United States Department of Defense.
Presenter: Senior Military Officials
Friday, May 14, 2004 3:36 p.m. EDT
Defense Department Background Briefing
LAWRENCE DIRITA (Pentagon spokesman): Good afternoon. We have actually an opportunity today with a couple of people that happen to be in town -- one person who happens to be in town, another who's here most of the time. There's been a lot of discussion about the question of the Geneva -- the applicability of the Iraq conflict and the Geneva protocols. There's been questions about what techniques are being used in Iraq. There's been a lot of discussion across a series of hearings over the last 10 days or so that has left room for clarity. So we thought it would be useful to have the people who were much more directly involved in exactly how those procedures were determined and on what basis they were determined come in to talk with you today.
(Identities of briefers not transcribed.)
Q This is background?
MR. DIRITA: This will be a background brief. They'll both be on background. I think you can refer to -- (name of briefer deleted) -- as a senior Army official, and -- (name of briefer deleted) -- as a senior CENTCOM official, I think would be satisfactory.
Anything I say will be on the record, unless I tell you that it's not.
And with that -- we've also -- obviously, the secretary just returned from Abu Ghraib -- or from Iraq, including a visit to Abu Ghraib yesterday. And I'm happy to take any sort of follow-on questions that there may be as a result of this visit.
So what that -- (turns the briefing over to the senior military officials.)
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: What we want to do is to help demystify interrogations, because I think as this gets in the press and as people look at what goes on with interrogations that it's confusing to some people why we do it, what are we doing with interrogations, and why is that important to our Army, our military and our nation. And I just want to give you a few thoughts, a few key things.
First, blacklist number one: Saddam Hussein. Interrogations played a key role in it. I can't go into the specifics, but know that interrogation was a key thing that led to the capture of Saddam Hussein.
When you think about what was going on in Fallujah and Ar Ramadi, how were the foreign fighters getting in there? The way that we determined the routes from where they were coming from the other countries and how they were getting in there was through interrogations.
Over 50 percent of the IEDs that we -- that go off or that we find in Iraq are found through human intelligence, both a combination of tactical questioning and interrogations. Now when I say "tactical questioning," I want to differentiate that. That is a friendly Iraqi just coming up to one of our patrols and saying, "down the street something bad," versus a guy who blows up something and is captured and tells us who the bomb makers are, who the rest of his team is and where they're located, which is what we get through interrogations.
We have gotten some great information on additional terrorist threats in Iraq, on radical Sunni Islamists working with former regime elements and how that working relationship takes place. And we've also gotten some key information on terrorists. I'm going to put it as tactical: their techniques, tactics and procedures; their command and control structure; and how that's coming together there in Iraq. We've also gotten some great information on key personalities.
Let's talk about how interrogations work, and I'm going to give you a three-minute primer on interrogations. And I think this is important because there's misconceptions that the interrogator just walks in and this happens. It doesn't happen that way.
First of all, a guy is captured, probably at a brigade or a battalion level. Those personnel that are captured are moved from the brigade. Their enemy documents, the captured documents that are with them, are put in a different bag and taken with that prisoner and sent up to the division, and then to the theater cage.
What happens with all the prisoners that come together at that cage -- and remember, at Abu Ghraib, you could have several thousand in the general detainee population area -- you have to screen them. Which are the ones that we're going to interrogate and why?
That screening process, run by military intelligence but supported by the MPs, is a key thing. Why do we need the MPs and intel to work together at that point? As you would imagine, the people who know who's in that camp, what their status is, are the MPs. They know who everybody goes to talk to. They're all going to this guy over here, and they're talking to him; he's the key guy. Or we heard that that guy over there is really a colonel.
So MI and MPs must work together. And what they do is they determine which detainees are going to go in for interrogation, what we'll call the intel hold area or the joint interrogation and debriefing center.
Now here's where it really starts. And we're going to go through now the key parts of interrogation, because now you have the prisoners, and you have the commander's priority information requirements. What is it that we need to learn? That IED -- protecting our troops, protecting our civilians and protecting the Iraqis -- that's a key thing for us. And we know that this individual was part of an improvised explosive device ring. We want to gain information on him.
The first thing that the interrogator does is gather all the information that they have on that person, puts together an analyst support package and an interrogation plan. And it's that interrogation plan where they talk about all the things that they will do with that individual, what we're trying to learn, and what am I going to do, what is the approach I'm going to take. And those approaches are the ones that you've seen in those listings in several of the matrix.
If I'm going to take one of the approved ones and I show that to my boss, the OIC, I'm going to take the direct approach, because you're talking to me. And I'm just going to ask you the question. That works 95 percent of the time -- just ask them the question; we're going to get it.
Or if you're not talking or we think you're deceptive, we might think you might be a different person and say, "Now I'm not sure. You're -- aren't you so and so?" One of those approaches would be laid down. The OIC would look at it.
If there's anything that I have that I want to do that's not on my approved list, I explain in my interrogation plan what I want to do. I think I need to have this guy stand or do this for this amount of period of time. If it's not approved, it was in that right side, those that are reserved, then I have to write that, send it up through my chain to the brigade commander, who sends it to the C-2, off to the judge advocate general, who looks at it from a legal perspective, does this make sense. If he agrees or he makes changes to it, then he sends it to the CG for approval.
Now then they go in, they conduct the interrogation. It has to stick to that plan. Two key parts that we've done. We've created a plan and we've gotten all the background information on that individual.
These are things that we had a lot of problems on Iraq. When I went there in 1 August, getting that flow of information on who this guy was and bringing it all up was a problem that we needed to solve. Reason? When we got all the detainees to Abu Ghraib, the information that needed to go back to a brigade in 4th Infantry Division often didn't get to that brigade in time that it was useful.
So that was a problem and some of the things that we're trying to fix. You go through the interrogation plan, you gather your information, terminate the interrogation and write a report.
So that was the three-minute tutorial on interrogations. Now I'll turn it over to (the other senior military official).
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Thank you, sir. (Name and position deleted.)
I'd like first to give you a legal background on the situation in Iraq. From the very beginning of the conflict, the Geneva Conventions have been fully applicable. There's never been any dispute about that, never any doubt. During the initial phase, it was an international armed conflict, to which the Geneva Conventions were applicable. We are now in a state of legal occupation. The Geneva Conventions are applicable to that, as well.
Prisoners of war are governed by the third Geneva Convention. Civilian internees are governed by the fourth Geneva Convention. For the most part, we have remaining under U.S. control only civilian internees, specifically now a subset that we call security internees. Security internees are also covered under the fourth Geneva Convention. They are protected persons under that convention. But there is within the fourth Geneva Convention, specifically within Article V, a group which is allowed to be detained for imperative threats to security against the state. And so for the most part, with very, very few exceptions, because we have very few common law criminals still remaining under U.S. control, the people under U.S. control are security internees who have engaged in or have been suspected of engaging in activities which threaten the security of the state and coalition forces.
Now, some points from the legal side concerning what (the other briefer) has described.
First, the interrogation plans are subject to a legal review, by a judge advocate, by a uniformed attorney. Additionally, any request for exception to policy as mentioned by (the other briefer) comes through me personally as the staff judge advocate, the legal advisor for General Sanchez.
But I thought it important to back up a little bit and place this in context, in terms of how it was we came to have an interrogation policy and how that slide that you may have seen was produced -- how it came to be and what it really means.
Backing up a bit, the CJTF-7, like U.S. forces generally in Iraq, did not initially have an interrogation policy. They relied upon the approaches that are contained within the Army field manual on interrogations.
In August and September of this past year, General Miller, from Guantanamo Bay, was asked to come over and to look at our interrogation and analytical practices. The purpose of this was to see if there were any lessons learned that might be applicable to the conflict in Iraq. And the reason I say "might" is this: the difference between Guantanamo Bay and Iraq is, as I mentioned earlier: the Geneva Conventions are fully applicable in Iraq.
So General Miller's group came over; they conducted an extensive study and they made some constructive recommendations. And a lot of it had to do with the actual construct of interrogations and analysis, the creation of a joint interrogation and debriefing center, the dedication of analysts along with an interrogator and an interpreter to engage in meaningful interrogation practices. But what they also provided us and recommended to us was that we have an interrogation policy. Now the one they provided was from Guantanamo Bay. But because we knew that the Geneva Conventions were applicable in Iraq, we took that policy, we scrubbed it against what we felt the law was concerning the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention -- because, again, we're talking about security internees -- and adopted practices called approaches from that Guantanamo Bay policy. We did not lift or use the entire policy. We used part of it and excepted other parts of it.
That was the genesis for the first interrogation policy, which was put out in September by CJTF-7, subject to continuing review by U.S. Central Command. Over the next month, until 12 October, we worked in a collaborative way with military intelligence and legal officers to come up with our definitive interrogation policy, which is dated 12 October, 2003. Now that's a classified document, but a few pertinent points about it.
It states specifically the application of the Geneva Convention. It contains within it at enclosure one approved approaches, and approaches are things, as (the other briefer) suggested, like the direct approach, direct questioning. And enclosure two, it contains safeguards. Some of those important safeguards are that all persons being interrogated shall be treated humanely, that there must be an interrogation plan. Within the base document that language is also referenced, and requires that any technique which is not in enclosure one must be submitted through the C2, the senior intelligence officer of the command, and through the staff judge advocate for a legal review before going to the commanding general. Now, that was dated 12 October.
We think on or about 18 October there was a slide produced. And you all have probably seen that, and I think it was in The Washington Post. That slide was posted up on the wall of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center, the JIDC. That slide was styled, "Interrogation Rules of Engagement," which is a term, frankly, I don't like. Really, it ought to be "Interrogation Policy Extract," because that's what it is, it's a summary, it's an extract. In effect, if you read it -- and I encourage you to -- it is an admonition, because on the left column of that particular slide it lists "approaches." Now, remember I said our policy was classified? But if you look at the list on the left, you'll see the approaches that are contained within that 12 October policy.
Then, on the right there are things that say, "Requires CJTF-7 CG Approval." Well, where did that list come from? Well, that list came from multiple sources. In fact, that list could be the entire universe of things which are not listed on the left. Those are things that have been suggested as possible practices, things that came out of the Guantanamo Bay SOP, things that came out of different unit SOPs, but most importantly, things that came out of various drafts within the preceding month that were floating around the command. That was not an official product of CJTF-7. It wasn't issued by the SG. I didn't see it until a few days ago.
Having said that, I would argue it's really not a bad product because the intent is to remind interrogators, look, stick to the doctrinal list of approaches. If you don't, you got to go to the CG. And pregnant within that requirement is, therefore, it's got to go to the adult leadership, the C-2, who is a two-star general, and has to go to the Staff Judge Advocate for legal review, and would have to go to the CG to look at the things that (the other briefer) talked to: the interrogation plan, does this make sense, is it legal, is it practical, is it likely to have results, does it comply with the Geneva Conventions.
Now, I can tell you, with regard to exceptions, we had approximately 25 over the entire pendency, from 12 October to date -- 25 exceptions. All of those were for segregation. Not a single exception was granted for anything other than segregation.
Q Were any requested?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Yes, sir. There was a request initiated from the interrogators which went to the commander, 205th Military Intelligence Brigade on three occasions for stress positions. In each of those occasions, the request was denied at the brigade commander level, so it never reached the commanding general.
Q But you said you never saw this list of those approaches that needed to have the CG's approval until just a few days ago?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: No. No, sir. What I never saw was that actual slide. Remember, the slide is simply an extract of -- on the left -- Enclosure 1 of the policy of 12 October.
Q Who produced the slide?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: 205th MI Brigade. Yeah, and they did it. And again, see, part of this as -- (name omitted) -- said, is to demystify. It's also, frankly, to show that there really wasn't anything insidious or untoward about this. I mean, frankly, what you had at the MI brigade was probably a captain, might have been a sergeant or a corporal who's good at PowerPoint, who extracted, on the left, the policy, on the right, a whole bunch of approaches. And God bless him, at the bottom, put those safeguards. And again, while the policy itself is classified, if you read the safeguards on the bottom, you pretty much got an extract of the safeguards that are in Enclosure 2 of the policy -- Geneva Conventions apply; treat everyone humanely, and so on.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: You see, and this is a key point.
Q I'm confused by the difference between --
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Can I just take this question. This is a key point. So when you develop that interrogation plan, if you choose an approach on the left side, your OIC can approve your plan right there, because it's already approved. If you wanted to do something from segregation on, you could put that in a plan, but now it's got to go all the way up to the CG for approval. And as -- (name omitted) -- said, that was only done in the segregation cases, and the ones that went up to the brigade on the stress positions.
Q Does that chart accurately the CJTF policy as you enunciate it?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: On the -- yeah, on the left-hand side?
Q This slide is an accurate rendition of these.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Yes, sir, I believe it is.
Q In all respects?
Q No, on the left side and the right side.
Q Left, right, center. The whole thing.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: No. On the right side, it's not, because the right side has got -- thank you, sir -- yeah, on the left side --
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: I guess they don't have it.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Yeah. But on the right side, "Requires CG's approval," again, no, sir, because what this has is a number of things that were in either drafts or are simply just out there as policies. The policy itself does not list the things on the right. What the 12th --
Q Can you verify which ones were not part of the final policy?
Q So you're saying anything that's on the left basically requires CG's approval?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: No, no, no.
Q No, anything on the right. I mean -- I'm sorry.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Let me -- let me -- if I might help here, let me explain from -- there was a series of drafts, 14 September approved, where the things on the right were in the 14 September policy. When it went to 12 October, those were removed from the policy and put under one statement that, anything not approved, you have to ask for. What the 205th did, we believe, was then said, "Okay, so all the things that were in the old policy, they’re here. Now I have to go to the CG for approval. So everything that you've seen, don't make a mistake and try to do these yourself. What they didn't want to do was have an interrogator do an approach that they thought was valid. So they put him on both of those. And they made him sign them.
Q But are you saying that from 14 -- in the 14 September version of these rules, the stuff on the right was included as CJTF-7 policy for allowed interrogation procedures with CG approval?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: That's correct.
Q Then why did it come out in an October 12th?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Yeah. I'll tell you why. Because this is within the Geneva Conventions not as simple as just going to the chapter on interrogation and trying to figure out what is authorized and what's not. There are reasonable people and very intelligent people who can differ on what is authorized, what's permissible under the Geneva Conventions, particularly in the context of security internees.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: All of our doctrine are manuals, for example., speak to enemy prisoners of war, which are covered under a different convention and enjoy a different and separate status from security internees. So what is an authorized and permissible approach? Moreover, what is able to be implemented with rigor and oversight and a good and identifiable risk assessment, as a matter of some subjective interpretation. When we did the September policy, we sent it off to U.S. Central Command, and also solicited a number of other opinions as to what they thought was appropriate.
What we wound up with over 28 days of coordinating it was the 12 October policy which took out those that are on the right, but it is accurate to say that, let's say if you were an interrogator and you said I want to interrogate Alexander. But you know what? I think, you know, when you pick one of these, might work, even after 12 October, even though it wasn't even listed in the policy. Yeah. Theoretically you could put it in your IP and request authority to do it.
Q Your interrogation plan?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Your interrogation plan. But the fact is again, we had no requests for those.
Q And were the requests for any of those in the period during which they were -- (inaudible) ?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: They were not.
Q What you're describing though is that after this incredibly careful legal review of what policy to do, some sergeant or corporal or captain who's good at Power Point, throw these on a slide, and essentially suggests that they're available for use, even though you're saying that really wasn't officially the policy.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: But -- no. Well, what I said was exactly that, in the first part -- said yeah, I think that this probably was produced at the brigade by a captain, who put it up on the wall and then used it as the interrogation ROE.
But the key point is, you can't simply use these. They're not available for use. You've got to get the CG's approval, if you wanted to do them.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: And an example was segregation was not in the approved list. So when they wanted to do a segregation as part of their interrogation plan, that required the CG's approval. And that interrogation plan then went up there. So they took that off the list, and they said, "Hm, it's on the right side. It's got to go up to the brigade commander and up through that route." And that's the route it went.
Q Can I ask one last question? I'll shut up for a minute. I asked -- I might have asked incorrectly. From September 14th to October 12th, could you have used the things on the right without CG approval?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: I believe, for non-EPWs, you could, yes.
Q For all the people that you had at Abu Ghraib at that time, you could have?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Yes.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: But it's actually a subset of them, and I'd have to get you the correct subset. It was not all of those. Some of those were --
Q (Off mike) -- detainee --
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: No, no. No, no. I mean of those, even on the 14 September, six of them were asterisked -- and I don't have that right in front of me -- were for CG's approval.
Q Sort out for me, if you would, the difference between approaches and techniques. I mean, approaches indeed are laid down; you can read them in the back of the field manual, okay? I mean, it's hard man, soft man, direct, indirect, all that general stuff.
But General Miller had specifically talked about 53 techniques which were -- which derived from the field manual. He said that on the record. He said, well, first of all, about 50. Then he said about 53. That was an on-the-record briefing to reporters.
But there would then be much talk of the 72-point matrix. I mean, a copy of that's floating around West Point at the moment. Sort out --
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Floating around -- ?
Q West Point, at the moment. Sort out for me what those 53 are and what the 72-point matrix is, because it's clearly different -- it's clearly techniques and not approach.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: You see -- yeah. And I'm not sure that we aren't confusing the word "approaches" and "techniques," because in the field manual -- I just looked in real quick, right here --
Q There are 50 or nearly 53 --
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: That's right. And there's approaches. And you know, in my mind, the approaches are the techniques that the interrogator uses. And I'll tell you, when you talk -- and some of you may have gone out to the schoolhouse, because they did a quick two-day thing, and several of you had folks out there that showed exactly how we train the students to do that. And those approaches are what General Miller was referring to, techniques. Now you can start to slice those into different categories and look at it. I've not seen the matrix that you're talking about, so I'd have to go see that to give you back a more accurate answer.
Q But, (briefer's title) -- but to -- sorry -- just to get a different -- nowhere in the field manual does it refer to "stress positions," and nowhere in the field manual does it refer to isolation. Nowhere in the field manual does it refer to environmental controls.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Actually, it does. It refers to prolonged periods of time in some of these positions as an example. So this is where the legal review that (the other briefer) reported. So forcing an individual, for example, to stand, sit or kneel in abnormal positions for prolonged periods of time is not authorized.
So now you're into a legal issue. What is the prolonged -- what's prolonged versus -- you know, and so if you're up here, 30 minutes might be prolonged. If you're -- do you see what I mean? So that question now gets into the legal debate of what is allowed, then? What can you do? Does that make sense? Because it's on page 1-A that I'm reading for you.
Q Yes. I just -- but you said it's not allowed, but clearly in some circumstances, as you said, it was allowed. So is that --
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: You see, what's not allowed, it says for "prolonged" periods. So that means it's allowed for some periods.
Now if you're going to use it all, since that's a concern, get legal review. If you say I'm going to use this for 10 minutes, 15 minutes or whatever, you have to get a legal review. It's not allowed for the interrogators to implement by themselves.
Q (Briefer's title)? (Briefer's title)?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Just one more second and we'll get to you, Danny.
There is an enormous amount of subjectivity when it comes to both interpretation of the Geneva Conventions and interpretation of what -- mostly what cannot be done in accordance with the field manual. And that's what the legal review requires, is the kinds of determinations (the other briefer) is referring to. On that very point, that's a good one.
You've referred to the 72-point matrix. I'm not sure exactly what you're talking about, but I do know in quite a different context, with respect to Guantanamo, the combatant commander down there sought a review of a variety of techniques and approaches, and that review was done in this department by quite a number of attorneys, lawyers from the services and others. And it was evaluated, and they gave their views on this so-called matrix, from which certain decisions were derived. So the matrix by itself didn't have a lot of meaning, because it doesn't reflect the decisions that were made off of it. And I believe that's what you're referring to, and it's got to do with Guantanamo and the request made by General Hill some time ago -- quite apart from what may have been done in Iraq.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Yes, sir. And if I might go back to the idea of stress positions. I misspoke earlier --
MR. DIRITA: We're almost out of time --
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: -- and I thank the guys over here -- that the 14 September policy on the right were not exclusively those that were approved without an exception to policy. For example, a stress position would have required CG approval, even under the 14 September policy, and no request was made, no exception was granted.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: And the other point to make very clear -- interrogation plan has to do with an individual detainee. So it's not as though this is a menu that interrogators can say, "Today I got these guys. I'm going to go to work on these guys using this menu." They have to have a plan against that individual and that plan has to involve their desire to use, if they chose, to request some of those techniques.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: So all the stuff you saw in the pictures, that's not allowed, that's not authorized, that's wrong.
Q How has the policy changed since October -- this last October policy. How has it changed?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Yeah, it changed very recently. On 13 May, General Sanchez modified the policy and the -- I don't have the document, but the 13 May policy took out certain techniques -- I'm sorry, certain approaches, which were not being used in any event. And an example was -- and all of which, by the way, would require CG exception to policy; an example being stress positions. What is said is simply we will not even entertain a request, so don't even send it up for a review.
Q (Off mike.)
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Thirteen May.
Q One other -- you talk about the staff in those -- (inaudible) -- those were largely showing MPs in the photos. The guidelines you're telling us about are what the interrogators were doing. So in other words, the MPs did not have these rules.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: The MPs were not -- that's correct. There are allegations of other things and we'd have to go into that separately.
Q Can we keep going a little bit on the stress position --
MR. DIRITA: We're almost out of time.
Q Well, the important points, though -- what other things do you know were taken out?
Q What else was taken out?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: On the -- on which one? On the --
Q The extract --
Q May 13.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Yeah, on the 13 May?
Q You said certain approaches -- plural. You said there were several --
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Yeah. Stress position was one.
(To other briefer.) Do you remember?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Yes, I think he took every one that has not been used out, I believe, and left only segregation or isolation, I believe.
Q So the right column is gone?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: That's right.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: And that needs to be put forward. Now, it hasn't been put forward to them yet, since they laid out the rules. And what they did is they took them off --
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Just took them off the table. You can't even --
Q You can't even ask General Sanchez for anything in the right column, it's just off the table? If I want to use anything in the right column, I can't even ask?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: No, isolation and segregation is still --
Q But when you say segregation, is that environmental manipulation?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: No, sir. Segregation is to separate you from the general population.
Q Is that solitary confinement?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: No, sir, I would not term it solitary confinement. That has a penal character to it. What it is is a person who has information, you don't want them to be intermingling with the general population, so you're going to put him by himself, and that requires an exception to policy by General Sanchez, for a period in excess of 30 days.
MR. DIRITA: This is going to have to be the last question. These gentlemen have to get to the Hill. So --
Q It's an important one. If the right side of this list has disappeared, other than this isolation 30-day matter, can you please tell us basically what took so long? General Sanchez, of course, has known about this list for some time. What made you, on May 13th, change it?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: My understanding is that those were simply not being used. And unfortunately, I was here this week, so I don't know exactly the genesis of it.
Q Can we just ask you a delicate question?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Sure.
Q Would you have changed -- would you had left it in place had there not been congressional pressure, had there not been congressional questions? If the prisoner abuse scandal had not come to light, would you have changed it? Or have you changed it because of that?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Ma'am, I really can't say on that. That would be speculation.
MR. DIRITA: Let me speak to that. That suggests --
Q But you're on the record?
MR. DIRITA: I am on the record.
That suggests that no work was being done on this, quite apart from the allegations that occurred in January. Clearly, in September, again in October, there was fairly rigorous review of what procedures should we consider, should the command consider; what procedures should be requested for additional -- for senior-level authority. And it was something that was under regular review. Obviously, in September and October they made -- they made a decision in September; upon further review, made further decisions in October.
So there is nothing in this that implies that the behavior that we saw on that footage is somehow appropriate, or is somehow implied by these techniques.
MR. DIRITA: No, I understand that. But it is possible that -- it is just possible -- I present this to the group -- it is possible that the rigorous work that has gone on in this from the beginning, quite apart from the allegations that we saw in January, includes recent reviews as a result of how many times has this stuff been sought; if it's not been sought, let's just decide we don't want to do it. Now, General Sanchez isn't here. Remember that General Miller has only arrived about 30 days ago. He's gotten himself into this more. He may well have decided, look, I just know that we weren't using any of these techniques in Guantanamo and we're not using them here; I don't need them.
I'm speculating, but I'm just saying there's an awful lot of work going on and has been going on that's quite apart from these allegations. And it would be inappropriate, really, to try and connect the two. They may be connected. I'm just saying it's --
Q (Off mike) -- the right side is used in Guantanamo either?
MR. DIRITA: Let's also clarify another thing. This is somebody's best guess or best attempet to capture, essentially for education at the unit level, what some lengthy instruction says. It would be probably a mistake to try and say that General Sanchez, on the basis of anything that's happened recently, looked at this slide and says "Take everything off the right side." They're working off of a CJTF instruction that has annexes and attachments, and the lawyers are saying those and saying, we don't want to use these techniques we do want to use those techniques. This was somebody's rendering of those techniques.
Q But you're not saying that the right-hand side of that list is in compliance with the Geneva Convention; that this is a subjective legal decision to be made in a case-by-case.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: It is. But that's a very important point.
MR. DIRITA: And then we really will have to wrap this up. I mean, these two gentlemen have another appointment. We were trying to give you guys an opportunity.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Yeah. That's not to say that anything that the 13 May policy took out or that was in the right-hand column in and of itself violated the Geneva Conventions. In fact, our position is to the contrary. If it is applied correctly; if it is applied with appropriate oversight, with rigor and in conformity with the safeguards, and I'll give you two examples. One is, the stress position. If I tell a person to stand at attention while I'm talking to him, that's a stress position. Is the violative of the Geneva Conventions? I would argue absolutely not. But you can imagine if you do certain other things or you use a stress position in tandem with other approaches, that may very well violate the Geneva Conventions. That's why we have the rigor of process.
