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Camp Bucca

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Camp Bucca, one of ten Enemy Prisoner of War Camps in Iraq, also nicknamed "Camp Freddy," [1] according to a March 29, 2003, report by CNN, was the relocation site to which "some of the Iraqi prisoners of war captured by coalition forces [would] be transferred from an occupied airfield in south-central Iraq to a nearby encampment being built at Camp Bucca."

Conditions

On its Wednesday, May 12, 2004, edition of 60 Minutes II (8:00 PM (EST)), CBS's Dan Rather is scheduled to run an "exclusively obtained" home video made by an American soldier "showing what conditions were like at both Camp Bucca and Abu Ghraib." [2]

"The segment ["Inside Iraq's U.S.-Run Prisons"] video shows a young soldier's disdain for the Iraqi prisoners. She says: 'We've already had two prisoners die...but who cares? That's two less for me to worry about.'
"Two other soldiers who were at Camp Bucca and are accused of abusing prisoners there tell Correspondent Dan Rather that the problems began with the chain of command -- the same chain of command that was in charge of Abu Ghraib when the pictures of torture and abuse were taken."

The CBS News web site provides a timeline, photo essay, and other interactive links regarding Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca.

About Camp Bucca

Coalition forces were then "building a high berm around the encampment at Camp Bucca to prevent the prisoners from seeing other operations at the camp. ... Front-line news reports indicate that the coalition has captured more than 4,000 Iraqi POWs. It is not clear how many of those POWs are being held at the airfield." [3]

"The main concern of the soldiers at the base is security. The base is surrounded by a berm (a large raised wall of earth) and patrolled by military police in Hummers. It is a large wall but would be relatively easy for infiltrators to climb the berm and sneak in." [4]

Camp Bucca, according William Chien in the April 16, 2003, "Iraq Crisis Bulletin," is located "somewhere in the sands of southern Iraq" and is "the only prisoner-of-war camp under" the command of the Coalition Provisional Authority. At the time, Colonel Sidney Ecke was "the camp's chief administrator."

  • Note: Camp Bucca photographs show "Colonel Sidney Ecke" as Colonel Alan Ecke, "deputy commander of the 800th MP Brigade and the Commandant of Camp Bucca EPW Camp in Um Quasr, Iraq."
Ecke writes: "I've been here now since December 2001. We handle all enemy prisoners of war for the U.S. and UK forces. Camp Bucca is named after Ronald Bucca who was a soldier in our unit and a NYC Fire Marshal. He perished on 9-11 om [sic] the World Trade Center."

Chien writes that he was told "this camp was built by British troops for previous containment of POWs, so there were already tents on the location. Camp's capacity is about 18-thousand prisoners. The camp now houses about six-thousand. That figure remains steady as new inmates are sent to Bucca in numbers approximately equal to the number who are released." [5]

According to Colonel Ecke, Chien says, "the inmates are treated humanely and in accordance with international standards set by the Geneva Convention. Ten inmates are assigned to one tent measuring about 28 square meters. Muslim inmates get three Islamic meals per day and are allowed time to pray each week." [6]

Ecke told Chien, "that after an Iraqi is captured on the battlefield and brought to Camp Bucca, a team of U.S. and Arabic-speaking lawyers and other professionals sit with them to determine to what degree they are prisoners-of-war or some other status that has not been involved in fighting and are therefore managed separately." [7]

Ecke "adds that until now the number of those who have been mistaken for Iraqi soldiers and sent to Camp Bucca is quite small. However, the personnel at the camp currently do not have the power to send those who should be repatriated back to their homes." [8]

According to Global Security.org, Camp Bucca, "the coalition's facility for enemy prisoners of war ... near Umm Qasr in southern Iraq, is operated by the 800th Military Police Brigade. At Camp Bucca's in-processing stations, soldiers fill out cards for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that include the prisoner's name, properties, hometown, and family members. These cards then get sent back to the prisoner's home. The process can take up to a month; so many family members come to the camp instead, to find out for themselves.

