Tuesday, August 24, 2004 2:06 p.m. EDT
Press Conference with Members of the Independent Panel to Review Department of Defense Detention Operations
(Note: Harold Brown participates by phone.)
STAFF: Good afternoon. We are pleased to have with us today members of the Independent Panel to Review DOD Detention Operations. At the request of the Secretary of Defense, this panel was asked to provide their objective findings and recommendations regarding the allegations and investigations of abuse at DOD detention facilities.
And so, Secretary, wouldn't you like to introduce your colleagues?
MR. SCHLESINGER: Thank you.
To my left is Congresswoman Tillie Fowler and to my right is General Chuck Horner. Mrs. Fowler has led some independent investigations in the past. General Horner was responsible for the air war in --
GEN. HORNER: Long time ago.
MR. SCHLESINGER: -- Gulf -- in the Gulf War, 1991, after which he was commander of Space Command.
And Harold Brown, former Defense secretary, is available to us by phone. And Harold Brown's picture appears to left.
Where is Jim? Jim Blackwell is our executive director, and Margie Munson is the director of analysis.
The first thing I want to say is that the secretary of Defense asked us to provide independent and objective analysis, "and let the chips fall where they may." I quote him.
We have received total cooperation from the department. Each request that we have made has been fully answered.
And thirdly, in this connection, I should mention that the department has recognized previous deficiencies in the operation, and they have taken some actions. We have -- we commend those actions, and we have made some additional recommendations for further change.
I will briefly summarize some of the salient points in the study, which all of you now have.
First, there was chaos at Abu Ghraib. That was a reflection of a variety of things.
In the first place, Abu Ghraib had been selected by Ambassador Bremer to be the place that civilian criminals were housed. Later, in the absence of a facility for security inmates, General Sanchez agreed with Ambassador Bremer that Abu Ghraib would be the correct place. The result was that we had a facility that was under constant shelling, that there were Iraqi police everywhere but the hard site, and that the Iraqi police were marked by some degree of corruption and that in certain instances they slipped armaments to the inmates. Moreover, there was a very low ratio of military police to the number of inmates, which ranged as high as 8,000. At Guantanamo, which is something of a model, the ratio of military police to detainees was one to one. At Abu Ghraib, the ratio of military police was one to 75. They were under-trained for detention operations and they had arrived with -- not in units, but with their equipment missing.
Second point, the extent of the abuses. There are now some 300 cases, more or less, of abuses being investigated, many of them beyond Abu Ghraib. So the abuses were not limited to a few individuals. However, despite the widespread existence of these cases, one turns to the peculiar aspects or the unique aspects of Abu Ghraib, as reflected in the photos that were taken. Those photos, as you know, triggered a widespread reaction and a fair amount of speculation. Contrary to that speculation, the abuses that were depicted in the photos did not come from authorized interrogation. They did not come from seeking intelligence. They were freelance activities on the part of the night shift at Abu Ghraib. I commend to you the first paragraph of our report. None of the targets in the photos were there because of presumed valuable information. There were cases at Abu Ghraib of abuse directed at intelligence targets, but none of them were photographed. The photographs were extracurricular activities of the night shift at Abu Ghraib.
Fourth point. There was no policy of abuse; quite the contrary. Senior officials repeatedly said that in Iraq, Geneva regulations would apply. In Afghanistan and Guantanamo, it was quite different, but even there it was said, following the president's directive, that all activity should be consistent with the Geneva Accord.
At Guantanamo, which was the original site, we had taken prisoners people who were believed to have further information about 9/11 and possible subsequent terrorist activities. The secretary of Defense issued a memorandum that was strictly limited to Guantanamo in which certain techniques were authorized -- those techniques were later modified by the secretary of Defense. He gave permission in two cases at Guantanamo. I mention this memorandum because there has been considerable speculation on -- with regard to how extensively that memorandum might be applied.
