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July 23, 2007

How many US-held prisoners are there in Iraq?

Here's a question for the hivemind: How many US-held prisoners are there in Iraq?

In his memoir Fear Up Harsh former army interrogator Tony Lagouranis explains that American forces routinely detain Iraqis indefinitely on the mere suspicion that they have information that might be useful to American forces. That is, not everyone who gets detained is even a suspected insurgent, or a suspected accessory. It's enough to be suspected of knowing anything useful.

Some of these people are arrested during raids or on the basis of tips (often from tipsters whose own credibility is suspect). Others just happen to be in the vicinity of an insurgent attack. According to Lagouranis, many Iraqis are hauled in just because they are family members of known or suspected insurgents.  It's one thing to question the family of a suspect, it's quite another to detain them with out charge in the hopes of extracting intel.

Lagouranis explains that Iraqis who cooperate with interrogators are frequently subjected to indefinite detention on the suspicion that they know even more. There's no easy way out for people who don't know anything to begin with. Often, their denials are taken as proof that they haven't broken yet.

Given the low standards of evidence and the indiscriminate methods that the US is using to detain people in the first place, it's likely that there are a lot of innocent people behind bars with no recourse.

Presumably, everyone taken into US custody in Iraq is considered an enemy combatant with no right to appeal their status and little protection under international law.

My question for the hivemind is this: How many Iraqis is the United States military holding without trial in Iraq? I'm not talking about the secret CIA prisons, just the ordinary run-of-the mill US-held prison population that is supposedly increasing daily as the surge captures more and more insurgents.

We hear a lot about the terrorism suspects at Guantanamo, but not nearly as much about those who are being held as enemy combatants in connection with the Iraqi insurgency. It sounds like latter group is much larger than the former.

Expect a full review of Fear Up Harsh in the next few days. It is a powerful and important book that deserves to be widely read.


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Sometimes I wonder just what the hell country it is I'm living in anymore.

A guy that I was once stationed with related this story to me:

We(American Forces) created the insurgency by going from area to area and rounding up all the men aged 18 to 50.

If they weren't terrorists, rounding them all up together put them in communication with terrorists and boosted recruitment because of how they were treated.

It is hard to get the numbers. It seems there are about 20,000 in US run prisons but it's hard to get a breakdown. See:

There's also mention of a UN report, but I can't find that.

In June there were 21,000 Iraqis being held by the US according to the Brookings Institute study. It looks like there are another 20,000 people being held by the Iraqi government. That would bring the total to 41,000 prisoners held.

By the way, to get to the actual study click on "Most Recent Iraq Index PDF"

says "more than 22,000. and a buncha other interesting stuff.

says "more than 22,000". and a buncha other interesting stuff.

How many prisoners in Iraq? God knows. Given the BushCo standard of competence, I’d be surprised if anyone actually had any real numbers. We’ve been training Iraqi prison guards in Jordan though.

Meanwhile we’re locking up our own citizens as fast as we can build prisons.

Is it just me, or are we all now part of some crazy William Burroughs withdrawal nightmare? Pass the heroin please.

I had heard 19000 but will defer to the above posters. In any case it's a lot of people. My number came from a recent post I can't site which said among the detained there were only 135 foreigners, none of who are Iranian. Don't take those numbers as gospel either but it does put in perspective all the blathering about Iranians in Iraq.

One can only imagine the conditions in these camps. On second thought one can't. It's safe to assume some portion are insurgents. I suppose some are Sunni and some are Shia. How they keep a lid on things I can't guess.

It seems we are holding them and the involvement of the Iraqi so called government is minimal to none.What a nightmare.

So many questions and of course no answers. No reporters or reports, nothing but the surge is working or it's not. Some crude scorecards as things devolve.

I happen to have credible information that at least 37500 are in one facility alone. Camp Bodega.

Lindsay, I think you intended this post for a different thread.

Um, yeah. That was for the mortgage bailout thread. Ooops.

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