantially less redacted and contains more supporting documents than this version in this Report. It is recommended that you see ACLU RDI 289 for the Taguba Report Annex 83 for a more expansive version of this document.</p>

Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Wednesday, March 2, 2005

On 10 February 2004, a panel of officers, directed by Major General Antonio Taguba, conducted the following interview. Major General Taguba was appointed as an Investigating Officer under the provisions of Army Regulation 15-6, by Lieutenant General David D. McKiernan, Commanding General of the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC), to look into allegations of maltreatment of detainees, detainee escapes and accountability lapses, at Abu Gharib, also known as the Baghdad Central Confinement Facility (BCCF). The panel also inquired into training, standards, employment, command policies, and internal policies, concerning the detainees held at Abu Gharib prison. Finally, the panel looked into the command climate and the command and supervisory presence The following persons were present: The interview is summarized as follows: 229th MP Company. My sosh iI' rgeant First Clas eaction orce, which is separate from the uicam in the IRF, the ern I work for eaction Force. We handle all issues inside the wall, dealing with prisoners. allailly Before, I worked in Customs at Camp Doha. Inercads an excerpt from a sworn statement, dated 20 January 2004: "The MI person hit him on the back of the head with a closed fist, causing the suspect to fall forward. The suspect was handcuffed, on his knees, and had a towel wrapped around his head. The MI soldier kept yelling, 'Eyes down,' and 'Get up,' while knocking the suspect down, and repeating the verbal abuse towards the suspect. Another MI soldier came to the assistance of the MI person. The 2nd MI soldier put an arm lock around the suspect's neck, pulling the suspect forward from the ground. While pulling the suspect from the ground by the neck, the MI soldier was twisting left and right, yelling at the ile the first MI soldier struck the suspect in the mid-section of the stomach. sus •ec Commander, approached the soldier and asked if this treatment was necessary. ' tc %II sokiio tokt the 1LT that he was a trained professional and to let him to let him handle the situation. The 1LT reminded the soldiers that the suspect may be innocent. The MI soldiers continued their verbal abuse, and excessive force. The 1LT stated to the MI soldiers that this abuse was not necessary. The MI soldiers ignored the 1LT, and continued to verball abuse the suspect and drug the suspect off by the neck. The I LT approache and asked the Major if he was going to let this continue. The Major said not ung, and the 1 LT stated that he was not going to allow this abuse to continue. The 1LT went to the MI vehicle and wanted to know who was the s,,(, 1 i:c • AG0000339 Camp Doha to up there, but it wasn't anything that required the physical touching. I think she was trying to play the stress card, to get out of pulling duty. We had her evaluated, and the doctor said she was completely fine. But, several of my soldiers observed that, including myself. A cou le of them were so angry, that they wrote sworn our EMillit which eventually statements and turned them in t spearheaded the 15-6. That was my ust time meant ame out another time, and I spoke with him about the lack of commune r n devices. We had no phones, no way of calling home to say we're still alive, even though the mortar attacks happen every night. He gave me his satellite phone, and said, "Call home." I said that's not the issue. "We have 115 soldiers, here, that don't have access to a phone. What's being done to fix that?" He said, "Well send up a request for a phone." I said that's already been done. He said, "Well use mine," and I said, "Well, we need to line up every soldier out here, and get them a free phone call," and he then he told me he had to go. The only other person I know from the 800th is the 1-11-IC Commander, a female Captain. When we were at Arifjan, I had a soldier whose bro r w tilled. S e helped me get all elped us get up the emergency leave paperwork squared away. An here. They've never come and talk to us. We'd tell them our living conditions suck, and thatbreakfast 12 da s w in Se tember for we've eaten T-Rations, and that we've eaten dinner, but none of those people would come out to see that e night at tand the folks from the 16th are the first people from the Brigade to spen prison. I've never seen anybody from the 800th come and spend the night, there. They are gone by dark, because Abu Gharib is a dangerous place after dark. Morar was really bad back in August and September, because we moved from Camp Doha, which has ideal living conditions, to Iraq. But, morale kind of leveled off mid­field. The mortar attacks don't help, and the fact that we don't do anything about tne mortar attacks really