publicidad
A former Military Police officer says hundreds of Iraqi detainees at Tal Afar were forced to lie on the ground tied together with plastic hand-cuffs, without food or water.

Trump's National Security Advisor challenged over human rights record

Trump's National Security Advisor challenged over human rights record

Iraqi detainees in Gen H.R. McMaster's custody were treated in an inhuman fashion bordering on torture in 2005, according to a U.S. Military Police officer.

Iraq prisoner abuse claim directed at Trump's National Security Advisor /Univision

General H.R. McMaster, who was confirmed last week as White House National Security Advisor, is widely regarded as one of the best military men of his generation.

But a retired senior U.S. Military Police officer, Colonel Arnaldo Claudio, 61, has a different view of the decorated three-star Lieutenant General.

In an exclusive interview with Univision Investiga Claudio alleged that McMaster violated the human rights of hundreds of detained Iraqis in 2005.

Lea una versión de este artículo en español

Claudio said he was sent to investigate concerns about detainee operations in the city of Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq while McMaster, 54, was the commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment battling Islamic militants.

What he saw in April 2005 shocked Claudio. At a camp designed for 250 detainees, more than 900 prisoners were being held in conditions that violated U.S. regulations and the Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of prisoners of war.

He found between 300 and 400 detainees, some kneeling, others lying side-by-side in the sand, tied together with plastic hand-cuffs, and without food or water, he said.

When he got out of his car he was immediately overwhelmed by the stench of urine and the defecation, Claudio said.

“It was really brutal,” he said.

The prisoners appeared to be severely dehydrated. "Their skin was completely dry ... you can see the lips that were just cut because of dryness. You can see their hair, the dirtiness of the hair. I mean just, just ... inhumane,” said Claudio.

publicidad

With the help of an interpreter he discovered some had been there three, four, even five days.

Claudio next entered a tent where the detainees were supposed to be housed and discovered 400 more prisoners in equally unsanitary conditions, with the same stench of feces and urine.

Memories of Abu Ghraib

The United States had invaded Iraq two years earlier. The images of the torture scandal involving the U.S. Army and the CIA at Abu Ghraib prison the previous year were still fresh, deeply wounding the U.S. government's image as the war in Iraq spiralled out of control.

Claudio was then the 18th Airborne Corps Provost Marshal in command of U.S. military police conduct in Iraq. He said he was sent to Tal Afar to investigate why McMaster's regiment had accumulated such a large number of detainees when it lacked the proper facilities.

Donald Trump con Herbert R. McMaster.
President Donald Trump with General Herbert R. McMaster.

“We started looking at the numbers and the numbers for Tal Afar just didn't jive,” said Claudio. “We thought there's a problem and we started asking questions.”

He soon discovered that the rules for moving prisoners to larger facilities were not being followed, creating serious over-crowding.

“When we looked at it we said 'oh my god this is a facility [for] about 250 [people]. We think there's about eight or nine hundred people there. There has to be accountability of these people, they are human beings,'” he said.

While at Tal Afur, Claudio sought out McMaster and found him in the dining room having a cup of coffee. Claudio said he informed McMaster that he had orders to look into the detainee operations.

McMaster greeted him rudely, he said.

“What came out of his mouth was basically 'I don't know what the f*** you're doing here. But I want you to leave as soon as possible,'” Claudio recalled.

publicidad

He said he told McMaster that if he found anything illegal he was instructed to “take your ass back in handcuffs, period.”

McMaster stood up and left, Claudio said. It was the last time they spoke.

'Good behavior program'

Claudio said his investigation found that U.S. soldiers at Tal Afar were running a “good behavior program for detainees” that consisted of releasing them only if they provided useful intelligence.

Claudio said his team ordered the removal of the handcuffs, as well as feeding the detainees and providing medical treatment.

Within 24 hours 120 detainees were released, with another 400 over the next three days, he added.

Claudio said he completed his inspection and wrote up a report for the U.S. Army Inspector General’s office. He said U.S. law prevented him from sharing a copy of his report with the media.

Now retired, he said he never learned if the Pentagon took any action over his report.