The discussion whether or not this was just a few individuals in Abu Ghraib -- this was not just a few individuals. They were unique in the sense that there was sadism on the night shift at Abu Ghraib, sadism that was certainly not authorized. It was a kind of animal house on the night shift. That is reflected in the fact that there was no such activities during the day shift when there were different noncoms in charge.
There was direct responsibility for those activities on the part of the commanders on the scene up to the brigade level, because they did not adequately supervise what was going on at Abu Ghraib. In addition, there was indirect responsibility at higher levels, in that the weaknesses at Abu Ghraib were well known and that corrective action could have been taken and should have been taken. We believe that there is institutional and personal responsibility right up the chain of command as far as Washington is concerned.
Finally, let me dwell upon the following point. That we are in a different type of conflict. In dealing with the war on terror, we must have intelligence in a way that is different from the classic wars that we have fought in the past. One consequence of the publicity that has been associated with the activities at Abu Ghraib and the punishments that prospectively will be handed out is that it has had a chilling effect on interrogation operations. It is essential in the war on terror that we have adequate intelligence and that we have effective interrogation.
Dr. Brown? Harold, can you hear me? (Pause.) Harold?
Have we lost him?
STAFF: Yeah. We're going to try to reconnect to him.
MR. SCHLESINGER: Okay.
Congresswoman Fowler, would you make some comments?
MR. BROWN (via telephone): Am I coming through now?
MS. FOWLER: Are we getting him now? Let's go ahead, then. If we've got Dr. Brown, let's go ahead.
MR. BROWN: Can you hear me?
MR. SCHLESINGER: Yeah. Go ahead.
MR. BROWN: All right.
I'd like to associate myself with Jim Schlesinger's remarks, which in turn reflect what's in the report, but I'd like to make a couple of additional comments.
First of all, I think the underlying context for abuses was set by two judgments that were made before combat operations began. The first was the expectation by the Defense Department leadership, along with most of the rest of the administration, that following the collapse of the Iraqi regime through coalition military operations, there would be a stable successor regime that would soon emerge in Iraq. Some contingencies were planned for, but they didn't include what happened. That was a breakdown of order, widespread looting, infrastructure destruction, and the emergence of strong resistance to the occupation. In turn, that produced a large mixed population of detainees: Ba'athist holdouts, high-level officials, surrendered military, domestic and foreign religious extremists, ordinary criminals, individuals captured in the act of attacking coalition forces or suspected of doing so, and undoubtedly some innocents. And that was instead of what was expected, a large number of relatively passive prisoners of war. And detention operations took place within a more serious product of that misjudgment, mainly that Iraq, including urban areas and including Abu Ghraib, remained a zone of continued and substantial conflict.
The second element in this context was the judgments made of policy toward various classes of detainee. Those were set for al Qaeda and Taliban after 9/11 following debate within the U.S. government and decision by the president. That in turn led to a series of determinations about allowed interrogation methods beyond those that had long been customary under an Army field manual that goes by the title of 34-52. Not only is there no evidence of a policy on the part of senior civilians or military authorities to countenance abuse, much less direct it or encourage it, and I think that should be emphasized. There was no such policy; in fact, the opposite was the case.
The additional methods of interrogation beyond the Army field manual, as Jim Schlesinger said, were intended for and limited to resistant al Qaeda members of Guantanamo knowledgeable about what had been their plans for 9/11 and what their future plans might have been. Nevertheless, various versions of these techniques migrated unauthorized to Afghanistan and to Iraq, and in Iraq of course the Geneva Conventions did apply. And that in turn led to confusion about what interrogation practices were authorized, and it led to several changes back and forth in directions to interrogators.
Especially at Abu Ghraib, the result was a situation in which both military police capabilities for custody and protection and military intelligence capabilities for interrogation to obtain tactical, strategic and counterterrorist intelligence lacked resources. They suffered extreme lack of resources. And the respective responsibilities, authorities and modes of cooperation for the MP and MI units were poorly defined. As Jim suggested, the problems were compounded by inadequate training, confused command arrangements, and at Abu Ghraib, personal deficiencies at command level up to and including the brigade level.
