They were secret, never declared. But the American top brass and the Iraqi leadership knew all about these prisons. The things that went on there: drilling, murder, torture. The ugliest sort of torture I’ve ever seen. According to one soldier with the 69th Armoured Regiment who was deployed Samarra 2005 but who doesn’t want to be identified: It was like the Nazis … like the Gestapo basically. They would essentially torture anybody that they had good reason to suspect, knew something, or was part of the insurgency … or supporting it, and people knew about that. The Guardian interviewed six torture victims as part of this investigation. One, a who says he was held for Martin St. Louis Jersey 20 days, said: There was no sleep. From the sunset, the torture would start on me and on the other prisoners. They wanted confessions. They’d say: ‘Confess to what have you done.’ When you say: ‘I have done nothing. Shall I confess about something I have not done?’, they said: ‘Yes, this is our way. The Americans told us to bring as detainees as possible order to keep them frightened.’ I did not confess about anything, although I was tortured and took off toenails. Smith, a 20-year-old medic who was based Samarra, remembers what low ranking US soldiers the canteen said. What was pretty widely known our battalion, definitely our platoon, was that they were pretty violent with their interrogations.
That they would beat people, shock them with Mats Zuccarello Jersey electrical shock, stab them, I ‘t know what… it sounds like pretty awful things. If you sent a there he was going to get tortured and perhaps raped or whatever, humiliated and brutalised by the special commandos order for them to get whatever information they wanted. He now lives Detroit and is a born-again Christian. He spoke to the Guardian because he said he now considered it his religious duty to speak out about what he saw. I ‘t think folks back home had any idea what American soldiers were involved over there, the torture and all kinds of stuff. Through Facebook, Twitter and social media the Guardian managed to make contact with three soldiers who confirmed they were handing over detainees to be tortured by the special commandos, but none except Smith were prepared to go on camera. If somebody gets arrested and we hand them over to MoI they’re going to get their balls hooked, electrocuted or they’re going to get beaten or raped up the ass with a coke bottle or something like that, one said. He left the army 2006. 28, he works with refugees from the Arab world Detroit teaching recent arrivals, including Iraqis, English. I suppose it is way of saying sorry, he said. When the Guardian BBC Arabic posed questions to Petraeus about torture and his relationship with Steele it received reply a statement from official close to the general saying, General Petraeus’s record, which includes instructions to his own soldiers … reflects his clear opposition to any form of torture. Colonel Steele was one of thousands of advisers to Iraqi units, working the area of the Iraqi police. There was no set frequency for Colonel Steele’s meetings with General Petraeus, although General Petraeus did him on a number of occasions during the establishment and initial deployments of the special police, which Colonel Steele played a significant role.
But Maass, then reporting for the New York Times, and who has interviewed both men, remembers the relationship differently: I talked to both of them about each other and it was very clear that they were very close to each other terms of their command relationship and also terms of their ideas and ideology of what needed to be done. Everybody knew that he was Petraeus’s. Even Steele defined himself as Petraeus’s. Maass and photographer Gilles Peress gained a unique audience with Steele at a library-turned-detention-centre Samarra. What I heard is prisoners screaming all night, Peress said. You know at which point you had a US captain telling his soldiers, ‘t, just ‘t come near this. Two men from Samarra who were imprisoned at the library spoke to the Guardian investigation team. We’d be tied to a spit or we’d be from the ceiling by our hands and our shoulders would be dislocated, one told us.