Joshua R. Claus is a former member of the United States Army, whose unit was present at both Iraq's Abu Ghraib and at the Bagram Theater Detention Facility in Afghanistan, and was the first interrogator of Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr. In 2005, he was found guilty of maltreatment and assault against an Afghanistan detainee who later died.
Claus's role in the deaths in custody of Dilawar and Habibullah
Claus pleaded guilty to playing a role in the routine abuse of captives held in extrajudicial detention in the Bagram Theatre Detention Facility in 2002, at a time when Claus's unit, the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, was assigned to Bagram. Detainees Habibullah and Dilawar (surnames were not provided) were killed in custody during that time. Military pathologists classified the killings as homicides. Claus and 27 other members of the United States Armed Forces were named for the role they played in the abuse. However, military prosecutors decided that responsibility for the men's deaths was spread too broadly for any one soldier to face murder or manslaughter charges.
Claus was charged with assault, prisoner maltreatment, and lying to investigators. He pleaded guilty, and received a five-month prison sentence in 2005.
Claus's interrogation of Omar Khadr
On March 14, 2008, it became known that Claus was one of Omar Khadr's first interrogators. The U.S. government has attempted to keep this information suppressed, asking reporters to identify Claus as "Interrogator One." When Carol Rosenberg, of the Miami Herald, and Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star, two reporters who had been following the Guantanamo commissions closely, and two other Canadian reporters published Claus′s name, following a pre-trial hearing in May 2010, they were banned from traveling to Guantanamo. Shephard had already published an interview with Claus, where he openly acknowledged being Khadr′s interrogator. The Guantanamo prosecution were widely criticized for treating Claus′s name as a secret when it had already been widely publicized. The ban was quietly rescinded in July 2010.
Claus was given immunity from prosecution for any possible abuse of Khadr during the interrogation, in return for his testimony at Khadr's murder trial before a military tribunal at Guantanamo. The trial began on August 10, 2010.
- Carlotta Gall (September 28, 2005). "Suicide Bomber on Motorbike Kills 8 Afghan Soldiers and a Civilian". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
- Steven Edwards (March 14, 2008). "Was Omar Khadr coerced?". National Post. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
Legal arguments before the U.S. war crimes commission in Guantanamo Bay indicated Sgt. Joshua Claus of military intelligence participated in many, maybe all, of the interrogations of the Canadian terror suspect after U.S. forces delivered him to the Bagram detention centre in Afghanistan in July 2002.
- "Abuse Cases". PEGC. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
charged with assault, prisoner maltreatment, and lying to investigators
- "Other Abuse Cases". PEGC. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
The next morning, December 9, 2002, Dilawar was subjected to his final interrogation at which he was unable to kneel when ordered or physically comply with anything. This caused the interrogation session to erode to more physical abuse. An interrogator identified as Spc. Joshua Claus took over from Walls, who remained present. Dilawar's last interrogation eroded into more abuse and assault and he was returned to his cell and re-shackled.
"Dilawar was found dead the next morning.
- Froomkin, Dan (2010-05-07). "Obama Administration Demands Amnesia From Reporters Covering Gitmo". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2011-06-07.
- Anna Mehler Paperny (2010-08-23). "And then there were 7: The jury who will decide Omar Khadr's fate". Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 2012-11-11. Retrieved 2017-01-04.
During the trial, the defence will call testimony of former army sergeant Joshua Claus, who interrogated Mr. Khadr shortly after the then-15-year-old's capture in Afghanistan. In May pre-trial hearings, a man identified as Interrogator 1 said in testimony that he threatened Mr. Khadr with being gang-raped to death if he did not co-operate. That interrogator was later identified as former sergeant Claus. He has also been convicted of abusing a different detainee and has left the military.
- Nancy A. Youssef (2010-05-06). "Pentagon bans McClatchy reporter from Guantanamo hearings". McClatchy News Service. Archived from the original on 2010-05-09. Retrieved 2012-11-11.
That reporters are being punished for disclosing information that has been publicly available for years is nothing short of absurd — any gag order that covers this kind of information is not just overbroad but nonsensical," Jameel Jaffer, the deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement. "Plainly, no legitimate government interest is served by suppressing information that is already well known.
- "News outlets appeal Pentagon's ban on Guantanamo coverage". McClatchy News Service. 2010-05-13. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2012-11-11.
While covering a hearing last week to determine the admissibility of confessions made by Canadian detainee Omar Khadr, four journalists from The Herald, which is owned by McClatchy, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail and Can-West Newspapers of Canada printed the name of a witness who had been identified at the hearing as "Interrogator No. 1. The witness, Joshua Claus, had been convicted by a U.S. military jury of detainee abuse in 2005 and sentenced to five months in prison. His role as Khadr's interrogator had been known since 2008, when it was first revealed by a judge at Guantanamo. He later gave an on-the-record interview to the Toronto Star.
- Lesley Clark (2010-08-05). "Pentagon may change rules for covering Guantanamo trials". McClatchy News Service. Archived from the original on 2012-11-11. Retrieved 2017-01-04.
Faced with protests from a number of news organizations, the Pentagon is considering revising the rules it invoked in May to ban four reporters from covering the trials of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
- Lesley Clark (2010-07-08). "Pentagon allows banned reporter to return to Guantanamo". McClatchy News Service. Archived from the original on 2012-11-11. Retrieved 2017-01-04.
The Pentagon on Thursday reversed its ban on a Miami Herald reporter from covering military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and said the reporter can return to the naval base there to cover a hearing next week.
- "Captured Khadr nearly executed: documents". Toronto Star. 2008-03-19. Archived from the original on 2008-03-21. Retrieved 2012-11-11.
A U.S. Army officer was going to have Canadian Omar Khadr executed after a July 2002 firefight in Afghanistan but was stopped at the last moment by Special Forces troops, according to a diary account.
- Jury pool queried in terror trial of detainee Khadr Miami Herald, August 10, 2010