The Washington Post reports:
A U.S. Army general dispatched by senior Pentagon officials to bolster the collection of intelligence from prisoners in Iraq last fall inspired and promoted the use of guard dogs there to frighten the Iraqis, according to sworn testimony by the top U.S. intelligence officer at the Abu Ghraib prison.
According to the officer, Col. Thomas Pappas, the idea came from Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, who at the time commanded the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and was implemented under a policy approved by Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the top U.S. military official in Iraq.
"It was a technique I had personally discussed with General Miller, when he was here" visiting the prison, testified Pappas, head of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade and the officer placed in charge of the cellblocks at Abu Ghraib prison where abuses occurred in the wake of Miller's visit to Baghdad between Aug. 30 and Sept. 9, 2003.
"He said that they used military working dogs at Gitmo [the nickname for Guantanamo Bay], and that they were effective in setting the atmosphere for which, you know, you could get information" from the prisoners, Pappas told the Army investigator, Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, according to a transcript provided to The Washington Post.
Pappas, who was under pressure from Taguba to justify the legality and appropriateness of using guard dogs to frighten detainees, said at two separate points in the Feb. 9 interview that Miller gave him the idea. He also said Miller had indicated the use of the dogs "with or without a muzzle" was "okay" in booths where prisoners were taken for interrogation.
But Miller, whom the Bush administration appointed as the new head of Abu Ghraib this month, denied through a spokesman that the conversation took place.
"Miller never had a conversation with Colonel Pappas regarding the use of military dogs for interrogation purposes in Iraq. Further, military dogs were never used in interrogations at Guantanamo," said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, spokesman for U.S. forces in Iraq.
Pappas's statements nonetheless provide the fullest public account to date of how he viewed the interrogation mission at Abu Ghraib and Miller's impact on operations there. Pappas said, among other things, that interrogation plans involving the use of dogs, shackling, "making detainees strip down," or similar aggressive measures followed Sanchez's policy, but were often approved by Sanchez's deputy, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, or by Pappas himself.
The claims and counterclaims between Pappas and Miller concern one of the most notorious aspects of U.S. actions at Abu Ghraib, as revealed by Taguba's March 9 report and by pictures taken by military personnel that became public late last month. The pictures show unmuzzled dogs being used to intimidate Abu Ghraib detainees, sometimes while the prisoners are cowering, naked, against a wall.
Taguba, in a rare classified passage within his generally unclassified report, listed "using military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten detainees" as one of 13 examples of "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" inflicted by U.S. military personnel at Abu Ghraib.
Experts on the laws of war have charged that using dogs to coerce prisoners into providing information, as was done at Abu Ghraib, constitutes a violation of the Geneva Conventions that protect civilians under the control of an occupying power, such as the Iraqi detainees.
"Threatening a prisoner with a ferocious guard dog is no different as a matter of law from pointing a gun at a prisoner's head and ordering him to talk," said James Ross, senior legal adviser at Human Rights Watch. "That's a violation of the Geneva Conventions."
Article 31 of the Fourth Geneva Convention bars use of coercion against protected persons, and Common Article Three bars any "humiliating and degrading treatment," Ross said. Experts do not consider the presence in a prison of threatening dogs, by itself, to constitute torture, but a 1999 United Nations-approved manual lists the "arranging of conditions for attacks by animals such as dogs" as a "torture method."
But Pappas, who was charged with overseeing interrogations at Abu Ghraib involving those suspected of posing or knowing about threats to U.S. forces in Iraq, told Taguba that "I did not personally look at that [use of dogs] with regard to the Geneva Convention," according to the transcript.
Pappas also said he did not have "a program" to inform his civilian employees, including a translator and an interrogator, of what the Geneva Conventions stated, and said he was unaware if anyone else did. He said he did not believe using force to coerce, intimidate or cause fear violated the conventions.
Brig. Gen. Janis L. Karpinski, who commanded the prison guards at Abu Ghraib's cellblocks 1A and 1B until Nov. 19, when Pappas assumed control, said in an interview that Navy, Army and Air Force dog teams were used there for security purposes. But she said military intelligence officers "were responsible for assigning those dogs and where they would go."
Using dogs to intimidate or attack detainees was very much against regulations, Karpinski said. "You cannot use the dogs in that fashion, to attack or be aggressive with a detainee. . . . Why were there guys so willing to take these orders? And who was giving the orders? The military intelligence people were in charge of them."
