UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Image of Pentagon oval   United States Department of Defense.
News Transcript

Presenter: Lawrence Di Rita and Senior Defense Official
Thursday, May 20, 2004

DoD Background Briefing

DI RITA: Thanks a lot for coming over. There was a couple of things I wanted to update you. There's been some continuing interest in some activities involving the Judge Advocate General's department, so I thought we'd give a little bit of a sense of that, too. Who we've got with us today. I'll be on the record. The other two officials here will be on background.

But the first thing I want to do is just give you a general update on where we stand - where we think we stand across the board. The secretary, I think, as most people saw, was up on the Hill today. He went to the Senate. He had General Abizaid with him, General Sanchez, General Miller. I'm not sure who else he may have had with him.

He gave a general update on the ongoing activities in the CENTCOM AOR. General Abizaid gave a sort of brief on where he thinks we are throughout his AOR. The secretary gave a general discussion about where he believes we stand with respect to the various activities associated with the prison detainee situation. He's obviously been up and testified. There have been two or three other hearings. And as we saw this week, General Sanchez and General Abizaid and General Miller and Colonel Warren testified yesterday and put a fair amount of structure into what had, you know, therefore been a lot of other people's versions of what had happened and then they were, I think, pretty helpful in explaining the things that they were involved in directly.

You know, where we are now is that there are these ongoing additional investigations. There's the General Fay investigation which was alluded to during the hearing yesterday. That's proceeding. And General Fay is looking at the military intelligence aspects of what happened at that prison and what is happening, more generally, in interrogation procedures. Lieutenant General Mikolashek, the Army Inspector General is off doing his assessment of the detainee operations theater-wide. He's been throughout the theater. He's drawn some preliminary - I wouldn't say conclusions, but findings and he's pulling that together and he'll be making his report within the coming period ahead.

We're trying our best to better understand the ICRC and the various points at which they've been involved in these activities, both in Guantanamo and in Iraq and Afghanistan. And there's an enormous amount of information that we're trying to just sift through and better understand. There's the question of other - and this is more of a question than anybody's uncertainty, but there is a question as to are there anybody else with detainees that has detainee management functions that we haven't considered and haven't got somebody looking at and understanding what procedures are being followed, etcetera. Other battlefield of detainee - you know, units that might be holding on to detainees for battlefield interrogations. So the secretary has asked that people go off and consider those possibilities, that there are other detainee groups that are not included in these other activities we've described. So I think what we're trying the best to do is get everybody's clear understanding of the range of possible information that could be coming forward. And the secretary's concluded there will be more information coming forward. It's almost certain that they'll be more surprises, because we're going to be turning over every rock that we can conceivably go out and turn over. And that's the range of activities that the secretary, I think, gave the members a sense of this afternoon.

There's one in which I think it's useful to spend a little bit more time and that's this issue of what processes were established early on to develop what had by now become the standard operating procedures in Guantanamo, that General Miller has talked about in some length. And to just set the scene for everybody to remind everybody, this work to structure and develop a process was begun when detainees started to arrive in Guantanamo and we were picking up people off the battlefield in Afghanistan, whether they were Taliban or whether they were al Qaeda or suspected of being one or the other. And we've been quite clear that the president had determined that the conflict with al Qaeda was not subject to the Geneva Conventions and that the conflict with the Taliban, while it was subject to the Geneva Conventions, people picked up as Taliban would be considered unlawful enemy combatants because we've had a character of how they fought. So we had people that were in Guantanamo, we had people who were almost certainly known al Qaeda and who were known al Qaeda, people who were believed to have knowledge of either potentially pending terrorists activities, potentially in the United States and people who were believed to have knowledge of the 9/11 terrorist attack. So this was the character of the people who were in Guantanamo, not prisoners of war, but unlawful enemy combatants and known al Qaeda terrorists. And it was important to develop procedures by which these people could be interrogated and it was on that basis that what ultimately became the procedures that General Miller has now talked to at some length, were developed and it was a process established to develop those procedures.