Now beyond that, of course it's always easy, after the fact, to assign blame; nevertheless, a degree of responsibility for failure to provide adequate resources to support the custodial and intelligence requirements throughout the theater and also for the confusion about permissible interrogation techniques extends all the way up through the chain of command to include the Joint Staff of the Joint Chiefs and to include the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
The report goes into a lot more detail about all these things, and there are about a dozen recommendations. And it also notes that although any abuse is too much, it was only a tiny percentage of the tens of thousands of prisoners and detainees who were abused. And in many cases, these abuses were brought to light by American military personnel who spoke up. And I think it's important to remember that as we try to assure that nothing like this happens again.
MR. SCHLESINGER: Congresswoman Fowler?
MS. FOWLER: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Dr. Brown.
I just have a short statement in that light. But in today's instant-access world, where our values and ethics are often questioned and tested, the ultimate measure of a person is how one responds to those tests under troubled conditions. And earlier this year, we and the whole world bore witness to a group of United States soldiers as they failed this test in the most appalling way. The nation and the world demanded answers to the questions of how this happened, and more importantly, who let it happen.
Our panel, as was noted earlier by our chairman, was appointed by the Secretary of Defense to answer these questions and to offer recommendations to prevent further abuse. Through our investigation and review, we found a string of failures that go well beyond an isolated cell block in Iraq. We found fundamental failures throughout all levels of command, from the soldiers on the ground to Central Command and to the Pentagon. These failures of leadership helped to set the conditions which allowed for the abusive practice to take place. We have chronicled in our report these leadership failures and the missed opportunities for effective and aggressive leadership and exercise of duty that could have prevented these abuses from happening. The warning signs were there but they went unnoticed or were ignored. Time and again we found examples of leaders failing to exercise the judgment, awareness and resourcefulness necessary to recognize the magnitude of this problem.
First, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commander of U.S. Central Command failed to develop a war plan to include effective alternatives to post-major-combat operations.
Secondly, the Pentagon failed to adequately clarify and enforce how the various categories of detainees were to be treated throughout the military detention facilities. These primary failures created a confusion and an atmosphere where commanders showed little signs of the leadership that was expected of them.
The Pentagon failed to properly adapt to the situation on the ground and to provide sufficient number of adequately organized and trained personnel needed to conduct detention operations in Iraq. Nevertheless, it was the responsibility of the commander of the Combined Joint Task Force 7 to organize his forces in an effective manner. We found that he failed to secure sufficient resources for his subordinates to successfully conduct their mission.
He also created a command structure that resembled a labyrinth of confusion. It was shocking to find that during the time of the worst abuses that were occurring, it was not clear who, if anyone, was really in charge at Abu Ghraib. That confusion and lack of leadership exercised by that commander set a poor example for subordinates to follow. Commanders are responsible for what their units do or fail to do, and they should be accountable for their action or inaction.
We also found that the commanding officer of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade and the commanding general of the 800th Military Police Brigade failed to execute their full responsibilities and contributed to this military failure.
But I want to be clear -- and I think Dr. Brown stated, and Dr. Schlesinger -- we each feel strongly that we found no explicit U.S. government policy that called for the torture for inhumane treatment of detainees. But a series of failures across the Department of Defense, the Army and U.S. Central Command contributed to an atmosphere that allowed some of these abuses to occur.
We feel strongly that we owe it to the young men and women who are so honorably serving in our armed forces in Iraq to restore the trust that's been tarnished by these acts. There is no doubt that these despicable acts have jeopardized our country's standing with the Iraqi people as a model of a free and civil democratic society. And only through a thorough, public examination of responsibility and accountability can we restore that standing.
You know, the Iraqi people have seen violence for a long time, but what they have been denied for almost a generation is any kind of justice for that violence. So long after this story moves off the front pages, it's going to be the actions that we take now, not the acts that occurred in that prison, that determine how the citizens of Iraq view America and how the world views us.
The vast majority of our armed forces strive to live by the honorable principles of duty, honor and country. And it is our hope that military and civilian leadership will not fail and will demonstrate the courage to ensure that these abuses never happen again.
