Transcript: Senate Hearing on Iraq Prison Abuse
CLINTON: General Miller, I would like to return for a moment to this document that's been much discussed on interrogation rules of engagement.
General Sanchez characterized this document as having been developed at a relatively low level, at the company level, and indicated that he had not seen it before it became public at our hearings. But in an annex to the Taguba report, it's revealed that this document was briefed to you as part of a situation report when you visited Iraq in August 2003.
What was your reaction to that document at that time? And did you have any concern that the techniques described would violate the Geneva Convention?
MILLER: Senator, that report is incorrect. At no time was that document briefed to me during my visit in the August-September time frame.
CLINTON: Was it briefed to you at any time prior to that or following that period?
MILLER: Senator, that document was never briefed to me at any time.
CLINTON: Were the contents of the document briefed to you, General?
MILLER: The contents of that document were not briefed to me.
CLINTON: So it's not only that you never saw the document, the slide. You were never briefed, orally or in writing, about the contents of that document. Is that correct?
MILLER: Senator, that is absolutely correct.
CLINTON: General Sanchez, at a hearing last week, General Alexander, the head of Army Military Intelligence, distributed that slide to the committee. He stated at that time that the slide was prepared by CJTF staff, your staff.
Do you know where General Alexander obtained the slide or why he believed that this came from your staff?
SANCHEZ: No, ma'am, I do not.
CLINTON: Colonel Warren, do you have any information that would lend us some additional enlightenment about why General Alexander told us in sworn testimony that this slide came from General Sanchez's staff?
WARREN: I absolutely do, ma'am.
The reason that the general made the statement that he did is because the slide, as we now know, contained a Combined Joint Task Force-7 logo and was posted on the wall of the joint interrogation and debriefing center at Abu Ghraib.
WARREN: It was styled the Interrogation Rules of Engagement, an unfortunate use of the term "rules of engagement." What it should have said is Interrogation Policy Extract. And that's the context that's so vital that you have to understand, ma'am.
When that slide was created -- and I talked to the person who created it -- it was the commander of Alpha Company 519th military intelligence battalion...
CLINTON: And what was that person's name, Colonel?
WARREN: Captain Woods, ma'am.
It was intended to be a profilacis (ph). There's really nothing insidious about that particular slide.
In fact, if you'll go back, ma'am, to the counter-resistance and interrogation policies, which General Sanchez has said we will make available to the committee, you will see that they lay out specific measures that are approved.
The 12 October memorandum, in fact, approves only those measures which are contained within the Army Field Manual on interrogations. That applies to prisoners of war and segregation in access of 30 days.
The intent of the slide, however, was to ensure that interrogators understood that those measures on the left hand column, the ones that were approved, the ones I mentioned, were authorized, but that any other measures were not without commanding general approval.
Now, why is it that some of those, again, that seemed to be the so-called harsh methods appear on the right, ones such as sensory deprivation, that were never in any authorized policy?
The reason is because within the drafts that we prepared in the headquarters in the September and October time frame, we, collectively -- the legal community and the military intelligence community -- took every doctrinal approach that was authorized, we took every approach that had been used by interrogators in other places, we took every approach that was contained in any document that we could find, and we put that in a policy so as to regulate it, to ensure that it complied with the Geneva Conventions, that there was command oversight, there was a specific safeguards document that was published that referenced the conventions, and required that in no time could any interrogator in any approach violate the floor of the Geneva Convention: that is the basic requirements, the food, shelter, water, medical care, clothing and protection, could never be violated.
It required an interrogation plan. It required that any exception to policy go through the senior intelligence officer and the staff judge advocate, me, before going to the commanding general.
WARREN: So the intent of that slide was to remind interrogators that anything that was not authorized had to go to the commanding general.
And by the way, given that list, prepared by a captain with all good intention, had items on it that could never be approved; that, frankly, could never reasonably be requested.
But note, ma'am, what's on the bottom. That is something that often is overlooked because that captain did not do a bad job. That captain paraphrased the safeguards that are in enclosure II of our counter-resistance and interrogation policy.
And you'll note, they talk about the requirement to treat everyone with humanity, to follow the Geneva Conventions, to never unlawfully touch a person who is under interrogation.
CLINTON: Colonel, may I just quickly follow up in one of the follow-up question. Are you aware of any requests for approval submitted in writing for any exceptions to the list on the right-hand side?
