-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
It’s been nearly a decade since the death of Manadel al-Jamadi, an Iraqi prisoner known as “the Iceman.” In Alexandria, Virginia, a secret federal grand jury has begun calling witnesses in its investigation of the death of “the Iceman”. Manadel al-Jamadi was killed while in CIA custody at Abu Ghraib and got his nickname from an attempt to keep his body cool and make him look less than dead.
John Durham, a Republican-appointed U.S. Attorney, is leading the grand jury that “is conducting an investigation of possible violations of federal criminal laws involving War Crimes (18 USC/2441), Torture (18 USC 2340A) and related federal offenses.”
In 2009 the new U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, picked Durham to investigate whether some at the CIA went beyond the Bush DOJ’s guidance on the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques. Seven former CIA directors wrote to Obama soon after Holder’s appointment of Durham and asked him to scrap the investigation. Michael Mukasey, Bush’s last Attorney General, declared it an “absolutely outrageous” action that would demoralize the agency.
Official investigations ruled al-Jamadi’s death a homicide, with the prisoner succumbing to asphyxiation and “blunt force injuries.” Shortly after the prisoner’s death, the CIA’s Inspector General referred the case to the Justice Department but no action was taken.
Reports indicate that the focus of the probe is a non-covert CIA interrogator and polygraph expert named Mark Swanner, who questioned al-Jamadi immediately before his death.
This investigation is eerily reminiscent of another Abu Ghraib investigation wherein only low-level soldiers were convicted in courts-martial, sentenced to military prison, and dishonorably discharged from service. Only one officer, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, was reprimanded for dereliction of duty and then demoted to the rank of Colonel. The higher-ups, who orchestrated the war crimes, got off scot-free.