U.S. Hid Abused Detainees, Congress Finds
The Senate Armed Services Committee disclosed today previously secret and privately-held memos dating back from 2002 that show U.S. military advisers hid prisoners who were being treated harshly from Geneva Convention compliance officers, The Associated Press reports.
Today's congressional hearing is the latest wrinkle as Senate investigators document the history of the Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 interrogation policy. Evidence collected ahead of the hearing appears to contradict previous accounts by top Bush administration appointees, setting the stage for new clashes between the White House and Congress over the origins of interrogation methods that many lawmakers regard as torture and possibly illegal, The Post's Joby Warrick reports.
Among today's highlights is the testimony of Lt. Col. Diane E. Beaver, the former top military adviser in Guantanamo Bay, who ruled that certain interrogation techniques -- including 20-hour interrogations, light and sound assaults, stress positions, exposure to cold weather and water -- were legal in a October 2002 opinion.
Beaver wrote that the interrogation techniques could be used with proper oversight and training of interrogators, as long as "there is an important governmental objective, and it is not done for the purpose of causing harm or with the intent to cause prolonged mental suffering."
But the committee's release of meeting minutes from 2002 show that Beaver and other top military advisers plotted behind the scenes to minimize public disclosure of the country's interrogation methods.
In minutes from an Oct. 2, 2002, meeting between CIA and military lawyers and military intelligence officials on how to counter the resistance of Guantanamo detainees to military interrogation, Beaver explains that the Defense Department had made a practice of hiding prisoners who were being treated harshly, even abusively, from the International Committee of the Red Cross, a non-governmental body empowered to monitor compliance with Geneva Convention rules for the treatment of military prisoners, the AP reports.
Beaver also confirmed that the military was secretly using previously forbidden techniques, such as sleep deprivation, but hiding them so as not to draw "negative attention," according to minutes of the meeting.
"Officially it is not happening," Beaver said, according to minutes from the meeting. "It is not being reported officially. The ICRC is a serious concern. They will be in and out, scrutinizing our operations, unless they are displeased and decide to protest and leave. This would draw a lot of negative attention."
Beaver said interrogators should "curb the harsher operations while ICRC is around."
Beaver downplayed her involvement in the formation of interrogation practices and policies during prepared tesimony this morning, saying she never expected her report to be the "final word" on the Defense Department's policy.
"Perhaps I was somewhat naÃ¯ve, but I did not expect to be the only lawyer issuing a written opinion on this monumentally important issue," Beaver said. "In hindsight, I cannot help but conclude that others chose not to write on this issue to avoid being linked to it. That was not an option for me. My commander was responsible for detention and interrogation operations for the most dangerous group of terrorists the world has ever seen."
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Frank D | June 17, 2008 6:32 PM