WARREN: Yes, ma'am, I am aware of approximately 25 for segregation in excess of 30 days, which went through the process of approval that I described. I'm also aware that there were three requests for stress positions which were submitted and were declined, that is denied, at the brigade commander level. So they never would have arisen to the CJTF-7 level for review or approval.
CLINTON: Is it also your understanding that non-military agents of our government and private contractors were similarly bound by the rules that you have just described?
WARREN: Ma'am, I can't speak definitively to the former, however I can speak definitively to the latter. And that is any contractors who were working within our facility under contract of the Department of Defense were certainly and clearly bound by our rules and policies.
WARNER: Thank you very much, Senator.
GRAHAM: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General Abizaid, is it fair to say that people in the region, the Arab world, are watching these hearings and have been?
ABIZAID: It's fair to say that, Senator, yes, sir.
GRAHAM: In your professional opinion, I know we're, sort of, beating on ourselves here a bit, does this help or hurt our cause?
ABIZAID: It helps our cause.
GRAHAM: I couldn't agree with you more.
ABIZAID: It helps our cause because they have to know that people will be held accountable that are in positions of responsibility.
GRAHAM: Does anybody at this panel feel like a burden's been placed upon you to come here and have to talk about what happened?
ABIZAID: No, sir. We feel it's our responsibility.
GRAHAM: Colonel Warren, you're a very good JAG officer and a very good officer, and I know you're in a tough spot. But if you had talked about that slide an hour ago that would really help. So just pipe up. Don't be bashful.
Now, I disagree with you a bit, General Abizaid, about a doctrine problem. I don't think we have a doctrine problem. I like our doctrine. Our doctrine, when it comes to trying to gather intelligence, is that anybody in Iraq is covered by the Geneva Convention and that we're going to follow the law, because that's who we are as a nation.
And the idea that M.P.s -- General Miller, I'm talking to you now -- can help the interrogators know what's going on in the cell block is a good doctrine, isn't it?
MILLER: Yes, sir. It is.
GRAHAM: It's stupid to not be able to talk to the people who are running the jail about how the prisoner's doing that day before you interrogate him, right?
MILLER: Yes, sir. That's exactly right.
GRAHAM: For those who are watching in the Arab world or anywhere else, can you get good intelligence and still be humane and decent?
ABIZAID: Yes, you can, sir.
GRAHAM: You agree with that, General Miller?
MILLER: Yes, sir, I do.
GRAHAM: That is our doctrine.
Our problem is that these well-thought-out policies and procedures, when it came to practice, failed miserably, and that's why we're here. Isn't that true?
Now, let's talk about how that failure may have occurred. Colonel Warren, I need you to help me here.
WARREN: Yes, sir.
GRAHAM: Pappas comes in November. Is that correct, General Sanchez?
SANCHEZ: Yes, sir, that is correct.
GRAHAM: But we know in October abuse has already taken place before he gets there. Is that correct?
SANCHEZ (?): Yes, sir. Now, we know that. Yes, sir.
GRAHAM: OK. So there was a culture in that jail that was abusive before November. My question is, do we know if it changed after November in its tone or its application? Do we know the answer to that yet?
ABIZAID: Sir, I don't think we know. I think, as we've said that the General Fay report may provide some insight. And also, the Criminal Investigative Division report conducted by the Army is not yet final.
GRAHAM: Is it true or not that some of the people in this abuse photos, some of these people are common criminals?
ABIZAID: Sir, that is absolutely correct. We know from the list of victims that that's true.
GRAHAM: So now we know that the abuse wasn't just directed at the high-value targets, but there was abuse going on just in general?
ABIZAID: Absolutely correct, sir, and there should not have been in that cell block. That violated our orders and our policies.
GRAHAM: So one thing we can find out pretty quickly is if in October it's done to people who are not high-value targets -- that jail was just- sort of- screwed up.
ABIZAID: Certainly it would suggest by the investigations and the evidence we have that that statement is accurate. Yes, sir.
GRAHAM: General Sanchez, I have never been in combat but I do have some knowledge of the military. I have never seen a more dysfunctional command relationship in the history of me looking at the military like that jail. Do you agree with that?
SANCHEZ: Sir, it was dysfunctional before the 19th of November.
And, General Miller, the reason you were called over is to make sure that we did this not only legally correct but we got the necessary intelligence to win this war. Is that correct?
MILLER: Sir, I was requested to come over to give an assessment and then to be able to...
GRAHAM: Is that why you brought him over, General Sanchez?
SANCHEZ: Yes, sir.
GRAHAM: I think you've done a great job at Gitmo. I'm glad you brought him over. People didn't misunderstand what you said. They just totally ignored it. That's why we're here, isn't it?
MILLER: Sir, in my opinion that is exactly correct.
GRAHAM: Now, here's my problem: When it comes time to assess who ignored it, I'm just not convinced that it's six or seven M.P.s doing this by themselves.
GRAHAM: Because we know in the photos, Colonel Warren, that there are people who are not M.P.s. We know that military intelligence analysts and maybe interrogators are present at abuse situations.
WARREN: That's correct, sir.
GRAHAM: Do I have your promise and pledge, all of you, that you're going to make sure that whatever information we get out of these courts-martial will answer that question?
ABIZAID: You do, sir.
GRAHAM: I will give everybody an A-plus past January. I think General Sanchez you reported this appropriately to General Myers. Did you call him on January the 14th?
SANCHEZ: Sir, I called General Abizaid.
GRAHAM: Who called General Myers?
ABIZAID: I did, sir.
GRAHAM: And you told him this was a big deal?
ABIZAID: I did, sir.
GRAHAM: And he had every assurance that you were investigating it. So from General Myers' point of view, he's running this war, it's fair to say that in January he thought you were on top of it and you were investigating the matter. Is that correct?
ABIZAID: That's correct, sir.
GRAHAM: So when we look at responsibility up the chain, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs was informed that it was being investigated early January.
ABIZAID: I'd say immediately, yes, sir.
GRAHAM: Please, if you can, explain how the abuse could have happened at this level, this long, with this much devastation to our country, and no one know about it before January and the photos given over by the specialist?
ABIZAID: Explain how the abuse was taking place between October and November and us not know about it?
GRAHAM: How did it happen so long and so deep and we not know?
ABIZAID: Well, I think there are failures in people doing their duty. There are failures in systems. And we should have known. And we should have uncovered it and taken action before it got to the point that it got to. I think there's no doubt about that.
I have asked myself the question, as I'm sure has everybody else in the chain of command, what could and should we have done differently?
ABIZAID: And I can think of some things that we've got to do. We've got to ensure that we've got transparency with the Red Cross, for example.
We've got to ensure that there are other methods, just like when we had this problem that we looked at during the movement phase of the war, where there were a lot of rapes and sexual assaults going on that were unreported. When we looked at our systems, what we have at Fort Bragg, North Carolina doesn't get replicated on the battlefield.
So, Senator, it's a lot of work we got to do and we got to fix this one so it doesn't happen again.
WARNER: Thank you very much, Senator.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thanks to the witnesses.
Obviously, I express my gratitude not only for your service, but my support for the cause that -- the mission we have sent you to Iraq to carry out. I think it is the test of a generation, and I appreciate you confidence as you go forward because it's going to have a lot to do with our future security. I makes why we're here all the more heartbreaking and infuriating because it distracts us from that mission.
But I absolutely agree with you: We got to go at this.
I mean, casualties occur in war. The tragedy here is that this prison abuse scandal is a self-inflicted wound. But like any wound, we got to clean it up, fix it up, and then try our best to make sure it doesn't happen again.
I want to express, first, my concern that on more than one occasion, at least two of you today -- you're honorable people, obviously -- under oath have taken specific objection to parts of General Taguba's report. And that report has received a lot of credibility and, obviously, I believe it was a report, General Sanchez, to you and -- should we think less of it because of the objections that -- General Miller's response to the question Senator Clinton asked said that something that he was reported to have done or seen just didn't happen.
LIEBERMAN: And you yourself have separated yourself from conclusions in the report on a few occasions.
Does it lead you to doubt the thoroughness of the report or lead you to feel, as the commander, that you ought to send somebody else out there?
SANCHEZ: No, sir, it does not. As we have stated here, there are some differences and there are some concerns with our doctrinal foundations in the conduct of military police and military intelligence operations. And I think that is what is reflected there. We've got to fix those over time.
LIEBERMAN: So the areas in which you disagree, and you've heard that General Miller has disagreed, with General Taguba's report, you're pursuing in different ways, then.