GEN. HORNER: Thank you, Tillie.
I'd like to just talk, give some touchstones as you wind your way through all the reports that are coming out and have come out.
First of all, I think it's important that you understand clearly what you're reading, because you're going to convey this to the American people.
One thing to keep in mind: Abuses tend to fall in two categories. There are the criminal acts that were clearly outside of anything having to do with interrogation, where it had nothing to do with military operations. They were the acts of people who were operating outside the law.
There were also some abuses by people who did not believe they were doing abuses -- for example, having a dog present at interrogation. That was wrong. But nonetheless, these people were not, in their mind, committing criminal acts.
The second thing, as important, is it's very, very important that we conduct ourselves in the highest manner possible in battle. We have always have striven to do that.
However, in this case, there are those who would say that interrogation, in and of itself, is torture. This is a very dangerous concept, because in the war against terrorists, human intelligence is probably the most important thing we can operate with. These people operate on a personal basis. They do not operate with high-tech equipment. So it doesn't do any good to count tanks, planes or ships, for example. And so anything we do as a result of our report or the reports about possible abuses, we must keep intact our ability to conduct effective interrogation.
Finally, I think we also have shown that as an organization, as a community, as a function of the government, we in the military do not fully grasp the nuances of the new forms of warfare we fight. Certainly if you'd ask any person responsible for military operations, "Well, tell me about your detention operations post-Operation Iraqi Freedom," they would have difficulty explaining what they were going to encounter and how they were going to handle it. So it says that we, particularly in the Pentagon, must start looking forward at the things that are going to be important that were not necessarily of importance in the past in military operations.
And finally -- I think this is the most important thing -- there will be many attempts to point fingers of blame at people. And while that may be appropriate, that is being done by the military in the various trials that fill the newspapers today. But it's more important that we understand shortcomings that we have so that we can fix them. And so any attempt by the press to say so-and-so is guilty and should be -- resign or things of this nature, they have an inhibiting effect upon this department finding the correct way to do things in the future. So I would be very careful about pointing fingers of blame, but rather understanding where the shortcomings were and how to fix them.
MR. SCHLESINGER: Sir?
Q Secretary, might I ask -- General Horner mentioned resignations. While you have all made perfectly clear that there was -- that nobody in this administration at the top level or on the top level of the department either ordered or condoned abuse of prisoners, you do say here in command responsibility that military and civilian leaders of the Department of Defense share this burden of responsibility for what went on there. Should high-level resignations be offered here in order to clear this matter up and to move on? I will ask each of you briefly to answer that, if I may.
MR. SCHLESINGER: You would have to specify which high-level --
Q The secretary of Defense.
MR. SCHLESINGER: You've raised the question of the secretary of Defense. Let me say that his resignation would be a boon to all of America's enemies, and consequently I think that it would be a misfortune if it were to take place. The secretary set out the policies -- if you read the testimony of General Sanchez and General Abizaid before the Armed Services Committee, they very specifically were asked, "What guidance did you seek from the Office of the Secretary of Defense?" Answer: "We sought no guidance. They provide us with policy. We in the Army implement that policy." So they were not seeking guidance from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
This is a very large military establishment.
When Admiral Crowe took over as chairman of the Joint Chiefs from General Vessey, he asked General Vessey, "What advice do you have for me?"
Vessey responded, "This is a very large organization. If you can think of the worst things that possibly might be going on at any time, just realize that somewhere in this large organization they are actually going on."
One must recognize that the secretary of Defense gave guidance with regard to policy. He altered that policy in the -- he rescinded that initial policy as a result of the protests that came up from various lawyers in the Pentagon. He adjusted the policy, and I think that his conduct with regard to this issue has been exemplary.
We comment that the consequence of -- consequences that we have seen overseas are such that it would have been better had greater supervision been exercised over those activities and that there is failure at the senior levels of the Pentagon to exercise that supervision. I think that more of that falls upon the military -- uniformed military than on the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Q Mr. Secretary --
Q Briefly -- I'm sorry -- briefly, to the other members, just very briefly: Do you agree that the secretary should not offer his resignation?