And what I'd like to do now is just turn it over to our two experts who were involved in that process and let them kind of describe a little bit and then we'll take some questions.

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: Sure. I think you've laid it out very well. And yet, late in December of 2002, there was some - as Larry pointed out, there was some specific individuals that the commander at Guantanamo identified as potentially having not just information from the 9/11 attacks, but also perhaps things that might be happening in the future. And there's some substantial purpose in trying to figure out an appropriate way to try to get that information. So that was one of the principal forces at work to see if there were any techniques or procedures that were appropriate beyond doctrine. And so as that played out, naturally and understandably, particularly in this department, we're quite fearful and reticent to change from any of the doctrine. So there was a lot of discussions back and forth within the Pentagon about how to deal with that within the combatant commands.

As that anxiety became more apparent in the context of one individual, the secretary asked me to ask the general counsel to pull together a group of stakeholders - all the appropriate stakeholders, not just lawyers -- but to fully examine the legal, the policy, the national security and intelligence issues and related things. So in the middle of January, the secretary.

SR. OFFICIAL: This was in '03.

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: . of January '03. The secretary asked for the general counsel to pull that together. And now the general counsel at that time established a working group that had representatives from all of those areas. And by that, I mean, military and civilian lawyers, intelligence officials, including the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Joint Staff representing the combatant commanders, policy.

[To Senior Official]: Can you think of any others? Any other areas?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: There was some Justice Department participation on the legal side of it. And it was a process that was - a long process. It began in the middle of January and it didn't conclude until the middle of April when the secretary, having considered all the input, issued some instructions to the combatant commander. But in the course of that, there was naturally a lot of give and take from all parties and they came from all directions, as one might imagine, from that discussion. And [name deleted per the groundrule], you had [Inaudible] something you'd like to?

SR. OFFICIAL: See, I would just to help put it in context, I would say that for lawful combatants, we have well-established procedures of how to handle enemy prisoners of war. We've properly trained people. They understand what the rules are. Everyone's comfortable with the process and we know that the Geneva Convention is fully applying and so forth.

By the fall of 2002, some questions were being raised about what our limits on interrogation techniques that can be followed and so forth. And the folks down at Guantanamo Bay wanted as clear guidance as could be provided them. Then as has been discussed, ultimately a working group was appointed to carefully look into what we need to get and how to get it and how to conform that with the requirements of the law.

At some point in the process, the uniformed attorneys -- the JAGs - wanted to make sure that our objections were being considered. So we had raised them verbally. We've raised them at the action officer level. Ultimately, some memos were, in fact, signed laying out some considerations that we believe were very important in the process. By the time the final draft of the working group was completed, those considerations had all been carefully evaluated. Speaking for me personally, but also having spoken to all of the senior uniformed attorneys, I can say the final report did not raise any legal objections. We were comfortable, from a legal standpoint, with the direction that was provided.

Again, as has been mentioned, this document was directed for unlawful combatants and Guantanamo Bay. And.

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: Specifically limited for that purpose.

SR. OFFICIAL: Right. And we needed to give guidance in that because that was the exception and the exceptional circumstances. So that's why we had met and that was why we gave the guidance that was then provided.

Q: When you use the term "objections," do you mean - what did you object to or the [Inaudible] that they might not be treated as prisoners of war or not being treated as prisoners of war, that they might go too far and get information? What were the objections?

SR. OFFICIAL: All of that was considered. Specifically, objections were made to some of the interrogation techniques that were being considered that might have been different than what our people had been trained to do under the Geneva Conventions. We realize this was a different situation. We needed to stake out proper guidance for the people who would be conducting interrogations and also for the people who would be acting in the law enforcement [Inaudible] of maintaining the detainees [Inaudible].

Q: [Inaudible] And after you got through all of the - in the first place, when they were first proposed in the fall of '03, those objections started to.

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: The fall of '02.