SANCHEZ: Sir, where I disagreed with the report was in my placing the 205th M.I. commander in charge of force protection and security of detainees. And I believe that was exactly the right decision to make, given the circumstances, the tactical circumstances and the war-fighting conditions that existed.
LIEBERMAN: So in that case, you're disagreement is on a matter of judgment really, not fact.
LIEBERMAN: Whereas General Miller, yours is a matter of fact.
MILLER: Yes, sir, mine is a matter of fact. The incident that Senator Clinton...
LIEBERMAN: Just didn't, by your testimony, happen.
MILLER: Yes, sir, that's correct.
LIEBERMAN: Let me go on to a next concern of mine. It follows up on Senator Graham's questions. And in some sense it goes back to -- let me preface this by saying and taking some notes myself.
General Abizaid, you said two things here today that I want to come back to. One is, to the best of your knowledge, there was no pattern of prisoner abuse in your command.
Second, that you expressed a belief that there were systemic problems that existed at Abu Ghraib that may have contributed to events there. And obviously we're all interested in trying to figure out when a reasonable person in a position of responsibility would have found that out.
The decision by the Pentagon to send General Miller -- down the chain of command but to send General Miller by your testimony to Iraq and then your decision, General Sanchez, to put Colonel Pappas involved, am I correct, General Sanchez, that you're saying that that decision was made because of your concern that conditions at Abu Ghraib were, as I think someone else used the word -- maybe you did yourself -- dysfunctional? Is that correct?
SANCHEZ: Sir, that is exactly right. And it was dysfunctional in terms of the ability to defend the forward operating base. That was the judgment that I expressed in the issuance of that fragment.
LIEBERMAN: Got it. But that's what I wanted to clarify.
But at that time, the dysfunction that you saw at Abu Ghraib did not include your knowledge of prisoner abuse. Is that right?
SANCHEZ: Sir, that is exactly right.
LIEBERMAN: And, General Miller, I take it from -- your understanding of the reasons why you were dispatched to Iraq last fall, did not include -- or did they? -- a concern about prisoner abuse?
MILLER: Sir, they did not concern -- were not focused on the concern about prisoner abuse. They were about the overall capability of CJTF-7 to develop actionable intelligence, to do intelligence fusion, to see how interrogations...
LIEBERMAN: Got it. So your stress on the humane treatment of the Geneva Convention was of your own initiative, not because anyone, as they dispatched you to Iraq, had said, "We think we have a problem with prisoner abuse"?
MILLER: Sir, that is absolutely correct.
LIEBERMAN: Let me now go to the chart that's received so much attention.
I got to say, again here, this was given -- you know, put before us by General Alexander, the general of the Army who's in charge of intelligence. So the fact that it comes from a lower ranking -- a company commander, Captain Woods, is surprising.
Now, maybe it was given to us in the context of this investigation because it's not all bad news for the Army. It does have a series of approved approaches for all detainees, on the left here, which certainly to me seems reasonable.
At the bottom, it lists safeguards, including "approaches must always be humane and lawful; Geneva Conventions apply."
The problem is this section here on the right which Captain Woods was notifying anyone who saw this chart that required General Sanchez's approval. Some of these seem reasonable. Some of them literally seem in violation of the Geneva Convention.
And I wanted to ask you, Colonel Warren, two questions. One is, how Captain Woods could have come up with these sections that he said required the commanding general's approval, if the commanding general had not approved this chart.
And secondly, do you agree with -- do you agree that the procedures listed on the right side, including environmental manipulation, sleep adjustment, sensory deprivation, are, in fact, violations of the Geneva Convention under all circumstances?
LIEBERMAN: Because I thought in your answer to Senator Reed earlier, you opened a door in which you were suggesting they might not be. And if so, I think it's very important for the committee to hear that.
WARREN: My answer is that they are not. And this is why this cannot be...
LIEBERMAN: That these are not violations of the Geneva Convention?
WARREN: These are not, in and of themselves, in isolation, violations of the Geneva Conventions. Specifically the fourth convention, when applied to security internees, in this case who are unlawful combatants, who under...
LIEBERMAN: Which covers a number of the people at Abu Ghraib, is that right?
WARREN: It does. It should cover those who in this circumstance would have been permissibly under active interrogation.
As was pointed out by Senator Graham, some of the people depicted in these photographs could not have been under interrogation at all. They were of no interest. They were actually criminal detainees who should not have been in that cell block in the first place.