The other thing, this environmental manipulation. Sounds terrible. Sounds insidious. But remember, taken in concert with Enclosure 2, the general safeguards, you always have to maintain the baseline, the floor if you will, of the Geneva Conventions. So when you manipulate the environment, what that means is, you never can violate the Conventions. You've always got to maintain the minimums of food and water and shelter and safety and so forth. But, you may say, "I'm not --" you know, "If you don't cooperate with me, I'm not going to give you as nice a location as this other guy has who did. Perfectly permissible. But what you can't do is take that guy and put him in an environment which is beneath the baseline of the Geneva Conventions.
Q Where was the prohibition on --
Q But did the Red Cross report -- did the Red Cross report which -- (name omitted) -- talked about on the Hill, which came to CJTF-7 in, what?, beginning of November, and to which I believe you -- (name omitted) -- drafted the final reply. Did that --
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: No, General Perkins (sp), 24 December.
Q No. He signed it, but I'm told (briefer's name) drafted it with his JAG team. Did that --
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Actually, I did not. But --
Q Okay. Well, let me just get -- if you say you didn't, that's interesting.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Sometimes your sources are not always right.
Q Did that report tell you that anything was going on that was not -- in terms of interrogation that was not sanctioned by CJTF; in other words, was not sanctioned by that sort of -- by that list?
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Yes.
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Yes. There are aspects of that report which are very concerning and which were ultimately part of the matter under investigation by both CID and General Taguba.
Q On the parts on the right-hand side, are they from the --
MR. DIRITA: Folks, these guys are out of time and they were very kind to give you some time.
Q One last question.
Q Are civilians also subject --
SR. MILITARY OFFICIAL: Thanks a lot.
Q -- civilians and contractors subject to this rule, too?
MR. DIRITA: Yes, absolutely.
Q Are the items on the right-hand side under use in Guantanamo?
MR. DIRITA: They're not the experts on Guantanamo and I don't know.
I might take a question or two on the secretary's trip, or --
Q Larry, are you suggesting to us that it's just a pure -- a sheer coincidence --
MR. DIRITA: No, I'm not. I am not.
Q -- that General Sanchez issues new guidance --
MR. DIRITA: I am not. I am absolutely not.
Q -- ripping out these right-side exception ones that --
MR. DIRITA: I am not suggesting that at all.
Q -- after two weeks of contentious hearings?
MR. DIRITA: I am not suggesting that. What I am suggesting is it is -- what you have seen here is that there has been a rigorous process since long before these allegations came to light, and it would be unfair -- it is possible that, in fact likely, that the heightened scrutiny of the last couple weeks, as any good commander would -- for example, when these allegations came to light, we attached heightened scrutiny to all of the other prison facilities throughout the AOR. That was prudent. It would have been perfectly prudent and appropriate for General Sanchez in the wake of -- and I'm only speculating, so I can't speak for him. But it would have been perfectly appropriate for him to say let's take a look -- or General Miller, more likely, let's take a look at these procedures and make sure, since we're not using them, do we really want to make them available?
Q Did Secretary Rumsfeld direct General Sanchez to take these out?
MR. DIRITA: No. It wouldn't have been his place to do that.
Q What steps did the secretary take on this trip over there to make sure that there was no impression at all of command influence on the ongoing court-martial?
MR. DIRITA: It's something he's mindful of, and General Myers is as well. General Myers is not in the chain of command, but he advises the chain of command. So they try and be careful. He was not there, and he was -- the secretary noted that he was not there on any kind of an evaluation or inspection visit, he was simply there, as he said, to get an update from General Sanchez and the others; to visit the troops. He was particularly interested in seeing the troops at Abu Ghraib, and he did.
But he didn't say -- the comments he made with respect to recent incidents that have come to light were consistent with what he has said here, which is that, you know, the images depicted on those videos are outrageous, they reflect behavior that's unacceptable, and it's very important that the people involved in that be held accountable, and they will.
Q Well, were there any people he didn't see, any legal -- perhaps that he intentional didn't want to see to avoid any appearance of command influence?
MR. DIRITA: I don't -- I don't think that -- I mean, the nature of the individuals that he saw while he was there was consistent with what he has seen in other visits to the AOR. He saw the commander, he saw the commander's key staff individuals. He met with General Miller, who's involved -- obviously, we all know who General Miller is. I mean, the nature of whom he met with was not driven by his concern about the command influence. I mean, as a matter of fact, he didn't meet with the unit commanders or anything like that, but that's not unusual for those kinds of trips.
Q On the items that were taken off of the table, the column on the right, were they taken off the table because they were onerous, or they were taken off the table because they simply never have been used?
MR. DIRITA: They were -- what the (briefer's rank deleted) just said was that, as a matter of fact, they were not being used. The reason why they were taken off, I'm not sure, but I think that what he said was that they simply weren't being used.
Q It's not because they're onerous in any way?
MR. DIRITA: I don't know what "onerous" means. They are clearly in a -- they are clearly the types of activities that somebody felt needed higher-level authority and the disconnect from the unit, so that there could be a more objective evaluation of it, if they want it to be used. So they're clearly in a slightly different category. But I wouldn't try and attach words like "onerous" to it.
Q But do you think that they were disused, they were not used is the reason --
MR. DIRITA: What he said was the only one that had been even requested was the --
Q No evaluation of "maybe we shouldn't be doing this stuff"?
MR. DIRITA: That's being evaluated while they're deciding to approve them, and that was -- they made the evaluation, when it was determined that they could be used, that they could be used. So I mean, that's --
Q Larry, can you get a clarification? He said from October till now there were 25 exceptions made for segregation, three for stress positions. Those were denied. But he also said between September and October there were six requests made, but he didn't get to elaborate on that. Can you --
MR. DIRITA: I don't know the answer, but we'll try and get it. (To staff.) Can we get that?
Q (Off mike) -- date.
MR. DIRITA: The September to October period, of what he saw?
Q How many exceptions --
MR. DIRITA: It's --
STAFF: Yeah, I think we may be able to.
Q And then, to date, the dogs were never approved, even though they were on the right-hand list?
MR. DIRITA: It sounds like what he said, but we can -- if you have that explicit question, we'll try and get the explicit answer.
Q Can you -- as long as you're taking questions, can you take a question and get back to us about whether any of these so-called right-hand column things were techniques used or approaches used in Guantanamo?
MR. DIRITA: We'll try and find that out.
Q And is it ever -- are any of the accepted approaches -- could it ever been -- can keeping a prisoner or a detainee naked for extended periods of time -- is that something that's ever -- can ever be approved, or is that something that's in the always --
MR. DIRITA: I just don't know. And we'll find out. I think not, but I'll find out.
Q If you could take that, it would be helpful to know.
MR. DIRITA: And the thing I really want to emphasize -- the point that he was trying to make is that this was -- as you see, in the military, this is not uncommon. They take regs and then boil them down, like the ROEs. These guys are all carrying in their pocket the ROEs. That's why the secretary, for example, is so forceful on making sure ROEs are understandable to the soldiers that have to employ them, because that's what they do. They take these complicated instructions and boil them down to something they can understand. This slide that --
Q (Off mike) --
MR. DIRITA: Hold on. This slide that everybody is focused on right now is a slide that was kind of rendered in that way. So it's not exhaustive of the things that are available in the instruction. And when (title deleted) talks about them, he's talking about what he knows, which is the instruction and the associated annexes. So I'm only offering that as a caution.
Q But it's not such something that was just randomly done by some some -- (inaudible). You provided this to Congress as an explanation for what the rules --
MR. DIRITA: All I'm saying is be careful with it, that's all; it's not exhaustive. It's just a -- I would offer the same caution to anybody in Congress that would ask that, as well.
Q So is the stuff on the right-hand side written down anywhere in the CENTCCOM policy? I mean, the guy, whoever this poor corporal who wrote this up now is up now is in --
Q (Off mike.) (Laughter.)
MR. DIRITA: No, this is a common thing. They do their best. And he had all the proper qualifiers on the bottom.
Q Is that somewhere in the CENTCOM policy?
MR. DIRITA: The way (title deleted) described it is it's in the annex associated with the instruction on detainee approaches, on interrogation techniques.
Q Is it your understanding that the September 14th policy which included the stuff on the right side, that policy was drawn up as a direct result of the Miller recommendations?
MR. DIRITA: Well, he described that, too, and I'll do my best to recount what he described, because I don't have independent understanding of it. What he described is that Miller came out, said here's -- I think he actually may have even provided them as a result of his visit -- here's what we've done. And their process was different. And what (title deleted) said was they understood from the beginning that the detainees were in a different status, so they had to apply their own judgment, and the did.
And there's been assertions that they took the -- or there's been an implication, or inferences, anyway, that they took the Miller thing and kind of slapped the CJTF-7 letterhead on it and issued it, and they didn't -- they did precisely something else, is what he described, which is we knew that the detainees under our custody were governed by different principles or governed by more specific elements, and so we had to look at it. And they washed up it up against their own unique circumstances and came out with a document that's different.
Q But that certainly suggests that what Miller showed them was everything on the left and everything on the right --
MR. DIRITA: I don't know why that suggests that.
Q That Miller brought over their policy.
MR. DIRITA: Right.
Q Said this is what we're doing at Gitmo.
MR. DIRITA: Right.
Q Said -- (inaudible) -- thank you, our situation is different because of – EPW (inaudible) --
MR. DIRITA: Right.
Q But this is good to have, and nine days after or six days after he leaves, they put out a brand new policy about interrogation.
MR. DIRITA: They put out their policy that was applicable to their circumstances. And they were apparently used as at least one of their documents. I think what Miller was trying to do was say, you need something that's maybe a little bit more rigorous. Remember, Miller had been at this now for a year and a half. These guys had kind of been at it for six months, and really left because they had only begun to develop the Abu Ghraib activities. So I think what they were trying to do was get a little bit more rigor, and that's one of the things Miller was out there doing. He said, You probably need an instruction, and here's the instruction we're using. This is not uncommon for instructions to be shared among commands.
Q (Inaudible.) Wasn't there a tacit admission to from -- (name omitted) -- that the procedures and techniques at Guantanamo were not -- didn't fully comply with Geneva Conventions because he said, you know, we have a situation here where clearly the Geneva Convention applied. He said, for that reason --
MR. DIRITA: I don't think so.
Q -- we did not -- (inaudible) --
MR. DIRITA: No. I don't --
Q -- or --
MR. DIRITA: He was not trying to characterize --
Q And he said we had to scrub it so that it would fit.
MR. DIRITA: It's a matter of fact. It is a matter of fact that the detainees in Guantanamo were captured in a conflict that is -- whose -- the circumstances of which are interpreted differently by the United States government than in Iraq. So that's just a matter of fact. He's not trying to make any implication.
