June 20, 2008
At today’s House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights hearing on torture, Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, told Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) that over 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody, with up to 27 of these declared homicides:
NADLER: Your testimony said 100 detainees have died in detention; do you believe the 25 of those were in effect murdered?
WILKERSON: Mr. Chairman, I think the number’s actually higher than that now. Last time I checked it was 108.
A February 2006 Human Rights First report found that although hundreds of people in U.S. custody had died and eight people were tortured to death, only 12 deaths had “resulted in punishment of any kind for any U.S. official.”
NADLER: Colonel Wilkerson, in your prepared testimony, you write that “as I compiled my dossier for Secretary Powell, and as I did further research, and as my views grew firmer and firmer I had to reread that memo (of February 7, 2002), “I needed to balance in my own mind the overwhelming evidence that my own government had sanctioned abuse and torture, which at its worse had led to the murder of 25 detainees and at least 100 detainee deaths. We have murder at least 25 people in detention. That was the clear low point [lower end of the range] of the evidence.” Your testimony said 100 detainees have died in detention; do you believe the 25 of those were in effect murdered?
WILKERSON: Mr. Chairman, I think the number’s actually higher than that now. Last time I checked it was 108, and the total number that were declared homicides by the military services, or by the CIA, or others doing investigations, CID, and so forth — was 25, 26, 27.
NADLER: Were declared homicides?
WILKERSON: Right, starting as early as December 2001 in Afghanistan.
NADLER: And these were homicides committed by people engaged in interrogations?
WILKERSON: Or in guarding prisoners, or something like that. People who were in detention.
NADLER: They were in detention, not trying to escape or anything, declared homicides by our own authorities.
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