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New Abu Ghraib Commander Explains Detention and Interrogation Procedures

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:


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