A former Navy SEAL says he saw fellow SEALs and CIA officials kick, choke and eye-gouge detainees at a U.S. military base in Iraq.
The former SEAL testified at a military hearing Monday that he saw “interrogation by means of abuse” take place at Camp Jenny Pozzi, the SEAL base at Baghdad International Airport
He said a prisoner under interrogation by the CIA was abused in October 2003 by two or three SEALs. On another occasion a month later, the witness said he watched as SEALs punched, choked and poked their fingers in the eye of Iraqi Manadel al-Jamadi, who also was punched by a CIA official when he didn’t answer questions.
Al-Jamadi, a suspect in the bombing of a Red Cross facility in Iraq, died a few hours after he was captured during a joint CIA-special operations mission in November 2003. He died while being interrogated by CIA personnel in the shower room of the Abu Ghraib prison.
The former SEAL, who was not identified, was the government’s main witness at Monday’s Article 32 hearing.
The hearing, the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury, was for a Navy SEAL lieutenant who is accused of assault, maltreatment and conduct unbecoming an officer for his handling of detainees, including al-Jamadi.
A Navy officer hearing the evidence will make a recommendation whether the lieutenant, who was not identified, should face a court-martial.
Although the lieutenant is not charged with al-Jamadi’s death, it could be an aggravating factor that could yield stiffer punishment.
The ex-SEAL who testified Monday, and who also served under the lieutenant in Iraq, was kicked out of the elite unit after he was convicted of stealing a fellow SEAL’s bulletproof vest – an act that earned him the nickname “Klepto.” The sailor said he saw the lieutenant abuse prisoners, including al-Jamadi, three times.
Defense attorney Matthew Freedus challenged the ex-SEAL’s credibility during his two-hour cross examination.