Military

 

10 March 2005

Church Investigation Says Policy Did Not Condone Detainee Abuse

Senate Armed Services Committee plans to hold follow-up hearing

Washington – Navy Vice Admiral Albert Church briefed members of Congress and the press March 10 on the findings of his 10-month investigation into techniques used to interrogate detainees in U.S. military custody from 2002 through September 2004 as part of the War on Terrorism, saying there was “no policy that condoned or authorized abuse or torture.

Church, who is the director of the Navy staff, led a team of investigators who conducted more than 800 interviews with military and civilian personnel and examined thousands of pages of documents to determine how interrogation techniques were developed, promulgated and then circulated through interrogation centers in Afghanistan; the U.S. Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Iraq.

Church described his investigation as “thorough and exhaustive.  He said he could not find “any discernable pattern of abuse that occurred in any particular geographic region or within any particular military service.

The admiral also said that every allegation of abuse has been or is being investigated.  Higher authorities did not sanction the alleged detainee abuse that was documented in photographs and videos flashed around the world in 2004, he said.  Some abuse actually occurred when some detainees were captured on the battlefield at a moment when soldiers’ emotions were running high, Church said.

Church began his work at the direction of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in May 2004.  The Church investigation is the tenth review, assessment or investigation into allegations of prisoner abuse and torture, and it drew upon data collected in some of the previous investigations such as the independent review panel led by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger that looked at Defense Department detention operations and issued its report in August 2004.

Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner said he will schedule a future hearing to deal with recommendations for corrective actions that need to be taken by elements of the military related to interrogation matters.  There is much work to be done, he said.

At a Pentagon briefing later, Matthew Waxman, deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, said the various reviews and investigations have generated more than 400 specific recommendations for improvements.  Many have already been implemented, he said, including the creation of his office, improvements in military doctrine and training, and more efficient handling of independent reports about detainee treatment submitted to the military by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The U.S. military is committed to the humane treatment of all detainees, Waxman said, even as the war on terrorism continues to be prosecuted aggressively.

Army Colonel Peter Champagne, deputy to the provost marshal general, told reporters at the Pentagon that all allegations of abuse are pursued.  He also said soldiers are undergoing training to emphasize values, ethics and leadership.  Additionally, he said the ratio of detainees to military guards has steadily decreased (from around 75-to-1 to the current 8-to-1).

Still, the requirement for valid, timely intelligence exists in theaters of operations such as Iraq and Afghanistan.  Tom Gandy, the senior human intelligence officer for the Army’s military intelligence staff, said improvements have been made for oversight of interrogations so that command leaders are more involved than they were before.  He also said that other government agencies must now adhere to Defense Department rules of interrogation while operating inside the department’s detention facilities.

Church, who has briefed Rumsfeld on his findings, also told committee members that military interrogators lacked sufficient guidance when dealing with other government agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency.

He said CIA officials did cooperate with his investigation, enabling him to determine that there were 30 detainees who were held without being logged into the military interrogation system.  Some of these individuals were held incommunicado for as long as 45 days, but he emphasized that such procedures have long since been discontinued.

Church defended his report against criticism saying he did capture some practices that were done incorrectly and that he laid out the facts as he found them taking the investigation exactly where it led.

Reports of abuse have dipped dramatically since last year.

The unclassified executive summary of the Church Report is available on the Internet in PDF format at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar2005/d20050310exe.pdf

For more information about past investigations into detainee treatment, see http://www.defenselink.mil/news/detainee_investigations.html

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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