The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives;_ylt=AvIL5jfrk9WYK24fY4GHnpVX6GMA;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl

By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent
1 hour, 18 minutes ago

The U.S. Army in Iraq has at least twice seized and jailed the wives of
suspected insurgents in hopes of "leveraging" their husbands into
surrender, U.S. military documents show.

In one case, a secretive task force locked up the young mother of a
nursing baby, a U.S. intelligence officer reported. In the case of a
second detainee, one American colonel suggested to another that they
catch her husband by tacking a note to the family's door telling him
"to come get his wife."

The issue of female detentions in Iraq has taken on a higher profile
since kidnappers seized American journalist Jill Carroll on Jan. 7 and
threatened to kill her unless all Iraqi women detainees are freed.

The U.S. military on Thursday freed five of what it said were 11 women
among the 14,000 detainees currently held in the 2 1/2-year-old
insurgency. All were accused of "aiding terrorists or planting
explosives," but an Iraqi government commission found that evidence was

Iraqi human rights activist Hind al-Salehi contends that U.S.
anti-insurgent units, coming up empty-handed in raids on suspects'
houses, have at times detained wives to pressure men into turning
themselves in.

Iraq's deputy justice minister, Busho Ibrahim Ali, dismissed such
claims, saying hostage-holding was a tactic used under the ousted
Saddam Hussein dictatorship, and "we are not Saddam." A U.S. command
spokesman in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, said only Iraqis who pose
an "imperative threat" are held in long-term U.S.-run detention

But documents describing two 2004 episodes tell a different story as
far as short-term detentions by local U.S. units. The documents are
among hundreds the Pentagon has released periodically under U.S. court
order to meet an American Civil Liberties Union request for information
on detention practices.

In one memo, a civilian Pentagon intelligence officer described what
happened when he took part in a raid on an Iraqi suspect's house in
Tarmiya, northwest of Baghdad, on May 9, 2004. The raid involved Task
Force (TF) 6-26, a secretive military unit formed to handle
high-profile targets.

"During the pre-operation brief it was recommended by TF personnel that
if the wife were present, she be detained and held in order to leverage
the primary target's surrender," wrote the 14-year veteran officer.

He said he objected, but when they raided the house the team leader, a
senior sergeant, seized her anyway.

"The 28-year-old woman had three young children at the house, one being
as young as six months and still nursing," the intelligence officer
wrote. She was held for two days and was released after he complained,
he said.

Like most names in the released documents, the officer's signature is
blacked out on this for-the-record memorandum about his complaint.

Of this case, command spokesman Johnson said he could not judge, months
later, the factors that led to the woman's detention.

The second episode, in June 2004, is found in sketchy detail in e-mail
exchanges among six U.S. Army colonels, discussing an undisclosed
number of female detainees held in northern Iraq by the Stryker Brigade
of the 2nd Infantry Division.

The first message, from a military police colonel, advised staff
officers of the U.S. northern command that the Iraqi police would not
take control of the jailed women without charges being brought against

In a second e-mail, a command staff officer asked an officer of the
unit holding the women, "What are you guys doing to try to get the
husband - have you tacked a note on the door and challenged him to
come get his wife?"

Two days later, the brigade's deputy commander advised the higher
command, "As each day goes by, I get more input that these gals have
some info and/or will result in getting the husband."

He went on, "These ladies fought back extremely hard during the
original detention. They have shown indications of deceit and

The command staff colonel wrote in reply, referring to a commanding
general, "CG wants the husband."

The released e-mails stop there, and the women's eventual status could
not be immediately determined.

Of this episode, Johnson said, "It is clear the unit believed the
females detained had substantial knowledge of insurgent activity and
warranted being held."


On the Net:

First document:

E-mail exchange: