Sunday, May 16, 2004

War News for May 16, 2004. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi civilians killed in rocket attack on British camp near Basra. Bring ‘em on: Explosions reported in central Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: One US soldier killed, one wounded in roadside bombing in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Eighteen insurgents killed in fighting in Sadr City. Bring ‘em on: Fighting reported in Karbala. Bring ‘em on: Three Iraqi women working for US coalition assassinated in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: Home of Iraqi translator bombed in Kut. Bring ‘em on: Iraqi translator assassinated near Mahmoudiyah. Note to Readers After reading Sy Hersch’s latest article in the New Yorker, I re-read MG Taguba’s report looking for his findings that either support or disprove Hersch’s allegations that prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib resulted from DoD policy on the coercive interrogation of detainees. I thought it might be helpful to explain an AR 15-6 report so readers unfamiliar with Army correspondence can digest the findings and recommendations. The mission of an AR 15-6 investigating officer is to establish facts and report them to the commander who appointed him. The appointing commander sets the scope of the investigation and can also direct the investigating officer to make recommendations for corrective action. The purpose of this analysis is to examine the issue of whether Military Intelligence personnel influenced MP guards to abuse prisoners in pursuit of interrogation operations and whether there are indicators that this policy originated at the DoD level. I’m going to leave out parts of the report that are not germane to these issues. One of the things that the American media fails to understand is that the scope of MG Taguba’s investigation was limited to the 800th Military Police Brigade and detention operations at Abu Ghraib. He did not investigate Military Intelligence interrogation policies and procedures, but he recommends such an investigation and points an accusing finger directly at specific officers and civilian contractors from the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade and the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center. In the Background portion of the report, MG Taguba explains the circumstances surrounding his appointment as investigating officer (IO) and the scope of his investigation. In a nutshell, on January 19, 2004 the commander of US forces in Iraq, LTG Sanchez, requested that his immediate superior officer, CENTCOM commander GEN Abazaid, appoint a General Officer to investigate alleged prisoner abuse and other issues in the 800th MP Brigade. On January 24, the CENTCOM Chief of Staff directed the commander of Coalition Land Forces Component (CFLCC) to conduct the investigation LTG Sanchez had requested. In turn, the CLFCC commander, LTG McKiernan appointed MG Taguba as AR 15-6 investigating officer. There are four significant pieces of information contained in this portion of the report. 1. The investigation was ordered by GEN Abazaid, not LTG Sanchez, as has been reported in the press. As commander of CENTCOM, GEN Abazaid reported directly to GEN Myers at JCS and Secretary Rumsfeld at DoD. 2. LTG Sanchez specifically requested an investigating officer in the rank of Major General, indicating that the focus of the investigation would be an officer in the rank of Brigadier General. 3. The scope of the investigation is limited to the 800th MP Brigade. 4. A criminal investigation of prisoner abuse by US Army Criminal Investigation Command was already underway. Next, MG Taguba reviewed a survey of detention and interrogation operations conducted by MG Geoffrey Miller, entitled “Assessment of DoD Counter-Terrorism, Interrogation and Detention Operations in Iraq. In his report, MG Taguba summarizes MG Miller’s assessment and comments that the detainees at Abu Ghraib are significantly different in their potential intelligence value, and that using the facility guard force to facilitate interrogation operations is both doctrinally unsound and damaging to the smooth operation of the detention facility. I would like to know more about MG Miller’s report, such as who directed that he conduct the survey and whether his specific recommendation “that CJTF-7 dedicate and train a detention guard force subordinate to the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center (JDIC) that ‘sets the conditions for the successful interrogation and exploitation of internees/detainees’” was implemented. The answers to both of those questions would indicate whether or not the policy of coercive interrogation was directed from the DoD level. MG Taguba also reviewed and commented on a comprehensive review of detainee operations throughout the Iraq theater of operations conducted by MG Ryder. While noting that commanders in the 800th MP Brigade were not formally tasked to “set conditions” for interrogation operations, “it is obvious from a review of comprehensive CID interviews of suspects and witnesses this was done at lower levels.” In the portion of MG Taguba’s report entitled “Preliminary Investigative Actions,” MG Taguba describes his team composition, training, methodology and provides a timeline of investigatory actions. The “Findings and Recommendations” portion of the report are divided into four parts corresponding to the four specific lines of inquiry MG Taguba was directed to undertake by his appointment orders. Part One addresses prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib; Part Two addresses detainee escapes, riots and accountability; Part Three addresses training, procedures, and command climate within the 800th MP Brigade; and Part Four includes specific findings of fact and recommendations for corrective action. In his Part One findings, MG Taguba makes clear that COL Pappas, Commander, 205th MI Brigade was the commander of Abu Ghraib from November 19, 2003 to February 6, 2004. In addition to the abuses committed by members of the 800th MP Brigade, MG Taguba found abuses committed by members of the 325th MI Battalion, 205th MI Brigade and the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center. He also found that Military Police guards acted at the request of Military Intelligence officers to “set physical and mental conditions for the favorable interrogation of witnesses.” In paragraph 11 of the Part One findings, Taguba