"The first thing the MPs had to do was find a proper spot to set up an EPW camp. To put up a camp, Army planners first scout out a site isolated enough to be able to protect the prisoners and their guards from attack. Free Iraq Forces are also used to help locate a safe place. The FIF is a group of native Iraqis who have joined to help the American and British forces in freeing the Iraqi people. The local towns are checked for nearby places to buy needed products, warehouses for storing supplies, and the potential for local doctors, caterers, and contractors -- anything that would enhance the operations. In Umm Qasr, Maddocks used interpreters who spoke to local businessmen and helped find the things they needed to help build and maintain Camp Bucca. [9]

"As of January 2004 the centerpiece of the 530th Military Police Battalion headquarters' living area at Camp Bucca was a little reminiscent of the old TV show 'Petticoat Junction.' On a raised wooden gazebo, soldiers built a deep tub that now serves as the swimming hole for the headquarters staff. The only thing missing are the pretty girls in petticoats. 'We just throw some bleach in it every once in a while to keep it clean,' said Staff Sgt. Vern Schulte, an MP in the battalion at Bucca, where hundreds of enemy prisoners-of-war are held. The pool, which looks more like a California-style hot tub, is a welcome relief. 'This place was just a big square of sand when we walked into it,' Schulte said. 'Now we've got everything just like it should be.'" [10]

Allegations of Brutality

Camp Bucca Four

  • "Support Urged For Camp Bucca Four," The Chattanoogan.com, August 1, 2003: "Four military police from a Pennsylvania-based Army Reserve unit are accused of abusing prisoners of war at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq. It occurred on the night of May 12 when a bus carrying 44 prisoners arrived at Camp Bucca, near Umm Qasr in southern Iraq. Soldiers from the 320th Military Police Battalion took the prisoners of war from the bus to a processing center. According to someone who was at the scene, the prisoners included Iraqis who had tortured and killed U.S. POWs. Several of the prisoners attacked our soldiers. One prisoner kicked an MP's leg, and a second grabbed another soldier's wrist and had to be subdued. The charges against our MP's allege that they used excessive force."
  • Tarek Al-Issawi, "U.S. Opens Hearing on Alleged Iraqi Abuse," AP, August 27, 2003.
  • Charles J. Hanley, "Prisoners describe brutality by troops," AP, November 2, 2003: "Although details cannot be otherwise confirmed, the accounts by a half dozen former detainees in Associated Press interviews corroborated each other on key points, and meshed with what Amnesty International has heard from released Iraqis. The human rights group has accounts of detainee uprisings, punishment by exposure to the sun, and other examples of what it calls 'inhumane conditions.' ... Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the U.S. Army commander of Iraq's detention facilities, has said prisoners are treated humanely and fairly. Specific questions about AP's ex-detainee accounts were submitted to the U.S. command on Oct. 18, but no response has been received. ... Two pending U.S. military legal cases may offer a glimpse at problems in the detention system: In one, four soldiers are accused of beating Iraqi prisoners; in the other, two Marines are charged in connection with an Iraqi's death in detention."
  • "Three U.S. soldiers accused of abusing Iraqi POWS to face arraignment," AP, November 14, 2003.
  • Diana Elias, "Soldiers refuse to plead to charges of abusing Iraqi prisoners," AP, November 15, 2003.
  • Peter Glasser, "How Not To Win a War," Intellectual Conservative, December 12, 2003.
  • "Coming Home," Mudville Gazette, February 26, 2004: "Master Sgt. Lisa Girman, Staff Sgt. Scott McKenzie, and Spc. Timothy Canjar have come home, joining Shawna L. Edmondson in putting the Army and the war in Iraq behind them. ... All charges were dropped -- the court-martial trial was canceled." Also see update with links.

British Soldiers

Fallout

"The report was prepared by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba on alleged abuse of prisoners by members of the 800th Military Police Brigade at the Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad.
"It was ordered by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of Joint Task Force-7, the senior U.S. military official in Iraq, following persistent allegations of human rights abuses at the prison."
  • "Excerpts From Prison Inquiry," Los Angeles Times, May 3, 2004: "Excerpts of the Army's investigative report on alleged abuses at U.S. military prisons in Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca, Iraq. It was requested by the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, and written by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba."