Q: Oh, I'm sorry - the fall of '02, were the techniques used then?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: I believe that there were some techniques that eventually were approved were used in the initial phase which began and then stopped.

Q: In the fall of '02?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: The fall of '02, yes.

[Cross Talk]

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: You know, late fall of '02 to early January of '03, which is when the secretary said, look, let's get a very thorough vetting of all of this from every single perspective, including the military cultural perspective, which is something that's important. And I should say that this working group, which had the representation that we described, was just part of it because that working group product was then - as some have said - washed around the building, ultimately discussed with each of the secretaries in the military departments and with the chiefs of staff in the services in the tank section, so that everybody who had a stake - and including the combatant commanders through the joint staff - everybody who had a stake in the issue had a chance to express a view, discuss the tradeoffs, because it's not just a legal issue, it's a much broader issue.

DI RITA: On that point, let me be explicit. We have said consistently since the beginning that the principal objective of interrogations at Guantanamo was for the purpose of collecting intelligence to prevent future attacks on the United States. That was the objective.

Q: Were the any.

DI RITA: So - hold on. So the interrogators were trying to work and the commander down there - you had intelligence officials that were tugging in a direction that might have been different from lawyers and that's fair. I mean, this is a process that involves, by definition, some tension. And it was an unusual circumstance. So it when techniques were being used prior to this process established, they would get the legal review of the task force down there and they would have the full legal review by the people there, but the secretary's concern was this is a broader issue. People should have a much better feel and understanding and appreciation for what we're doing and so let's get this working group to kind of reach into all of the various areas that have to have an opinion.

SEN. OFFICIAL: So [Inaudible] the final document that was approved by the Secretary of Defense in mid-April of 2003 was fully consistent with international norms and standards. The interrogation techniques that he authorized are something the uniformed attorneys were completely comfortable with.

Q: But were those the techniques that he authorized a commander of Guantanamo to use in mid-April of 2003, were those the same techniques that had been offered? So the techniques were scaled back?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: Yes, yes.

Q: As a result of some of the objections that were raised?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: No. As a result of the whole process. I mean, there were objections or comments raised from many different perspectives. I mean, what the secretary ultimately has authorized is far less than what some people in the organization would have liked. I mean the product that the secretary has - or the instructions that the secretary has issued to the commander of the Southern Command and then through him to the commander of Guantanamo strictly for unlawful combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba reflect a very hard-thought process from many different [Inaudible].

Q: So if you've got a prisoner down there who you think may have knowledge of a planned attack on the United States and it takes - I mean, that's a long time to lawyer this thing up, if that information is.

[Cross Talk]

Q: Well, to consider this technique, you're going from late December to mid-April. Nothing was done to get that information from that guy in that intervening period?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: I don't think it's fair to say nothing is done. I think it's fair to say that no extraordinary or no non-doctrinal approaches, as far as.

DI RITA: Yeah. I mean, and that's the point, though. This was.

Q: So it [Inaudible] regular interrogation, whatever. The trouble is we don't know what regular interrogation is [Inaudible].

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: Well, there is a doctrine. I mean, there are [Inaudible]. There is a way that the soldiers and the sailors and the airmen and Marines are trained in the Defense Department so it's consistent with decades of practice.

Q: So that's the list -- on the famous list. That's all on [Inaudible]?

OFFICIAL: Right, yeah.

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: [Inaudible] you can look at - I don't know which list you're talking about.

Q: Did the guy ever give up the information?

DI RITA: Well, we don't talk about individual interrogations.

[Cross Talk]

Q: Well, let me ask you this way. Was an attack headed off as a result.

[Cross Talk]

DI RITA: We're just not in a position to discuss that here. It's highly sensitive information. The point is to describe the situation as though - as anything other than everybody mindful of the uniqueness, it was new, it was complicated and it was balancing the need for intelligence, versus the need to do it right. That's the only way to describe it. And it was a hard darn problem because we did have known al Qaeda down there. And known al Qaeda who were believed to have information involving attacks on the United States. So you know, we have been fortunate and it's been the result of a lot of hard work and luck that there haven't been further attacks in the United States. But beyond that, nobody's prepared to say what the results of individual interrogations were.

