Transcript: Senate Hearing on Iraq Prison Abuse
SANCHEZ: Sir, as I stated, immediately.
PRYOR: As soon as you were aware of it?
ABIZAID: Senator, let there be no doubt. We knew there were problems in the detainee system and we didn't think that there were a system of conditions existing out there such as we've seen in the photographs, but we knew that there were problems and we moved to get them under control as quickly as we could.
And when I say immediately, I took command in July and I would imagine that besides talking about operational matters, one of the first things that the two of us talked about was, you know, how we've got to get this under control.
PRYOR: And, General Abizaid, when you talked to your superiors, who did you talk to?
ABIZAID: Well, sir, I can't recall specifically mentioning the problem to the secretary or to the chairman, but on one of their visits, and during one of our phone calls -- we talk all the time, there's a free exchange of information -- that they would have known.
I mean, I don't think that Don Ryder coming over to look at the system was indicative of us trying to sweep the problem under the table. It was indicative of us trying to fix the problem.
PRYOR: Thank you.
WARNER: Thank you, Senator.
INHOFE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
One advantage of going close to the last is that you can cross things off your list. I've done a lot of crossing off.
INHOFE: Let me just share a concern. You know, during the last three hours there have been eight references to different newspaper accounts, some of them with the same newspaper several times.
Of the articles that were written, there are four of them that have been categorically denied by you, General Abizaid, or by you, General Sanchez, and I believe you in that.
It leads me to believe this is so press driven that it's -- this is out of control. But when you get your briefings every morning, I know you read the different articles in the paper that affect you, isn't that correct?
ABIZAID (?): Yes, sir.
INHOFE: And there are many times that you have denied and found that they are in error, and I'm sure you have either directly or indirectly called that to the attention of the newspaper, the publication that gave those articles. Is that correct? You've done it right here in this setting.
ABIZAID (?): Well, sir, there's a lot of things that are incorrect. I don't spend much time correcting them.
INHOFE: Well, I would hope you didn't.
But I guess I would ask this: Have you ever seen a retraction by any of these newspapers when something is proven to be wrong?
ABIZAID (?): No, sir.
INHOFE: All right. I haven't either.
I think Senator Collins was right when she talked about all of the good things that are happening that you just don't see in the media and not just the humanitarian things that we see when we go over to Iraq and go to Afghanistan and see what these great guys and gals are doing and how much they're loved by the people over there.
In the case of Afghanistan, General Abizaid, Oklahoma's 45th, they've taken on the responsibility of training the ANA to train themselves and they're doing a great job. When I was over there, I watched the expressions on the faces of the new commanders, Afghan commanders, teaching and training their troops. I mean, this is something that would be worthy certainly of publication. I dare say not anyone, very few people, not half of 1 percent of the people in America know all these good things that are going on.
Quite frankly, it just breaks my heart to see you guys over here.
I agree with what Senator Graham said, that we have to air this out and get it out in the public. But we've already had the secretary of defense, the undersecretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
And quite frankly, I'm sorry that you guys are here. I'd rather be handling this in some way where we can get your statement, get it in the record and have that done with, because you have an awesome responsibility.
General Sanchez, you're the -- as Task Force 7, that's all the Army, all the Navy, all the Air Force, all the Marines, all the coalition forces, all the allies. That's your responsibility in Iraq.
And, General Abizaid, you have that responsibility plus what's going on in Afghanistan.
And by the way, I think the Afghanistan success story should serve and will serve as a model for what we're trying to get done in Iraq.
So that's just one opinion. I know that you're anxious to get back to the battlefield and that's where your mind is today and that's where your heart is.
I want to say this, though. And I did talk to Senator Warner, to our chairman, when I found you were going to be here, and he assured us that you had other reasons to be here so perhaps that takes care of that.
I think some things are worth repeating. I think that until we see the Fay report, until we get the investigations, the results of the investigations, the results of the courts-martial, we're not going to have the answers.
INHOFE: This concept of undue command influence puts you in a very awkward position to say things, and I hope in your own minds you haven't said anything publicly that is going to interfere with the prosecutions that are going on.
