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ON POINT II: Transition to the New Campaign

The United States Army in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM May 2003-January 2005





Part II

Transition to a New Campaign


Chapter 5
Intelligence and High-Value Target Operations

 

Interrogation Operations in the Abu Ghraib Prison62

The demand for accurate and meaningful intelligence affected the entire MI community in Iraq. At the level of CJTF-7, this desire for information led to the creation of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center (JIDC), which resided in one portion of the Baghdad Central Confinement Facility (BCCF), better known as the Abu Ghraib Prison—its name under the Saddam regime. The mission inside the JIDC involved MI Soldiers conducting interrogations of security detainees and the analysis of the information derived from those interrogations. These operations were separate from the confinement operations conducted by the MP Soldiers in the prison. Because of the doctrinal divide between the detention mission and interrogation operations, this study has divided its discussion of the operations at Abu Ghraib and the incidents of abuse that occurred there. This section will focus primarily on the role of the MI units and Soldiers who operated the JIDC, interrogated Iraqis in the facility, and, in a very small number of cases, took part in the abuse of detainees. The next chapter will look closely at the MP operations in the prison and examine how the breakdown in detainee operations played a decisive role in the incidents.63

The cases of abuse at Abu Ghraib by no means serve as a microcosm of how the large majority of US Soldiers conducted detainee and interrogation operations throughout Iraq in 2003 and 2004. The vast majority of Soldiers assigned to detention facilities or involved in interrogations performed their duties with honor and in accordance with international standards of decency. A review of the history of the JIDC and the incidents of abuse that occurred there, however, can improve the understanding of the challenges facing the US Army in its drive for strategic intelligence and in dealing with the deteriorating security environment.

By early summer 2003 Lieutenant General Sanchez and the staff of CJTF-7 had decided that the need for actionable intelligence required the establishment of a central interrogation facility where detainees suspected of having critical information could be held and questioned. Coalition forces had set up two other major detention facilities, the first at Camp Bucca near the southern port city of Umm Qasr for the general detainee population, and the second at Camp Cropper on the Baghdad Airport complex for the detention and interrogation of HVTs. For logistical and operational reasons, neither of these camps were a suitable site for a central interrogation center. That fact induced Sanchez on 6 September 2003 to consolidate operations and direct Colonel Thomas Pappas, the commander of the 205th MI Brigade, to establish a JIDC at Abu Ghraib and to take command of the interrogation operations there.64 While the US Armed Forces had established JIDCs in previous campaigns and operated one at the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba, the DOD had no doctrine that governed the structure and operations of a JIDC. Partly because of this lack of doctrine and partly because of the demands placed on the MI community as the security environment worsened, the manning and procedures of the center changed frequently. Indeed, the 205th MI Brigade created a JMD for the JIDC only after the facility began operations in the fall of 2003.65

The US Army had initiated interrogation operations at Abu Ghraib 6 weeks before the establishment of the JIDC. In July 2003, 14 interrogators from Alpha Company, 519th MI Battalion, a unit that had recently conducted interrogation operations in Afghanistan, began working at the prison. At that time, Abu Ghraib held less than 100 security internees, a classification that separated civilian detainees suspected of acting against the Coalition from other detainees. Coalition forces then placed some of these security internees into a group labeled “MI Hold.” This term was not a category of detainee recognized by either the Fourth Geneva Convention or US military doctrine, and its use by the Coalition did not establish a new term that superseded or contravened CJTF-7’s commitment to adherence to the Geneva Conventions. Instead, the term originated in the rules of engagement developed by CENTCOM for OIF to identify those detainees who had been screened by Coalition soldiers, identified as persons likely having information of critical importance, and placed in a hold status until they could be formally interrogated by the small number of interrogators in the country.66 By moving detainees to Abu Ghraib and placing them in the MI Hold status, Coalition forces separated these civilian internees, making them available to the experienced interrogators assigned there. The number of MI Hold detainees increased in August, and the small contingent of MI Soldiers at the prison continued to conduct interrogations. It was not long before the members of Alpha Company began to have difficulties gaining actionable intelligence. One officer in the company recalled that at this point, and on her own initiative, she directed interrogators to introduce some of the techniques the unit had used in Afghanistan, such as placing detainees in uncomfortable positions (stress positions) or reversing sleep cycles (sleep adjustment), to break down the resistance of those detainees the interrogators believed held critical information about the developing insurgency.67

Lieutenant General Sanchez’s directive ordering the establishment of a JIDC significantly expanded interrogation operations at Abu Ghraib begun by Alpha Company, 519th MI Battalion. Around 10 September 2003 Colonel Pappas sent one of his officers to the prison to establish the JIDC. The brigade had no interrogators within its original structure, but created a composite unit of 45 interrogators and 18 linguists and translators from a number of different MI battalions and groups to run the JIDC.68 Later in the fall, contract civilian interrogators arrived to augment the Soldiers in the JIDC. By doctrine, it was these MI Soldiers and authorized contractors who conducted the interrogations in the facility. Before and after the interrogation, the detainee came under the control and authority of the 320th MP Battalion, a unit subordinate to the 800th MP Brigade, whose officers and Soldiers served as confinement specialists. The MI and MP Soldiers came under increasing stress to gather actionable intelligence as the fall progressed and as the number of detainees increased at Abu Ghraib. By the end of November, the entire detainee population at the prison numbered approximately 10,000. The number of MI Hold detainees had also grown, from 400 around the end of September to 900 by Thanksgiving.69


As the number of detainees increased in the early fall, the Soldiers in the JIDC felt greater pressure to produce results. Pappas asserted that in this period he sensed the urgency to make the interrogations in the JIDC yield critical information.70 Sanchez, the CJTF-7 commander, agreed that this pressure was indeed palpable within his command.71 Internally, the Soldiers in the JIDC worked to understand the rules, procedures, and policies that governed the operations the Coalition had come to view as critical to success. When CJTF-7 stood up in June 2003, it did not inherit any cogent set of guidelines or clear policies that established which counter-resistance techniques could be used in interrogations. Although the CJTF-7 commander and staff recognized this and sought to rectify the situation in mid-summer 2003 by requesting assistance from CENTCOM, the Army, and the DOD, help would be slow in arriving. In the meantime, for guidance on interrogation techniques MI units in Iraq relied on policies and rules from other campaigns or from FM 34-52, Intelligence Interrogation, the Army’s 1992 manual that gave a great deal of freedom to the interrogator for decisions concerning interrogation approaches and counterresistance techniques.72

CJTF-7’s efforts to fill the gap created by the dearth of interrogation policy began to gather steam in the summer when Major General Fast arrived to become the CJ2. In making her assessment of the joint task force’s intelligence requirements, she reinforced the need for assistance visits from training teams composed of experts in interrogation techniques. In the late summer, these appeals began to produce results. As early as May 2003 senior DOD officials had begun to support Coalition forces in Iraq with training and guidance on interrogation and detainee operations. During that month, the senior intelligence officer (J2) on the Joint Staff had initiated discussions about these requirements with Major General Geoffrey Miller, the commanding general of Joint Task Force–Guantanamo Bay (JTF-GTMO) who had accumulated a great deal of experience in detaining unlawful combatants captured by Coalition forces in Afghanistan.73 Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered the Joint Chiefs of Staff to task Miller to travel to Iraq with a team from JTF-GTMO to assist CJTF-7, the ISG, and a special operations task force in improving their collection and analysis of intelligence. Miller arrived with his 17-man team in late August 2003 and visited a number of locations, including the Abu Ghraib Prison. In the report that capped the visit, Miller stated that CJTF-7 “did not have authorities or procedures in place to affect a unified strategy to detain, interrogate, and report information for detainees/internees in Iraq”—a conclusion that Sanchez and many of his senior staff had already reached.74 Based on his team’s observations of the capabilities and procedures of CJTF-7, Miller made a series of recommendations to Sanchez and his staff. These suggestions included improving the integration and synchronization of the various intelligence organizations working for CJTF-7, especially those involved in HUMINT.