Q: But sir, but this technique that the secretary ended up signing off [Inaudible] the procedure, that qualifies as an extraordinary procedure?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: Well, it's different from the [Inaudible]. It is a.

DI RITA: And it's like - and I don't want to say compare Sanchez's slide to this, but the process was like that. In the case of Iraq to go back to a different environment, if they want to do something other than doctrine, they have to seek permission in an interrogation plan. The same procedures were applied prior to Iraq in Guantanamo. As a result of this process, the combatant commander was told if you want to use certain techniques, you need a plan and that plan has to be approved at some level, depending on the approaches that you'd like to use. And in this case, it was approved by the secretary of defense.

Q: With [Inaudible]?

DI RITA: It has been discussed at length. [Inaudible] to say ad nauseum now this week that that procedure was the procedure. The procedures developed in that process were the procedures that General Miller implemented in Guantanamo, became skilled at implementing with the Joint Task Force interrogation down there and then went later that same year to Iraq to compare the procedures in Iraq and say here's some things we're doing - not in terms of approaches, but in terms of the process, that you guys might want to consider. And he's now talked about that at length.

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: And it's important, Larry -- if I may add - what I understand General Miller did [Inaudible] was not interrogation techniques, it was a.

DI RITA: Process.

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: . it was a whole method of discipline and structure and organization and the techniques piece was just a tiny little thing.

Q: Will you go back to something you said earlier? You said that in the fall of 2002 some questions were raised about what are acceptable interrogation techniques. And if I understand correctly, that's at a point in time when it was a little fuzzy and some of these extraordinary techniques were actually being used, who raised those questions and what were the questions?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: [Inaudible] many decisions happened and [Inaudible] is that the people who need guidance. If doctrine or standing orders don't really apply, they develop a proposal and they do their own analysis and if they feel like they need additional guidance, they will [Inaudible] it out through higher headquarters and this is an example of that. I think that's fair to say.

Q: These are people who are [Inaudible] meetings from guidance. This was the secretary saying.

DI RITA: Yeah, exactly. And in fact, they said we have detainees we would like to interrogate. We think it would be useful to have techniques that are not included in doctrine. Here's a proposal and that proposal was based on a legal analysis by the people in Guantanamo. And that legal analysis was associated with it. And those proposals were then vetted here and some approvals were made, some approvals were not made. And interrogation was being conducted on that basis. That was sort of a - I won't say - that was kind of almost case by case. It was not being done in a way that was systematic. And people who in this department like things that are systematic, so there were people that were saying, jeeze, I'm not comfortable with that. Sure, it's gotten a legal review, but I didn't have an input there and I didn't have - and that's when the secretary said people should have an input [Inaudible].

[Cross Talk]

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: On this proposal, can I interrupt?

DI RITA: Certainly.

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: Just because I think that comes later in time. What Larry described is how we remember it happening. But there became some emergency because of an individual who had information that the people at Guantanamo believed was important, not just about perhaps 9/11, but about future events and that's what at least sort of crystallized the first decision which then was reconsidered and then was then the product of this working group.

[Cross Talk]

Q: When was the first decision?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: I would say--

DI RITA: Within the course of the fall. And let me just be careful about one thing. We're rediscovering a lot of this in the context of trying to make sure we fully understand all aspects of detainee operations. As I said at the beginning, the secretary has asked that we go back and systematically review a variety of activities involving detainee operations. Guantanamo is one of those. We know, by now, well the procedures that General Miller used and understood and took forward in trying to better understand that, we're looking backwards. And some of this stuff is becoming clearer as to how we got there. We're reminding ourselves how we got there. And it's in that process that we're undertaking right now. So we're going to learn more and we're going to have more detail as we learn more. But this is sort of the sense of it as it we have [Inaudible]

[Cross Talk]

Q: Can I just get one clarification real quick? You said in the Iraq and Guantanamo comparison, that in the Guantanamo case when there was a non-doctrinal procedure, the secretary approved that directly. Yet, when there were non-doctrinal procedures in Iraq, he did not?

