All Red Cross Reports Now to Go Through Miller
By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 20, 2004 All reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross on detainee operations by the U.S. military in Iraq will now go through a single senior point of contact.
Army Maj. Gen. Geoffery Miller, deputy commander for detainee operations for Multinational Force Iraq, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee he would be that person. In turn, he will bring them to the attention of senior commanders.
Miller; Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of Multinational Force Iraq; and Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, testified on Capitol Hill May 19. They spent several hours answering senators' questions on abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison complex.
Abizaid acknowledged Red Cross reports haven't been handled effectively in the past. "We have a real problem with ICRC reports and the way that they are handled and the way that they move up and down the chain of command," he said.
He discussed several specific examples. An early-July 2003 report was never received at U.S. Central Command headquarters. A February 2004 report reached him in May. No central point of contact had been appointed.
"I won't make any excuses for it," Abizaid said. "I'll just say that we don't all see them."
Sanchez explained he found out after ICRC officials issued their February 2004 report that a subsequent report from November 2003 had gone to a subordinate brigade commander, Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinski.
Karpinski is the commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, implicated in the incidents at Abu Ghraib. She has been reprimanded for her actions related to the abuse.
"Sometimes commanders at the lowest level get the report and work on it confidentially," Abizaid said, adding the system would be fixed.
Miller noted that Red Cross officials made an official visit to Camp Bucca, near the southern port of Umm Qasr, May 19.
"They have found that we're making (an) enormous effort to improve conditions every day, that we take their findings seriously and that we have addressed them," he said.