NEW YORK - Members of a shadowy U.S. military unit
turned one of Saddam Hussein's torture chambers into their own interrogation
cell, beating prisoners with rifle butts and using detainees for target practice
in games of jailer paintball, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The so-called Black Room was part of a temporary detention site at Camp Nama,
the secret headquarters of the unit known as Task Force 6-26, the Times said.
The camp, in a former Iraqi military base at Baghdad International Airport,
was the first stop for many insurgents on their way to Abu Ghraib prison a few
The Times said the abuse at Camp Nama began as the Iraqi insurgency
intensified in early 2004 and continued after photographs of abuse at Abu Ghraib
were made public in April 2004, belying Pentagon assertions that abuse was
limited to a small group of reservists at the notorious detention center.
The report was based on interviews with more than a dozen civilian and
military Department of Defense personnel who worked with Task Force 6-26.
Virtually all of them were granted anonymity to encourage them to speak candidly
without fear of retribution from the Pentagon, the Times said.
The critics said the harsh interrogation techniques practiced at Camp Nama
yielded little information to help capture insurgents or safe American lives.
Many of their complaints are supported by declassified military documents and
e-mail messages from FBI agents who worked with the task force, the Times said.
According to the report, placards posted at the detention area said, "No
Blood, No Foul" ¡ª a slogan that meant soldiers could not be prosecuted as long
as they did not make detainees bleed.
Prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred
from access to lawyers or relatives and confined for weeks without charges, the
"The reality is, there were no rules," an unidentified Pentagon official told
Gen. Bryan D. Brown, the commander of the Special Operations Command, told
the Times in a brief exchange on Capitol Hill, "We take all those allegations
seriously. Any kind of abuse is not consistent with the values of the Special