Connecting the Dots

In my posts about Wiser in Battle, the new book by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, I've discussed how Sanchez seems to believe that his interrogation-policy memos played no role in the Abu Ghraib abuses. He suggests that these were the acts of a few bad troops, rather than the product of any official policy.

Unfortunately, the record contradicts Sanchez's suggestion. In a massive document dump obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the ACLU uncovered sworn statements that depict how interrogation techniques migrated from Guantanamo and Afghanistan to Iraq, how interrogation practices developed there, and how policy memos and interrogation teams influenced what happened at Abu Ghraib.

Here are some excerpts from those statements.

One person's recollection, in particular, stands out in my mind. Army Capt. Carolyn Wood served as the Interrogation Officer in Charge (OIC) for Abu Ghraib -- "responsible for screening, interrogations and reporting of intelligence information." In her statement to the Fay-Jones inquiry, Wood described how various actors worked to "replicate" the Guantanamo model at Abu Ghraib:

On or about 2 Sep 03, MG Miller and representatives from the Joint Task Force (JTF) at Guantanamo Bay (GTMO), Cuba, arrived at AG. It appeared that LTG Sanchez was not satisfied with the amount of actionable intelligence resulting from the interrogation operations at AG, and he had requested MG Miller review and assess the AG operations and provide recommendations learned from the detention facility at JTF-GTMO. . . . The JTF-GTMO focus was more strategic than the tactical screening and operational environment of Iraq, and I believed the JTF-GTMO model could not be replaced in the Iraqi environment and experience. Although I attempted to express [my reservations], I do not know if MG MILLER understood my position and he appeared to press forward with his JTF-GTMO recommendations. . . .

I never saw the final Miller Report, nor received any direct feedback as a result of the visit. The only feedback I saw was from the 205th [Military Intelligence Brigade] following the recommendations from MG MILLER's visit. I do believe that the Miller visit propelled AG to become a "mini-mo". [mini-Guantanamo] Shortly after MG MILLER departed Abu Ghraib, REDACTED arrived at AG on approximately 10 September, approximately the same time as the 325th MI Bn personnel. He was the Senior Intelligence Officer (SIO) to AG. I believe REDACTED's role was to be the 205th representative at AG, provide guidance, and implement a mandate from COL PAPPAS and REDACTED to replace the JTF-GTMO model in the form of the Joint Detention and Interrogation Center (JDIC) at AG, beginning with the introduction of the Tiger Team interrogation concept and strategic level collection . . .

During this time, COL PAPPAS's visits increased from visiting every week or two, to 2-3 visits a week, to occasional overnighting, until late mid Nov he moved out to AG . At the beginning of Nov 03, LTG SANCHEZ and MG FAST visited AG for a briefing and to assess the situation. This was the second visit to AG LTG Sanchez made following the 20 Sep mortar attack. The first was on approximately 30 September, when LTG Sanchez's focus was primarily the force protection and defensive posture of AG. LTG Sanchez toured the entire facility, to include a short brief on interrogation operations, which took place in the building recently acquired for use by the JIDC. LTG Sanchez expressed concern about the interrogation operation to COL PAPPAS and indicated that the issue would be further discussed "later". Shortly after the second visit in November, LTG SANCHEZ issued a FRAGO on 19 Nov 03, which appointed COL PAPPAS as the FOB Commander, giving him responsibility for all assigned at AG. In discussion with COL PAPPAS, it was my opinion that this was not a good situation and that there should remain a clear delineation between MI and MP, and that COL PAPPAS should recommend against the appointment. I believed that MI should not become involved in detainee or prison operations. As a result of the OPORD, my understanding was that COL PAPPAS would take control of AG security and force protection, but not "warden responsibilities."