But that is an aside, sir.
This is more complicated than a yes-or-no answer. Those things that were on the right, that were placed there by Captain Woods, as I said earlier, sir, were placed there in order to show the range of the universe, if you will, of things that were not authorized. They were representative...
LIEBERMAN: Where did he get the authority to not only put them down on the paper, but to say that they required the approval of General Sanchez? I mean, he's a captain.
WARREN: Actually it's a she.
But I think I can explain that, sir, because, again, I was present throughout, as this policy developed.
With the chairman's consent, if you'd just take a moment to just go over this.
WARNER: The witness will have adequate time to respond.
WARREN: Thank you, sir.
This goes back to General Miller's teams visit, where they looked at a broad range of interrogation and intelligence analytical operations. Their recommendation was that we should have an interrogation policy.
We, as a task force, did not have one. We were focused on the tactical level of interrogations. We were following predominantly the Army Field Manual approaches. And in addition we had other units, such as Alpha Company 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, which had served in Afghanistan, bring in their own policies that had been used in other theaters.
Additionally, we had what we call the common law of interrogation approaches. And that is approaches which were variations on the authorized approaches contained within the Army Field Manual by way of implementation. So the point that was made, to have a policy, I believe was a reasoned and correct recommendation.
And I was present at meetings in which...
LIEBERMAN: Reasoned and correct.
WARREN: Reasoned and correct, absolutely, sir.
WARREN: I believe we needed to have one as we moved our focus to the operational level, as we became more sophisticated and, frankly, as we wanted to stem the growth of this common law of interrogations so that we could regularize it, so that we could regulate it, and so that we should be able to provide proper oversight.
So we took a number of these standard operating procedures and policies. Among them were those in use in Guantanamo Bay. Others were, as I mentioned, those that were imported into theater.
We put together a team of folks who were military intelligence and legal officers. We looked at those policies, we reviewed them against the requirements that we believe were imposed by the fourth Geneva Convention. We discarded some of those procedures; an example: sensory deprivation.
We floated these through the command in a series of drafts.
To be sure, in some of these drafts, specifically one dated 10 September, you may very well find all of those on the right-hand side, including sensory depravation.
But during the course of the staffing and the deliberative process and the review -- and, sir, by no means is there a book that you can look up that runs through interrogation approaches and methods and has a check and a block that they comply or don't comply with the Geneva Conventions. This is a matter of judgment, a matter of rigor and a matter of oversight and interpretation.
We came up with the interrogation policy first dated 14 September. We then sent that to Central Command, as General Sanchez described.
During the course of the next 28 days, this deliberative and consultative process continued within the legal and the military intelligence community. It resulted ultimately in the 12 October policy.
The 12 October policy, as I described, requires compliance with the Geneva Convention. It draws a legal contrast between prisoners of war and between security internees interned for suspicion of hostile activity to the security of the state, and it requires the safeguards and the oversight mechanisms that I described.
WARREN: That policy contains only the field manual approaches, which applied to enemy prisoners of war who enjoy the highest and most preferred status on the battlefield, plus segregation in excess of 30 days.
When Captain Woods at some point -- we believe in October -- prepared that slide, what I believe that she did was to take all of the approaches that were floating around the command, if you will, in various drafts and within the policies, list them to ensure that interrogators understood that only those things on the left were authorized without permission.
LIEBERMAN: But, again, you would say that of the group on the right -- which has attracted the attention of the committee, the media and the public, that is OK with General Sanchez's approval -- that none of these are inherently or automatically in violation of the Geneva Convention?
WARREN: In my opinion, they are not, sir. And this is why one has to read not just Article 31 of the fourth convention, but also Pictet's commentary and various legal treatises and interpretations of coercion as applied to security internees.
And I'll make another point, sir, with regard to the environment in which we found ourselves. Remember that there were three Geneva Conventions initially in the 1929 iteration. After World War II the fourth convention, the civilians or occupation convention, was added.
The body of case law, if you will, concerning interpretation of specific articles within the fourth Geneva Convention is not very great at all. And in fact, as we worked through this, we did the best that we could do under the exigencies of the circumstances.
And I am very comfortable, frankly, sir, with that 12 October policy that remained our policy for a period of eight months.
And if I might add one other thing, sir, it's very important -- and this is a problem with a chart like this -- it's very important that you understand the definitions which are contained, for example, in the field manual and the policy of some of those measures.
