The CIA and the death of Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush

The U.S. military said an Iraqi general in its custody died of natural causes. That wasn't exactly true.

By Tim Grieve
August 3, 2005 5:37PM (UTC)
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When former Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush died in U.S. custody on Nov. 26, 2003, American military officials issued a press release saying that he had passed away of natural causes after complaining of feeling sick.

That wasn't exactly the truth.


As Josh White explains in today's Washington Post, Mowhoush died while stuffed in a sleeping bag, wrapped in an electrical cord, after a CIA-sponsored group of Iraqi paramilitaries, working with Army interrogators, had beaten him severely with their fists, a club and a rubber hose.

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As White writes, Mowhoush's interrogation and death "paint a vivid example of how the pressure to produce intelligence for anti-terrorism efforts and the war in Iraq led U.S. military interrogators to improvise and develop abusive measures, not just at Abu Ghraib but in detention centers elsewhere in Iraq, in Afghanistan and at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba." And the aftermath of Mowhoush's ordeal, White says, sheds light on the extent to which the United States has tried to conceal abusive interrogation techniques and hide the very existence of small teams of CIA-sponsored Iraqi paramilitary squads used to rough up -- and that's the polite term -- uncooperative detainees.


Two Army soldiers from Fort Carson, Colo., have been charged in Mowhoush's death, and two more who allegedly played a role face other military punishment. As for the CIA's role? The agency's inspector general has launched an investigation, White says, but the agency itself won't comment.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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