Friday, December 10, 2004

DIA reported prison abuse to Defence Dept. in June

The Washington Post has a report today on the release of 43 documents under a lawsuit filed by the ACLU. Among them is a report sent by the director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, Vice Adm. Lowell Jacoby, to Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen A. Cambone on June 25th of this year. In the report, the Admiral alleges "that a clandestine military task force in Iraq was beating detainees, ordering Defense Intelligence Agency debriefers out of the room during questioning, confiscating evidence of the abuse and intimidating the debriefers when they complained." The Admiral is now the highest ranking officer known to have complained about the investigation teams. The Post says:

a fact-finding mission for Army generals in December 2003 had warned that the same unit -- then called Task Force 121, and more recently renamed Task Force 6-26 -- was beating detainees and using a secret facility to hide its interrogations. The task force, which is still active in Iraq, is commanded by a two-star flag officer. It is made up primarily of soldiers from two Army "special mission units," whose existence is not officially acknowledged by the Pentagon. Several of its members, all of them Navy SEALS, are under criminal investigation for the deaths of two prisoners in their custody.

Other documents describe heated battles in which the FBI and some DIA intelligence officers objected to harsh interrogation methods in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. One FBI agent, reporting on May 10 to superiors about an earlier conversation with Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller and Maj. Gen. Michael B. Dunleavey at Guantanamo Bay, said the two men cited Rumsfeld as the source of their authority to use techniques that the FBI regarded as potentially illegal and "not effective or producing intel that was reliable." The author of that report, whose name is redacted, said "both agreed the Bureau has their way of dong[sic] business and DoD has their marching orders from the Sec Def."

The Bush administration has consistently portrayed instances of prisoner abuse as isolated events with no higher sanction. However, these documents show that high level military and administration officials were aware of a large range of cases and that rather than taking action to stop the abuse, encouragement was given and complaints supressed. A Pentagon spokesman "declined to answer questions on any specific allegation or to say why the government tried to suppress the documents released yesterday," says the Post.

The documents include accounts of beatings, burning, prisoners being stripped naked and placed in isolation, sensory deprivation and sleep deprivation. The documents can be viewed in full from a link at the bottom of the Post article.

These documents could potentially be catastrophic for the administration and in particular the embattled Secretary of Defence. Mr. Rumsfield already faces hard questions about his attitudes to the troops and a campaign by Operation Truth to have a full Senate investigation over the Armorgate scandal launched. Now, one of his direct subordinates is named as having information which surely should have ended up on Mr. Rumsfield's desk with extreme haste and circumstantial evidence suggests he not only knew about but authorised torture of prisoners by special teams, news of which which is only now surfacing, as long ago as the summer.

Given that President Bush has just announced he would not fire the Sec.Def, the calls for Rumsfield's resignation which must surely result from these scandals will be doubly embarassing and damaging to the administration. The honeymoon period of Bush's re-election is definitely over

No comments: