Law and Disorder Radio – The Search for Colonel James Steele: US Special Forces Veterans Link General Petraeus with Torture in Iraq – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

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The Search for Colonel James Steele: US Special Forces Veterans Link General Petraeus with Torture in Iraq

A 15-month investigation and documentary film by The Guardian and BBC Arabic, James Steele: America’s Mystery Man In Iraq, has revealed how US colonel James Steele, a veteran of American proxy wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua, played a key role in training and overseeing US-funded special police commandos who ran a network of torture centers in Iraq. Steele and another Special Forces veteran, retired Colonel James Coffman, reported directly to General David Petraeus. Petraeus, as listeners may know, was tasked with organizing Iraqi security services.

Patrick Farrelly:

    • The projections that they made about being welcomed in Iraq were just not true.

It looked like the insurgency, at that point in 2004, was just getting off the ground.

This is where they turned to General Petraeus. I know he’s seen in the think tanks in Washington as the scholar-warrior.

Rumsfeld called upon him to go back into Iraq and to organize a pretty massive police force in Iraq.

He hooked up with 2 people there, Colonel James Coffman and Colonel James Steele.

Mill Group is essentially a bunch of military advisers who were training the Salvadorian security forces to fight the guerrillas.

Colonel James Steele was the guy in charge of the American advisers who were training these people and also directing these forces.

  • Counterinsurgency force went from 400 to 17,000.
  • What the United States needs really badly is intelligence, they need to know who the insurgents are and where they can find them.
  • That’s Steele’s expertise, having these guys on the ground; they draw in thousands of people and basically torture them for information.
  • It’s Steele’s job to collate that information so that they can then hand it over to the US military. The US can then go after the insurgents informed for the first time.
  • Part of the Wikileaks discovery, the war logs which were released by Bradley Manning to Wikileaks, shows this entire pattern of US soldiers coming across these detention centers – they’re giving consistent reports of seeing torture of seeing abuse.
  • Frontline: “The Gangs Of Iraq.”
  • It’s a production line. These young men come in, these people were hung up on ceilings, nails pulled out with pliers, waterboarded.
  • They turned the city library into a torture center.
  • It became this interrogation and torture mill, that no doubt produced a lot of information.
  • For empire, people like James Steele are very, very important.
  • Empires tend to roam into other people’s countries.
  • Where did the sectarian civil war come from? Who played a part in bringing this about?
  • James Steele lives in Texas; at one point he was Vice President of Enron.
  • The public is not really aware of what’s being done in the name of US taxpayers in foreign lands.
  • I think it’s clear that the Sunni community is completely disenfranchised. I think it’s still in a state of terror.


Guest – Patrick Farelly, a TV, radio and print journalist who has worked in the US and Ireland. Farrelly was producer of Michael Moore’s Emmy award-winning NBC/BBC2 series TV Nation and later Bravo/Channel 4 co-production The Awful Truth. He was the founding editor of the New York-based weekly newspaper Irish Voice and has also been features editor of the New York Post. He has also worked for HBO, Discovery, PBS and Irish broadcasters RTE and TG4.