Do you feel pretty comfortable that you've been able to do that?
SANCHEZ: Yes, sir, I do.
INHOFE: I look at what happened when things were discovered and I was amazed with how quickly things were done, how quickly you took care of the problems that were there.
The guards were removed, the commanders were relieved, criminal investigations started immediately, and that was long before the public even knew what was going on; long before the pictures came out, that was already happening.
Maybe the system's broke. But it's not broke to the extent that you didn't perform immediately when you found out what was going on.
I want to say one thing -- and this is just an opinion -- a lot of people have been critical that just some of the guards, the seven guards that have been referred to many times, that they're taking the heat for all of this.
I don't think there's an American out there once they see the videos and the pictures that we at this table have seen of the behavioral pattern of these guards would be at all critical of any kind of punishment that they would be subjected to.
Now, I'm not saying anything that hasn't already been in the paper. I was very careful after I saw those not to say anything, but others did. And they talked about the fact this could be -- it's like they're staging a porn film.
Well, this is something that no one would condone. You folks wouldn't, no one else would. So I just think that we need to talk about the good things that have been happening and get you back in the battle where you belong.
Let me just -- before I run out of time, General Sanchez, there have been several things that you've taken away in terms of interrogation and techniques. Do you think that that has harmed your ability to get the information that needs -- we need to have?
SANCHEZ: No, sir, it has not.
INHOFE: OK. Do you think that -- and I think that also Colonel Warren, I believe it was you who talked about, yes, in cell block A-1 or section A-1 and A-B, that those are the tough guys, those are the terrorists, those are the bad guys, but occasionally one gets in there who isn't.
INHOFE: I would suggest that probably the profile of that individual got him there, and when you realized that they didn't belong there, you took them out.
Is that -- or I should ask you that, General Miller, is that what you think might have happened?
MILLER: Sir, I wasn't there when they were using cell block 1-A and 1-B, but in discussions, that was the intent, early on, in September.
INHOFE: OK. Well, I knew that you weren't there at the time. In fact, I was down at Gitmo when you were there, and you just did great work down there.
My time has expired, but I'd like to have -- I'm glad that Senator Cornyn brought up something most significant, and that was, did any of the information that you have been able to get from these detainees prevent something bad from happening or saved American lives or saved coalition lives. And if so, are there any specific examples that you would like to share with us?
In other words, you were successfully interrogating some of these people in that particular section. Was some of the information that you got helpful in saving American lives or saving troops?
ABIZAID: Senator, I do not know the answer to that. I certainly do know that in many cases, good interrogation techniques used by very smart people have saved the lives of an awful lot of Americans and Iraqis.
INHOFE: Thank you very much.
MILLER: If I could just add to that, General Sanchez, as one of my new jobs as the deputy commander for detainee operations, asked me to look at the intelligence function. I'll tell you that half of the effort of the CJTF-7, now Multinational Forces-Iraq, is going down to develop actionable intelligence at the unit level that saves soldiers' lives every day.
The other 30 percent goes toward theater-level things that come down from the commanders' decision or in taskings from other organizations.
The other 20 percent, we just keep as a standby. It's used every day because of high profile.
And so that system, that organization, works every day and every night to try to be able to provide actionable intelligence.
INHOFE: Thank you, General Miller.
I hope the media is paying attention today after you gave -- I know my time is up, but Colonel Warren wanted to say something about Article 32 earlier on.
WARNER: Please, Colonel Warren?
INHOFE: Is there anything you'd like to say about Article 32? I think you were...
WARREN: Well, sir, Article 32 of the fourth convention is the one that prohibits torture and the conduct of medical experimentation and so forth. Those are grave breaches under the law of war and, of course, obviously prohibited under our policies, under our values, our standards, our training, and our interrogation policy.
WARNER: Thank you, Senator Inhofe.
SANCHEZ: Mr. Chairman, may I add something?
WARNER: Yes, General Sanchez?