Wood also describes the development an "Interrogation Rules of Engagement" document for Abu Ghraib, which was based, in large part, on the rules being used by CIA and military interrogators in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. Wood's unit, Alpha Company, 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, had deployed the previous year to conduct interrogation and intelligence operations at Bagram air base in Afghanistan. According to Wood's statement:

We began interrogation operations at AG using accepted Field Manual 34-52 norms and techniques. We were moving from a tactical to an operational or insurgent environment and it increasingly felt to me like my experience in Afghanistan. I did not want my folks to loose [sic] of their boundaries and their left and right limits. I saw the situation moving to the "Bagram" model. Pressures were increasing from overpopulation, the mission creep from bona fide Security Detainees to others who probably really didn't need to be detained for a long period, and the realization that Iraq was evolving into a long standing mission. I increasing felt the need to draw on my experience in Afghanistan. We had used "sleep adjustment" and "stress positions" as effective techniques in Afghanistan. Although I never saw written authorization, the techniques had SFJA and CJTF-180 C-2X/C2 review and approval on a case by case basis. Because we had used the techniques in Afghanistan and I perceived the Iraq experience to be evolving into the same operational environment as Afghanistan, I used my best judgment and concluded they would be effective tools for interrogation operations at AG. Because the winds of war were changing, and the mounting pressure from higher for "actionable intelligence" from interrogation operations, I requested more options than FM 34-52 provided. REDACTED acquired a copy of TF-121 [a special operations unit in Iraq] IROE and essentially "plagiarized" it, changing the letterhead on the MFR [Memorandum For Record], incorporating some general editing, and then submitted the IROE MFR for approval through the 519th MI BN to the 205th MI BDE for approval. REDACTED never received a response. Shortly after my arrival, I resent the IROE MFR to the 205th, cc'd the 519th MI Bn. I received no response and again sent out the document to the CJTF-7 C-2X shop. I discussed the issue with REDACTED at the C-2 shop, and he opined that the approval should be sent up through command channels rather than intelligence channels. While the MFR was being staffed, we continued to use FM 34-52 procedures, as well as sleep management and stress positions from our experience in Afghanistan, as I believed these to be reasonable, given the similarity of the situation. However, at AG, sleep management was requested only a few times, and it never exceeded the limit of 72 hours. Stress positions were used a little more frequently, but always in a very controlled manner. All usages of these techniques were documented in Interrogation Plans. Due to the fact the interrogations were conducted in open tents, anyone could observe the actions conducted therein. Concerning administration of the sleep management prior to the actual interrogation, the MPs implemented the procedure. The MPs would keep the detainees awake by saying "stand up" or "wake up". I did not, nor did any MI personnel to my knowledge, have a conversation or provide written instruction to the MPs as to how to exactly implement the procedure. No MP ever inquired of me as to how the procedure should be implemented. Concerning the implementation of stress positions, interrogators could not utilize a stress positions [sic] for more than a total of 45 minutes within a given four hour period (meaning the total time a detainee could be in any stress position could not exceed 45 minutes. That did not mean one position could be held for 45 minutes, then move to another position for another 45 minutes.) The time keeping was the responsibility of the two interrogators in the booth, so I can not say for certain that these limitations were not exceeded. However, I never received any reports of excessive use of the technique.

The next milestone in the effort to have the IROE approved. On or about 25 Aug 03, two Coalition lawyers REDACTED (Australia)) (I am not 100% sure of the US SJA rep's name.), came to AG as a result of providing the IROE draft to REDACTED and requesting assistance and feedback. They came to AG to review operations. The lawyers informed me that my IROE MFR seemed to be within legal purview and authority. They indicated that the IROE MFR would be pushed higher for CJTF-7 review.

