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American Forces Press Service

Admiral Issues Report: ‘No Policy Condoned Torture, Abuse’

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2005 The latest review of detention operations has found “no policy that considered or condoned torture,” said the officer appointed to lead the investigation.

Vice Adm. Albert T. Church III, director of the Navy staff, also said he found no policy “that condoned or in any way encouraged abuse of detainees.”

The admiral said the investigation did find inconsistencies with regard to the development, promulgation and dissemination of interrogation techniques. These techniques “migrated” from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Afghanistan, to Iraq, he said.

“As with previous investigations, we found there was a lack of guidance for the interrogators dealing with other government activities, specifically the (CIA),” he said.

Church said he did receive cooperation from the CIA and was able to determine that there were 30 so-called “ghost detainees” – one of whom was jailed for 45 days before being added to the prison population.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld assigned Church to conduct the investigation on May 25, 2004. The admiral was to identify and report on all interrogation techniques “considered, authorized, employed or prohibited” in the global war on terror. He was to look at to what extent interrogation techniques migrated from one command or operation to another. He also was to investigate DoD support or participation in interrogations conducted by other governmental agencies.

Church and his investigators traced how all the interrogation techniques were developed, and how they were considered inside the Pentagon. Church said he and his staff were interested in responses to “who requested what, what the responses were, how that was promulgated, how techniques migrated, (and) how they were actually employed in the field by the interrogators.”

To this end, Church and his investigators conducted more than 800 interviews and combed through thousands of pages of documents. They also built on investigations conducted previously and worked closely with the Schlesinger Panel – an independent group that examined detainee operations.

Church also investigated the 70 authenticated cases of detainee abuse. He said these cases resulted in six deaths, 26 cases of serious abuse and 38 minor cases. The admiral said only about a third were related to interrogation. This included asking for information at the point of capture.

He said there was no pattern to the cases. “They were in (Guantanamo), Afghanistan, Iraq and across the spectrum – active, Reserve, Guard, Navy, Marine and Army. So there was no pattern in these abuses, and none of them related to any of the interrogation techniques that were authorized,” he said.

Church cited a number of “missed opportunities.” He said the services should have incorporated the detainee affairs lessons from past conflicts as it was readying for war. He also said DoD provided no specific guidance to U.S. Central Command on detainee interrogation, nor did CENTCOM provide guidance to the theaters regarding interrogation policy or interrogation techniques.

Senior defense and military officials said they will comb the Church report for more recommendations to make detainee operations better, without choking off the vital flow of human intelligence necessary to fight the global war on terrorism.

The Army is tracking more than 400 different recommendations out of the 11 major investigations, inspections and reports that have been completed prior to the Church report. More than 40 percent of the recommendations have been completed and put in place.

Since the pictures of detainee abuse appeared almost a year ago, reports of detainee abuse have declined by 80 percent. The Army has worked to clarify policy, especially the roles of military intelligence interrogators and military police, senior military officials said.

The service has implemented major changes in training. The Army has taken the recommendations to heart and instituted changes from initial-entry training to the highest level of military education. In addition, MPs receive an additional 55-hour course on detainee operations before deploying.

An example of how seriously the service took the incidents of detainee abuse is the change in the prisoner-to-guard ratio. In April 2004 it was 75 detainees to one guard. Now the ratio is 8-to-1, and the Army is creating new units so the imbalance never occurs again, military officials said.

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