DI RITA: In the case of Guantanamo, the combatant commander raised it in that way. He said, I would like additional authorities and he sought the guidance of the secretary of defense. In the case of Iraq - and remember in Guantanamo when dealing with people, although treated consistent with, not subject to the Geneva Conventions. So it is somewhat different.

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: It's very different.

DI RITA: It's very different. In the case of Iraq, as General Abizaid testified yesterday, they had the authority. They are maintaining detainees in Iraq. They are subject to the Geneva provisions.

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: Without question, the process.

DI RITA: Unquestionably.

Q: So he didn't directly approve of changing the technique?

DI RITA: He who?

Q: The secretary.

DI RITA: Of change where?

Q: In Iraq.

DI RITA: He did not. This was done by the commander of the Joint Task Force with the review by the commander of Central Command and that's what they talk about.

[Cross Talk]

Q: In the future now in which the secretary signs off on all extraordinary procedures.

[Cross Talk]

DI RITA: Not on all. On certain specified.

Q: In Guantanamo?

DI RITA: Um-hm.

Q: Is that a result of this review and.


Q: . was instituted in April?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: Yes, yes.

DI RITA: But that happened to have been the procedure that predated this review as well. When they wanted something that was non-doctrinal, they came to the secretary.

[Cross Talk]

Q: Was that approved?

DI RITA: Was what approved?

Q: When the proposal was put forward to do something - originally, to do something non-doctrinal in the case of this individual, was that approach approved?

[Cross Talk]

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: There were certain things authorized, but not used in certainly in any.

DI RITA: It's a little bit like what Sanchez said he authorized the range of things. Only a few things were ever sought and used. And it appears that's the case in Guantanamo, but we're not.

Q: But in this case where you had a prisoner who was believed to have knowledge of future attacks and so on, a proposal was made to interrogate them in a way that was outside of the doctrine. Was that proposal approved?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: Yes, there were. There were some authorizations given, but not.

DI RITA: What it appears it that the proposal was made in the form of a range of desired authorizations. The secretary approved ranges of things and then the combatant commander and the Joint Task Force commander, as they developed their interrogation plans, used elements of that. And so they didn't use everything that was authorized.

[Cross Talk]

DI RITA: And in fact, it appeared they didn't use much.

Q: And it was after that that objections started to be raised by JAG officers?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: No, no. The objections that you're referring to, I think, are as the review process went forward, is that correct?

[Cross Talk]

Q: The objections raised in the fall were for people at GITMO who are participating in the process?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: It's just that these are hard questions. And you know, as we sort of tried to step gingerly in dealing with a new paradigm with this very difficult set of choices to make, everybody thinks twice before they take the next step. And so what the secretary decided after a short period of time was let's step back and let's take a much fuller look across the board with all stakeholders. I mean, what.

Q: [Inaudible] December '02, is that right?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: Mid-January.

DI RITA: January.

Q: Mid-January.

DI RITA: Of '03.

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: So there was a few-week period where, you know, he authorized certain things that were not employed by anywhere near.

Q: Prior to that.

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: Right. Nor what he ultimately - what might have been the commander, so far as we understand, didn't.

DI RITA: And it's preliminary. We're still learning about this. But it appears that a range of techniques were authorized - a very small number in a very few cases were used and we're still getting a better understanding of that going forward, but.

Q: From - I'm sorry. From January to April, we're hearing a lot about the 72-point matrix. And I think that we might be a little confused as to what that is. Is the 72-point matrix the list of all the universe of possibilities that was then.

[Cross Talk]

Q: . down into a smaller list that is now in operation?

DI RITA: We'll do our best on that one.