The Miller Tiger Team arrived at AG on 2 Sep 03, and remained at AG for three to four full days. On the second day, I participated in a meeting with several members of the Miller Team, COL PAPPAS, and maybe REDACTED. It was during that meeting that the Team had a copy of my IROE MFR and someone from the team stated that it was a "good start", but that CJTF7 should consider something along the lines of what's approved for use in CJTF-170 [Guantanamo Bay], although no specific tools or techniques were discussed. Shortly thereafter, on 10 Sep 03, the CJTF-7 MFR providing IROE (possibly the result of my MFR and the CJTF-170 approved IROE) was signed. I do not recall seeing a copy of the 10 September, however was provided a copy of the 14 September IROE. At about the same time, on or about 10 Sep 03, the 325th MI BN arrived and I began the integration of the 519th and 325th personnel. During a shift change meeting which included both 519th and 325th personnel, I handed out copies of the 14 Sep IROE approval MFR. REDACTED interrogators took turns reading the MFR aloud as others followed along. I am 90% certain that all interrogators and analysts read the IROE MFR, while it is possible due to sick call or some other reason that some might have missed the meeting. I had each soldier sign a roster stating that he or she had read and understood the IROE. I also created a slide which synopsized the 14 September IROE and posted the IROE in numerous locations throughout the working area as a constant reminder. This original slide contained three columns - the first column general interrogation techniques IAW FM 34-52. Techniques outside of the FM were place in a second column which I titled "OIC approval required prior to use", this was to ensure the interrogators did not have 'carte blanche', and sought guidance with more involved approaches. The third column was titled "CG's approval required for use on EPW's". After the subsequent IROE MFR was signed by LTG Sanchez on 12 Oct 03, I created a second slide to reflect the changes from the 14 September to the 12 October IROEs. Within the body of the main memorandum, it stated that any approach not listed in the policy required the CG's signature. It was explained to me (I cannot remember by who, but the guidance was from higher) that those approaches removed from the 14 Sep version were not necessarily out of reach, that they had to be approved by the CG prior to use. I therefore placed those approaches were removed were placed under the title "Requires CG's approval in writing". In retrospect, the phrase "all other approaches require the CG's approval" would have been better verbage. This slide was posted about the interrogation operations room about the same time was the CACI contractors arrived.

Following the incident involving three soldiers conducting unauthorized activities within 1B, I drafted a "memorandum of understanding" in MFR format (approximately 20 Oct) which not only outlined the approaches approved for use, but also added that all interrogations will be conducted in a humane manner, interrogations involving female detainees required another female's presence, detainees will not be maliciously humiliated, detainees will not be touched in an unwanted or malicious manner, cultural boundaries will be respected, unscheduled interrogations will not be conducted and the understanding of these rules and the requirement to report any violations of these rules to the OIC. I had each member of the JIDC who was in contact with detainees, which included interrogators, analysts, contractors and interpreters, read the MFR and sign indicating their understanding. The IROE has always applied to other agencies as well and I mandated that if other agencies wished to use AG facilities, they were required to follow US Army IROE. Other agency reps were requested to also sign the IROE prior to any interview beginning approximately the beginning of November.

Regarding my experience with OGA ["other government agency," a euphemism for the CIA], I first had limited contact with OGA while at Cropper. It was during the end of Aug 03 / beginning of Sept 03 timeframe, everyone started shifting their operations to AG. OGA occasionally coordinated for interrogation space. I instructed OGA representatives that they must abide by the Army IROE while at AG. Most of my contact was with an individual we knew only as REDACTED who appeared to be in charge of the OGA interrogation operations. I never endorsed the practice of "overnight parking" of OGA "ghost" detainees and expressed by disapproval to COL PAPPAS, REDACTED and REDACTED but I was overridden. REDACTED and REDACTED then authorized several interrogations be conducted without the presence of Army interrogators and I did not have visibility or knowledge of what transpired during those interrogations. At the beginning to mid Oct 03, REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED REDACTED as one of my interrogators sat in on their interrogations. This responsibility was picked up by the operations section, and any other agency requesting to conduct operations at AG coordinated with OPS. It was shortly thereafter that an incident occurred in which an OGA "ghost" detainee died during the course of an interrogation. JIDC personnel were not present during this interrogation. I have no knowledge of any OGA abuses or violations. . The practice of housing "ghosts" continued and was still in practice at the time of my departure on 4 Dec 03, and I do not know if LTG Sanchez was aware of the practice or not.

