Diary of an interrogator: After a tough day's questioning, a relaxing evening of jail-roof golf

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The Independent US

Civilian interrogators relaxed after grilling prisoners by perfecting their golf swing on the roof of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, according to the extraordinary diary kept by one.

Civilian interrogators relaxed after grilling prisoners by perfecting their golf swing on the roof of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, according to the extraordinary diary kept by one.

Among the golfers is a civilian accused by a US Army report of being "directly or indirectly responsible for the abuse" at the prison. The diary also reveals the pressure on interrogators and the extremely right-wing views of some.

Joe Ryan, a former Green Beret working in Abu Ghraib for CACI International, a defence IT contractor, had been keeping the diary for a conservative talk-show radio station in Minneapolis, KSTP 1500. The diary was posted on the station's website until, Mr Ryan said, military authorities requested its removal. On 25 April, Mr Ryan wrote: "We have foreign fighters from Morocco, Syria, Jordan, and other countries detained here. They are not sponsored by their respective countries to come here, but it is due to their individual choices, be it religious or stupidity ... I got to take the rest of the day off after our long booth time. This gave us a nice evening after dinner to head to the roof and play a round of golf.

"Scott Norman, Jeff Mouton, Steve Hattabaugh, Steve Stefanowicz, and I all took turns trying to hit balls over the back wall and on to the highway. Since the club is a left-handed 3 iron, I had an unfair advantage and missed a dump truck by only about 10 feet ... We do what we can to make it fun here."

Mr Stefanowicz, 35, a former naval reserve officer also employed by Arlington-based CACI International as an interrogator, became a reservist in the aftermath of the terror attacks of September 2001. A CACI official said last week that Mr Stefanowicz was "by all accounts doing a damn fine job". But Major General Antonio Taguba, who carried out an investigation into the abuses at Abu Ghraib, believed Mr Stefanowicz was one of the people "either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib".

He recommended Mr Stefanowicz "be fired from his army job, reprimanded, and denied his security clearances for lying to the investigating team and allowing or ordering military policemen who were not trained in interrogation techniques to facilitate interrogations by 'setting conditions' which were neither authorised nor in accordance with army regulations. He clearly knew his instructions equated to physical abuse."

Mr Stefanowicz's mother, Jean Campbell, confirmed to reporters last week that her son was still in Iraq.

A copy of Mr Ryan's diary was obtained by the blogger Billmon (www.billmon.org). While there is no mention of abuse in the diary and nothing to suggest Mr Ryan was involved, he does talk of the pressure to get intelligence.

"I was at work until 3.30 in the morning because we got hold of some intelligence ... to directly support the Marines in Al Fallujah The Marines wanted to hit one of the houses I had reported on, but wanted more ... I went back in on the [prisoner] who gave me the initial information."

Elsewhere he says: "'Wild' Bill Armstrong is one of our interrogators. Bill is married with five kids and a devout Christian, father, and husband ... Politically, Bill makes [the right wing radio host] Rush Limbaugh look like a flaming liberal."

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