Q (Inaudible) -- in accordance with the Geneva -- even though you're saying that --
MR. DIRITA: And that gets to the baseline conditions that he talked about, which is humane treatment, religious services, food, conditions. That's in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.
Q Well, so, but then when they take those procedures and import them to Iraq, where you say the Geneva Conventions clearly apply, then we're told that they had to be scrubbed and some things --
MR. DIRITA: I didn't hear they had to be scrubbed. I don't think any --
Q (Name omitted) -- said that!
Q (Name omitted) -- said they had to be scrubbed.
MR. DIRITA: Scrubbed? Okay, then scrubbed against their -- in other words, they are in different status, and it's just a simple matter of fact. His -- the detainees for which he's responsible for are in a different status.
Q But if you're treating them the same whether they have a different status or not, then --
MR. DIRITA: Do we have the handout, because what you really need to do is take a look at the Geneva Conventions. It doesn't say, here are the following techniques that are authorized. It says -- it is very generic. It talks about conditions that have to be maintained.
Q We're talking about your standards? I mean, here's the -- (title/job description omitted) -- looks at it and says, this doesn't meet the Geneva Conventions; we have to modify it so it does.
MR. DIRITA: He didn't say it doesn't meet the Geneva Conventions. He says our detainees are in a different status. So we took into account the fact that they're in a different status. Now what that means legally, I don't know.
Q All right, I --
MR. DIRITA: But --
Q -- I think that we're not -- (inaudible) -- people can read it and decide for themselves.
MR. DIRITA: The lawyers have been very rigorous with respect to what's going on in Guantanamo and with respect to what's going on in Iraq. But as a matter of fact, legally, there are different facts. And so they have a different set of things that they have to look for. The Geneva standard is a baseline standard. And that standard's being met in Guantanamo, and it's being met in Iraq. I mean, that's -- and if you look -- and we'll pass this thing out -- the Geneva standard is a fairly generic -- you can't torture; you can't use physical coercion; you have to provide for proper feeding and proper environmental conditions. But beyond that, it leaves open to a lot of interpretation, and it's based on practice and custom and all kinds of things. And the lawyers do their very best to make sure that they're complying. And we have field manuals that go back a hundred years that the Army relies on. And I mean, it's -- if there only a menu from which people could say, "Okay, we can do the following five things" -- but there simply is not.
Last question, because I got to go.
Q Maybe -- pardon me if I've missed something. But why did it take until October for a policy of any kind relevant to Iraq detainees to be developed? Why wasn't this done as part of the prewar planning for an occupation?
MR. DIRITA: I don't know that it wasn't. The Army --
Q (Off mike.)
MR. DIRITA: The Army has field manuals. The field manuals apply. They were military interrogators, they were military police, they were following their field manuals.
After a period of time -- and we've discussed this -- given that the circumstances in Iraq were what they were, which is we were collecting a lot of these security detainees, people were doing their very best under the circumstances to apply governing regulations, we had developed a certain expertise in this kind of new set of activities that's not something that the United States has done for a while, down in Guantanamo. And it was a conscious decision to send the guy who had developed a certain expertise and a certain understanding and a certain set of practices out there to see if there was a way he could help. And that shouldn't imply, I don't think, Jonathan, that that means they weren't doing anything prior to that.
Q But does this imply, again, a failure to anticipate prewar that you were going to have a situation like this at all?
MR. DIRITA: I just couldn't answer the question. I just don't know. I don't know why it has to imply that. I mean, as I said, there were military police, there were military interrogators. They knew their regulations.
Over time, the circumstances changed and anybody would say, well, jeez, where our we doing something like this? It's sort of a best practices thing. And the best practices at that time were Guantanamo. Let's see what we can do. And in fact, the guy who was in Guantanamo is now in Iraq.
Q Just to clear something, who took the conscious decision to send Miller?
MR. DIRITA: That's a matter of some question. But the way these things kind of work is -- you know, the secretary meets regularly with Myers and Pace and Wolfowitz and others. And there was a discussion that I recall, and I think the secretary may recall it as well, that sometime last summer --
Q June? Late June?
MR. DIRITA: I don't know. Maybe. He went out there when? In August sometime?
STAFF: Late August.
MR. DIRITA: Sometime last summer there was -- the discussion of detainees was one in which there was a lot of interest throughout.
We had given up a lot of detainees. The secretary's precept was turn these guys back, we don't want these guys. But there was a growing population. And I personally remember, so I know -- and I know others were involved in a discussion kind of at that level about, jeez, maybe we can see what's going on in Guantanamo and send Miller out there. So somewhere at that level -- I mean a fairly senior level of people kind of noodling this issue -- there was a decision made, let's send Miller out there and see if he can help; which he did.
Subsequently, several months later, I remember a similar discussion at that similar level, which was the secretary learned that they had decided Miller was going to be short-toured down in Guantanamo to be sent somewhere else by the Army to whatever the next, you know, assignment that made sense for him.
And I remember the secretary and the chairman and others talking about, does that make sense? That might make sense for the Army, but does it make sense for what we're doing? And why wouldn't we just think about maybe launching him over to Iraq? And that's what's ended up happening earlier this year. He ultimately was assigned some time in April.
So it was kind of -- these decisions tend to -- it's difficult to tell where the edge is made in a decision like that, because it's frequently done among those folks kind of thinking through these issues. And I think it was done on that basis in both cases.
Thanks a lot.
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