Transcript: Senate Hearing on Iraq Prison Abuse
LEVIN: ... the working paper detailing 50 allegations of ill treatment?
SANCHEZ: Not that I'm aware of, Senator.
LEVIN: So there's no indication at your level at your headquarters that that document was ever received?
SANCHEZ: No, Senator, the working paper that I am aware of that made it to my headquarter was the November paper.
LEVIN: The Interrogation Rules of Engagement, so called -- this is a document which was presented to this committee by General Alexander, saying that the rules of engagement that were in effect at the Combined Joint Task Force-7 in Iraq prior to 2003 are set forth on a piece of paper, which -- are you familiar with it? -- called Interrogation Rules of Engagement.
SANCHEZ: Yes, sir, I have seen that.
LEVIN: And can you tell us what -- if you've seen this before, did you approve this? Did you have legal advice? What is this document that General Alexander told us were the rules of enlargement that were in effect at the Combined Joint Task Force?
SANCHEZ: Sir, the first time I saw that paper was when it was shown in one of the prior hearings in this same forum. And I had no role in preparing it or approving it.
LEVIN: All right. So he was in error then relative to that? General Alexander then would have been in error if he said this was the document?
SANCHEZ: Right, sir. I have never seen that, and I had never approved it, and had no part in putting that together, sir.
LEVIN: I don't believe this committee has your October 12th policy statement. If I'm wrong, then fine. But can you present -- would you provide that October 12th to the committee?
SANCHEZ: Yes, sir.
LEVIN: And finally, the newspaper reported that 100 or so high- value detainees do not fall under your command, General Sanchez, but are the responsibility of General Dayton, who's commander of the Iraq Survey Group, who reports directly to General Abizaid. Is that accurate, as far as you know?
SANCHEZ: Yes, sir, that is accurate. My M.P.s provide security at Camp Cropper.
LEVIN: Can you just tell us then why that was done that way, General Abizaid?
ABIZAID: Sir, that was done that way because the people at Camp Cropper happened to be those people that had theoretical information concerning weapons of mass destruction information, and also were the high-value detainees that we hope some day to turn over to a legitimate Iraqi government for trial.
LEVIN: But why should they be treated differently from other detainees, separated out that way?
ABIZAID: They were separated out that way to ensure that we understood -- I guess I would call it the strategic environment, as opposed to the tactical environment, where we would get information at a lower level from lower-level detainees.
ABIZAID: It was established that way as a result of discussions that were taken place here in Washington regarding having a better and more efficient way to really understand what was going on with regard to weapons of mass destruction.
LEVIN: That was all then WMD-information-related, basically?
ABIZAID: It was sir, but it was also dealing with very senior levels of the government...
LEVIN: Thank you.
ABIZAID: ... of the former Iraqi government.
LEVIN: Thank you.
WARNER: Thank you very much, Senator.
I've just been informed that the Department of Defense has informed the committee that another disk of pictures has been located. And I'll soon advise the committee on the conditions under which -- and timing -- they can be viewed.
MCCAIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And I want to thank the witnesses, particularly Generals Miller and Abizaid and Sanchez, for their outstanding service to our nation under the most difficult circumstances. And I was pleased to hear that you were here on other business and were not have to be called back from the theater of operations.
And I thank you for all the time and effort you have devoted to trying to resolve this terrible issue. And we're very grateful for that and your appearance here today.
General Sanchez, according to a November 19th, 2003 message, as you responded to questions from Senator Warner and Senator Levin, you transferred full responsibility to General Pappas to assume full responsibility for Abu Ghraib and appointed the guard units to be under the tactical control that 205 Military Intelligence commander for security of detainees and forward operating base protection, I quote from your message. I think that's accurate.
MCCAIN: In his statement to General Taguba, Colonel Pappas said, and I quote, "Policies and procedures established by the joint operation detention center at Abu Ghraib relative to detainees operations were enacted as a specific result of a visit by Major General Geoffrey Miller, commander of Joint Task Force Gitmo."
