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General 'Guarantees' Protection Under Geneva Conventions

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 8, 2004 – Actions, not words, are important now, said Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, deputy commanding general for detainee operations for Multinational Forces, Iraq.

Miller spoke at a Baghdad press conference today. He said that in the face of the allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, U.S. actions must demonstrate "our adherence to the Geneva Conventions and the principles of dignity to each of those protected individuals under the Geneva Conventions. I give you my personal guarantee that we will continue to do that seven days a week, 24 hours a day."

Miller, who commanded Joint Task Force Guantanamo at the Guantanamo Naval Station, Cuba, recently took over the newly created job in Iraq. He said he has personally spoken to all personnel in the system to explain the situation, and has demanded that they follow all laws, regulations and procedures.

The general said authorities are completing the investigations as quickly as possible into the alleged abuses that occurred at the Abu Ghraib facility. He said he will then make recommendations for legal actions.

Miller is responsible for all detainee operations, interrogation operations and legal operations for Multinational Forces, Iraq.

Under detainee operations, he has three detention centers under his direct control and 11 other centers run by divisions and brigades. While he doesn't have control of those 11 facilities, he does have oversight for them.

He also has responsibility for detainee interrogations. He said he has completed a first assessment of the interrogation process. This is critical, he said, for developing "actionable intelligence" that service members can use to stop anti-coalition or anti-Iraqi attacks. He said all the processes that interrogators use "are within the boundaries and are sanctioned under the Geneva Convention."

All the techniques interrogators use are addressed in Army field manuals. "The idea is to develop the best intelligence as rapidly as possible, but within the requirements and boundaries of the Geneva Convention," he said.

The legal mission is to make referrals to the Central Criminal Court of Iraq and the Common Court of Iraq. The Central Court handles prosecution of Iraqis charged with anti-coalition attacks. The Common Court handles "Iraqi-on-Iraqi" violence, he said. Coalition authorities have referred 74 detainees to the Central Court, and 520 to Common Court. The general said he wants to speed up the process in the future.

His legal responsibilities also entail making a decision on which detainees must remain in custody and which should be freed. He said in the last week some 300 detainees were released, and he anticipates some 350 will be released in the next week. In this area, too, he said he wishes to speed up the decision process.

Miller will reinforce a long-standing rule that makes a sharp distinction on the military police role in interrogations. He said MPs can "passively" collect data on detainees who the detainees spoke with, their general demeanor, what they may have said, what they ate "but the military police are never involved in active interrogation."

He also said interrogations will continue at Abu Ghraib, but that military police will escort detainees to the military intelligence interrogator, wait for the session to be over, and then escort the detainees back to his holding area. The MPs will not participate in any interrogation. This also allows the MPs to ascertain the physical shape of detainees before and after a session, officials said.

Miller said the coalition will continue to use the Abu Ghraib facility, but will house fewer detainees at the facility. He said if authorities decide to raze the prison, he will move operations to another facility.

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