SANCHEZ: As a result of the two visits from General Miller and then from General Ryder, the system that we put into place for intel fusion within CJTF-7 matured significantly, because of the experience and the lessons and the integration of those lessons into the command under General Fast.
There is absolutely no question in my mind that because of those two efforts significant amounts of American's lives have been saved, because of the turn, in terms of from the time we find the information, develop the information, and get it to the tactical level for action.
Absolutely the right thing for us to have done. And I would do it again.
INHOFE: Thank you for that answer.
WARNER: Thank you very much.
General Sanchez, in my most recent visit, I met with General Fast. Would you kindly explain exactly the position that she occupied?
SANCHEZ: Yes, sir, Brigadier General Fast has been my director for intelligence of the CJTF-7.
WARNER: Thank you very much.
BAYH: Gentlemen, thank you for your service to our country under most difficult circumstances. And I could only hope that your treatment at our hands today has been humane. I sometimes feel empathy for those of you who are on the receiving end of these hearings.
General Abizaid, who is responsible for the staffing levels at the prison; for the number of M.P.s and prison guards?
ABIZAID: The responsibility for staffing -- I would say the responsibility for a unit coming with the right number of people belongs to the United States Army. The responsibility if we have shortages, then devolves upon CJTF-7 to tell me so I can tell the Army to fix it.
BAYH: The reason I ask is I understand Army doctrine calls for one M.P. brigade for about 4,000 prisoners. And here we had one battalion for what ultimately reached about 7,000 or slightly more prisoners, or about five times the number of detainees per guard or M.P. that the Army doctrine would call for.
I'd like your opinion, and there have been some reports to this effect: Did this substantial overcrowding -- not excuse the behavior, of course -- but did it contribute to an atmosphere which might have given rise in at least part of this abhorrent behavior?
ABIZAID: Well, it contributed to systemic failures at the prison. I think that's clear.
BAYH: And it gets to my second and somewhat broader concern now that I've had a chance to reflect upon this whole set of circumstances, which is -- and I'd like your opinion with the benefit of hindsight and going forward about whether we have adequate troop strength in Iraq to accomplish our mission.
I've been concerned from day one -- and I know Senator McCain and some others have had this concern -- that we didn't have adequate strength in the beginning to prevent some of this rampant looting that took place. We didn't have adequate troop strength to prevent some of the sabotage or vital infrastructure that took place. We didn't have adequate troop strength to immediately clamp down on the insurrection which has now gathered a momentum all of its own.
And I wonder if, just in a microcosm, this is, you know, just another manifestation of our, sort of, continual underestimation of the task that we've taken on here.
BAYH: And, you know, I guess in a situation like this where we're deposing a regime, we're trying to reconstitute a country with no history of democracy, it seems to me we should err on the side of having more strength than necessary rather than too little.
Both looking back and looking forward, have we had adequate troop strength and do we have adequate troop strength to accomplish our mission with this critical June 30th handover fast approaching?
ABIZAID: Have we had adequate troop strength? Certainly in February I would have told you absolutely. I mean, things were where we thought they would be.
And did we anticipate that there would be additional violence as we moved toward a political process? We did.
And that's the reason I asked for the troops from the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment to remain there, although we did not specify them particularly.
I would like to point out that one of the hugely good news stories that has been lost in this period of the Abu Ghraib scandal is the incredible work and bravery and selflessness and military capability of those two units in moving from positions in contact in Baghdad down into the south and fighting a very tough fight. As well as have been the Marines.
But to answer your question directly, and forgive me for diverting, Senator McCain and I have had this opportunity many times to discuss it and I appreciate his opinion.
And there are certain types of troops that we don't have enough of and we still don't have enough of them and we got to figure out how to get them. And they're M.P.s. And they're M.I. guys. And they're HUMINT guys. And they're civil affairs people.
And we must build a force structure that allows us to be able to fight a war like this in the 21st century -- and they're not in the force structure.
Now, we have M.P.s on the scene -- that the Army has done a very good job in training -- that don't happen to be M.P.s. And then we have Air Force truck units.
I mean, we are doing things with our force structure that, in my view, we need to sit back from a service provider point of view and say, "OK, what do we really need?"