SEN. OFFICIAL: And I'm not sure where the number 72 came from. But there was a time early on in the process when the working group got started where we wanted to consider any techniques that could be successful - techniques that the interrogators would like to utilize. And so it was substantially less than 72 that was ultimately evaluated and it was about two-thirds of those that ultimately went to the secretary in the final report for his approval as interrogation techniques that could be sanctioned.

[Cross Talk]

DI RITA: And in that matrix that you're referring to was a working document developed by the working group for their analysis.

Q: Got it. On the two-thirds - the list of two-thirds that came out, is that organized into a green, red, amber thing?

DR: No. No.

Q: It's just everything is open. If you want to use anything on there, do you have to get SecDef approval or who's approval do you get?

SEN. OFFICIAL: For the techniques that were finally approved by the secretary in mid-April of 2003, only a handful required approval at the secretary's level.

Q: Okay. So that's still [Inaudible] that some things [Inaudible] gets elevated. And the others.

DI RITA: Some required notification to the combatant commander, some required approval and notification. I think there's a sort of cascading.

SEN. OFFICIAL: And again, that guidance was provided for interrogations of unlawful combatants.

[Cross Talk]

Q: Has anything been elevated to Rumsfeld on any - [Inaudible] a small handful techniques or procedures?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: I don't know that we [Inaudible].

DI RITA: I don't know that we know that well enough. I mean, we're still, as I said, in the context of making sure we fully understand what the detainee operations are going - recognizing that there are procedures in place, these facts that are interesting are not all well-known right now.

Q: A number of techniques have been discussed, as you know, going to hearings on the Hill: sensory deprivation, sleep adjustments, dietary manipulation, stress positions, isolation for more than 30 days, presence of dogs. Are those techniques currently available to be used on detainees at Guantanamo? Are they currently available to use now or to be requested up the chain now?

[Cross Talk]

DI RITA: The document's classified. We don't talk about individual techniques. Just because they leak, doesn't mean we talk about them. We were forced to talk about them in the case of the leaked documents to the Taguba Reports.

Q: These were some of the techniques that were supposedly exported to Iraq?

DI RITA: Nothing was exported to Iraq. Iraq, as General Sanchez developed guidance, based on a variety of inputs, including suggestions made in accordance with standard techniques being used in Guantanamo, there was one aspect of the many things he looked at. But we're simply not in a position to talk about individual techniques.

SEN. OFFICIAL: I believe it is fair to address the issue raised in a little more depth by pointing out that the document that the secretary of defense finally approved is fully consistent with international law. Most of the items you mentioned would not be.

Q: Would not?

SEN. OFFICIAL: Would not be.

[Cross Talk]

Q: Well, if it is fully consistent, why can't you share it? Why is [Inaudible] classified?

SEN. OFFICIAL: Because the document itself is classified.

Q: Wait a minute. You know, General Alexander when he briefed us last Friday and, again, yesterday Colonel Warren (sp) looking at that list on the right that he just read from said those items are consistent with international law, if applied one by one. Now, is the view you just expressed reflective of the fact that there is this disagreement in the military legal community?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: Well, I don't think either one of us here expressed legal opinions about anything in particular. Right now we're talking about the background, about the process. And I.

Q: But your view is that, though, [Inaudible] are not consistent [Inaudible]?

SEN. OFFICIAL: I said the items the secretary approved are consistent. The item in his final document for interrogations.

[Cross Talk]

Q: [Inaudible] the items that he arranged.

SEN. OFFICIAL: I said some of the items that he raised.

[Cross Talk]

SEN. OFFICIAL: And some of those are on [Inaudible].

DI RITA: But it is very important to remember that these are all items that would be developed in accordance with a plan. And the plan would say how they'd be used and then it would have to be approved. So there's a perception that that was sort of a list that was posted on a door and any interrogator can go in and do anything they want, as long as it was on that list and it's just.

Q: But those.

DI RITA: . wrong [Inaudible].

Q: .techniques were available to be requested for use on prisoners in Iraq?