Taguba never interviewed Miller or any officer above Karpinski's rank for his report. Nor did he conduct a detailed probe of the actions of military intelligence officials. But he said he suspected that Pappas and several of his colleagues were "either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib."
In a Feb. 11 written statement accompanying the transcript, Pappas shifted the responsibility elsewhere. He said "policies and procedures established by the [Abu Ghraib] Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center relative to detainee operations were enacted as a specific result of a visit" by Miller, who in turn has acknowledged being dispatched to Baghdad by Undersecretary of Defense Stephen A. Cambone, after a conversation with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Cambone told lawmakers recently that he wanted Miller to go because he had done a good job organizing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and wanted Miller to help improve intelligence-gathering in Iraq.
Some senators, however, have noted that the Bush administration considers Guantanamo detainees exempt from the protections of the Geneva Conventions, and wondered if Miller brought the same aggressive interrogation ideas with him to Iraq, where the conventions apply.
When asked at a May 19 Senate hearing if he and his colleagues had "briefed" military officers in Iraq about specific Guantanamo interrogation techniques that did not comply with the Geneva Conventions, Miller said no.
He said he brought "our SOPs [standard operating procedures] that we had developed for humane detention, interrogation, and intelligence fusion" to Iraq for use as a "starting point." He added that it was up to the officers in Iraq to decide which were applicable and what modifications to make.
But Pappas said the result of Miller's visit was that "the interrogators and analysts developed a set of rules to guide interrogations" and assigned specific military police soldiers to help interrogators -- an approach Miller had honed in Guantanamo.
After calling the use of dogs Miller's idea, Pappas explained that "in the execution of interrogation, and the interrogation business in general, we are trying to get info from these people. We have to act in an environment not to permanently damage them, or psychologically abuse them, but we have to assert control and get detainees into a position where they're willing to talk to us."
Pappas added that it "would never be my intent that the dog be allowed to bite or in any way touch a detainee or anybody else." He said he recalled speaking to one dog handler and telling him "they could be used in interrogations" anytime according to terms spelled out in a Sept. 14, 2003, memo signed by Sanchez.
That memo included the use of dogs among techniques that did not require special approval. The policy was changed on Oct. 12 to require Sanchez's approval on a case-by-case basis for certain techniques, including having "military working dogs" present during interrogations.
That memo also demanded -- in what Taguba referred to during the interview as its "fine print" -- that detainees be treated humanely and in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
But Pappas told Taguba that "there would be no way for us to actually monitor whether that happened. We had no formal system in place to do that -- no formal procedure" to check how interrogations were conducted. Moreover, he expressed frustration with a rule that the dogs be muzzled. "It's not very intimidating if they are muzzled," Pappas said. He added that he requested an exemption from the rule at one point, and was turned down.
In the interview transcript, Taguba's disdain for using dogs is clear. He asked Pappas if he knew that after a prison riot on Nov. 24, 2003, five dogs were "called in to either intimidate or cause fear or stress" on a detainee. Pappas said no, and acknowledged under questioning that such an action was inappropriate.
Taguba also asked if he believed the use of dogs is consistent with the Army's field manual. Pappas replied that he could not recall, but reiterated that Miller instigated the idea. The Army field manual bars the "exposure to unpleasant and inhumane treatment of any kind."
At least four photographs obtained by The Washington Post -- each apparently taken in late October or November -- show fearful prisoners near unmuzzled dogs.
One MP charged with abuses, Spec. Sabrina D. Harman, recalled for Army investigators an episode "when two dogs were brought into [cellblock] 1A to scare an inmate. He was naked against the wall, when they let the dogs corner him. They pulled them back enough, and the prisoner ran . . . straight across the floor. . . . The prisoner was cornered and the dog bit his leg. A couple seconds later, he started to move again, and the dog bit his other leg."
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
The Washington Post reports:
Monday, May 24, 2004
Things may be heating up in the prison abuse scandal for Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the former Guantanamo Bay commander who is now in charge of detainees in Iraq. In a harshly worded letter, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence committee questioned the "candor and accuracy" of Miller’s responses in a classified briefing to the committee last week.
The May 21 letter to Miller from Rep. Jane Harman, the ranking minority member on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, chastises the general for "gaps and discrepancies in your presentation" and for selectively withholding information. "If information is only provided in response to a question that is phrased in precisely the right way, it is virtually impossible for Congress to fulfill its constitutional oversight responsibility," Harman writes.
In her letter, Harman refers to new details about interrogation policies at the Gitmo detention facility that became public less than 24 hours after Miller’s May 20 testimony. "I am dismayed that information emerging immediately after your briefing raises questions about the candor and accuracy of your statements," she says. A copy of the letter was obtained by NEWSWEEK.
Harman cites a recent Pentagon briefing and press reports, in The Washington Post and elsewhere, that documented deep misgivings by military lawyers and other legal experts over the interrogation policies at Gitmo overseen by Miller. She also expresses her chagrin that the committee has not received a copy of an Oct. 12, 2003, interrogation policy at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq that was reportedly issued by Iraq commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. That policy, Harman says, "seems to indicate a role for military police that goes well beyond the passive intelligence collection role that you have described."
NEWSWEEK also confirmed Monday an Associated Press report that Vice Adm. Albert Church III, the Navy inspector general, has recommended a more in-depth look at the interrogation practices initiated by Miller at Gitmo. Church inspected Gitmo during a brief visit in early May. Lt. Chris Servello, a Navy IG spokesman, said Church’s recommendation has been passed up to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s office.
Miller’s performance at Gitmo and in Iraq has come under increasing scrutiny as the scandal has widened. Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade that once ran Abu Ghraib, has accused Miller of exporting interrogation practices directed at alleged al Qaeda and Taliban suspects at Gitmo--which a Pentagon spokesman called "more rigorous"--to Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, possibly in violation of Geneva Convention protections. The Gitmo prisoners were deemed to be "unlawful combatants" not subject to the Geneva Conventions, though the admininstration maintained a policy of treatment loosely consistent with the Conventions.
Miller has denied that any systemic abuse occurred at Gitmo. And he has insisted that he only intended for members of the military police (MPs) at Abu Ghraib to play a "passive" role by passing on information about prisoners to interrogators with Military Intelligence (MI).
But a number of MPs at Abu Ghraib have said that MI interrogators encouraged them to soften up prisoners with physically and psychologically abusive practices. Even though the Iraq war was nominally fought in observance of the Geneva conventions, which forbid torture or inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees, Miller brought with him to Iraq a "matrix" of such practices modeled on Gitmo’s interrogation techniques. These included the use of harsh heat or cold, withholding food or altering a prisoner's diet, isolation, threatening prisoners with dogs, and limited use of "stress positions" to cause discomfort or pain.
Congressional leaders, including some Republicans in both houses, have grown increasingly infuriated over what Harman calls "a breakdown in congressional oversight in addition to the breakdown of the chain of command" in the prison abuse scandal. Harman says she was not aware that interrogation practices were being questioned even though she visited both Iraq and Gitmo--the latter three times--and spoke with Miller in December 2003.
A spokesman for Joint Task Force 7 in Iraq, Capt. Mark Doggett, said he was unaware of the letter and had no immediate response to it.
Monday, May 17, 2004
Peter Ogden at the Center for American Progress reports:
In a war that has both catapulted and sunk many careers, the appearance of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller walking across the front page of The New York Times this week brought yet another player to the international stage.
Miller is the Pentagon's choice to run the prison system in Iraq, and he is charged with the vital task of introducing law, order and decency to a prison system that lacks all three.
This would be a tough task at any time, and is doubly so in the wake of the abuses at Abu Ghraib. Miller must not only clean up the prisons, but also win the trust of the Iraqi people by demonstrating in public, highly visible ways that reforms have been instituted and that Abu Ghraib is no longer a place of arbitrary imprisonment and systematic abuse.
Is he the right man for the job?
At a moment when our nation's credibility is at an all-time low, one would hope so. But Miller's record as commander of the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay (a.k.a., "Gitmo"), his perceived anti-Muslim bias, and his now infamous recommendation that guards in Iraq soften-up prisoners for interrogation, all strongly suggest that he is not that man.
Back on the map after spending the last sixteen months on the Cuban coast in charge of 600 detainees, Miller has already promised to "Gitmo-ize" the operation, according to the outgoing head of Iraq's prison, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski.