MS. FOWLER: I agree completely with the comments of Dr. Schlesinger.
GEN. HORNER: I thoroughly agree. In fact, in my view, if there's something to be commended on this whole operation, it's the way the secretary of Defense has approached the investigations. And certainly, I can tell you that any of the four of us, if we had anything we found distasteful, dishonorable, or inappropriate, we would have certainly said so.
MR. BROWN: Let me speak to this issue.
GEN. HORNER: Let me -- Harold?
MR. BROWN: Yeah, let me speak to this issue.
Clearly the secretary of Defense is -- has a responsibility for everything that happens in the department. But if you look at what Secretary Rumsfeld has done in these matters, he was extremely careful about the issue of treatment of prisoners during interrogation. He instituted very stringent rules. Now, abuses nevertheless occurred, and they occurred, as the others have said, at levels -- at various levels in the department. The military -- uniformed military bear most of the responsibility.
And I think that overall, Secretary Rumsfeld has handled this extremely well. If the head of a department had to resign every time anyone down below did something wrong, it would be a very empty Cabinet table.
Q Good to see you again, sir. The years have been kind to you. Like old times.
MR. SCHLESINGER: Not so kind as they have been to you. (Laughter.)
Q Thank you, sir. Thank you. A peripheral issue, if I may, and Dr. Brown really went to this, to the heart of it. There are Middle East historians who believe that this administration didn't bother to open a history book before it went to war with Iraq; that if they had, they would have known perfectly well that when they went into Iraq, and particularly Baghdad, they would not get roses thrown at the tanks, as happened in Paris at the end of World War II. And Dr. Brown talked about this as being a major problem leading to the abuses and others.
Should the administration have seen this? Should it have done something, you know, differently along the way? How would both of you gentlemen do that?
MR. SCHLESINGER: In the first place, they did look at history books. Unfortunately, it was the wrong history.
We were well prepared and the plan was well prepared to deal with conditions that emerged after the 1991 Gulf War. To wit, there was an expectation of large numbers of refugees, displaced persons spilling over the border, elsewhere -- the kind of thing that was encountered by the Kurds after 1991, when Saddam Hussein cracked down on them. The administration was well prepared to deal with that.
It did not, as Harold Brown indicate(d), anticipate a major insurgency. It is very clear to us now that it would have been far preferable if they had anticipated that.
But in any event, any Defense establishment should adapt quickly to new conditions as they arise. And in this case, we were slow, at least in the judgment of the members of this panel, to adapt accordingly after the insurgency started in the summer of 2003.
Q Dr. Schlesinger, your panel -- all of you speak several times about the failures of the uniformed military leadership, the Joint Staff, the Joint Chiefs. So the other side of the question is, specifically and precisely, do you feel then that General Myers can effectively continue as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?
And can you help explain to the American people why, if it is the responsibility and it goes all the way to the top of the uniformed military command, why you are not recommending any action against any very senior top officials in the military structure?
MR. SCHLESINGER: In the first place, our charter said, no, we are not to make recommendations with regard to punishments for anybody, that we would leave that to the normal processes of military justice. So we have refrained from doing so. We do make some observations.
Q I would ask your observations, then, about the senior military leadership.
MR. SCHLESINGER: In the case of General Sanchez, I should point out that there are extenuating circumstances. We did not address them, but there are extenuating circumstances. The CJTF-7 had 33 percent of the appropriate level of personnel. He was stretched too thin. He delegated responsibilities with regard to detention to his staff. There was a failure with regard to the execution of those responsibilities.
General Sanchez indeed did visit several times the Abu Ghraib. He cautioned, as you will read in the report, General Karpinski. We felt that in a theater characterized by continuing conflict, that stronger action might have been taken. But that was, I think, the closest to the problem.