DI RITA: Some of them apparently were - that's right - for a period of time.

Q: Are all of those?

DI RITA: Yeah, for a period of time, until they were [Inaudible].

Q: Until last week?

DI RITA: Until General Sanchez [Inaudible]. Apparently, that's correct.

[Cross Talk]

Q: I'm just asking if that same range of techniques is available for use in Guantanamo?

DI RITA: I think as far as we're prepared to go. I mean, we're trying to give you a better sense of the genesis of the standard operating procedures in Gitmo and also take on this issue of, well, there were some people who were dissatisfied. Consensus means nobody walks away having gotten everything they wanted. And the document that was developed and those procedures that were found was a consensus document.

Q: But Larry, aside from the fact that, you say these a different types of prisoners, that these people are enemy combatants and the other people are treated strictly as prisoners of war.

DI RITA: No, no. That's not the case. They're prisoners of war.

Q: Wait a minute.

DI RITA: In Iraq, there's a variety of detainees.

Q: You're perfectly willing to say in Iraq, no, we're not going to use dogs on those people. Right? But in Gitmo, what you're saying is, look, we just can't discuss whether we use dogs. Why won't you just come out and say we won't use dogs on those people?

DI RITA: Charlie, we're not going to

[Cross Talk]

DI RITA: We're not talking about the procedures in Guantanamo. We're talking about a process by which it was developed that people were satisfied was fair and consistent with international standards. And that's what we're talking about.

[Cross Talk]

Q: [Inaudible] process.

DI RITA: And then I've got to go because I'm out of time.

Q: If you agree that everyone in Iraq that's under detention is subject to the Geneva Conventions and everybody in Guantanamo is treated as if they were subject to the Geneva Conventions, why was it necessary to make a distinction between the techniques that could be used in Guantanamo which sound like they're much broader than those that can be used in Iraq?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: The secretary of defense's order about the treatment of unlawful combatants in the global war on terrorism - and this is from the president - is that they shall be treated humanely and - and I'm not quoting here, because I don't have it memorized but - consistent with [Inaudible] humanely and consistent with military necessity consistent with the principals of the Geneva Convention. Those are the instructions from the secretary of defense to the combatant commanders about treatment of the detainees in unlawful combatants in the global war on terror.

Q: When did interrogations begin in Gitmo?

[Cross Talk]

DI RITA: They were starting to receive detainees in Guantanamo probably in January of '02.

Q: It sounded to me like what you said earlier. And my question was they're not being treated the same, that there's a lower standard for Guantanamo. I mean, it's a different way of phrasing it, but you're saying they're treated consistent with the principals of the Geneva Convention, but obviously not exactly the same?

SR. DEF. OFFICIAL: There's a different legal regime that applies to the two. In the conflict with Iraq, there is absolutely no question that the Geneva Conventions, the third and fourth Geneva Conventions apply, period. In the conflict with al Qaeda, the Geneva Conventions do not apply. And so the president has entrusted the secretary of defense and the secretary of defense has instructed his combatant commanders that for those people that the armed forces detain in the global war on terrorism that are unlawful combatants, that are not subject to the Geneva Convention, shall be treated humanely and consistent with military necessity, consistent with the principals of the Geneva Convention.

DI RITA: And that gets to the question of in Guantanamo you see that they're being given religious appropriate meals, they're being given opportunities to worship, they're being given opportunities to exercise. I mean, that's the humane treatment in the Geneva Convention or consistent with the Geneva Convention that we're trying to be sure that we're very careful about.

SEN. OFFICIAL: We're almost out of time.

Q: Just a point of clarification. When you said earlier that the techniques that were approved by the secretary of defense were consistent with international law, but you didn't say Geneva Conventions, did you mean the Geneva Convention? When you say - are you referring to some other convention?

DI RITA: Fully consistent with international law is what I said, which would include Geneva Conventions that would apply.

Thanks a lot, folks, in our continuing effort to try and provide information that you didn't seek.


Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list