A term I've learned in the past week in Washington, the optics are bad on that chart.
But if you read the actual definitions you'll find, for example, with regard to environmental manipulation, it sounds horrible. But the fact is that environmental manipulation can be as simple as, while at all times maintaining the minimum requirements of the Geneva Convention, that a person who cooperates in interrogations would get an air conditioned room. A person who is not cooperating gets the minimum non-air conditioned room.
And each of those approaches has to be laid out in writing in an interrogation plan. Each of those interrogation plans is reviewed at the brigade level.
For an exception to policy, it comes up for legal and senior intelligence review before going to the commanding general.
So the intent of the chart, frankly, was to regulate, not to impose unlawful measures.
LIEBERMAN: So though General Sanchez didn't see the chart before last week when General Alexander put it before us, it accurately reflects what you think is the appropriate policy for interrogation.
WARREN: Those on the left and the safeguards, absolutely.
Those on the right, again, are the range of the universe that are things that may very well in implementation not be authorized. In particular, given the intensity, the magnitude, the duration, the combination of measures, may very well, as Senator Reed suggested, violate the Geneva Conventions. You have to look at it on a case-by- case basis.
LIEBERMAN: And obviously you'd agree that a lot of what we've seen in pictures that occurred on the particular cell block in Abu Ghraib violated the Geneva Convention.
WARREN: No question about it, sir. They also violated U.S. law and that's why we're seeing courts-martial.
LIEBERMAN: And this chart.
WARREN: Absolutely, sir.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you very much.
WARNER: Thank you very much, Senator.
CORNYN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I guess we can conclude that not even the combatant commanders can go very far without their lawyer. Correct, General Abizaid?
ABIZAID: I'm going to hire Warren.
CORNYN: I don't think any of us should be surprised that what I've counted up to be at least six separate investigations occurring in a war zone might occasionally come up, at least in a preliminary fashion, with some conflicts or gaps in the investigation. But I want to make sure that we understand at a baseline where we are.
General Abizaid, isn't it true that in basic training our soldiers receive training on the Geneva Convention?
ABIZAID: Yes, sir, that's true.
CORNYN: And also prior to their deployment to the theater of operations, they receive retraining on the terms of the Geneva Convention?
ABIZAID: They are supposed to, yes, sir.
CORNYN: And I believe that you've made very clear that under no circumstances, whether or not -- no matter what the category of detainee may be, that at a basic minimum everyone in the custody of the United States military is entitled to be treated humanely. Is that correct, sir?
ABIZAID: That's correct, sir.
CORNYN: And I believe very strongly that in addition to the hearings we've had here which hopefully will, after they conclude, allow our military to get back and do what we've asked you to do in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that is defeat the enemy, that we've got to let our military justice process work.
But General Sanchez, you suspended the entire chain of command, not just privates and corporals on January 17th, or thereabouts. Is that correct, sir?
SANCHEZ: Yes, sir, that is correct.
CORNYN: So just to make clear, no one is pointing the finger at the lowest level of our military food chain and saying you're at fault and the commanding officers are being protected. Is that right?
SANCHEZ: Sir, that is correct.
CORNYN: General Miller, I had the pleasure of traveling to Guantanamo Bay like a number of the committee have and meeting you there and was enormously impressed with that operation. There had been some who during the course of these hearings who suggested that perhaps because of the various categories of detainees that we have in different locations, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or Guantanamo Bay, that perhaps there is some variation in terms of the acceptability of humane treatment.
But would you also confirm for us that at minimum, everyone, regardless of their status at Guantanamo Bay or anywhere else, to your knowledge, is entitled to be treated humanely?
MILLER: Yes, Senator, every enemy combatant who was at Guantanamo is detained in a humane manner.
CORNYN: And in your opinion, General Miller, is the military intelligence that you've been able to gain from those who have recruited, financed and carried out terrorist activities against the United States or our military, has that intelligence that you've gained saved American lives?
MILLER: Senator, absolutely.
CORNYN: And would you confirm for us, General Abizaid, that that's also true within the Central Command?
ABIZAID: Senator, I agree that that's true.
And I would also like to add that some of these people that we are dealing with are some of the most despicable characters you could ever imagine. They spend every waking moment trying to figure out how to deliver a weapon of mass destruction into the middle of our country. And we should not kid ourselves about what they are capable of doing to us, and we have to deal with them.