There was a failure to reallocate resources once it was seen that there were severe problems at Abu Ghraib. We should have reallocated military police within theater, which was regarded as a responsibility of the commanders on the scene, and if that were insufficient, that we should have mobilized resources back in the United States. If there were insufficient Army military police, we could have brought in air police, shore police and the like. It is that which we felt was a(n) insufficient response on the part of senior leadership either in Tampa or here in the Pentagon.
Q But sir, if I might follow up, your report specifically, shall we say, chastises the Joint Staff, the Joint Chiefs. You mentioned them. You said the highest levels. I would ask that you maybe pose your observation, if you will, similar to the one you made about the secretary of Defense. What is your observation about the chairman and the Joint Chiefs if you've mentioned them? What do you think?
MR. SCHLESINGER: My observation, once again -- and this applies to General Sanchez as well as those higher up, including the combatant commander in Tampa and those in the Joint Chiefs -- that their attention was focused on fighting a war and subsequently fighting the insurgency. They were not focused on the detention operations. In retrospect it's clear that we regarded that as an error on their part. We do not think that it was a sufficient error to call for senior resignations.
GEN. HORNER: Well, I think this goes back to are you going to read the report for what we can do right next time, or do you want to read the report to affix blame? Affixing blame will be done, but if it's not warranted it should not be done. We all have 20/20 hindsight. It doesn't make us perfect.
MR. BROWN: Can I comment on this?
MR. SCHLESINGER: Harold?
MR. BROWN: Yes. Look, there was -- at various levels there was some dereliction of duty. At other levels there were mistakes. A lot of careers are going to be ruined over this. Maybe I can put it in journalistic terms. There's a difference between a reporter who gets one or several facts wrong in trying to meet a deadline and a reporter who falsifies a long set of stories. They should not be treated the same way, and I think there's an analogous situation here.
MR. SCHLESINGER: Well, thank you, Harold, for that very appealing metaphor. (Laughter.)
Q General, you mentioned the sort of two different categories of abuse, sort of criminal and then one done by interrogators believing they were doing the right thing. How do the five deaths in interrogations, where do they fall in those categories? And just can you all generally kind of speak to those five deaths and the circumstances around them?
GEN. HORNER: Well, in some cases there was a death that was the result of actions taken at the point of capture. There are two cases of death in Afghanistan, I believe, that were investigated and some sort of charges were brought, and those are the ones I'm familiar with.
Q Mr. Secretary --
Q Sir, generally on that same point --
Q In terms of -- and what I'm thinking of includes an Iraqi general who died during interrogation; that was away from Abu Ghraib. But where do those -- I mean --
GEN. HORNER: Each case was investigated. In some cases, the investigations are ongoing. There's a listing in the thing. I do not have them memorized.
Q Do you see those as a failure in command climate or of individual acts of criminality?
GEN. HORNER: Each one's been investigated and each one has a conclusion, and you can read them; they're in the reports. And that's all I can --
Q (Off mike.)
MR. SCHLESINGER: For the most part those are failures of the individuals involved. What we see is that something on the order of half the cases were -- of abuse were at the point of capture. These are circumstances in which one has seen buddies killed, one -- the blood is up, so to speak. And at the point of capture, there is -- there are actions that are taken which are regrettable in hindsight. Those are the responsibilities of the individuals. I do not know of any cases in which the deaths were a consequence, at least in the DOD -- were a consequence of actions that were approved by senior offices.
Q Sir, along those same lines, you say there were -- one- third of the abuses occurred during interrogation. How serious were those abuses? What went on? Any criminal action there, you believe?
MR. SCHLESINGER: Probably.
MS. FOWLER: Well, our charge was not to --
Q (Off mike) -- were during the interrogation -- (off mike) --
Q Our charge for this particular panel was not to review every single instance of individual abuse. As you know, there are two more reports coming out that deal with those. So what we were looking at was not investigating each instance of abuse, because those are being investigated and there will be, you know, criminal actions, or not, taken as a result of those. So what we were looking at was the climate, the policies, the implementation of policies; not focusing in -- we have read reports of these, because we have seen the reports that are still to come. But that was not our charge, to investigate the individual --
GEN. HORNER: We would observe if there was an abuse that was not investigated.
