The Torture Question
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e-mail from cpt. william ponce

This e-mail was sent in August 2003 by a Military Intelligence (MI) captain serving in Iraq. It is notable because it shows the confusion over Geneva Conventions on the ground in Iraq: Cpt. Ponce distinguishes between "lawful combatants" protected by the Geneva Conventions and unlawful combatants, but prisoners in Iraq have always been covered under Geneva. He asks the e-mail's recipients to provide an "interrogation techniques 'wish list'" and reminds them: "The gloves are coming off gentlemen regarding these detainees…"


Just wanted to make sure we are all clear on the taskers at hand

1- A list identifying individuals who we have in detention that fall under the category of "unlawful combatants" I've included a definition form the 5JA folks:

In order to properly address your request for a legal definition of the term "unlawful combatant," I must first provide you with a framework of definitions with which to work. According to the Law of Land Warfare, the term "combatant" is defined as anyone engaging in hostilities in an armed conflict on behalf of a party to the conflict. Combatants are lawful targets, unless out of combat. With that said, "lawful combatants" receive protections of the Geneva Conventions and gain combat immunity for their warlike acts, as well as become prisoners of war if captured. In comparison, "unprivileged belligerents," commonly referred to as "unlawful combatants," may be treated as criminals under the domestic law of the captor. Unprivileged belligerents may include spies, saboteurs, or civilians who are participating in the hostilities. The term "unlawful combatant" is not referenced, nor is it defined. The term that properly described these types of individuals is "unprivileged belligerents," and as stated before they may be treated as criminals under domestic law.

As far as any ROE that addresses the treatment of enemy combatants, specifically, unprivileged belligerents, we are unaware of any but we will continue to research the issue for you. I hope this information has been helpful.

2- An additional list identifying who we have detained who are "Islamic extremist"

3- Immediately seek input from interrogation elements (Division/Corps) concerning what their special interrogation knowledge base is and more importantly, what techniques would they feel would be effective techniques that SJA could review (basically provide a list).

Provide interrogation techniques "wish list" by 17 AUG 03.

The gloves are coming off gentlemen regarding these detainees, Col Boltz has made it clear that we want these individuals broken. Casualties are mounting and we need to start gathering info to help protect our fellow soldiers from further attacks. I thank you for your hard work and your dedication.



William Ponce Jr
Battle Captain, CJTF-7 JZX
[e-mail address redacted]
[e-mail address redacted]


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posted oct. 18, 2005

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