He went on to say, quote, "The key findings of his visit were that the interrogators and analysts develop a set of rules and limitations to guide interrogation and provide dedicated M.P.s to support interrogation operations" -- I repeat, "and provide dedicated M.P.s to support interrogation operations."
Now, General Sanchez, General Miller's report, as I understand it, had observations and recommendations. One of those recommendations was, and I quote from his recommendations, "It is essential that the guard force be actively engaged in setting the conditions for successful exploitation of the internees."
Am I accurate so far, General Sanchez?
SANCHEZ: Yes, Senator.
MCCAIN: General Miller?
MILLER: Yes, sir, you are.
MCCAIN: General Miller, do you believe that your instructions may have been misinterpreted?
MILLER: Senator, I do not.
On our visit to the JTF to be able to give an assessment of the intelligence function in the three major areas -- intelligence fusion, the interrogation process and in humane detention -- the team of 19 experts laid out those standards that would allow for humane detention, interrogation in accordance with the Geneva Convention, and then recommended procedures by which intelligence could be fused more rapidly to provide actionable intelligence for units and for the JTF itself.
MCCAIN: Well, thank you.
But it seems to me that this order that I just quoted, which turned over certain M.P. duties to the control of Colonel Pappas, then certain things happened. And according to General Taguba's report, soldiers were questioned that were involved in this.
MCCAIN: Soldier number one, question, "Have you ever been directed by the M.I., military intelligence, personnel or any government agency to soften up a prisoner prior to interrogation?" Answer, "Yes. Sometimes they would ask me to show a prisoner, quote, 'special attention.'"
Soldier number two, "Have you ever been told by M.I. personnel to work over a prisoner?" "Yes. M.I. told us to rough them up to get answers from the prisoners." "Why didn't you report the abuse?" "Because I assumed that if we were doing anything wrong or out of the ordinary or outside the guidelines, someone would have said something. Also, the wing belonged to military intelligence and it appeared military intelligence personnel approved of the abuse."
Soldier number three, question, "What can you tell us about the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib?" "Yes, the M.I. staffs, to my understanding, have given compliments to us on the way we were handling the M.I. holds. For example, meaning statements like, 'Good job, they're breaking down real fast.' Quote, 'They answer every question, now keep it up,' unquote. 'They're giving out good information.'"
Soldier number four, "Have you ever heard M.I. insinuate to guards to abuse inmates of any type of manner?" "Yes." "What was said?" Answer, quote, "They said, 'Loosen this guy up for us, make sure he has a bad night, make sure he gets the treatment.'"
You see my point, Major General Miller?
At least according to General Taguba's report, there were at least a number of guards -- I mean, guards, M.P.s, who were under the impression or stated that they were under the impression that they were under specific directions of military intelligence personnel to, quote, "rough up, soften up, give them a bad night," et cetera.
MCCAIN: How do we respond to that, General Miller?
MILLER: Sir, in the recommendations that we made...
MCCAIN: Could I go back to my first question? This goes back to my first question. Does this lead you to believe that your orders were misinterpreted?
MILLER: No, sir. The leadership that received the recommendations throughout the JTF had a clear understanding of the recommendations that we made in those three areas of intelligence fusion, interrogation and humane detention that laid out those requirements, laid the basis that they must be in concert with the Geneva Convention, and gave recommendations from our experience about how those three functions could be done successfully.
MCCAIN: There must have been a breakdown somewhere.
MILLER: Sir, in my estimation, it's a breakdown in leadership on how that the follow-on actions may have occurred, but I was not present at that time, so it would be difficult for me to give...
MCCAIN: General Sanchez -- my time has expired.
WARNER: Go ahead.
MCCAIN: General Sanchez, please?
SANCHEZ: Senator, I wanted to make one clarification: that General Miller did not issue any orders, and he has not issued any orders until he arrived as the deputy commanding general for detainee operations. Those orders were my orders, sir.
MCCAIN: I guess my question was better directed to you. Were those orders misinterpreted?
SANCHEZ: Sir, I do not believe those orders were misinterpreted. The procedures that General Miller and I had discussed, that he had recommended, were very detailed. And it very clearly stated that M.P.s were involved in passive enabling of those operations and had no involvement in the conduct of interrogations. Those were the orders in the SOPs that remained after General Miller's visit.
MCCAIN: Thank the witnesses.
My time has expired. Thank you very much.
WARNER: Senator Kennedy?
KENNEDY: Thank you very much, General. And I echo the sense that all of us feel of the great respect we all have for you and the troops that you're commanding.
We've lost 23 very brave soldiers in my state of Massachusetts and we're all very mindful of the complexities, the difficulties that the uniformed service personnel are facing over there. So we thank you so much for your leadership and your careers and public service in serving our country.
I was, just quickly -- General Sanchez, as an old M.P. myself, I'm surprised that you take that the military intelligence are better in force protection -- in protecting the forces than the M.P.s. But we'll leave that for another time.
When we had the secretary of defense here, General Abizaid, last week, he denied that there was any failure to take any of these reports seriously.
"The military, not the media, discovered these abuses," he said. And Specialist Joseph Darby reported the acts of abuse in Abu Ghraib prison in mid-January. And, according to Secretary Rumsfeld, by the next day investigations were authorized.
Yet now we learn, both from the front page of the New York Times today and the front page of the Wall Street Journal today, that the International Committee on the Red Cross observed the abuses in the prison during the two unannounced inspections in October 2003, and they complained in a strongly-worded written report of November 6.
This report was reviewed by senior military officials in Iraq, including two advisers to General Sanchez, according to this report.
KENNEDY: So it appears that the military's first reaction was to restrict future Red Cross visits to the Abu Ghraib. That's the story in here: After the Red Cross had provided two critical reports, the reaction of the military dealing with the prison then was to restrict. They said, "You have to give us notice." And all of us understand what that means: If you're going to give notice prior to the inspections, it obviously compromises the inspections.
So according to those news reports, nothing was done in the prison for two months. And the military previously acknowledged that the worst abuses continued into December 2003.
So we have the secretary of defense saying one thing and we're learning from two newspapers another story. And that's why I think we are trying to find out what exactly, who was in charge, and who bears the responsibility, because these are completely conflicting stories within a period of just a few weeks here before this committee.
I don't know whether you have any reaction to those stories, whether you had a chance to see those this morning. I want to move on.
Quickly, I suppose it's fair to say who in Iraq or in CENTCOM is responsible for receiving and responding to the reports of violations of international law or conventions by U.S. military personnel.
SANCHEZ: I am responsible. If someone brings it to my attention, I am responsible. And I will not turn my back on any report that I receive.
KENNEDY: Well, you obviously didn't get these reports.
SANCHEZ: No, I didn't.
KENNEDY: Well, I'm asking who would have gotten these reports? Who would have received this report in the chain of command, General?
SANCHEZ: Senator, the November report was received by the brigade commander. And then the -- as I found out now, the CJTF staff assisted her in responding to that report.
KENNEDY: Well, do they get -- that brigade commander receive all of the reports or it's just -- who institutionally receives, within your organization, any of the -- like for the Red Cross violations that come on in? Who's in charge on that?
SANCHEZ: When the February '04 report came in, that's when I found out that the November working papers had been issued to the brigade commander. At that point, I immediately changed the procedure and required that those reports come to me as a senior commander in the country.
KENNEDY: But there were...
SANCHEZ: That is the procedure now.
KENNEDY: But there was no central receiving officer charged prior to what you've just established?
SANCHEZ: Prior to that, Senator, those all would come to the staff judge advocate's office. That was the repository. And he was the point of contact in terms of commander. It would come in at the lowest level.
KENNEDY: At the staff JAG -- JAG office?
SANCHEZ: Yes, sir, that is correct.
ABIZAID (?): If I may, sir, this system is broken. We've got a...
KENNEDY: Let me move on to General Miller.
After your assessment of the detention and interrogation in Iraq, you stated that it was essential that the guard force be actively engaged in setting the conditions for the successful exploitation of the internees.
And as you know, General Taguba strongly disapproved the recommendation, and he has stated that setting of the conditions for the detainees' successful exploitation through interrogation is fundamentally inconsistent with Army regulations. It undermines the goals of running a safe and secure detention facility. That's what he testified here for this committee.
So given the New York Times that reported yesterday that Colonel Pappas -- Thomas Pappas, who's the military intelligence brigade commander at Abu Ghraib -- told General Taguba that there was no safeguards to ensure the M.P.s at Abu Ghraib behaved properly in setting conditions for the detainees. "There'd be no way for us to actually monitor whether that happened," Colonel Pappas said. "We have no formal system in place to do that."
KENNEDY: General Taguba also found the M.P.s hadn't been trained on the Geneva Conventions.
Wasn't this a catastrophic failure of leadership? I mean, how would you expect an average soldier in the Army to understand the term "successful exploitation" isn't simply a euphemism for "anything goes"? And do you take responsibility for that failure?
MILLER: Thank you, Senator.
The Taguba report was very thorough, but I would like to clarify on this one point. The recommendation that my team made in the September time frame was that the military police help set the conditions for successful interrogation as we had learned of their success in Guantanamo.
The recommendation was that they conduct passive intelligence gathering during this process. And by that that meant to observe the detainees, to see how their behavior was, to see who they would speak with and then to report that to the interrogators so the interrogators could better understand the attitude with human dynamic of the detainee as he would come into the interrogation booth.
We also recommended that the military police, for security reasons, would accompany the detainee from the cell block, or the area where they were held, up to the interrogation booth because they are security risks. Then the M.P. would wait somewhere else, and then accompany the detainee back.
Our recommendations were that the M.P.s did not actively participate in any form of the interrogation itself.
And that was explained in detail to the chain of command and giving them that for their opportunity. And the SOP that laid that out was provided to them. It's about 200 pages long. It goes into great detail about how this system works, because, as it says in the SOP, the M.P.s are not trained intelligence officers, should not initiate questioning or anything like that. They were just to be observers of that process.
And so that was the active support for the interrogation process that was recommended.
And so, Senator, I will tell you, with my utmost -- I believe that the recommendations that we made, had they been implemented, would have not only increased the intelligence value of what was being done, but help to ensure that humane detention was accomplished throughout every facility.
WARNER: Thank you very much, Senator.
Before responding, General Sanchez, you made four references to the brigade commander. Now that would be General Karpinski?
SANCHEZ: Yes, sir, that is correct.
ROBERTS: All right. I want the record to reflect that.
ABIZAID: Mr. Chairman, just for the record, I would just like to caution the committee. We still do not know what we don't know.
WARNER: That's very clear. And we recognize that. And it's been a struggle throughout this whole thing to get a full understanding. And that's why we've got to entrust credibility to what the Department of Defense and the Army, particularly, are doing now with a series of investigations. And we fully appreciate that.
ABIZAID: And I think that Major General Fay's report will go a long ways to make us understand this dynamic between M.P.s and M.I. in particular.
WARNER: And I share that.
ABIZAID: (OFF-MIKE) Senator McCain's questions.
WARNER: Thank you.
ROBERTS: General Abizaid, you realize that your statement is contrary to the United States Senate where we always know what we don't know.
Let me say that I want to thank Senator McCain for his comments, because I think he spoke for the whole committee, in reference to the contribution that you are making to our country and your service to our country, and I would like to associate myself with his remarks.
ROBERTS: I'm going to try to get my fast questions in to General Miller.
Well, first let me ask of General Sanchez, no soldier would be justified in interpreting an order in such a way as to violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice; is that correct?
SANCHEZ: Sir, I would state absolutely.
ROBERTS: So even if a soldier did misinterpret General Miller's recommendation, even though I doubt if they had it, to carry out these acts, that would not be an excuse, would it?
SANCHEZ: Sir, that is correct. That is a basic instinct we built into the soldiers.
ROBERTS: General Miller, would the abuse evidenced by the photos be permitted or condoned under any practices or policies that were recommended in your report?
MILLER: Senator, they absolutely would not be.
ROBERTS: Would the abuse evidenced in the photos be permitted or condoned in any of the practices or policies at Gitmo?
MILLER: Senator, they would not.
ROBERTS: Do you have any problem with General Ryder, who allegedly said there should be a firewall between the M.P.s and military intelligence, given your rationale as to why they should work together if we have the leadership and the training and the discipline that you have indicated that we now have?
MILLER: Sir, our doctrinal publications say that there should be cooperation between the military police and the intelligence function in a detention facility.
But it does say there should not any active participation by the military police force in any interrogations.
ROBERTS: I have a staffer that works on the Intelligence Committee for me; I have the privilege of being chairman. He has been down at Gitmo in a reserve capacity. He indicates that you made a remarkable turnaround down at Gitmo. Many senators have gone down; it only takes a day. I encourage every senator here to do that. And I credit you for improving a very difficult kind of situation.
In Iraq, it's my understanding that there are three prisons, five battalions, four of the five are Reserves. Is that correct?
MILLER: Senator, in the organization that I now lead, as the deputy commander general for detainee operations, that is a correct statement.
ROBERTS: In the estimate today, after the incident at Abu Ghraib, how would you determine the leadership today in regards to discipline and training and leadership of those personnel that you command as of right now?
MILLER: Sir, in the first 30 days of my opportunity to work in this capacity, I was able to visit every facility and talk to virtually every leader and soldier who are involved in this. I'll tell you that there's strong, positive, dynamic leadership throughout this chain of command.
ROBERTS: So you've seen a hell of a change?
MILLER: Sir, we have seen soldiers and leaders who know what standards are and execute them seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
ROBERTS: At Gitmo, you had one M.P. per two prisoners. In Iraq, you have one M.P. per 8.5 prisoners. Is that correct?
MILLER: Sir, those are approximately correct numbers.
ROBERTS: OK, but you've indicated at 50 percent of the prisoners in Abu Ghraib will be released. You have 3,800 prisoners now. That will bring it down to 1,500. What's happening to the 1,500? I understand that 74 are being tried by the central court of Iraq. Will all 1,500 be tried?
MILLER: Sir, those approximately 1,500 security internees have been interned. That means that we have great -- we have strong evidence that they have committed attacks on the coalition. And they will most likely be referred to the Central Criminal Court of Iraq for trial by the Iraqi system for those.
There are a number of those, approximately 600 to 700, who are so dangerous that should they be released back into Iraqi society that they would put that society at risk, with a higher probability of attack on their fellow citizens.
ROBERTS: So they're the worst of the worst.
MILLER: Sir, those are the worst of the worst.
ROBERTS: If the Red Cross investigated today, what would they find?
MILLER: Sir, the Red Cross is, as a matter of fact, investigating today. They are at Camp Buka, which is one of our theater facilities down by Umm Qasr on the southern border. They have found that we are making an enormous effort to improve conditions every day, that we take their findings seriously and that we have addressed them.
General Sanchez made a change when I arrived in the theater and put the ICRC responsibility directly on me. And so all reports come to me, and I move them to General Sanchez and the command leadership as rapidly as possible.
ROBERTS: So until we get the report by General Fay to assess responsibility and accountability, you think there's been a big change in regards to leadership and training and discipline, which all are directed at interrogation to provide better intelligence to save Iraqi lives and American lives. Is that correct?
MILLER: Yes, sir, that's absolutely correct.
ROBERTS: I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
WARNER: Senator Byrd?
BYRD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General Abizaid and General Sanchez, this travesty of justice occurred on your watch. The Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal has dealt a body blow to the heroic efforts of scores of American military troops and civilian workers in Iraq to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. I do not know if that damage can ever be fully repaired.
