From the Guardian:
“The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the “dirty wars” in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation. …
Colonel James Steele was a 58-year-old retired special forces veteran when he was nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency.
A second special adviser, retired Colonel James H Coffman, worked alongside Steele in detention centres that were set up with millions of dollars of US funding.
Coffman reported directly to General David Petraeus, sent to Iraq in June 2004 to organize and train the new Iraqi security forces. Steele, who was in Iraq from 2003 to 2005, and returned … in 2006, reported directly to Rumsfeld.
The exclusive report explains that U.S. and Iraqi witnesses in a documentary created by the Guardian and BBC Arabic “implicate[d] US advisers for the first time in the human rights abuses committed by the commandos”. Furthermore, this is the first definitive link between former CIA Director Nominee General David Petraeus and torture in Iraq, as General Coffman reported to Gen. Petraeus directly.
The Guardian report went on to describe the torture set-up:
“Additional Guardian reporting has confirmed more details of how the interrogation system worked. “Every single detention centre would have its own interrogation committee,” claimed Samari, talking for the first time in detail about the US role in the interrogation units.
“Each one was made up of an intelligence officer and eight interrogators. This committee will use all means of torture to make the detainee confess like using electricity or hanging him upside down, pulling out their nails, and beating them on sensitive parts.”
There is no evidence that Steele or Coffman tortured prisoners themselves, only that they were sometimes present in the detention centres where torture took place and were involved in the processing of thousands of detainees.
This investigation by Guardian and BBC Arabic was apparently sparked by none other than… Wikileaks.