doesn't help. The 82nd goes out, and the QRF goes out, but from what 1 understand, if you don't have the right information in 90 seconds, you're not going to get those guys. I would have thought that a Brigadie.. General could stop a buck, but I may be wrong. There are enough people, here, that have been told what's going on, that someone should be able to fix this problem. Related to these incidents, my personal feeling is, as someone who's been a cop for 10 years in the civilian world, if they had taken action on this back in August, it would have set the stage that prisoner abuse was not going to be tolerated. to deploying as an UR Company. WeWe're a CS Company that was re-organized prior We went to our MOB Station, andchanged our MTOE, when we left 1 year et with the Platoon Leaders andwe had time at our MOB Station, wher a training plan. We set up CampPlatoon Sergeants, and we sat down and deve ope AGO 0 0 0 3 4 1 ding the statement ontinues the interview wi tall esponds as follows. ,.0-1, ,ut 20 I do recall the incident. We all wrote statements on this on Aut .v. minutes after the incident. I'm surprised you don't have it.We r orted this a s nd time, because we didn't know if this in, a Marine who works in thehad been investigated. sai he spoke with the 800th, who told the Captain that Magistrate Cell, anhe could handle the investigation, that they didn't have time for it. In a few days, after that, the CID folks showed up because of another incident going on at the prison. 1 don't recall who interviewed me, but he told be this was turned over to CID. They looked at it, and turned it back over to the command. He knew of no resolution to it. I was under the assumption, from CID, that it was turned back over to the MI command, emember s ago. I think it was the 205th or who have since left and I hortl after the inc ent occurred, the 1SG's name w d met with eir I SG, who triedwere called to the Ba C, b to do some battle damage assessment. 1 ,: 'IF.. i‘:.:::11 ‘:', ';....:;;: -0,::....i ',...r. :::71 i n I, +."... ,1:d Ci.:: ;.:;:::::,:r... , . . t.:.: ::1":11. :tilcr 1 : , , :., IOW ,;11 ( C:::r.;11% t" 11111..77: 1-It.r. 'NF.'.' t ,.:7 1:9:Li ,3 :- .,,, '.) - 1:i: , ' Ii*, :k, i ',W. . ¦ , :il .: , NI ;1:L., ' , : k: .r ,. tr:;: l',,11.1',: ,,:s., -,n•,.. '.'.e ,, 1 leaps and bounds overyet, but I kno I haven't me anything we've seen from the 800th. He recognizes senior NCOs by name. Speaks with you every time he sees you. He asks you how things are going. The Brigade CSM met And, with all senior NCOs, last week, after only being on the ground just a few days. Within a few days, issued us all brand new biassards. I've hadn't had a brassard from the 800th, since I've been here. I was told we could buy some. I only know of a couple of occasions when BG Karpinski had interaction with any of the soldiers in our unit. It was back in August or early September. She went into 2 towers, and spoke with one of soldiers, who was augmented to another platoon, and spoke about the prisoners. She didn't ask him how his living conditions were; she just wanted to know how the prisoners were. She talked about setting up an intramural inter compound soccer league with him. The other occasion was when St•cl::1;11•. i ti'dd \\k' !rid . , 1 •iw fah! loOti ‘,Vt: will: far I:om 111 As far as the Brigade CSM from the 800th, that was another investigation we brought to the Brigade. The 377th Theatre Support Command investigated him. He came to visit, and had an inappropriate liaison with one of my soldiers. He spoke directly to one of my E4s, before speaking to anyone else. He put his arm around her, and walked around with her. He was rubbing her shoulders, and they disappeared for about 5 or10 minutes. was holding his hand on her leg, with When they came back, he sat down with her. He his arm around her. She was having some difficult times, with the stress of coming from AGO 000340 Alpha. It was engineer tape, but it was a compound, and we rotated all 3 platoons through tower guard operations, through internal operations, and escort details, because, at the time, we didn't know what we were going to do. We looked at the METL Tasks for an IJR Company, and we knew there were a lot of things we could be doing. We tried to prepare for what we thought we were going to be doing. It's funny, because soldiers hated Camp Alpha, back in Indiana, but when we got on the ground up there, they were like this is just like Camp Alpha; this is going to be easy. Then, it turns out we were only going to be responsible for Tower Guard Operations, which made it easier. I don't think you need to have training, to know that hitting someone in your custody is wrong. It's an issue of right and wrong. I've had many conversations with the MI folks after that, and I told them from the beginning, that I wouldn't tolerate that. a list of items, to be addressed, Finished with their discussion, the panel gave and brought back on a Sworn Statement. AG0000342