Certainly a lot depends on what else might emerge about this scandal and on what you and the civilian leadership at the Pentagon -- at the Pentagon -- do to set things right.
BYRD: General Sanchez, you told Senator Levin that you never saw the rules of engagement presented to this committee last week. If you do not see or set the so called rules of engagement for the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq, who does? Who does set them?
SANCHEZ: Senator, what I had stated is that I had not seen the specific slide that was referred to. I was the one that approved the interrogation rules of engagement on the 12th of September and again in the October time frame, sir.
BYRD: Does anyone in the civilian leadership of the Pentagon need to approve the rules of interrogation operation?
SANCHEZ: Senator, those rules were forwarded to Central Command in the September time frame. And based on the inputs from Central Command, resulted the October memorandum.
BYRD: I'll ask the question again. Does anyone in the civilian leadership of the Pentagon need to approve the rules of interrogation operations?
SANCHEZ: Sir, I do not know. As far as I know, there is no requirement for the civilian leadership to approve those rules of engagement.
ABIZAID: You know, Senator, I would say we're all responsible for making sure what happens in our organization happens right. Things don't have to go all the way to the top to be approved. We know what's right and we know what's wrong.
BYRD: But the committee needs to know if you can answer this question. Does anyone in the civilian leadership of the Pentagon need to approve the rules of interrogation operations? If so, who?
ABIZAID: My answer is no, it's our responsibility.
BYRD: Then you're saying that nobody in the Pentagon approves these rules?
ABIZAID: No, I'm not saying that, sir.
BYRD: Then what are you saying?
ABIZAID: I am saying that the rules of engagement for interrogators are a product of Army doctrine, of Army training, of practices in the field, and of commanders doing their job out there.
BYRD: General Abizaid, if someone at the Pentagon is required to approve these rules of engagement surely you know.
ABIZAID: If I knew, Senator, I would tell you. I would not forward any rules of engagement to anybody. Nobody's asked me for any, and I wouldn't have forwarded it to them.
BYRD: So you're indeed saying that nobody in the Pentagon approved these rules?
ABIZAID: I don't know that I'm saying whether they reviewed them or not. I am saying that I have not personally forwarded anything to the Pentagon for their approval.
BYRD: Did the secretary of defense has to approve these rules, to your knowledge?
ABIZAID: Sir, I (inaudible) said. In the Central Command, I have not forwarded anything to the Pentagon for approval with regard to rules of engagement.
BYRD: And I'm not asking you what you have forwarded to the Pentagon. To your knowledge, did the secretary of defense have to approve these or did he approve these rules of engagement, to your knowledge -- the secretary of defense?
MILLER: Senator, if I might -- I was the legal adviser for the command and participated in the drafting of the counter-resistance and interrogation policy.
There is no requirement that the Department of Defense review or approve the methods that we used. As Generals Abizaid and Sanchez has said, they're operating in a combat environment. The commanders have the authority to approve...
BYRD: All right, if there's no requirement, to your knowledge, did the secretary of defense approve these rules of engagement?
MILLER: Sir, to my knowledge, no.
BYRD: General Sanchez, as Senator Kennedy stated, the New York Times reported this morning -- and here it is right here. The headline says, "Officers Says Army Tried to Curb Red Cross Visits to Prison in Iraq." Is that allegation accurate?
SANCHEZ: Sir, I never approved any policy or procedure or requirement to do that.
BYRD: Let's see what this says. Two announced inspections in Iraq -- the International Committee of the Red Cross observed abuses in one cell block on two announced inspections in October, and complained in writing. On November the 6th, the military responded that inspectors should make appointments before visiting the cell block.
BYRD: Well, we know what that means.
General Abizaid, the Red Cross has alleged a pattern of abuse at detention centers in Iraq. With all due respect, how can you explain the culture of abuse that was allowed to develop in a prison system under your ultimate command?
ABIZAID: I don't believe that a culture of abuse existed in my command. And I don't believe that, based on what my I.G. told me and what the Department of the Army I.G. told me. I believe that we have isolated incidents that have taken place.