The Miller Report also focused on interrogations in general, finding that while interrogation operations at the tactical level were satisfactory, CJTF-7’s MI organizations needed to recognize the difference between tactical questioning techniques and interrogations conducted to answer the task force commander’s strategic and operational intelligence requirements. The report acknowledged that CJTF-7 had already taken an important step toward the improvement of these operations by establishing the JIDC at the Abu Ghraib Prison. However, the report continued, CJTF-7 should take additional measures to make the JIDC more effective, such as introducing interrogator-analyst “Tiger Teams” modeled on similar teams active at Guantanamo and establishing an interrogation and counterresistance policy to serve as the guidelines for interrogations in the JIDC. Most important, the Miller Report contended, was the need to create close working relationships between the Soldiers who confined the Iraqi security internees, those who conducted the interrogations, and those who analyzed the information derived from the interrogations. In interrogations at the strategic level, the Miller team argued, cooperation between the MP and MI interrogators was paramount. Based on its experience in Guantanamo, the team recommended to CJTF-7 that in interrogation centers like the JIDC, “it is essential that the guard force [MPs] be actively engaged in setting the conditions for successful exploitation of the internees.”75 The report stressed the role of the MPs in successful interrogations stating, “Detention operations must be structured to ensure detention environment focuses the internee’s confidence and attention on their interrogators.”76 However, the report offered no detail on what form the MP cooperation should take. (Chapter 6 will examine the role played by those MPs supporting the JIDC in the fall of 2003 in the interrogation of some MI Hold detainees in Abu Ghraib.) In addition to his recommendations, Miller agreed to send a training team from Guantanamo to the JIDC. The team arrived in October 2003 and stayed at Abu Ghraib for 2 months to help the interrogators improve their basic interrogation skills.77

While the Miller team visited, Sanchez decided to address the lack of clearly defined guidance for interrogation operations by directing his staff to develop detailed guidelines for interrogators in Iraq. When CJTF-7 began operations in June 2003, the US Government had just completed a series of significant revisions to the interrogation policy of the Armed Forces that had begun more than a year earlier. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration began to reshape its approach toward detainee and interrogation operations, driven by the fact that al-Qaeda, the enemy that attacked the United States, was not a country but a confederation of international terrorist organizations. Expertly waging war against an unorthodox, shadowy enemy who wore no uniform and thought nothing of killing innocent civilians to attain its goal presented a number of challenges and posed several very important questions. Perhaps the most critical of these questions was how the US Government and its military should treat those who fought on the side of al-Qaeda given that the terrorist group was not a state, had not signed the conventions that governed the treatment of combatants in wartime, and generally refused to acknowledge constraints grounded in international law. Resolution of this question would remain an issue into 2002, but the Bush administration had obtained broad unspecified powers from Congress to deal with those responsible for 9/11.78 It will be necessary to examine some of these policy debates and decisions to understand which guidelines governed the actions of US forces in Iraq.

Of immediate concern to the administration was a perceived lack of actionable intelligence that could be used to drive antiterrorist operations. The placement of agents within al-Qaeda had proven next to impossible. One very promising means of gaining intelligence was the interrogation of those detainees captured by US forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere in late 2001 and early 2002 and in detention at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Officials within the Bush administration asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the DOD to identify interrogation counterresistance techniques capable of being legally used on the detainees suspected of terrorist activities.79

After robust debate both within and outside the Government, the Bush administration moved decisively to implement new approaches in dealing with al-Qaeda and Taliban detainees.80 Definitions became significant in the arena of interrogation, particularly as the Bush administration attempted to classify the nature and parameters of acceptable counterresistance techniques in light of the limited success in gaining actionable intelligence from the detainees at Guantanamo. In a 1 August 2002 memorandum from the DOJ to Alberto Gonzales, Counsel to the President, the distinction between torture, discomfort, and intimidation became less than clear.81 This memorandum and other guidance from the Office of Legal Counsel in the DOJ became the basis for discussion of various interrogation techniques within the DOD.

