New Abu Ghraib Commander Explains Detention and
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
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.
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