lists five witness statements that directly say the MPs were acting under the direction of Military Intelligence personnel. In Paragraph 8 of the Part One Recommendations, MG Taguba recommends an inquiry under the provisions of AR 381-10, Procedure 15, to determine the culpability of Military Intelligence personnel. In Paragraph 9 of the Part Three findings, MG Taguba found that an “ambiguous” command relationship between the 800th MP Brigade and the 205th MI Brigade was “exacerbated” by a Fragmentary Order issued by CJTF-7 on November 19th, 2003. The FRAGO made COL Pappas responsible the operation of Abu Ghraib and placed the MP guards under his command. The FRAGO was rescinded on February 6, 2004. In Paragraph 18 of the Part Three findings, MG Taguba documents disciplinary actions taken against officers and senior NCOs of the 800th MP Brigade for misconduct. GOMOR is an acronym for General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand. This was really one fucked up unit. In Paragraph 2 of the Recommendations portion of Part Three, MG Taguba recommends the commander of the 205th MI for a GOMOR for failing to properly supervise his soldiers, failing to ensure those soldiers were trained in Internee Rules of Engagement and failing to ensure they treated internees in accordance with Geneva Convention protections. In Paragraph 4 of the Recommendations portion of Part Three, MG Taguba recommends relief-for-cause and a GOMOR for the commander of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center for lying to investigators, and for the same command failures as the commander of the 205th MI Brigade. In Paragraph 11 of the Recommendations portion of Part Three, MG Taguba recommends termination of employment and security clearance for a civilian contract interrogator for lying to investigators about his conduct of interrogations and knowledge of abuses, and encouraging MP guards to abuse prisoners in pursuit of interrogation operations. In Paragraph 12 of the Recommendations portion of Part Three, MG Taguba recommends termination of employment for a civilian contract interrogator for lying to investigators and not possessing a security clearance. In Paragraph 13, MG Taguba recommends a Procedure 15 inquiry to determine the extent of Military Intelligence personnel culpability in the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. “I suspect that COL Thomas M. Pappas, LTC Steve L. Jordan, Mr. Steven Stephanowitz, and Mr. John Israel were either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuses at Abu Ghraib (BCCF) and strongly recommend immediate disciplinary action as described in the preceding paragraphs as well as the initiation of a Procedure 15 Inquiry to determine the full extent of their culpability.” Emphasis in the original. AR 381-10 is the basic regulation governing US Army intelligence activities. It contains procedures that intelligence personnel must follow to obtain and maintain legal authority to conduct intelligence collection activities, as well as prohibited activities. AR 381-10 implements Federal law regarding intelligence collection as it applies to the US Army. Procedure 15 is an AR 381-10 inquiry, punitive in nature, to determine if any persons assigned to US Army Intelligence violated Federal law in the course of their duties. Coupled with the Hersch piece, MG Taguba’s AR 15-6 report and a few other news items I’ve posted recently, it seems to me that there was indeed a blanket policy of coercive interrogation applied to the Iraqi detainees in US custody at Abu Ghraib. The media is missing the story here. The scandal isn’t the lower-ranking MP soldiers we’ve seen in the infamous pictures or their piss-poor leadership – and I’m not defending either of them. The issue is a blanket policy of coercive interrogation. Somebody made the decision to apply that policy through Military Intelligence channels. Presumably, the decision-maker made a conscious cost-benefit analysis, weighing the potential intelligence value of detainees against the damage that would result if word of the abuse that results from such a policy were made public, especially in light of the administration’s War on Terror. It also appears that the administration, as well as the media, is going to try to pin the blame for this shameful decision on a few low-ranking soldiers and ignore the larger issues of incompetence – not to mention illegality – of policies originating at the highest level in the Defense Department. The media and Congress should pursue the recommendations MG Taguba made in his report, specifically the Procedure 15 against members of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, and see where those policies originated in the chain of command. There is also a report in the Army Times that MG Taguba has been unexpectedly reassigned from his duties at CFLCC to the Pentagon. Big surprise. Added AR 381-10 This Army Regulation implements Federal law concerning intelligence collection activities. It applies only to Army personnel engaged in intelligence collection activities. The procedures contained in this regulation provide guidelines for legal intelligence collection during peacetime. Requests for exceptions to these procedures must be approved by the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Policy) on a case-by-case basis. Procedure 15. This is a procedure to report an investigate intelligence personnel who engage in “questionable activities.” Intelligence personnel who are aware of questionable activities are required to submit reports within five days through command channels to the office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, or through Inspector General channels. Reporting is mandatory. An initial investigation is required to be completed by the reporting command within 30 days, and a report must be forwarded to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence. The report is then passed to both the Department of the Army Inspector General and the Army General Counsel for review. In this case, a Procedure 15 inquiry would most likely be initiated by the G2 at CENTCOM, who would conduct the initial investigation and then forward the report as described above. Since MG Taguba made his AR 15-6 recommendations in January, the process – and Procedure 15 investigation – should be well underway by now. An enterprising journalist might want to ask about its status. 86-43-04. Pass it on.


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