I am aware that the International Red Cross has its view on things. A lot of its view is based upon what happens at the point of detention, where soldiers fighting for their lives detain people, which is a very brutal and bloody event.
BYRD: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My time is up.
WARNER: Thank you, Senator Byrd.
ABIZAID: Mr. Chairman, maybe I -- if I may...
WARNER: Feel free, General, when you wish to add some information.
ABIZAID: Policies do flow from the top of the Defense Department and I don't want to give any impression that they do not. But standard operating procedures are our business, and we work them.
BYRD: These are not standing operating procedures we're talking about, I hope.
ALLARD: Mr. Chairman, I just want to point out that I think the real travesty of justice is on the other side, where we see women and children used as shields; where we see a fight being carried on in mosques by our adversaries and other religious structures; where I see that conflict being carried in schools; and where our adversaries don't care about innocent lives, and they'll cheat and lie and do anything.
ALLARD: And I think that we have to understand the challenges that our men and women facing in Iraq. And I think that it's a very, very difficult situation.
Now, that doesn't justify, I think, what we've seen by a few individuals here in this prison. And I want to fully understand how it is that kind of incident would happen in the prison.
I think we all have to understand, I think, General Abizaid, that you have recognized that there is a problem and that we're in the process of correcting that problem.
Major General Miller, of the list of reports that came out, yours was the first report. You looked at Guantanamo, and then you went on ahead and briefed, I think, the command in Iraq as to what you learned in Guantanamo. Is that correct?
MILLER: Senator, when I briefed the command of CJTF-7, it was on the findings and recommendations that the team that I brought found of our assessments of the operations within CJTF-7 in Iraq.
ALLARD: Did you share with them some of the lessons learned and what not in Guantanamo and explain to them what to watch out for?
MILLER: Yes, sir.
We used our SOPs that we had developed for humane detention, interrogation and intelligence fusion, to be able to use that as a starting point where they could go about improving their capability.
ALLARD: And so when you did your briefing, how far down did that information go? Did it go to those interrogators, or were you relying on individuals further down in the command to pass on your words?
MILLER: Sir, the recommendations that I made from the assessments were given to the senior leadership of the joint task force for them to make decisions upon their applicability and then to, if they chose, make additional modifications to their procedures to go about doing that.
In no case did we -- did the team have the opportunity or ask to brief down at the lowest level. It was at the senior leadership level, at the commander and the senior staff officer level.
ALLARD: Now, those lessons learned -- can anybody on this panel explain to me what happened to that information that was shared by Major General Miller to a higher command? How was that passed down?
SANCHEZ: Yes, Senator.
What we did after I received the recommendations of General Miller is I then forwarded those to my staff and the commander of the detention center for execution -- correction, for modification in accordance with the Geneva Convention, since we knew that there was a difference in climates between the two different operations.
And then we set about and...
ALLARD: By that "difference in climate," you're saying that in Guantanamo it wasn't as pertinent as to actually what was happening in the field of battle, but what was happening in Iraq was very pertinent, was happening on the day-to-day basis in the field of battle -- and that information was crucial to the survival of Americans. Is that...
SANCHEZ: Yes, sir, that is exactly right. We were, at that point in time working very, very hard to get intel fusion at a higher level that could allow us to target precisely the enemy forces.
And we had to very rapidly take those recommendations and modify them to the theater, modify them to ensure that they were in accordance with the Geneva Convention, get the lessons that had been learned before in interrogation and detention operations and be able to adjust our own procedures and fix the procedures that we had in- country.
ALLARD: Now, General Abizaid and General Sanchez, I'd like for you to describe the checks and balances or the command-wide reporting and supervision that was in place during 2003 when the subject prisoner abuses occurred.
General Taguba's report clearly shows abuses reported as early as May 2003 in Iraq, as well as major accountability leadership and basic discipline breakdowns through the 800th Military Police Brigade.