Now, in terms of, are there enough tanks, are there enough Bradleys, are there enough combat troops, Marines, et cetera? I'm pretty comfortable with that.
ABIZAID: It's the enablers I'm not comfortable with. And I'll end it up by saying I'm also not comfortable that there are enough international troops on the battlefield because the effort needs to be not just American but it needs to be international.
Now, these are things that I've said I believe to the committee on numerous occasions and it's not new.
But did I miscalculate the number of troops? Maybe. Maybe I miscalculated but I think we've adjusted and we'll continue to adjust based on what the enemy does because the enemy has a vote.
BAYH: The civilian leadership always places this at your doorstep, saying that they're endeavoring to get you everything you need. And I certainly appreciate that. But Undersecretary Wolfowitz began to touch on this, I think, yesterday in some of his testimony up here in different capacity, which is this is not only a military undertaking. This is a political undertaking.
And I'm just wondering if, you know, those who felt that we were going to be greeted as liberating heroes, so to speak, perhaps didn't underestimate the magnitude of the societal transformation we have taken on. It goes way beyond the military purview. And I'm just wondering if, given the magnitude of that task, we have been understaffed. And this is just another manifestation of that.
ABIZAID: Well, Senator, I can't comment for the political side of the house. But I can comment in saying that while we can't be defeated militarily, we're not going to win this thing militarily alone. We have to get everything together: economics, politics, intelligence, you name it -- information.
It's all got to come together in a synchronized fashion that allows us to do this very, very important task. And it's really one of the hardest things that this nation has ever undertaken in this part of the world or anywhere else.
BAYH: My last point, gentlemen, is several of you have indicated in response to recent questioning that lives have been saved, attacks have been prevented with access to timely and accurate intelligence.
I think, General Miller, you've indicated that approximately 600 of these detainees are some of the worst of the worst and that if released upon Iraqi society, they would not only imperil our forces but innocent Iraqis.
BAYH: Colonel Warren, I think you've indicated that the Geneva Convention would allow somewhat more rigorous interrogations of some of those kind of folks, but with the exception of a few requests for solitary confinement, we, kind of, haven't gone there. Is that all correct?
Stress positions were requested, but that wasn't permitted.
Where I'm going with all this is that, you know, this is so important that we strike the right balance here.
On the one hand, timely intelligence saves lives. Innocent Iraqi lives, the lives of our troops.
On the other hand, there's a dividing line beyond which our moral integrity, our honor is vitally important if we're going to win this war against terrorism because we do stand for something better.
And so what's been brought before this committee with these pictures, which obviously go to the latter, who we are and what we stand for, let's not lose sight of the former either.
The pictures that stick in my mind, also, Mr. Chairman, are the pictures of the young men out there at Walter Reed, some of them missing arms, some of them missing legs, fractured lives in the full flower of their youth, the pictures that came out of those flag-draped caskets. Those pictures are important too.
So there's no excuse for the behavior, none, that gave rise to the pictures of this abuse at this prison. We have to root it out, and some of these individuals are on trial.
But at the same time, let's not repeat some of the mistakes that we made in the area of covert intelligence, where the director of the CIA now tells us it's going to take five years to reconstitute our covert capabilities and adequately protect this country.
So a balance is in order here. And I just hope that we are empowering you to strike that balance in ways that protect our brave men and women on the one hand and preserve our honor on the other.
WARNER: Thank you very much, Senator.
Any desire for any witness to speak?
If not, Senator Dole?
DOLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Gentlemen, I certainly want to join my colleagues in thanking you for your tremendous leadership, your outstanding service to our country. And, like Senator Cornyn, I regard you as heroes sitting in front of me today. And I thank you for your time with us.
And since all of you have been very forthcoming in the past three hours of questions, I'd like to take this opportunity to ask some questions with regard to your overall Iraqi operations -- to go beyond.
DOLE: First of all, though, General Miller, let me ask you, would you clarify who will be in charge of running the Iraqi prison system after June 30th?
MILLER: Senator, that's still in dialogue and discussion between the Coalition Provisional Authority and the interim governing council and now the soon to be interim Iraqi government. Those transitions are working.
I'll tell you that, as far as Multinational Force-Iraq, we will -- our plan is to continue to run our theater level, our Multinational Force-Iraq three detention facilities and other detention facilities that allow us to ensure we can implement a safe and secure environment.
But as we work toward transition, every day I meet with my Iraqi counterparts to see how we can more successfully move to integrate this operation.
DOLE: Thank you.
Now, in an intercepted letter written by Al Qaida operative Zarqawi, we were given insight to a terrorist message that was very significant and compelling.
In noting concern that he may lose a foothold in Iraq, he wrote, and I quote, "With the spread of the army and the police, our future is becoming frightening."
He went on to detail the very environment of chaos his network requires to succeed: attacks on Iraqi security forces, the targeting of Kurds, the Shia populations and the killing of Americans; the very environment evolving in Iraq that he feared the coalition forces would suffocate.
General Abizaid, several reports have claimed that Zarqawi is in Baghdad. If he actually got into Baghdad past coalition forces, can we assume that he has the mobility to move to other regions in Iraq?
ABIZAID: Senator Dole, I would assume that Zarqawi has the ability to move around the nation, unfortunately. The nature of the insurgency is one that you can't stop one person from moving where you would like him to move, even as visible as they may be.
He can move around. He can strike at will. And we have reason to believe that he was in Jordan recently and had his hands in the plot that would have killed thousands and thousands of Jordanians that was foiled by the king's special forces and intelligence forces.
So there is a great battle going on in the region. It not only extends to Iraq, but it's in Saudi Arabia.
It should come as no surprise to the committee that these people are also attacking foreigners in places like Saudi Arabia.
There is a strategy at work here that we should not lose sight over. And it's happening in Afghanistan and it's happening in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and elsewhere in the region. And it's also happening in places like Madrid.
DOLE: Can you confirm that Zarqawi beheaded Nicholas Berg?
ABIZAID: I don't know that I can confirm that it was him. I know that there are various reports of people saying it's his voice. I know he has claimed it. But certainly it wouldn't be past him.
DOLE: General Kimmitt said that the killing of Salim had the classic hallmarks of Zarqawi. Do you have any further information to share with us on that?
ABIZAID: No, Senator. I wouldn't want to give Zarqawi any stature he doesn't deserve. He's a murderer, he's a torturer and that's the status he deserves.
DOLE: Do you have any indication that Al Qaida is coordinating with al-Sadr's resistance?
ABIZAID: That's a very good question, but I think the answer is no. But in that part of the world you never know.
DOLE: Saddam Hussein's government was believed to have produced several hundred tons of sarin as well as stockpiles of mustard gas. Now the presence of both sarin and mustard gas has been reported in Baghdad.
Do our men and women in-theater have the equipment, the devices that they need, in order to protect themselves from exposure to such agents as these? General Sanchez?
SANCHEZ: Yes, ma'am. The answer is yes, we do. We deploy with all of our chemical and nuclear, biological capabilities, and those are present.
DOLE: General Abizaid, defense contractors and private business representatives, of course, are critical to reconstruction efforts and rebuilding in Iraq.
Terrorists seem to have shifted their focus. They're targeting the unarmed civilians. A corporation from my home state of North Carolina, Black Water, of course, has four contractors who were shot, burned, hung from a bridge. Nick Berg's murder.
What are you doing to provide increased security for these unarmed civilians?
ABIZAID: Well, I think it's best left for General Sanchez to talk the details, but it's clear that the enemy has discovered a vulnerability in the contracting system.
ABIZAID: It's also clear that we have got to work with them to protect them not only in coordinating with Iraqi security services, but with our own.
For example, we should not have convoys moving around areas that we know to be very violent without some sort of coordination with the military, and that's happened before and that's gotten people into trouble before
DOLE: General Sanchez, do you want to answer that, as well?
SANCHEZ: Yes, ma'am.
We are working with the CPA reconstruction effort. We work with all the contractors in the country. We have the mechanisms to provide escort for convoys as they move across the country. And there have been instances where contractors have moved without coordination with the local commanders and without escort, and they've gotten themselves in trouble.
But we do have the mechanisms and we're continuing to work that way.
WARNER: Thank you.
ABIZAID: By the way, Senator Dole, if I may, I'd just like to add by saying we sometimes forget that a lot of these contractors that are out there are heroes to.
ABIZAID: I mean, they're out there in a very dangerous area. A lot of them are in -- I would say, the vast majority of them are doing it because they love their country.
And so we shouldn't fail to praise them. There are time when we're not happy with the way a contract works, et cetera. But these young Americans and older Americans that are out there doing this are by and large great people who love the country and doing God's work.
DOLE: Thank you for adding that statement. I couldn't agree with you more.
My time has expired.
WARNER: And I'd like to also say I thank you very much for the recognition that's well-deserved by that infrastructure that supports our forces.
We have two remaining senators, then the committee will stand in recess for just a few minutes. And we will resume in 219, which is in this building.
Senator Bill Nelson?
BILL NELSON: General Miller, I think you cleaned up the situation at Guantanamo. I think you did a good job. And, of course, we're trying to sort out other things, but I just want that for the record, from my observations, having been there twice.
General Abizaid, yesterday we had Lieutenant General Sharp in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and there was a little bit of clarity, perhaps you can help clarify here for us. Specifically picking up on your statement earlier in your testimony that what we're facing -- you used the words "It's a hard thing. It will take a long time."
And so one of the responsibilities that we have is looking at a force structure. We keep getting different statements that are interpreted different ways.
So one of the things that I would like to ask you is that part of -- do you consider it part of the mission in Iraq to disarm the militias, such as the Mahdi Army of al-Sadr?
ABIZAID: I regard al-Sadr's militia right now as being a hostile forces. And it is our mission to disarm them or destroy them in battle.
BILL NELSON: And I would think that would be the common-sense thing. If I were the commander, that would be part of my mission.
ABIZAID: But, Senator, if I might add, it's also clear that, as we move toward a period of partnership in Iraq, which is so essential for us to move to, that those militia forces or armed groups that may belong to people loyal to the new Iraq that are willing to move forward in a manner of reconciliation and work toward a better future, we need to work with them to integrate them into the system.
So it's not that we will go out and destroy all militias. Certainly not. It's that we will fight those that are working against us and will work to help integrate those that have worked with us, such as we find in the Kurdish areas and to a certain extent in some of the Shia areas with the Badr Corps.
BILL NELSON: And it would be nice if we had an Iraqi army that was ready to do a lot of that. It would be nice if we had a police force that would be able to help us. But at the moment we don't. So I'm asking you about your mission now.
Does your mission in Iraq include providing security on the streets against crime, functions normally performed by a police force?
ABIZAID: Our mission, in some areas where the police force is not working, unfortunately causes troops to have to do police work. That is correct.
It is also correct to say, Senator, that we have probably overstated how bad things are with the Iraqi security forces; that the Iraqi security forces in certain areas of the country are exceptional and they're doing very well.
ABIZAID: In the north we see it. In some places in the south, there are many police forces that are doing well by Iraqi standards and will continue to do well.
So we had a failure during the April time frame, as you're well aware, of some units of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, of some units of the army and of some units of the police. But on the other hand, Senator, I believe this is more to do with our willingness to give them authority than it has to do with their willingness to fight for their country.
They want to fight for their country but they want to fight for Iraqis. And so as we move toward this period of sovereignty, and Iraqi chains of command are established that are reliable, I believe that the quality of Iraqi forces will move in a direction that will surprise a lot of people. I have faith in them.
BILL NELSON: Well, I certainly hope so. And I visited one of those police academies in Jordan where you're training them. But, you know, it's a long time and there's only X number of thousand that you can prepare. And we'll find out in the future.
So the fact that we are having to disarm militias and also having to provide some protection against street crime right now, the question is, is the 105,000 level, augmented by keeping the additional 20,000 so that you're somewhere in the range of 125,000, 130,000 troops -- is that sufficient for you to carry out your mission over the course -- not only before June 30th but over the rest of the year after June 30th?
ABIZAID: I think the force -- again, I don't like to waffle in my answers and this will sound like a waffle to you. But it depends on a couple of different things.
It depends on the enemy, although I would predict -- and I think Rick will agree with me -- that the situation will become more violent even after sovereignty because it will remain unclear what's going to happen between the interim government and elections.
So moving through the election period will be violent. And it could very well be more violent than we're seeing today.
ABIZAID: So it's possible that we might need more forces.
But I would, again, say that perhaps with a resolution in the United Nations that instead of forces withdrawing from Iraq, that they come to Iraq because international nations need to understand how important Iraq's stability is for their future, as well as the entire region's future.
So getting more international forces, getting a higher quality of Iraqi force, will help figure out where we stand. But I think the numbers about where we are now for the foreseeable future, unless something changes, either international force-wise or in the quality of Iraqi troops, is what we can expect through the elections.
BILL NELSON: What did you mean by a long time?
ABIZAID: Well, we know the elections will take place in December or January, so am I saying that the 1st -- don't get me in any more trouble with the 1st Armored Division and the 2nd Armored Cav. We will rotate them out of there. But the force levels will stay about what they are I think until after the elections.
WARNER: Thank you, Senator.
ABIZAID: Or until we come to a point where we see that we're going to have a soft landing.
WARNER: Thank you very much, Senator.
AKAKA: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I want to add my gratitude to you and praise and commendation to your leadership as well as to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I, too, have visited Iraq and Afghanistan, and the kind of message I got while I was there was good. And our troops seem to have been working well at that time.
And I've been very concerned about one part of the personnel that's there. We have talked about international and coalition forces. We've talked about M.P.s, M.I.s. One group -- the contractors -- this has been mentioned here. And it seems as though -- and I seem to sense that -- and I'd like to get an answer from you on this -- that the contractors seem to be outside of the line of command. That's my feeling. And as a result, some things they do are not known by us.
General Abizaid, it is my understanding that the civilian contractors who are interrogators -- there were many different kinds -- interrogators work directly with military intelligence personnel. My question is who supervises the civilian interrogators and do they report to any agencies other than DOD?
Another question is is anyone in DOD accountable for the behavior of the civilian contractors?
MILLER: Sir, if I could add, I'd like to take this.
AKAKA: General Miller? Thank you.
MILLER: The civilian contractors who work in our intelligence organizations are accountable to the chain of command of the intelligence organization. So if you're an interrogator, you're accountable to the chain of command of the interrogation company or the battalion or the brigade that goes in here.
And so there are also people who do screening. By the screening, I mean when you come in to -- you're captured, they do the initial debriefing to be able to develop intelligence. And we have a small number who are in our intelligence fusion centers.
They all work for the military and through here.
In our organization, currently, no civilian contractor is in a supervisory position. It's the military who has the priority -- who sets the priorities and ensures that we meet our standards.
AKAKA: What other types of personnel do you have there as contractors, besides interrogators who are contractors?
MILLER: Sir, in the intelligence area, there are the screeners, those who get initial information -- and that's not an interrogation -- and those who are involved in intelligence fusion: developing processed intelligence from raw intelligence and feeding our computer systems. Those are the contractors that we have in the intelligence system.
ABIZAID: You'll also find interpreters, Senator.
AKAKA: Thank you.
Then my question on that is: Are there any contractors who are from Third World nations?
MILLER: I'm sure there are, yes. I've talked to some.
ABIZAID: Our translators are -- some of them are from Third World nations. They're doing an excellent job for us.
AKAKA: Can you name some of the nations?
ABIZAID: Sir, I'm sorry, I cannot.
AKAKA: Yes, and my concern has been -- and thank you for answering it -- that they are within the line and chain of command so that we know what they're doing and they're answerable to someone in DOD.
ABIZAID: For the record, we will get the nations that those interpreters are from.