In the ACLU document collection, there is also this statement from an Army Major who served as the Assistant S-3 (operations officer) for the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade (but whose name is redacted and identity is unknown):

I was sent by COL PAPPAS [to Abu Ghraib] to be the deputy because were getting pressure to set up the JIDC now and not wait. Apparently, LTG Sanchez was not happy with the intelligence coming out of interrogations. . . . COL PAPPAS did not tell me to check on the well-being or care of detainees. He didn't tell me to ensure everyone was in compliance with the IROEs or the Geneva Convention. I do remember seeing the policy that specified that LTG Sanchez had to approve certain interrogation techniques. I do not remember a FRAGO referencing the treatment of detainee, however, I do recall the FRAGO categorizing detainees. After REDACTED returned from Florida, I remained as the JIDC Deputy. MG Miller visited Abu Ghraib facility and recommended the Tiger Team Concept be implemented. COL PAPPAS and the REDACTED told me to implement the concept. . . . This was a vocal order not written on paper.

It took us about a week to get the Tiger Team reorganized. Meanwhile, the soldiers were complaining that the concept made no sense. I told them to just do it because that is what the BDE Commander wanted. Once GTMO representatives arrived on site and explained to everyone the concept and make up of the team, they understood it.

Others also played a role in the migration of interrogation techniques between Guantanamo Bay, Bagram and Abu Ghraib. This statement comes from an civilian employee assigned to the Army's intelligence school at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., who deployed to Iraq in October 2003 as part of a mobile training team:

The mission of the team was to provide an overall assessment of interrogation operations, training and advice and assistance. My focus was interrogation operations. I spent time with the interrogators during interrogations observing and providing immediate feedback. Upon our arrival at AG, we were greeted by REDACTED. We were also provided a tour of the facility. The team spent the first couple of days setting up, conducting an assessment of the operations and establishing a training schedule based on the assessment. The training lasted five days and encompassed various aspects of interrogation operations. Throughout our time at AG the interrogators remained open and receptive to the training and subsequent advice and assistance. The training included the TIGER TEAM concept which had been very effective in interrogation operations at GTMO. When we got there, the interrogators had already started to employ this technique as the analysts participated in the interrogations. After the training, I spent the rest of the time with the interrogator teams. I sat in on approximately four interrogations and indirectly observed several more. Throughout our time at AG the MTT would get together at night to discuss findings and recommendations. We also continued to enhance the training schedule as there were several civilian contract interrogators scheduled to arrive at AG. The Intelligence Rules of Engagement (IROE) was posted and was very similar to the IROE used in Afghanistan.

. . . The MP's appeared to be in control and professional. I did see detainees in various states of dress to include nakedness and detainees wearing towels. The MP's used segregation and stripping as a way to keep the detainees under control and to keep them from talking. On one occasion, I participated in an interrogation with REDACTED. When we entered the cell, the detainee was wearing a towel around his waist. After the interrogation, I asked REDACTED if he was going to get the detainee his clothes back. REDACTED told me he would talk to the MP's. REDACTED appeared to be a motivated and enthusiastic interrogator who seemed to understand the concept of intelligence interrogations.

. . . On one occasion, I had a conversation with REDACTED concerning the IROE and interrogation approaches. I gave him examples of approaches including Pride and Ego Down where and [sic] interrogator took a Koran, threw it on the floor and stepped on it and Fear Up Harsh where the interrogator had a dog trained to bark on cue if the interrogator thought the detainee was lying. I also explained sleep deprivation. I told him that in Afghanistan the interrogators could use an adjusted sleep schedule for detainees. The conversation was meant to explain why these activities were prohibited or restricted. REDACTED appeared to understand. There was intense pressure form the command to provide intelligence reporting. During my time at AG, I did not witness any abuse or maltreatment of detainees. I never witnessed nor heard of any MI person asking or insinuating than an MP should abuse a detainee. I never witnessed nor heard of any MP offering to abuse a detainee to assist interrogation operations. I never witnessed nor heard of any guard dogs being used during interrogations.

The S-3 of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade adds to the picture by describing the military context at the time -- and why so many detainees were added to the Abu Ghraib population. His testimony is important because of the role he played as an operations officer and right-hand man to the intelligence brigade commander in charge of the prison.