Miller went on to say, in a phrase bound to instill confidence in his cultural sensitivity, "We can do this the hard way or we can do it my way."
This is, in fact, Miller's second attempt to "Gitmo-ize" the Iraqi prisons. Last August, top Pentagon officials dispatched Miller with orders to find better ways of extracting intelligence from prisoners. According to the now-famous report by Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, Miller's team, using Guantánamo "procedures and interrogation authorities as baselines," advocated using detention operations as "an enabler for interrogation," and insisted that "the guard force be actively engaged in setting the condition for the successful exploitation of internees."
It should come as no surprise, then, that many of the documented cases of prisoner abuse occurred around the time that Miller released this report. It's hard to dismiss this as a mere coincidence.
Miller's record at Guantánamo is also cause for serious concern. Over the past two years, this detention facility has been condemned by the International Committee of the Red Cross and others – particularly in Muslim communities – as an opaque, illegitimate, discriminatory, and quite possibly abusive camp for detainees.
Though Miller cannot be held personally responsible for all of the problems associated with Guantánamo (it was not his decision, for instance, to declare all the inmates "enemy combatants" and deny them their legal rights), as commanding officer he must be held accountable for the culture of secrecy, the charges of anti-Arab discrimination, and the accusations of prisoner abuse.
The emphasis on secrecy and opacity at Guantánamo Bay was established as soon as the first prisoners from Afghanistan and Pakistan arrived. It was promptly decreed that not only the press but Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International would be denied access to the facilities.
Miller justifies this secrecy on the grounds that those being held are suspected terrorists and thus may harbor highly sensitive intelligence. And now the Iraqi and American people have been asked by the White House to place their trust in him. The problem is that Miller's penchant for secrecy went unchecked at Guantánamo, where American commanders can play Col. Kurtz on a rock pile with good views of the Caribbean.
This kind of approach will not work in Iraq, where the only way to win the support of the people is to operate the prisons in the most transparent manner possible. A simple "trust me" from Miller won't suffice. The Iraqis do need to trust, of course – but they need to be able to verify, too.
Earning this trust will be particularly hard in Miller's case, given the allegations of his anti-Muslim bias. One of the few stories to leak out of Guantánamo Bay in the past year involved Miller's persecution of a Muslim prison chaplain, Army Capt. James "Yousef" Yee. Miller accused Yee last year of participating in a spy ring and had him detained for 76 days – a large portion of which was spent in shackles and solitary confinement. When further investigation revealed no compelling evidence of Yee's guilt, the charges were first reduced to mishandling classified information and lying to investigators, and then were dropped altogether.
This startling development raised some very troubling questions about whether Miller was capable of understanding the difference between law abiding Muslims and terrorists. And the Arab community was further enraged when Miller – rather than apologizing for the false accusation and extended detainment – insisted on reprimanding Yee on incidental charges of adultery and possession of pornography. Though again these charges were overturned, a widespread belief that Miller was motivated by an anti-Muslim bias endures to this day.
Finally, Miller's tenure at Guantánamo is haunted by the charges of abuse and torture that have been leveled by several former inmates. They describe shocking forms of physical and psychological duress (beatings, solitary confinement, inadequate medical treatment), as well as sexual humiliation (forced viewing of naked female prostitutes) that would be difficult to believe were they not so uncannily similar to the types of abuse that have been captured on film at Abu Ghraib.
These factors ought to be enough to disqualify Miller from his new post. With so many talented people in the U.S. military, we could certainly find someone who would bring a less tarnished reputation to the job. As it is, we don't know if the Iraqi people will give us a second chance to demonstrate our commitment to preserving basic human rights. It's impossible to imagine getting a third.
Friday, May 14, 2004
The Baltimore Sun reports:
At least two U.S. senators received letters and other contacts nearly a year ago from relatives of four Army reservists who were accused of abusing detainees at the Camp Bucca prison in southern Iraq, detailing dangerous conditions and low morale.
The troubles at Camp Bucca, which surfaced as early as a year ago, in some ways foreshadowed what happened last fall at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, where allegations of abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners have triggered investigations by the military and by Congress.
The man who commanded Camp Bucca when four soldiers were accused of assaulting prisoners there, Lt. Col. Jerry L. Phillabaum, was promoted to run Abu Ghraib, where photos and videos of sexual humiliation and brutal treatment of Iraqi detainees shocked the world and led to criminal charges against seven soldiers from the Western Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company.