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links

  • New Army Postal Codes for Iraq: Umm Qasr (Camp Bucca) 09375.
  • Spc. Cory Meyman, "Pennsylvania Army Reservists Process Enemy POWs," U.S. Army Reserve Public Affairs Office - U.S. Army Reserve Command, Camp Bucca, no date.
  • Ronald Paul Larson, "Troops Prepare to Build Prisons," Daily Titan, Spring 2003: "The camp will be built on a large, flat, desolate plain and is designed to hold several thousand Iraqi prisoners. It can be expanded if necessary. The number of prisoners it will hold will depend on circumstances."
  • The 1st Battalion, Chicago Highland Rifles' Officer Commanding's Photo Album, March 30, 2003: "When coalition forces jumped into Iraq last winter, the officers, men and women of the 822nd were assigned to establish and run a POW camp. Named after an Army Reservist killed in the September 11th attacks, Camp Bucca quickly became the home of 6,000 Iraqi POW's. Most of those POW's have been repatriated, ... Camp Bucca is now home to an increasingly criminal population. ... Located outside of the City of Basra, Iraq, conditions at the Camp are brutal. Daytime temperatures hover near 125, sandstorms are common and even a small cup of coffee becomes a luxury."
  • Sgt. Frank N. Pellegrini, "South Fla. Reservists Build POW Camp They Will Guard," U.S. Army Reserve Public Affairs, April 2003: "British forces turned control of the camp over to the 800th Military Police Brigade last week, and they are now preparing to hand responsibility for this corner of it to the 724th. ... 'I've got 18 soldiers under me who are going to be responsible for watching as many as 1,500 EPWs themselves. Guarding EPWs is difficult, pressurized work. These guys have been waiting for this for two months, from home to Kuwait and finally to here - I think a little manual labor like this helps burn off some stress and gets them ready to go,' said Sgt. 1st Class Alfonzie Brown, of Moorehaven, Fla."
  • Ronald Paul Larson, "Engineering Unit Moves POW Camp,", Daily Titan, April 2, 2003: "The prisoner of war camp planned for the Camp Bucca site has also been moved. The new site is at Um-Qasr, just west of the Al Faw Peninsula near Basra. Because many of the captures of Iraqi soldiers are taking place near that area, it was judged to be easier to transport and supply the prisoners from Um-Qasr than from the more remote Bucca site."
  • Diana Elias, "200 freed Iraqi prisoners of war leave desert camp singing and cheering for President Bush," AP, April 27, 2003.
  • Bill Frelick, Amnesty International Report on a Visit to Camp Bucca in March/April 2003.
  • "Iraqi POWs head home for new life without Saddam," AFP, May 6, 2003: "Fifty more prisoners were to be set free later Tuesday, US military police said, cutting the camp's population from a wartime peak of 7,000 to just 2,000. ... Some 1,000 further releases have already been approved and are expected to be carried out over the next fortnight, Major Stacy Garrity told AFP. ... Fingerprints and DNA samples are taken from all the soldiers among those freed. ... The last 1,000 prisoners are high-ranking army officers or criminals who need to be reinterviewed by criminal intelligence."
  • Doug Bandow, "Waiting and Wondering. The Kuwaitis who still suffer," National Review Online, June 5, 2003.
  • Maureen Fan, "Detention of Iraqis creates hostility, resistance," Philadelphia Enquirer, November 23, 2003: "The detainees are primarily at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad, a notorious penal facility under Hussein, and at Camp Bucca near the southern Iraqi town of Umm Qasr, an eight-hour drive from Baghdad. A third penal facility, Camp Cropper near the Baghdad airport, was closed last month after coalition officials acknowledged that conditions there had become unacceptable." It was rumored that "Camp Bucca also may close."
  • Nick Childs and Rachel Clark, "Where are Iraq's top 55?," BBC/UK, December 10, 2003: "When one of the 55 surrenders or is caught, US Central Command issues a news release to claim the success but then a shroud of secrecy descends. ... There is no public acknowledgement of what is happening to the detainees, even where they are being held. ... Military sources say the Iraqis are continuing to be interrogated and one Central Command officer told the BBC there are 'multiple locations' available to the coalition for detaining the most-wanted Iraqis. ... In the southern region controlled by British forces, the US military has also established a base near the port of Umm Qasr called Camp Bucca which is also used to detain prisoners."
  • "Sanchez orders Iraq prisoner abuse probe," AP, January 16, 2004: "In October, the U.S. military shut down Camp Cropper, a notorious, makeshift prison where hundreds of Iraqis were crowded into tents through Baghdad's scorching summer. ... Released detainees told of overcrowded and unsanitary conditions at Camp Cropper, and they alleged physical abuse by guards. The human rights group Amnesty International protested it 'may amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, banned by international law.'"
  • 3/977 MP Company HOOAH~!, groups.msn.com, January 20, 2004: "We have two basic missions at Camp Bucca, Force Protection and Escorts. Force Protection means we guard the camp ensuring everyone within stays safe. We man guard towers and control access at gates. We conduct mounted patrol around the perimeter of the camp and provide a quick response force (QRF) for any incidents or emergencies within the camp. Secondly, we provide a variety of escorts, from daily escorts to the border to detainee escorts to the large confinement facility in Baghdad (BCCF) [Abu Ghraib] and detainee transfers to Basra."
  • Tom Engelhardt, "Tomgram: Lost in a Bermuda Triangle of Injustice. The Facts on the Ground. Mini-Gulags, Hired Guns, Lobbyists, and a Reality Built on Fear," TomDispatch.com, September 21, 2006.