US abuse inquiry clears leaders

A US military review of prisoner interrogation policies for the global "war on terrorism" has concluded that no civilian or uniformed leaders directed or encouraged the prisoner abuse documented in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    Prisoner abuse was alleged at the US naval base in Cuba

    "We found no link between approved interrogation techniques and detainee

    abuse," the review concluded.

    The review led by Navy Vice Adm Albert T Church did cite a

    number of "missed opportunities" in the development of interrogation

    policies, according to a 21-page executive summary of his findings due to be

    publicly released on Thursday.

    Among the missed opportunities was a failure to provide commanders in Iraq

    and Afghanistan with specific and early guidance on interrogation techniques.

    "We cannot say that there would necessarily have been less detainee abuse

    had these opportunities been acted upon," Church wrote.

    Had that guidance been provided earlier, "interrogation policy could have

    benefited from additional expertise and oversight," he wrote. 

    More restrictive policy

    The Church report also disclosed that the top US commander in Iraq, Army

    Gen George Casey, who arrived there last summer, approved on 27 January a new,

    more restrictive interrogation policy for Iraq.

    "We found no link between approved interrogation techniques and detainee




    Casey's policy, which previously had not been made public, "also

    provides additional safeguards and prohibitions, rectifies ambiguities" and

    requires that commanders report to Casey their compliance with the policy,

    the report said.

    The investigation also found, in the cases of detainee operations in Iraq and

    Afghanistan, that the dissemination of approved interrogation policy to

    commanders in the field was generally poor. And in Iraq it

    found that compliance with approved policy guidance was generally poor. 

    By contrast, the report said that compliance with the authorised interrogation methods was in

    nearly all cases exemplary at Guantanamo Bay, where "terrorism suspects" have

    been held since January 2002. It attributed this to strict

    command oversight and effective leadership, as well as adequate resources.

    Abu Ghraib effect

    The Church investigation was among several triggered by disclosures last spring of

    prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison complex in Iraq. Church, formerly the

    Navy's chief investigator, was directed to look at how interrogation policies

    were developed and implemented from the start of the "terror war" in the fall

    of 2001.

    The Abu Ghraib scandal triggered
    a number of abuse investigations

    "An early focus of our investigation was to determine whether DOD (the

    Department of Defence) had promulgated interrogation policies or guidance

    that directed, sanctioned or encouraged the abuse of detainees. We found that

    this was not the case," the Church investigation concluded.

    "Even in the absence of a precise definition of `humane' treatment, it is

    clear that none of the pictured abuses at Abu Ghraib bear any resemblance to

    approved policies at any level," it added.

    Church did not directly investigate the Abu Ghraib matter or address

    questions about accountability for senior defence officials involved in

    interrogation policy. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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