The two senators, Rick Santorum and Arlen Specter, both Pennsylvania Republicans, said yesterday that in response, they had contacted the Pentagon and made an attempt to meet with at least one of the soldiers to investigate the charges.
A June 2003 letter to Specter from David J. Girman recounts a "horrifying" incident at Camp Bucca referred to as the "PALM SUNDAY RIOTS, a revolt in which thousands of Iraqi prisoners attempted to overthrow the [military police guards] and create a hostage situation, and from several accounts were within minutes and feet of doing so."
Higher-ranking soldiers "failed to quell the uprising," said Girman, whose sister, Master Sgt. Lisa Girman, was one of four reservists who were accused of abuse at Camp Bucca. She and Staff Sgt. Scott McKenzie, Sgt. Shawna Edmondson and Spc. Timothy Canjar received administrative punishments early this year on charges that included dereliction of duty and maltreatment of prisoners, according to an Army letter sent to Specter.
Girman also asserted that his sister and the other accused soldiers were acting in self-defense and had been accused of abuse by other soldiers as retaliation for complaints she made about higher-ranking officers.
"The morale of the entire camp," he wrote, "is pitiful."
An Army report that details the abuse at Abu Ghraib, written by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, also refers back to the case of the four Pennsylvania reservists, who were accused of punching and kicking detainees while transporting them to the prison from an air base.
It describes Camp Bucca as overcrowded and undermanned. The report lists "inexperienced guards, lapses in accountability, complacency, lack of leadership presence, poor visibility, and lack of clear and concise communication between the guards and the leadership."
Many of these problems, Taguba makes clear, were replicated at Abu Ghraib.
In interviews aired Wednesday on CBS' 60 Minutes II, Lisa Girman and Canjar corroborated that account. They described a prison riot by detainees armed with shanks and rocks, and they called their commanders neglectful and often absent.
Edmondson's mother, Linda Edmondson, said her daughter had been "repeatedly stoned" by prisoners at Camp Bucca. "All I can say is that she was following orders," she added.
Her daughter had basic military police training, but no training about how to guard a prison, and was in charge of 500 to 700 people by herself, Edmondson said. She asserted that her daughter's "other-than-honorable-conditions discharge" from the military was far too harsh.
"She was told what to do," Edmondson said of her daughter. "It all stemmed from one incident, not repeated" abuse.
Girman and Canjar told CBS that they had tried to draw attention to the troubles at the prison by writing to the Defense Department and to several senators, including Joseph I. Lieberman, a Connecticut Democrat, and Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, as well as Santorum and Specter.
Spokesmen for Levin and Lieberman said they had no record of communication with the families of any of the four soldiers accused of abuse at Camp Bucca.
Santorum and Specter said they heard from the soldiers' families only after the soldiers had been accused of abusing prisoners at Camp Bucca.
Santorum set up a meeting with Girman in February, but a ricin scare on Capitol Hill forced him to cancel the meeting, and an offer to reschedule it was never answered, Santorum said yesterday.
Specter wrote to the Defense Department in July 2003 seeking information about the four reservists' legal status. He said he waited more than six months for a response. In February, the Defense Department wrote to Specter to tell him that the four had received administrative punishments from the Army, including "other than honorable" discharges for Lisa Girman and Edmondson and demotions for Canjar and McKenzie.
Taguba's report faulted the officer who oversaw the military prison system in Iraq - Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, whose 800th Military Police Brigade also managed Camp Bucca - for failing to ensure after the incidents at Camp Bucca that all her soldiers were familiar with military rules and international standards guaranteeing humane treatment for detainees.
"Following the abuse of several detainees at Camp Bucca in May 2003," Taguba wrote, "I could find no evidence that [General] Karpinski ever directed corrective training for her soldiers or ensured that [military police] soldiers throughout Iraq clearly understood the requirements of the Geneva Conventions relating to the treatment of detainees."
The Taguba report also severely criticizes Phillabaum, whom it calls an "extremely ineffective commander and leader."
The colonel and his wife, Pamela Phillabaum, sent e-mails to Specter's office several times in March, pleading for the senator's help in bringing him home from Iraq.
"I feel that I am being made a scapegoat by the Army," Phillabaum wrote in an e-mail forwarded to Specter's office by Pamela Phillabaum. "I have suffered pain and humiliation for doing the best job that anyone could have done given the resources I had to work with."
Phillabaum complained to Specter that he was being forced to remain in Iraq while waiting to hear whether he would receive an administrative reprimand for the troubles at Abu Ghraib, while others implicated in the case - including Karpinski - were allowed to return home.
In his official response to the Army's allegations against him, obtained by The Sun, Phillabaum wrote that he lacked enough resources to control individual soldiers, at Camp Bucca or Abu Ghraib, who were bent on abusing prisoners.
He accuses Lisa Girman of having assaulted a prisoner who she believed had raped Pfc. Jessica Lynch, likening Girman's case to that of Cpl. Charles A. Graner Jr., one of the seven members of the 372nd who have been criminally charged in the mistreatment at Abu Ghraib.
"Training alone would not have prevented these acts of abuse," Phillabaum wrote in his rebuttal. "As battalion commander, I could not be everywhere at all times and therefore delegated authority.
"If I were omnipotent, I would have removed MSG Girman and CPL Grainer [sic] from their duties and avoided the abuse of prisoners and the disgrace to the nation."
The Boston Globe reports:
The photos from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison are snapshots not of simple brutality or a breakdown in discipline but of CIA torture techniques that have metastasized over the past 50 years like an undetected cancer inside the US intelligence community. From 1950 to 1962, the CIA led secret research into coercion and consciousness that reached a billion dollars at peak. After experiments with hallucinogenic drugs, electric shocks, and sensory deprivation, this CIA research produced a new method of torture that was psychological, not physical -- best described as "no touch" torture.
The CIA's discovery of psychological torture was a counterintuitive breakthrough -- indeed, the first real revolution in this cruel science since the 17th century. The old physical approach required interrogators to inflict pain, usually by crude beatings that often produced heightened resistance or unreliable information. Under the CIA's new psychological paradigm, however, interrogators used two essential methods to achieve their goals.
In the first stage, interrogators employ the simple, nonviolent techniques of hooding or sleep deprivation to disorient the subject; sometimes sexual humiliation is used as well.
Once the subject is disoriented, interrogators move on to a second stage with simple, self-inflicted discomfort such as standing for hours with arms extended. In this phase, the idea is to make victims feel responsible for their own pain and thus induce them to alleviate it by capitulating to the interrogator's power. In his statement on reforms at Abu Ghraib last week, General Geoffrey Miller, former chief of the Guantanamo detention center and now prison commander in Iraq, offered an unwitting summary of this two-phase torture. "We will no longer, in any circumstances, hood any of the detainees," the general said. "We will no longer use stress positions in any of our interrogations. And we will no longer use sleep deprivation in any of our interrogations."
Although seemingly less brutal, no-touch torture leaves deep psychological scars. The victims often need long treatment to recover from trauma far more crippling than physical pain. The perpetrators can suffer a dangerous expansion of ego, leading to cruelty and lasting emotional problems.
After codification in the CIA's "Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation" manual in 1963, the new method was disseminated globally to police in Asia and Latin America through USAID's Office of Public Safety. Following allegations of torture by USAID's police trainees in Brazil, the US Senate closed down the office in 1975.
After it was abolished, the agency continued to disseminate its torture methods through the US Army's Mobile Training Teams, which were active in Central America during the 1980s. In 1997, the Baltimore Sun published chilling extracts of the "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual" that had been distributed to allied militaries for 20 years. In the 10 years between the last known use of these manuals in the early 1990s and the arrest of Al Qaeda suspects since September 2001, torture was maintained as a US intelligence practice by delivering suspects to foreign agencies, including the Philippine National Police, who broke a bomb plot in 1995.
Once the war on terror started, however, the US use of no-touch torture resumed, first surfacing at Bagram Air Base near Kabul in early 2002, where Pentagon investigators found two Afghans had died during interrogation. In reports from Iraq, the methods are strikingly similar to those detailed in the Kubark manual.
Following the CIA's two-part technique, last September General Miller instructed US military police at Abu Ghraib to soften up high-priority detainees in the initial disorientation phase for later "successful interrogation and exploitation" by CIA and military intelligence. As often happens in no-touch torture sessions, this process soon moved beyond sleep and sensory deprivation to sexual humiliation. The question, in the second, still unexamined phase, is whether US Army intelligence and CIA operatives administered the prescribed mix of interrogation and self-inflicted pain -- but outside the frame of these photographs. If so, the soldiers now facing courts-martial would have been following standard interrogation procedure.
For more than 50 years, the CIA's no-touch methods have become so widely accepted that US interrogators seem unaware that they are, in fact, engaged in systematic torture. But now, through these photographs from Abu Ghraib, we can see the reality of these techniques. We have a chance to join fully with the international community in repudiating a practice that, more than any other, represents a denial of democracy.
Sunday, May 9, 2004
Major General Miller's team stated that the function of Detention Operations is to provide a safe, secure, and humane environment that supports the expeditious collection of intelligence
The BBC reports:
A key question which remains unresolved after the furore over the photos of alleged Iraqi prisoner abuse is to what extent the breaking of prisoner morale is still part of American policy.
The man brought in to run the Abu Ghraib prison is Maj Gen Geoffrey Miller, the man who ran the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
He told reporters who were shown the prison near Baghdad that sensory deprivation methods would now be used only after a general had "signed off" on them.
"We will examine very closely the more aggressive techniques," he said. But he did not say they would be stopped.
Yet he also said on Saturday that the Geneva Conventions would be applied in Iraq - they are not in Guantanamo though the Pentagon says their "spirit" is respected.
The Geneva Conventions are designed to protect prisoners of war from inhumane treatment.
On Saturday Gen Miller referred to the Fourth Geneva Convention, which applies to the protection of civilians in wartime.
Both it and the Third Geneva Convention, also drawn up in 1949, but this time to cover prisoners of war, lay down a series of measures to ensure that protection.
Importantly, both state that prisoners must "be treated humanely at all times".
Gen Miller is not new to Abu Ghraib. Last summer he was brought in to review the handling of prisoners there. His findings are revealed in the report this year by Maj Gen Antonio Taguba into abuses at Abu Ghraib.
The report uses euphemisms as it describes Gen Miller's conclusions. But the meaning is clear enough - prisoners have to be prepared for questioning.
"MG Miller's team focused on three areas: Intelligence integration, synchronisation, and fusion; interrogation operations; and detention operations.
"The principal focus of MG Miller's team was on the strategic interrogation of detainees/internees in Iraq. Among its conclusions in its Executive Summary were that CJTF-7 [the US army in Iraq] did not have authorities and procedures in place to affect a unified strategy to detain, interrogate, and report information from detainees/internees in Iraq. The Executive Summary also stated that detention operations must act as an enabler for interrogation."
The words "integration", "synchronisation", "fusion" and the phrase "enabler for interrogation" must mean the process by which the detention officers prepare the prisoners for questioning by subjecting them to demoralising techniques.
There is more.
"MG Miller's team stated that the function of Detention Operations is to provide a safe, secure, and humane environment that supports the expeditious collection of intelligence. However, it also stated "it is essential that the guard force be actively engaged in setting the conditions for successful exploitation of the internees".
Did the guard force at Abu Ghraib who liked to take pictures of themselves at work simply overstep the mark while following a general instruction to set the "conditions for successful exploitation of the internees"?
Claims of accused
Evidence that it is all part of policy has come from one of the soldiers seen in the photos. Specialist Sabrina Harman of the Military Police was pictured smiling behind a pyramid of naked prisoners.
She is quoted in the Washington Post as saying in an e-mail that the aim was to break down the prisoners for interrogation.
"If the prisoner was co-operating, then the prisoner was able to keep his jumpsuit, mattress, and was allowed cigarettes on request or even hot food. But if the prisoner didn't give what they wanted, it was all taken away until [military intelligence] decided," she wrote.
"The job of the MP [military police] was to keep them awake, make it hell so they would talk."
Gen Miller insists the Geneva Conventions are being fully adhered to now
The whole issue of interrogation is now under examination by yet another investigation, this time led by Maj Gen George Fay.
And as US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld himself said during Friday's Congressional hearings into the alleged abuse, there is more to come.
During the hearings Republican Senator Lindsey Graham warned that the further revelations might concern "rape and murder".
It was striking that only one senator, the senior Democrat Carl Levin, asked Mr Rumsfeld about this. Many others chose to use most of their time making speeches, as often happens in Senate hearings.