By October 2002 the continued lack of success in interrogations of HVTs detained at Guantanamo led Major General Michael E. Dunlavey, commander of Joint Task Force (JTF) 170, to ask General James T. Hill, Commander, US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), for the use of 19 techniques not listed in FM 34-52 to counter the resistance mounted by some detainees.82 On 2 December 2002 Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld approved the use of the milder methods, known as Category I and II techniques, that Dunlavey had requested. Rumsfeld also reviewed the harsher Category III techniques proposed by Dunlavey, but approved only the methods that allowed noninjurious physical contact with the detainee.

However, on 15 January 2003 Rumsfeld rescinded his previous approval of these new techniques. This decision originated partly in the reservations expressed by Alberto J. Mora, the General Counsel of the Department of the Navy, and uniformed lawyers serving in the Pentagon, and partly from the recent deaths and poor health of certain detainees in Afghanistan and Guantanamo.83 Rumsfeld decided that the DOD needed to more carefully explore the various options and limitations associated with approach methods used in detainee interrogation. To do so, in January 2003 William J. Haynes II, the DOD General Counsel, appointed US Air Force General Counsel Mary Walker to convene a group of policy, legal, and technical experts to examine these issues. During deliberations, this working group was not allowed to deviate from the legal guidance set out in a draft DOJ Office of Legal Counsel opinion on interrogation.84 After meeting for 2 months, Walker’s group issued a report on 3 April 2003 to Rumsfeld recommending the approval of 35 techniques designed to break down the resistance to interrogation offered by detainees. The DOD General Counsel subsequently reviewed this list and recommended to Rumsfeld that he approve 24 of the 35 techniques.85 The Secretary agreed and communicated his approval of these 24 techniques to General Hill in a 16 April 2003 memorandum.86 The memorandum tagged each technique with identifying alphabetic character designations (A through X), and caveats accompanied several of them. Technique B, for example, reads as follows:

Incentive/Removal of Incentive: Providing a reward or removing a privilege, above and beyond those that are required by the Geneva Convention, from detainees. [Caution: Other nations that believe that detainees are entitled to POW protections may consider that provision and retention of religious items (e.g., the Koran) are protected under international law (see, Geneva III, Article 34). Although the provisions of the Geneva Convention are not applicable to the interrogation of unlawful combatants, consideration should be given to these views prior to application of the technique.]87

Four of the 24 techniques included cautionary notes on potential conflict with laws and treaties with other countries, and how their courts viewed those respective interrogation approaches.88

Rumsfeld attempted to build fail-safes into the process to prevent abuses. While authorizing the commanding general of SOUTHCOM to implement the techniques, he prescribed guidance relative to specific circumstances and locations: “The purpose of all interviews and interrogations is to get the most information from a detainee with the least intrusive method, always applied in a humane and lawful manner with sufficient oversight by trained investigators or interrogators.”89 Moreover, in the memorandum, Rumsfeld directed that these techniques applied only to interrogations of detainees in the Guantanamo facility.90 Despite this qualification about limiting the techniques to those being held at Guantanamo, the methods approved in the memorandum for use in Guantanamo Bay soon would come to influence policy in the JIDC at Abu Ghraib.

With no single document governing interrogation operations in Iraq in the summer of 2003, the dilemma facing the CJTF-7 commander and staff was how to use the available body of doctrine, laws, and policy, including the Secretary of Defense’s 16 April memorandum, to fashion a comprehensive set of rules for their interrogators. Colonel Warren, the CJTF-7 Staff Judge Advocate (SJA), and the 205th MI Brigade Command Judge Advocate looked closely at the Army’s FM 34-52, which listed a set of approaches or techniques available to the interrogator for use in inducing a POW or detainee to give information. However, neither officer believed the manual contained enough detail or established sufficient control measures for the proper and lawful conduct of interrogations.91 Seeking more definitive guidance, they consulted other DOD policies and doctrine, and then began working with other staff members and commanders to create a new policy. Ultimately, the new set of rules, developed in August and issued in September 2003, called the CJTF-7 Interrogation and Counter-Resistance Policy (ICRP), importantly asserted that the Geneva Conventions applied to all operations in the Iraqi theater of war, directed that Coalition forces “treat all persons under their control humanely,” and stated that the guidance pertained to “detainees, security internees, and enemy prisoners of war under the control of CJTF-7.”92 The ICRP then authorized the use of the 24 counterresistance techniques listed in the 16 April 2003 Rumsfeld memorandum.93 For example, the policy copied almost verbatim Technique B—“Incentive/Removal of Incentive” from the Rumsfeld memorandum. To remind Soldiers involved in interrogation operations that they had a duty to respect the rights of the detainees, the CJTF-7 policy contained an enclosure titled “General Safeguards,” which stated that interrogators held responsibility for the safety of the detainees and that “the purpose of all interviews and interrogations is to get the most information from a security internee with the least intrusive method, applied in a humane and lawful manner with sufficient oversight by trained investigators or interrogators.”94

Following the creation of the draft ICRP, the CJTF-7 staff circulated the policy to several units involved in interrogation operations for comments. At the end of that process, five techniques—the presence of military working dogs; deception; sleep management; the use of yelling, light control, and loud music; and stress positions—that had not been listed in the 16 April Rumsfeld memorandum appeared in an updated draft of the ICRP.95 The CJTF-7 Staff Judge Advocate then sent the policy to the CJTF-7 Intelligence (CJ2) and Operations (CJ3) Sections as well as to the commander of the 205th MI Brigade. By 14 September CJTF-7 had finalized an ICRP that allowed interrogators in the JIDC to use the 24 techniques sanctioned in the April 2003 Rumsfeld memorandum and the 5 methods added in the staffing process.96 Additionally, the policy stated that the 205th MI Brigade commander held the responsibility for issuing “specific implementation guidelines” for these techniques. In the ICRP, Lieutenant General Sanchez retained the right to approve the interrogators’ use of six specific approaches on “enemy prisoners of war,” including the use of stress positions (Technique CC) and the presence of military working dogs (Technique Y), on a case-by-case basis.

On 14 September 2003 the CJTF-7 commander signed the ICRP and directed that the new policy become active immediately. At the same time, CJTF-7 sent the ICRP to CENTCOM for approval.97 In the letter of transmittal that accompanied the new policy to CENTCOM, Sanchez stated clearly that CJTF-7’s ICRP was “modeled on the one implemented for interrogations conducted at Guantanamo Bay.”98 However, Sanchez asserted in the letter that he and his staff had “modified [the CJTF-7 policy] for applicability to a theater of war in which the Geneva Conventions apply,” emphasizing that his command was unequivocal in the view that operations in Iraq were subject to the laws established in the Geneva Treaties. At CENTCOM, some concerns developed among the staff about the use of specific counterresistance techniques listed as approved approaches.99 Colonel Warren, the CJTF-7 SJA, agreed with this assessment and began amending the ICRP to include greater constraints on interrogators. Warren contended, “The September policy, in my view, did comply with the Geneva Conventions when applied with all the appropriate safeguards.”100 Even so, he sought to place more control measures on the interrogation process. To do so, the CJTF-7 staff changed the wording of the memorandum making the revised ICRP applicable only to those detainees categorized as security internees, and reiterated the rights afforded to these internees by the Fourth Geneva Convention that confirmed protections on civilians in the time of war. The new version of the ICRP then listed the counterresistance approaches authorized by the CJTF-7 commander, a set of 17 techniques that did not include the presence of military working dogs, sleep management, and stress positions. These three approaches and nine others that were removed from the ICRP were no longer automatically approved for use.101 Any interrogator who wished to use a technique not listed in the policy now had to send a written justification to CJTF-7 where the CJ2 and SJA reviewed it before sending it to Sanchez or final approval. The amended version of the ICRP also contained a new paragraph that firmly placed responsibility for the interrogation and its setting on the interrogator. To help interrogators give the detainee the impression that they had complete authority over the detainee’s situation, the ICRP granted the interrogator the ability to change the environment in the interrogation room as well as the quality of the detainee’s clothing, food, and shelter, as long as these changes did not go below the threshold of the requirements in the Geneva Conventions.102 CJTF-7 issued this new version of the policy on 12 October 2003.

Lieutenant General Sanchez viewed both versions of the ICRP as placing greater control measures on interrogation operations that initially seemed to lack constraints. In his opinion, the doctrine established in FM 34-52 simply did not go far enough in creating safeguards. Sanchez contended, “Our FM [34-52] was grossly deficient because it did not require any approval by anyone in the chain of command for the use of any interrogation approach.”103 While the ICRPs certainly offered detailed guidance, they also appear to have caused some confusion. In 2004 the Fay–Jones’ AR 15-6 investigation into the 205th MI Brigade’s Interrogation Operations at Abu Ghraib noted that between August and mid-October “interrogation policy in Iraq had changed three times.”104 In the JIDC at Abu Ghraib, the interrogators tried to reconcile the changes. In September and October one interrogation officer made charts that used three columns to list (1) the counterresistance methods contained in FM 34-52 that had been approved for use by the CJTF-7 commander, (2) additional methods that required approval from the JIDC officer in charge (OIC), and (3) approaches that required the CJTF-7 commander’s authorization before implementation.105 The officer also required all interrogators to read and acknowledge in writing both CJTF-7’s ICRP and a memorandum that mandated humane treatment for all detainees.106 While this officer took significant steps to ensure Soldiers in the JIDC understood their interrogation constraints, Army investigators looking into JIDC operations contended that the charts were incomplete and did not list all of the counterresistance techniques actually in use by the interrogators at the time, such as removal of clothing; forced grooming; and use of loud music, yelling, and light control.107

Three years later, reflecting on the events in the fall of 2003, Lieutenant General Sanchez recognized that there might have been uncertainty about the CJTF-7 interrogation policy at Abu Ghraib: “When we published those memorandums, is there confusion? I think we have to accept that there probably is some confusion because you are going into a totally unconstrained environment and are now imposing standards and approval and oversight mechanisms.”108 Despite the potential for uncertainty, Sanchez contended that the modifications of the interrogation guidelines were critical to the establishment of a clear and enduring policy for MI Soldiers in Iraq that met international legal standards of decency:

We do eliminate a couple [sic] of approaches [in the September 2003 ICRP] that the CJTF-7 lawyers firmly believed were within the Geneva Convention authorities but higher headquarters lawyers were debating. The other key change is that we elevate the approval authority from one memorandum to the next and force the review and approval of any interrogation plans that include the [unlisted] approaches to go to my level . . . [the approved approaches] get validated multiple times afterward as being within the Geneva Conventions.109

The best assessment of the confusion over interrogation policy can be found in the Fay–Jones AR 15-6 Report that stated there was uncertainty in the JIDC about which interrogation approaches CJTF-7 had approved, but that this ambiguity had multiple causes, including the changes in the ICRP: “Confusion about what interrogation techniques were authorized resulted from the proliferation of guidance and information from other theaters of operation; individual interrogator experiences in other theaters; and the failure to distinguish between interrogation operations in other theaters and Iraq.”110 The report added that changing policies about interrogation approaches “contributed to the confusion concerning which techniques could be used, which required higher level approval and what limits applied to permitted techniques.”111 Another important finding in the Fay–Jones Report documented that the interrogators in the JIDC requested CJTF-7 approve the use of techniques other than those listed in the 12 October ICRP on only a few occasions. Sanchez had established himself as the approving authority for such requests, and he recalled that throughout his time in command, he only received and approved requests for use of the isolation approach in which the detainee would be placed in a cell by himself.112 Thus, the documented incidents of abuse in the JIDC did not occur because the CJTF-7 commander approved the use of abusive techniques.