McMaster, who is widely respected with the armed services, was picked by President Donald Trump last month after the former National Security Advisor, retired Army Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, resigned over misleading statements about his contacts with Russia. McMaster is known for his military intellect and wrote a book, Dereliction of Duty, which was critical of the handling of the Vietnam War.

McMaster did not respond to several requests from Univision for comment. The White House also did not return several messages.

The Pentagon's Office of the Inspector General told Univision it needed more information in order find a record of Claudio's report.

publicidad

Claudio remains convinced that what he saw was a serious violation of the Geneva Conventions that cover the treatment of prisoners of war.

Col (Rt) Arnaldo Claudio, former 18th Airborne Corps Provost Marshal in...
Col (Rt) Arnaldo Claudio, former 18th Airborne Corps Provost Marshal in command of U.S. military police conduct in Iraq.

Levels of torture

“There's levels of torture and for me that was torture," he said. "I mean how can you go ahead and handcuff a person next to each other, for days, let them defecate, let them urinate over themselves, don't [let them] take a shower, don't feed them?"

The allegations describe conduct that likely violated the Geneva Conventions and the Torture Convention, both a part of U.S. law, said Andrea Prasow, Deputy Washington Director for Human Rights Watch.

"They should have been thoroughly and transparently investigated at the time but sadly even more serious conduct was often ignored, condoned or even praised," she said. "It's not too late for a thorough investigation and, if appropriate, accountability and compensation for the victims."

Another military officer who participated in the investigation confirmed Claudio’s version, but asked to remain anonymous.

publicidad

“They weren’t only tied by the hands to each other, when they took them to the latrines they beat them with a stick,” he said.

Iraqi detainees at Tal Afar were beaten with a stick when they went to t...
Iraqi detainees at Tal Afar were beaten with a stick when they went to the latrines, according to one witness.

During his 30-year career Claudio said he gained plenty of experience regarding human rights violations. He served as a Special Forces advisor in Colombia as well as advisor on detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in the 1990s.

He believes McMaster should have been court martialed in 2005 and is the wrong choice for National Security Advisor.

"If you have the audacity to think for one minute that you're beyond the law ... what is to say you're not going to do it again?" he said.

On a positive note, Claudio said the situation at Tal Afar was quickly corrected. “The good part about that is that I got to Tal Afar and that we fixed it … the worst part is that it happened, and there's no f***ing accountability.”

