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Old 03-10-2005, 12:07 AM   #1
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Probe: Leaders Didn't Order Prison Abuse

Probe: Leaders Didn't Order Prison Abuse

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer

WASHINGTON - Top commanders in Iraq (news - web sites) put intense pressure on interrogators to extract useful intelligence information from prisoners, yet that does not explain the sexual humiliation and other abuse of prisoners under U.S. control, an investigation has concluded.

The report by Navy Vice Adm. Albert T. Church said the pressure was not excessive. The investigation could find no "single, overarching reason" why prisoners under U.S. control were abused at the Abu Ghraib prison complex in fall 2003 and elsewhere in Iraq and Afghanistan (news - web sites).

Command pressure for more intelligence was to be expected in a battlefield setting, Church wrote.

"We found no evidence, however, that interrogators in Iraq believed that any pressure for intelligence subverted their obligation to treat detainees humanely," he wrote in a summary of his findings.

Church, a former Navy inspector general and now director of the Navy staff, was presenting his report to Congress on Thursday. A copy of a 21-page executive summary was obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Church concluded that no civilian or uniformed leaders directed or encouraged abuse, and his report holds Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top defense leaders largely blameless on the narrow question of pressuring interrogators as well as the larger matter of interrogation policies.

"We found no evidence to support the notion that the office of the secretary of defense (or other military or White House staff) applied explicit pressure for intelligence or gave 'back channel' permission to forces in the field in Iraq or in Afghanistan" to exceed the bounds of authorized interrogation practices, the report said.

Church conducted more than 800 interviews and reviewed the conclusions of several other investigations. His main purpose was to trace the development and implementation of interrogation policies and techniques and to search for connections to the reported abuses.

"We found no link between approved interrogation techniques and detainee abuse," he concluded.

The review did cite, however, a number of "missed opportunities" in the development of interrogation policies.

Among the missed opportunities was a failure to provide commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan with specific and early guidance on interrogation techniques. "We cannot say that there would necessarily have been less detainee abuse had these opportunities been acted upon," Church wrote.

Had that guidance been provided earlier, "interrogation policy could have benefited from additional expertise and oversight," he wrote.

The Church report also disclosed that the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Gen. George Casey, who arrived there last summer, approved on Jan. 27 a new, more restrictive interrogation policy for Iraq.

Casey's new policy "provides additional safeguards and prohibitions, rectifies ambiguities" and requires that commanders report to Casey their compliance with the policy, the report said.

The probe also found, in the cases of detainee operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, that the dissemination of approved interrogation policy to commanders in the field was generally poor. And in Iraq in particular it found that compliance with approved policy guidance was generally poor.

By contrast, compliance with the authorized interrogation methods was in nearly all cases exemplary at the U.S. naval facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where terrorism suspects have been held since January 2002, the report said. It attributed this to strict command oversight and effective leadership, as well as adequate resources.

The review was done last summer. It is among several triggered by disclosures last spring of prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison complex in Iraq. Church was directed to look at how interrogation policies were developed and implemented from the start of the terror war in fall 2001.

"An early focus of our investigation was to determine whether DOD (Department of Defense (news - web sites)) had promulgated interrogation policies or guidance that directed, sanctioned or encouraged the abuse of detainees. We found that this was not the case," the Church probe concluded.

"Even in the absence of a precise definition of 'humane' treatment, it is clear that none of the pictured abuses at Abu Ghraib bear any resemblance to approved policies at any level," it added.

Church did not directly investigate the Abu Ghraib matter or address questions about accountability for senior defense officials involved in interrogation policy. Both of those matters have been investigated by others.

While the problems cited by Church in the dissemination of interrogation policy guidance to commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan were found to be "certainly cause for concern," Church concluded that "they did not lead to the employment of illegal or abusive interrogation techniques."

Church examined the 187 Pentagon (news - web sites) investigations of alleged prisoner abuse that had been completed when he finished his work last September. He counted 70 of those investigations as having substantiated acts of abuse. In six of the 70 cases, the prisoner died. Of the 70, only 20 were related to interrogations; the other 50 were not associated in any way with questioning, he said.


Associated Press Writer Liz Sidoti contributed to this report.

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Old 03-21-2005, 05:19 PM   #2
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Court-martial postponed for SEAL accused of prisoner abuse

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO - Court-martial proceedings were postponed Monday for a Navy SEAL lieutenant accused of prisoner abuse in a case that implicates the CIA in the detainee's gruesome death at Abu Ghraib.

The unnamed SEAL is accused of punching an Iraqi detainee in the arm and allowing his men to abuse the prisoner, who later died during CIA interrogation at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison.

The lieutenant, who led a platoon from SEAL Team Seven in Coronado, faces charges of assault, dereliction of duty and conduct unbecoming an officer. He faces a maximum of nearly 12 years in prison, loss of pay and benefits, and dismissal from the Navy.

The trial was postponed to give attorneys time to resolve several issues, including how they will use classified material and witnesses. A new trial date was expected to be scheduled for May or June.

To protect the safety of terrorist-hunting SEALs, the Navy is identifying the lieutenant and fellow commandos in the courtroom by the first letter of their last names - a step experts on military law say is virtually unprecedented.

Swirling around the case are reports that point to the use of CIA interrogation tactics in the gruesome death of the detainee.

The SEALs acted as the CIA's warrant squad on dangerous "capture or kill" missions in Iraq, bursting into homes in the middle of the night and carting off suspects.

On the night of Nov. 4, they burst into al-Jamadi's apartment outside Baghdad, subdued him after a brief, violent struggle and whisked him back to their base at Baghdad's airport.

En route, the SEALs allegedly kicked, punched and struck al-Jamadi with the muzzles of their rifles. They also posed for photos with the hooded and handcuffed prisoner.

The SEALs turned al-Jamadi over to the CIA. A few hours later, he was dead.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press suggest that CIA personnel - not the SEALs - may be to blame for the prisoner's death. When he died, al-Jamadi was suspended by the wrists, which were handcuffed behind his back - a position that has been condemned by human rights groups as torture, according to investigative files from the Army and the CIA's Office of Inspector General.

A military pathologist told the Inspector General's office that the position al-Jamadi was in during interrogation was "part and parcel" of the homicide.

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Old 03-22-2005, 09:13 AM   #3
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