Monday, June 15, 2009

Prison commander apologizes for 'our nation,' military

The Washington post today reports Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller one of the men most responsible for carrying out the Bush-Torture regime now apologizes, yet does not take personal responsibility. (WP story below)

Looking back, Alfred McCoy, who had been following the Central Intelligence Agency since the early 1970s, wrote:

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld gave Gen. Geoffrey Miller command of the new American military prison at Guantanamo in late 2002 with ample authority to transform it into an ad hoc psychology lab. Behavioral Science Consultation Teams of military psychologists probed detainees for individual phobias like fear of the dark. Interrogators stiffened the psychological assault by exploiting what they saw as Arab cultural sensitivities when it came to sex and dogs. Via a three-phase attack on the senses, on culture, and on the individual psyche, interrogators at Guantanamo perfected the CIA’s psychological paradigm.

After Gen. Miller visited Iraq in September 2003, the U.S. commander there, Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, ordered Guantanamo-style abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. My own review of the 1,600 still-classified photos taken by American guards at Abu Ghraib – which journalists covering this story seem to share like Napster downloads – reveals not random, idiosyncratic acts by “bad apples,” but the repeated, constant use of just three psychological techniques: hooding for sensory deprivation, shackling for self-inflicted pain, and (to exploit Arab cultural sensitivities) both nudity and dogs. It is no accident that Private Lynndie England was famously photographed leading an Iraqi detainee leashed like a dog.

The Washington Post story:

ABU GHRAIB, Iraq -- The commander of U.S.-run prisons in Iraq apologized yesterday for the "illegal or unauthorized acts" committed by soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison, where photographs showed Iraqi prisoners being abused by smiling American guards.

Outside the main gate of the prison, about 2,000 Iraqis protested the treatment of prisoners, chanting, "Democracy doesn't mean killing innocent people." They hoisted a banner that said: "Free women or we will launch jihad."

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, giving reporters a tour of Abu Ghraib, said some interrogation techniques at the prison would be halted and others would be limited. He also invited the Red Cross to open an office there.

As Gen. Miller led Arab and Western reporters around the prison, inmates shouted complaints about undignified treatment and random arrests.

"I would like to apologize for our nation and for our military for the small number of soldiers who committed illegal or unauthorized acts here at Abu Ghraib," Gen. Miller told the touring reporters.

"These are violations not only of our national policy but of how we conduct ourselves as members of the international community."

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy director for coalition operations in Iraq, also apologized for actions at the prison, which was a notorious center for torture and killings under Saddam Hussein.

"My Army has been embarrassed by this. My Army has been shamed by this. And on behalf of my Army, I apologize for what those soldiers did to your citizens," Gen. Kimmitt said. "It was reprehensible and it was unacceptable."

As Gen. Miller spoke to reporters in cell block 1A, where the photos of Iraqis in humiliating positions were taken, five female inmates screamed, shouted and waved their arms through the iron bars.

"I've been here five months," one woman shouted in Arabic. "I don't belong to the resistance. I have children at home."

At a tent camp inside the prison used for detainees with medical conditions, prisoners ran out shouting at the bus of journalists. Some hobbled on crutches, and one man waved his prosthetic leg in the air.

"Why? Why?" he shouted in Arabic. "Nobody has told me why I am here."

Prison authorities did not allow the journalists to speak to or photograph the detainees.

Gen. Miller said he had asked the International Committee of the Red Cross to establish a permanent presence at the prison. Also, Iraq's Interior Ministry and Ministry of Human Rights will have offices at the facility, he said.

Red Cross spokeswoman Nada Doumani said hers is the only international group monitoring Iraqi prisons, but it is doing only spot checks.

"We have access to all detention facilities, but I cannot pretend that we are visiting all detention facilities in Iraq," Mrs. Doumani said. "We are visiting the main ones."

On Tuesday, the U.S. military said it was ordering troops to use blindfolds instead of hoods and requiring interrogators to get permission before depriving inmates of sleep or keeping them in stressful positions for extended periods -- two of the most common techniques reported by freed Iraqis.

Exceptions would require permission of a general officer, Gen. Miller said.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Tony Blair's human rights envoy to Iraq said U.S. soldiers who detained an Iraqi woman last year placed a harness on her, made her crawl on all fours and rode her like a donkey.

The envoy, legislator Ann Clwyd, said she had investigated the claims of the woman in her 70s and believed they were true.

During five visits to Iraq in the last 18 months, Mrs. Clwyd said she stopped at British and U.S.-run jails, including Abu Ghraib, and questioned everyone she could about the woman's claims.

Asked for details, Mrs. Clwyd said during a telephone interview that she "didn't want to harp on the case because as far as I'm concerned it's been resolved."

The Washington Times
Originally published 09:53 p.m., May 5, 2004, updated 12:00 a.m., May 6, 2004

Wikipedia article on Geoffrey D. Miller (born c. 1949) is a retired United States Army Major General who commanded the US detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and Iraq.

amazon quicklinker

Favorites linker

google adds