Additional reporting by David Adams

publicidad
publicidad
Havana biologist, Marta Llanes, has spent the last year raising two baby chimps in her 5th floor Havana apartment.
Jose Castillo's fear since Donald Trump became president turned into terror. The man who lived in the U.S. for more than 15 years fled his home country after gangs threatened to kill him. A few months ago, he stopped driving and sought shelter at a church in New York. From there, he asked the Canadian government for asylum.
Figures show the US has admitted just over 18,000 Syrian refugees since the war broke out in the Middle Eastern country. It's estimated that 4 million Syrian children have only known war time.
The young White House adviser who is one of the president's preferred spokesmen once ran for election at his California high school. His stump speech was found racially offensive by many students as you can see in this video obtained exclusively by Univision. He was escorted off the stage by high school staff.
This is the story of how land along the frontier between the U.S. and Mexico passed through Spanish and Mexican hands before becoming part of the United States. In those days there was no wall.
In the dairy industry in Wisconsin, at the heart of the Rust Belt where Donald Trump won by a landslide, more than half of the workers are immigrants and most of them are undocumented. No American citizen wants to do the hard work they do.
The U.S. Senator is in a close race for re-election in Florida. Now comes new revelations about the cocaine smuggling house Rubio briefly shared with his brother-in-law. Prize-winning journalist Tim Elfrink with the Miami New Times explains the significance of the court papers.
Artist Enrique Chiu is trying to transform the U.S.- Mexico border one paint stroke at a time. Eight years ago, Chiu started inviting people to paint the wall with the aim of uniting people at the border.
The evidence against El Chapo: undercover recordings, intercepted communications, protected witnesses’ declarations, drug seizures, and a confession. As U.S. prosecutors prepare their case against the world's most feared drug trafficker, this is what the government's case is built around.
Family, friends and fans turned out on Wednesday to pay their last respects to Miami Marlins pitching ace, José Fernández who died in a boating accident early Sunday.
Machado was crowned Miss Universe in 1996. A few months later, she gained weight. As a result, Trump planned a media event for journalists to watch her work out, she told Ramos.
The Rio 2016 Paralympics are underway in Brazil. Univision takes a look at real people who have overcome life-changing obstacles. This series is about their power to defy the odds and shatter preconceived notions of their limitations.
Exercise or stay inside. This is the dilemma that the inhabitants of Wilmington, California face everyday. The air quality is among the worst of the United States due to the closeness of 5 refineries, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles as well as several highways. “We go out running, and after a few minutes my nose hurts and it’s hard to breathe”, said Jhovana Ruelas.
Yaxeni and Ricardo, from the Houston-based Los Luzeros de Rioverde, denounce deportation in their new song "El Descendiente." The duo hasn't yet graduated from elementary school, but they've already put out two albums.
The former US president signed the 1977 Canal treaties that gave control of the strategic waterway to Panama in 1999.
It has been a year since the real estate magnate announced his presidential bid. Here is the best (and worst) in a year of Trump.
Jorge Ramos: 'Trump dice que quiere deportar a gente mala, pero no está haciendo eso'
Desde que el presidente Donald Trump llegó a la Casa Blanca, los arrestos de inmigrantes indocumentados han subido y no solo de aquellos con récord criminal. Durante sus meses como presidente, se ha duplicado el número de inmigrantes arrestados sin antecedentes penales.
¿Cuándo puede un inmigrante solicitar un amparo al gobierno para detener una deportación?
Marco Coss, padre de familia que lucha para evitar que lo deporten a México, está a la espera de que las autoridades respondan si le aprueban la solicitud para detener su salida de Estados Unidos, también conocida como Stay of Removal.
Carmen Dominicci es ahora conocida como "la trotamundos"
La periodista puertorriqueña habló en Despierta América de su nueva faceta como "trotamundos", un proyecto que le ha permitido combinar las dos facetas que más le apasionan: el periodismo y los viajes.
publicidad
Presidente Trump revela su propuesta de reforma tributaria con importantes recortes de impuestos
El gobierno de Donald Trump revela la propuesta de lo que sería la mayor reforma fiscal en la historia de EEUU. Señalan que el objetivo es hacer crecer la economía, crear nuevos empleos y recortar algunos impuestos. Analistas consideran que la reforma podría ser perjudicial para la economía del país.
Shows
Noticias Univision Digital Newscast
El Acura MDX es una utilitaria de lujo que aparece más ecológica e inteligente
Continua la tendencia ecológica en el mundo de los autos y esta vez incluye el segmento de las utilitarias de lujo con 3 filas de asientos. Jaime Gabaldoni tuvo oportunidad de probar al Acura MDX que fue completamente rediseñada y ahora ofrece una versión hibrida.
El gancho al hígado: El arma con la que ‘Canelo’ busca derrotar a Chávez Jr.
Una de las especialidades de Julio César Chávez ere el gancho a la zona hepática, ahora su hijo podría sufrirlo el 6 de mayo en Las Vegas.
Un árbitro se roba el show y deja impactadas a las jugadoras con su elasticidad
En un impresionante recurso por evadir un golpe a la cabeza, el silbante demostró que tiene cualidades que le valdrían una medalla olímpica.
La Fórmula 1 salta del calor del desierto a las bajas temperaturas de Rusia
El GP de Rusia es el siguiente escalón de la F1. Es el país más grande del mundo, cuenta con 11 husos horarios y 9 horas de diferencia de costa a costa. Un escenario muy especial por muchas razones.
Emotiva despedida de hinchas de Tigres al equipo antes de juego final por Concachampions
Los felinos buscarán un triunfo contra Pachuca luego de que en casa igualaran 1-1 y ahora deban definir de visitante su lugar en el Mundial de Clubes.