And, I guess, the bottom line, did Brigadier General Karpinski, the 800th M.P. Brigade commander, keep you informed as to the deteriorating conditions in her command?
ABIZAID: I did not talk to the commander of the 800th M.P. Brigade.
ALLARD: General Sanchez?
SANCHEZ: Sir, as far as the deteriorating conditions of her command, part of our basic understanding in the July-August time frame was that we had a detainee situation that had not been faced by our Army in over 50 years.
That was the reason why I had requested the Ryder team to come in to assist us in establishing those operations, so that they would be efficient, effective and treating people with dignity and respect. That is why I supported the Miller team coming into the country. And we were providing the resources that were necessary in order for us to stand up the capabilities of the 800th to be able to function effectively.
ALLARD: And the Ryder report, that was the first report in trying to deal with any hint of impropriety that was happening at the prison, is that correct?
SANCHEZ: Senator, there were investigations that had been conducted as a result of allegations of abuse that were out in the command, not at the detention centers at that point.
As we have stated before, there were allegations that at the point of contact, where the soldiers are fighting every single day, there were allegations from the ICRC that prisoners were being treated rough. And those were the allegations that were being investigated at that point in time.
As far as detention center abuses, at that point I did not have knowledge of that.
But I would like to make sure that the committee understands, we did have detention center problems. They were overcrowded. We didn't have the M.P.s in the right place. We were moving into facilities that had been destroyed or damaged by the war. We had an intelligence problem, in that the tactical units were not getting feedback from the detainees that moved into the detention centers.
And from Ambassador Bremer's point of view, he had a problem in that we weren't releasing detainees back into the population quickly enough, and he wanted us to come up with a system that would make that more efficient.
So let's be clear that we understood that there were problems in the detainee system linked to the intelligence system, linked to the political system that had to be addressed, and we were working on them.
But I would also like to remind you that these images are not the kind of thing that we thought was happening out there that anyone in the chain of command would have condoned or allowed to be practiced.
MILLER: Sir, if I may...
ALLARD: Mr. Chairman, my time has expired.
MILLER: ... if I may just one -- because I think it's an important clarifying point.
During the assistance visit that my team made in the August- September time frame, we were also charged with the responsibility of looking for humane detention throughout, at the CJTF Level 7 -- 7 level detention facilities.
And during that assessment, in one of the facilities, the team found that it was being operated in an unsatisfactory manner. I stopped the assessment. I went to General Sanchez and made this report. He directed that there be corrective action made within 48 hours in this facility. That action was immediately started. And it was continuing on as the assessment team that I led departed theater.
And so there were reports -- and I will tell you, there was very aggressive action taken by the chain of command to go about correcting those shortfalls.
ALLARD: Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, my time has expired.
WARNER: Thank you, Senator. Thank you very much.
REED: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Colonel Warren, is it accurate to say that all the prisoners in Abu Ghraib were entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention, that they were either enemy prisoners of war or protected persons? Is that correct?
WARREN: Sir, that's right. They were protected persons either under the third or fourth Geneva Convention.
REED: Thank you.
Under the Geneva Convention Article 31, "no physical or moral coercion shall be exercised against any protected persons, in particular to obtain information about them or from third parties." Is that correct?
WARREN: Sir, you're quoting from Article 31 of the fourth convention. That is an accurate recitation of what the article says. I would cite you to Pictet's commentary on the article for elaboration...
REED: Well, thank you, but we'll go into the elaboration.
WARREN: Yes, sir. It should not be taken out of context.
REED: But that is the operative rule.
WARREN: That is a literal generalization.
REED: Let's go back to the rules of engagement here. Sleep management, 72 hours; sensory deprivation, 72 hours, would you consider that to be physical or moral coercion?
WARREN: Sir, not prohibited coercion under Article 31 for security internees in a...
REED: I'm talking about in particular to obtain information about them or from third parties.
WARREN: No, sir, I would not.
REED: So these are not methods to use for interrogation.
WARREN: Sir, the list on the right-hand side of the...
REED: Can you answer the question, Colonel?
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