AKAKA: Thank you very much.
General Miller, you've had quite a bit of publicity, and so let me ask you this, out of my curiosity. Did you tell General Karpinski that you were going to Gitmo-ize Abu Ghraib? And my question is: What did you mean by this statement?
MILLER: Senator, I did not tell General Karpinski I was going to Gitmo-ize Abu Ghraib. I don't believe I've ever used that term -- ever.
When General Karpinski and I were having our dialogues, they were about humane detention, how the detention centers would be run, requirements for the military police and the leadership to be present to ensure that humane detention is done.
As we've talked about before, there's an enormously high leader- impact, high leader-test requirement.
AKAKA: And my concern there: Do you think it is possible that any of your recommendations could have been misconstrued by the civilian contractors?
MILLER: Senator, I do not believe that any of those recommendations were misconstrued. At that time there were no civilian contractors employed in the organizations, but they were on their way to be coming.
But, once again, that would be speculation on my part, because I was not there during the hiring and how the civilian contractors come.
AKAKA: General Abizaid, you discussed the need to modify Army doctrine about Abu Ghraib, and you cited instances of abuse in Afghanistan and Iraq. Is the problem of detainee abuse systemic within CENTCOM?
ABIZAID: No, sir, I do not believe it's systemic. There have been instances of abuse in Afghanistan and other prisons, as you know, and in Iraq as well.
I believe my comments concerning doctrine have to do more with how we fuse intelligence, how we distribute intelligence, how we work in a synchronized manner to achieve results that will help our young soldiers on the battlefield, and Marines.
AKAKA: Thank you very much.
WARNER: Thank you very much, Senator Akaka.
We've had an excellent hearing, very thorough exchange of views and responses. We thank you. We will now reassemble in the Intelligence Committee, 219.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman, just very briefly. I appreciate the opportunity, and I think I'll -- if we're going to go into closed, I'll withhold my question, so just a very brief statement, though.
I do want to associate myself with some of the concerns that Senator Inhofe raised. Since there is so much that you don't know whether you know it or not, and I do know one of the worst things that could happen out of this is if we ended up in a situation where some of these people got off, you know, the people that we ultimately determine are responsible because of something that was said at one of these hearings.
In addition, the fact that I think there's something to be said for waiting until you all can present the comprehensive results of your investigations.
I do want to just, for the record, Mr. Chairman, respectfully suggest to you and the ranking member that we consider whether it would be good to have the Fay report in hand before we do the next hearing.
I know you are talking constantly with the ranking member about timing and what we ought to do. And I think these hearings have been very good. But it almost comports with the Senate schedule anyway, given that a recess is coming up.
Other than that, Mr. Chairman, I'll withhold until the...
WARNER: Senator, in my discussions with the Department of Defense -- which has, I might say, been very cooperative -- they have indicated that this committee will be the first to receive the Fay report when it is available.
(UNKNOWN): Yes, if it looks like they're stonewalling on it, it's a different thing.
(UNKNOWN): But if you think in a couple of weeks, then that's the report I think...
WARNER: The Department will determine the timing of the release of that report.
(UNKNOWN): All right. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
WARNER: Again, I thank you very much.
We'll now go to 219 for a closed session.
And I thank the committee.
I take note that we have had a 100 percent attendance here today. I think that speaks to the seriousness and the solemnity with which this committee regards this very serious issues.
LEVIN: Mr. Chairman, I just would want to clarify one -- not by asking a question though, by just thanking our witnesses joining you, but also indicating that I have some additional questions that are unclassified that we don't have time to ask...
LEVIN: ... but which I will be submitted to our witnesses. And I think if the chairman would set a deadline for those so our witnesses won't have to be troubled by questions coming in for a long period of time, for instance, questions within the next 24 hours or 48 hours, would be very helpful. But I do want to respect your...
WARNER: Absolutely. Thank you.
LEVIN: Would that be all right?
WARNER: That would be fine. Let's just establish midday Friday.
LEVIN: That would be fine. Noon Friday?
WARNER: Noon Friday.
Thank you very much.
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