In late July / early August CJTF-7 planned for a major operation aimed at capturing members of the Saddam Fedayeen (SD). A lists of thousands of names, occupations and addresses of suspected SD personnel was translated and Operation Victory Bounty was planned to round them up. Planning called for placing these SD detainees at a location other than Cropper and to establish a concentrated interrogation effort which would specialize in obtaining detailed information on the SD. This resulted in the Brigade establishing a third interrogation effort at Abu Ghuraib (AG), which would be operated and manned by the 519th. The 325th took responsibility for continuing the operations at Cropper. During Operation Victory Bounty more than just suspected SD personnel were rounded up. Apparently maneuver elements corralled just about everyone in the vicinity of a SD suspect. After the personnel were sent to AG for screening and interrogation, we received a high amount of request for information from CJTF-7. We very rapidly realized that we needed to send CJTF-7 a tailored daily report to address the high volume of information requirements. To ensure we were able to assist in answering one of CJTF-7's top PIR, it was nearly mandated that we stay on a script of questions, centering on whether or not there was a planned and centrally controlled insurgency working against us.

This same person, the chief operating officer for the main intelligence brigade in Iraq, recalls how the GTMO model evolved at Abu Ghraib:

In late Aug or early Sep at a meeting involving LTG Sanchez, COL Pappas and I, the decision was made to conduct the consolidation of the coalition interrogation facilities. . . . I suspect that LTG Sanchez may have been considering what was being done at GTMO even before MG Miller visited Iraq. I sense that in at least one conversation between LTG Sanchez and COL Pappas at which I was not present (I was TDY back in the States), the GTMO process was explored and discussed. MG Miller's visit and the follow-on assistance team from GTMO certainly cemented it. Based on the information obtained form the GTMO assistance team visit, we had additional discussions with MG Fast in which we looked at GTMO and how they were structured. We felt that we did not need the full GTMO infrastructure (mostly analytical and requirements management) support staff as that could be provided by the Coalition Analysis and Control Element. We submitted a request for forces (RFF) in order to establish a premier interrogation facility, which would include MPs for running the detention portion of the facility, a dog team to support MP operations, a behavioral science team, collection management and reports section, and additional analysts. We pursued the establishment of Interrogation "Tiger Teams" consisting of an interrogator and an analyst, supported by a linguist. The Tiger Teams were designed to be able to draw out information from detainees, process and report, analyze internally, and conduct research for further exploitation.

The MG Miller visit came while I was TDY. I never met or spoke with him. COL Pappas had a vision resulting from his discussions with LTG Sanchez and MG Miller. When the assistance team was there we mapped out a strategy, courses of action and an organizational design of what we needed for the JIDC and how to get there. We realized there were several differences between GTMO and AG. They had a consolidated MP and MI data base system which covered all aspects of controlling and exploiting detainees and fed into a National system. We did not, but needed a similar system. I started getting involved on the ops site and worked in getting the assets we needed - both systems and personnel - and getting to the JIDC for integration.

. . . At first there were no approved IROEs until REDACTED put them together, based on experience in Afghanistan. It resulted in 205th and CJTF-7 approved IROEs. . . . There was training and orientation for all incoming personnel - soldiers, civilians, contractors. It was aligned with training at GTMO and included ROEs, Geneva Conventions and the like.

By Phillip Carter |  May 26, 2008; 8:00 AM ET  | Category:  Wiser in Battle
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

To base a level of interrogation on a lack of a desired quantity of "intel" implies a positive level of political participation in what should be an apolitical tool. It horrifies me that the US allows political minders to help monitor and control the level of violence inflicted on mostly innocent bystanders in order to satisfy some executives "need" for more.

This is just mind boggling, in a Nazi Germany or a Stalin Russia manner. Like the "desired body count" in Vietnam, the level of corruption necessary to arrive at those "goals" tells me we are well past the gates of hell. Same MO. Just, different people and places.

Posted by: IntelVet | May 27, 2008 12:43 PM

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