Problems with the leadership of the JIDC more directly affected the policies and environment at Abu Ghraib. Colonel Pappas, commander of the 205th MI Brigade, commanded the JIDC yet had not established his brigade headquarters at Abu Ghraib. The 205th MI Brigade conducted missions across Iraq and the commander constantly traveled between his units and activities. In early September Pappas had sent one of the majors on his staff to help set up the JIDC. However, a shortage of officers in his brigade led Pappas to ask the CJTF-7 for a more senior officer who could supervise interrogation operations at Abu Ghraib. On 17 September 2003 the CJTF-7 CJ2 section sent Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan to the prison to serve as the director of the JIDC. Jordan served as the senior MI officer at the prison, and the reports and organization charts of the period acknowledge him as the officer in charge (OIC) of the JIDC.113 Conversely, Jordan stated that while he believed he had “at times” held the title of director or chief of the JIDC, he considered himself to be a liaison officer who worked temporarily for the 205th MI Brigade at Abu Ghraib and thus had no clear authority over interrogation operations.

According to Jordan, his unclear understanding of authority and duties persisted throughout the fall of 2003.114

Jordan had been an MI officer in the past, but by 2003 he had been serving in the Army’s Civil Affairs branch for a decade.115 Although he had no experience in conducting or supervising interrogations, given his senior rank, his MI background, and the extreme shortage of officers at CJTF-7, Jordan was the best candidate to become the OIC of the JIDC at the time. Despite the need for senior leadership in the JIDC, Jordan stated that he chose to focus his time on improving the living conditions for his Soldiers and worked conscientiously to deal with the force protection issues at Abu Ghraib. Security of the Abu Ghraib Prison complex had become a major issue by early fall 2003, after mortar attacks became commonplace.116 In fact, on 20 September, 3 days after Jordan’s arrival at Abu Ghraib, a mortar barrage killed 2 Soldiers and wounded 11 others; Jordan was one of the wounded. According to his own testimony, Jordan left supervision of the interrogation operations in the JIDC to other commissioned and warrant officers who were involved in the routine operations of the JIDC, including the approval of interrogation plans in which interrogators recorded the techniques they planned to use to gain information from a detainee. As knowledgeable and competent as they were, the officers in this group could not be present during all interrogations. In the US Army, the overall enforcement of discipline, standards, and policies, such as the ICRP in organizations like the JIDC, traditionally falls to the NCOs. Unfortunately, the center had a shortage of trained senior MI NCOs who otherwise might have instilled a uniform understanding of standards and rules.117

As CJTF-7 and the 205th MI Brigade increased pressure on the JIDC to create actionable intelligence in the fall of 2003, a very small number of MI Soldiers began employing unauthorized practices that constituted detainee abuse. The Army investigators who looked into thousands of interrogations at Abu Ghraib found 22 cases in which evidence pointed to MI Soldiers using abusive techniques (such as placement of detainees in isolation cells, removal of clothing, and the use of military working dogs) or witnessing abuses and failing to stop them or report the incidents to the chain of command.118 The Fay–Jones investigation also found that outside the sphere of interrogation operations, MI Soldiers were involved in one incident of violent assault and were present in several cases when MPs committed sexual abuses.119 These documented abuses began in September 2003, soon after the JIDC began operations and continued sporadically through the next 3 months. As early as October, officers in the JIDC became aware of some of these abuses and chose to discipline the perpetrators using nonjudicial punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), counseling, and removal from interrogator duties.120

Why did a few MI Soldiers at Abu Ghraib in the fall of 2003 commit these abuses? The Fay–Jones investigation looked at a number of factors in attempting to answer this question and found that at least part of the answer lay in the changing policies that governed interrogation techniques. As stated above, the report found that the “proliferation of guidance” had contributed to the confusion among the interrogators about authorized approaches and at the time that some of the abusive incidents occurred, some of the Soldiers “may have honestly believed that the acts were condoned.”121 However, the Fay–Jones investigation linked this confusion only “to the occurrence of some of the non-violent and non-sexual abuses,” not to the incidents of physical or sexual abuse at Abu Ghraib.122 Straightforward criminal misconduct, according to the investigation, was the primary cause of abuse of a sexual or violent nature.123

The Fay–Jones Report also focused on leadership in both the JIDC and the 205th MI Brigade. According to the investigation, the 205th never established a clear chain of command that could provide an unambiguous interpretation of the CJTF-7 ICRP or offer detailed oversight of interrogation operations in the JIDC. The report also contended that the 205th MI Brigade failed to coordinate with the 800th MP Brigade to delineate the boundaries between MI and MP duties, and was unable to train Soldiers to policy and regulatory standards or effectively discipline Soldiers who failed to meet those standards.124

When the photographs of abuse became public in the spring of 2004, worldwide attention fell on the US Army in Iraq and the Soldiers at Abu Ghraib specifically. The photographs documented incidents that took place not in the JIDC but on Tier 1 of the prison where a small group of MPs had begun abusive practices. (Chapter 6 will discuss these abuses.) Despite the fact that MI Soldiers were not responsible for the incidents in the photographs, those images led to detailed investigations of both detention and interrogation operations. These examinations revealed how a convergence of problems in leadership, policy, and personal character had generated a series of incidents that severely damaged the Coalition’s efforts in Iraq and the reputation of the US Army throughout the world. While the Army, the American public, and the international audience understandably focused on the photographs of abuse, many overlooked the fact that most of the MI Soldiers who worked in the JIDC had performed professionally within a very difficult environment.

The Fay–Jones AR 15-6 Investigation Report characterized the service of these Soldiers in the following way:

While some MI Soldiers acted outside the scope of applicable laws and regulations, most Soldiers performed their duties in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and Army Regulations. . . . MI Soldiers operating the JIDC at Abu Ghraib screened thousands of Iraqi detainees, conducted over 2,500 interrogations, and produced several thousand valuable intelligence products supporting the war fighter and the global war on terrorism. This great effort was executed in difficult and dangerous conditions with inadequate physical and personnel resources.”125

The recognition of the professionalism of these Soldiers was unfortunately overshadowed by the excesses and in some cases, criminal acts, of those few who had lost their moral compasses at Abu Ghraib.

Even before the abuses at Abu Ghraib became public, the Coalition’s leadership had begun to address the overall challenges of detainee and interrogation operations and began to issue unambiguous statements of policy about the proper treatment of all Iraqi citizens. In November 2003, for example, Lieutenant General Sanchez issued “CJTF-7 Rules for Detainee Operations,” which demanded that all Soldiers “treat all persons with dignity and respect.”126 In May 2004 the CJTF-7 commander reiterated this basic mandate in a statement titled “Proper Conduct During Combat Operations.”127 For US Army interrogators, more guidance arrived on 13 May 2004 in a new CJTF-7 interrogation policy. The new guidelines kept intact the list of officially approved techniques found in the 12 October ICRP; however, the policy differed in the prohibition of specific techniques even if approval was requested through the chain of command.128 This set of rules governed Coalition interrogation operations until 27 January 2005 when General George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multi-National Force–Iraq, issued a new policy that added safeguards and reduced the number of approved techniques interrogators could use to counter the resistance of detainees they suspected of holding critical information.129


Chapter 5. Intelligence and High-Value Target Operations





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