Mr Levin identified the problem. The photos, he suggested, did not show a few "bad apples" infecting the rest of the barrel, but the application of a policy.
One is reminded of the calamitous effect of the British treatment of IRA suspects during internment without trial in the early 1970s.
The British army put into practice so-called "sensory deprivation" techniques designed to break down a prisoner's resistance before and during interrogation.
Those techniques involved isolation, subjection to white noise, hooding, sleep deprivation and physical hardship, such as being kept standing or keeping arms spread out.
When news of these methods came out, as they did quite quickly, there was an uproar and the IRA was handed a new recruiting sergeant.
The CIA and the US military developed similar coercive techniques. An American manual describing some of them and called "Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual - 1983" was released under the US Freedom of Information Act in 1997.
The methods included the threat of force on relatives, blindfolding and the stripping of prisoners naked.
The methods used in Abu Ghraib have added in sexual humiliation, presumably regarded by the guards as particularly effective in the Arab world.
US and British soldiers are regularly subjected to the techniques themselves to help enable them to resist interrogation. It is known in the trade as R2I - resistance to interrogation.
Tuesday, May 4, 2004
The Coalition Provisional Authority reports:
Physical contact, hooding, stress positioning, and questioning unclothed detainees are not authorized U.S. interrogation techniques in Iraq, the deputy commanding general of detention operations told reporters in Baghdad May 4.
Major General Geoffrey Miller, previously head of the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, was recently brought into the Iraq operations. He reports directly to Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the commanding general in Iraq.
Miller said that although hooding had been used in the past as a tactical measure when transporting captured persons to a detention facility within a division environment, that is no longer the case. "They either put a pressure bandage around the detainee's eyes or they use ... dust goggles and they put a rag on the inside," he explained. "Because we have transitioned into an occupation role and as we're transitioning to [working with a sovereign] government, we've chosen to use a less intrusive method that will accomplish the same mission."
Miller said the military was aggressively addressing the problem of any interrogators who used unauthorized techniques. "I got here about 30 days ago and have done this assessment. I've seen an enormous [amount of] positive work and positive change," he said. "There's a commitment by thousands [in the U.S. forces in Iraq] to do the right thing. As you know, unfortunately, a very small number did not do the right thing, and that's being addressed."
He said, "We were all chagrined by the occurrences" and noted that he told the interrogators in Iraq that "at the end of the day, you've got to make sure that what we've done will make America proud."
Miller also said that civilian contract interrogators are held to the same standards as the military. "If they do not follow our standards, then we discharge them," he said. "If there are acts that are beyond the level of discharge, then we will take the appropriate action to hold them accountable."
Miller had visited the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq during August and September of 2003 to assess detention and interrogation procedures. He said neither he nor his team saw any evidence of abuse during their two-week stay. His recommendation at that time was to streamline the chain of command by integrating the interrogation and detention functions, he said.
Following that recommendation, Abu Ghraib has been reorganized, Miller said, with a military and police brigade commander in charge of the detention mission and a military intelligence brigade commander in charge of interrogation, both reporting to his office.
Interrogations are handled by groups known as "Tiger Teams," Miller explained, and each team has one or two interrogators, an analyst, and a linguist. Every interrogation, he added, "must have an interrogation plan that lays out the techniques that will be used to garner information" and that plan is submitted to a supervisor for authorization. Teams may not use any techniques not authorized in the plan, he said.
According to Miller, the analyst watches the interrogation from a viewing area and team chiefs drop in to make assessments. "There will be times in interrogation where they'll stop -- the analysts will stop the interrogation and bring the interrogators out and say, 'This is not working; we've got five techniques authorized, let's try this one.' Or, 'Let's take a pause.' ... So it is a system of assessments that go on. And then they'll do an after-action review after every interrogation," he said.
"We lay out the standards for what we do on interrogation, and -- I can only speak with great certainty about the last 30 days -- we're following those standards. Interrogation teams are good people. We've laid out the edges of the roads, what the authorities are, and they are moving rapidly toward that," Miller said. "Remember, I'm biased. I'm proud of these people, for they have taken the responsibility for winning. And we're doing this correctly."
Operations at Abu Ghraib will continue, Miller said, although the number of detainees there will be reduced to no more than 2,000.
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)