CORNYN: If we needed any other reminder of that, the death of Nicholas Berg, I believe reminded us again in a graphic fashion.
But I for one am not troubled by the fact that some person who's trying to kill Americans is deprived of a good night's sleep in order to elicit information consistent with the Geneva Convention and our laws and humanity -- information that might save American lives.
And I consider you all American heroes and congratulate you for the job you're doing.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
WARNER: Thank you very much, Senator.
PRYOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General Abizaid, according to the Washington Post on 05-08-04, starting in August of 2003, Ambassador Bremer had concerns about the treatment of detainees and pressed the military to, quote, "improve conditions, and later made the issue of regular talking points and discussions with Secretary Rumsfeld, Vice President Cheney, National Security Adviser Rice," end quote.
The same Washington Post article notes that in August 2003, Ambassador Bremer, quote, "after interceding in one detainee's case, urged the U.S. military in Iraq and top Bush administration officials to improve conditions and avoid potential fallout," end quote.
General Abizaid, is that story, that statement I just read, is that essentially true?
ABIZAID: Ambassador Bremer brought up to me on one of my many trips to Iraq on more than one occasion his concern about detainees.
PRYOR: So you were aware that Ambassador Bremer had concerns about the treatment of detainees.
PRYOR: And were you also aware that he raised this matter with a wide array of senior administration officials?
ABIZAID: I'm not aware of that, Senator, but as I understand the context of Ambassador Bremer's and my discussions, and also it's also the context of discussions that I had with many Iraqis as well who were also talking to me about the detainee issue, it had to do with moving into the prison system; being lost sight of because we didn't have a good tracking system; not being able to get information to families in a timely manner.
I mean, these were things that we were all concerned about. General Sanchez and I talked about them. And we certainly knew that the detainee system had to be such that we could identify people, track people through the system, and then release people in a timely fashion back to their families once we had determined that they served no intelligence purpose to us.
And until General Miller got there -- well, I shouldn't say that. I mean, we were struggling with this very early on. And I won't make any excuses for it, other than to say when you take a country in the shape that we took it, everything was broken and we were starting from zero.
PRYOR: But are you saying that Ambassador Bremer did not have concerns about human rights violations?
ABIZAID: I don't remember him -- I mean, how you want to describe human rights violations. To me, the issue was, as far as the Arabs were concerned and Ambassador Bremer was concerned, it is human rights. It's, you know, my husband disappeared into your prison system and now you guys can't find him. That's a human rights problem. And I agreed with him and Rick agreed with him, and we moved to fix it.
General Sanchez, let me ask you, were you aware that Ambassador Bremer had concerns about the prison system?
SANCHEZ: Sir, on many occasions, since the time I became the commanding general of CJTF-7, Ambassador Bremer and I had discussions about the detainee operations. We talked, as General Abizaid stated, about the identification, the in-processing, talked about the release procedures...
PRYOR: What about the treatment of the prisoners and detainees?
SANCHEZ: We also talked at some points about the quality of life of prisoners and the conditions that existed, especially during the summer and into the early fall.
PRYOR: Do you recall when he first brought those to your attention?
SANCHEZ: Sir, it was not a matter of him bringing it up to my attention. It was general discussions that we were having.
PRYOR: Do you remember when those general discussions started?
SANCHEZ: Sir, we started having those in the mid-summer time frame.
PRYOR: All right. Let me ask...
ABIZAID (?): Senator, if I could just add, there's another issue here which I just want to make clear to the committee. It has to do with what goes on at the point of capture. I mean, this is not police work that we're dealing with. It's not arrest. It's combat.
And there were an awful lot of people in Iraq at the Iraqi Governing Council level that thought our troops were being too harsh in the way that they took people into custody.
In my mind, having seen it personally on the battlefield, I thought -- and I still think -- it's some of the most professional work I've seen young troopers do anywhere. So we did have a different point of view in that regard.
PRYOR: Well, General Sanchez, let me follow up with you, if I may. When -- you mentioned you were having these general discussions about conditions and a variety of issues relating to the detainees.
When did you first start to report that up the chain of command and who did you report that to?
SANCHEZ: Sir, there were multiple occasions when General Abizaid and I had the discussions, especially as they related to actions at the point of attack.
PRYOR: Do you remember when that started? When did you start...
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