Camp Cropper was a holding facility for security detainees operated by the United States Army near Baghdad International Airport in Iraq. The facility was initially operated as a high-value detention site (HVD), but has since been expanded increasing its capacity from 163 to 2,000 detainees. Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was held there prior to his execution.
Camp Cropper was established by the Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) of the 115th Military Police Battalion in April 2003. It is named for Staff Sgt. Kenneth Cropper, a member of the Maryland National Guard who died in March 2002 while supporting security operations at the Pentagon. Almost immediately after being established, it was designated as the site for the Corps Holding Area (CHA). Initially, the facility was meant to serve as "central booking" for the US forces operating in Baghdad and central Iraq, though detainees from northern Iraq were brought there as well. The original concept called for a small temporary camp that could hold up to 300 detainees for no more than 72 hours. After being processed at Camp Cropper detainees were supposed to be shipped to other detention facilities in Baghdad and throughout Iraq. However, in practice, this proved unworkable since most other prisons in Baghdad were badly damaged by looting after the fall of the Baath regime. Additional units to operate Camp Cropper include:
- 186 Military Police Company, Iowa National Guard April 2003
- 439th Military Police Detachment, Army Reserve from Omaha, Nebraska.
- 324th Military Police Battalion, Pennsylvania Army National Guard from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
- 117th Military Police Battalion, Tennessee Army National Guard
In August 2006, a combat support hospital was opened on Camp Cropper that would treat both coalition soldiers and detainees from Camp Cropper. The hospital was initially staffed by members of the 21st Combat Support Hospital from Fort Hood, Texas who transferred to the new facility after the closure of the Abu Ghraib detention facility. The 21st CSH was later replaced by the 31st Combat Support Hospital from Fort Bliss, Texas.
On March 15, 2007 military officials announced plans to once again expand Camp Bucca and Camp Cropper. Officials stated that this increase in capacity would be necessary to handle the detainees generated from the increased security operations in Baghdad.
In the summer of 2010 the Camp Cropper facility was turned over to the Iraqi government and renamed Karkh Prison.
On 2004-06-16, The Pentagon confirmed a report in the New York Times that former CIA chief George Tenet had been allowed by former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to have an Iraqi prisoner secretly detained at Camp Cropper since November, but denied they were trying to hide the prisoner from the International Committee of the Red Cross. Rumsfeld later told reporters that the prisoner was treated humanely. In 2004, the Red Cross was given regular and open access to the facility and the detainees, the Red Cross documented severe living conditions, harsh treatment by guards, and poor medical care. In October 2006, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported the wounding of one American soldier to date by detainees. The attack was reported to have been under suspicious circumstances. Since the closure of Abu Ghraib and the subsequent relocation to Camp Cropper, the now-larger prison has seen criticism for abuses of detainees and a hotbed of insurgent recruitment. Between October and December 2006, the MNF-I reported the deaths of three detainees at Camp Cropper. One from injuries inflicted by other detainees on October 29, two on November 30 and December 2 from natural causes. Other detainees died on 2007-04-04, 2007-05-26 and 2007-07-07.
In late April 2007, the former commander of Camp Cropper, Lieutenant Colonel William H. Steele was reported to be held in a military prison in Kuwait to await an Article 32 hearing. He was charged with various breaches of military law, including supplying an unmonitored cellphone to a detainee and inappropriate relationship with a detainee's daughter. On October 19, 2007, a military judge found Steele not guilty on the charge of aiding the enemy, but guilty of "unauthorized possession of classified documents, behavior unbecoming an officer for an inappropriate relationship with an interpreter and failing to obey an order". Steele faced a possible maximum 6 year sentence for the charges he previously pled guilty to, as well as an additional 10 years for the charges for which he was convicted. Instead, he was sentenced to 2 years confinement, minus time already served, loss of his military retirement, forfeiture of pay and allowances and a dismissal from the military.
- Tariq Aziz
- Human rights situation in post-Saddam Iraq
- William H. Steele
- Donald Vance
- Caring for Victor
- Victory Base Complex
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