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abuse :By the Numbers

August 19, 2006

The DAA Project has to date documented at least 330 cases in which U.S. military and civilian personnel are alleged to have abused detainees, ranging from beatings and assaults, to torture, sexual abuse, and homicide. Among the cases:

  • At least 600 U.S. personnel are implicated (numerous cases involve more than one perpetrator). Military personnel comprise over 95 percent of those implicated (at least 570 people), and at least ten CIA or other intelligence personnel are implicated, and approximately twenty civilian contractors working for either the military or the CIA.
  • At least 460 detainees have been subjected to abuse, including people held in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at Guantánamo Bay.
  • The majority of the approximately 330 cases took place in Iraq (at least 220 cases), followed by Afghanistan (at least sixty cases), and Guantánamo Bay (at least fifty cases).
  • DAA Project researchers found that authorities opened investigations into approximately 210 out of the 330 cases (about 65 percent).9
  • In the remaining 35 percent of cases—approximately 120 cases—either no investigation was opened or the authorities have not publicly disclosed whether one took place. Over 70 percent of these 120 unresolved cases involve incidents that took place more than two years ago.
  • The 210 cases in which there is evidence of an investigation involve at least 410 personnel (in many cases, more than one perpetrator is alleged to be involved in a case).
  • Almost all of the military personnel who have been investigated are enlisted soldiers (approximately 95 percent of the total), not officers.
  • Of the approximately 410 personnel implicated in cases that the military and civilian authorities have investigated, only about a third have faced any kind of disciplinary or criminal action. As of April 10, 2006, the DAA Project identified seventy-nine military personnel who were ordered by commanders for court-martial.10 (This number includes summary courts-martial conducted abroad, for which thirty days’ confinement is the maximum sentence.) Only one person, a civilian contractor, has been indicted in federal court.
  • Of the seventy-nine courts-martial ordered by commanders, fifty-four resulted in conviction or a guilty plea. Another fifty-seven people have faced non-judicial proceedings in which punishments include no or minimal prison time. (See box below on “Parallel Disciplinary Mechanisms: Criminal and Non-judicial Proceedings.”)11
  • 75 percent of the cases in which investigations were conducted do not appear to have resulted in any kind of punishment (approximately 160 of the 210 investigated cases, involving approximately 260 accused personnel). The DAA Project found approximately 110 cases (involving approximately 190 accused personnel) were closed without punishment. And in at least fifty cases (involving at least seventy other people), the Project could not find any evidence that investigations had resulted in punishment and could not determine whether the case was still open.
  • Researchers identified more than 1,000 individual criminal acts of abuse.
  • The most common alleged types of abuse were assault (found in at least 220 cases), use of physical or non-physical humiliation (at least ninety cases), sexual assault or abuse (at least sixty cases), and use of “stress” techniques (at least forty cases).
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