MS. FOWLER: Yeah.
GEN. HORNER: We did not find any.
MS. FOWLER: We did not find any of that, yeah.
MR. SCHLESINGER: The department has investigated itself and some of the reports are meticulous in their thoroughness. I cite in particular the Jones report or the Fay-Jones report if you prefer and the report of Admiral Church. These list large numbers of very serious incidents, many of them going beyond Abu Ghraib, even though Abu Ghraib, it remains unique in that you had this "Animal House" mentality that occurred on the night shift, not the day shift.
Q Mr. Secretary?
MR. SCHLESINGER: Sir?
Q On the broad sense, is it fair to say this report is somewhat of an indictment on the war plan? You say in the report that CJTF-7 was never fully resourced to meet the size and complexity of its mission, and that additionally it was burdened with the complexity of supporting the CPA. Is it also an assessment of the war plan or lack of a postwar plan?
MR. SCHLESINGER: I think that it's more a response to the postwar situation that -- Chuck, do you have something to --
GEN. HORNER: I was just going to say also keep in mind that they had a shift of personnel because people had been over there for one, two years. So you had new people coming in. So there's a combination of factors that weakened their ability to respond as quickly as they should have.
MR. SCHLESINGER: It is also a reflection of the character of a volunteer force, and one must recognize that. We have people over there. They've had -- they left after -- they -- one year overseas, they came back. This destroyed to a large extent unit cohesion. We have a policy allowing senior officers to take vacations back home, and as a result you will find that some of the deficiencies in CJTF-7 were a reflection of the times that senior officers were away on vacation. Now whether that is a correct policy or not -- I think that it might be desirable to tighten up on vacations, particularly when one is shorthanded.
Q Dr. Schlesinger, did I hear you correctly say at the end of your statement that you now believe the Abu Ghraib scandal -- the focus on interrogation techniques has had a chilling effect on current interrogation operations? And if so, how is that affecting the global war on terror and the American military and intelligence communities' ability to go after terrorism?
MR. SCHLESINGER: I think that that, I hope, should be self- evident, that a chilling effect on interrogation means that we take in less intelligence; that intelligence may come in belatedly, too late to take necessary corrective actions; and that, as General Horner observed before, it is necessary for us to have intelligence that is quite different from Cold War intelligence. That is always a characteristic of a reaction to one of these public responses.
Sir? Did I finish?
Q Yeah. I'd like to follow up the issue of torture. Did you find that any of these abuses amounted to torture, either legally or otherwise? And did you address the issue of whether torture is ever justified, say if a terrorist were going to have a weapon of mass destruction?
MR. SCHLESINGER: You will find a section on ethics in the report that deals with some length on the question of whether, when there is a ticking bomb, whether aggressive techniques may be warranted; only under those circumstances, and there must be careful discrimination. And that when one does indulge in activities that are not regarded as permissible, that one accepts the risk and the responsibility for whatever commander has ordered that action, as Colonel West did some time ago. He has now resigned from the Army.
Q How about the issue of whether these abuses amounted to torture, legally or otherwise?
MR. SCHLESINGER: Well, we comment in the report that there is such a thing as euphemisms, and sometimes the phrase "humane treatment" may be used and a large number of people will not regard that humane treatment as inhumane. So there is a problem in defining torture. We did not find cases of torture, however. However, we are not supposed to be looking at these individual cases.
Q There were reports some time back that Chinese military personnel had participated or at least attended the interrogation of (inaudible) detainees held at Guantanamo. Did you see anything in your investigations that could confirm that?
MR. SCHLESINGER: No. (To General Horner) Did you see any, Chuck?
GEN. HORNER: No.
MR. SCHLESINGER: No, we did not. But once again, we were not monitoring other military establishments.
Q Mr. Secretary, could I ask you just to fill in one of the gaps. You commented on Secretary Rumsfeld and General Sanchez and the Joint Chiefs. Could you tell us your observations about the role played by Mr. Cambone?
MR. SCHLESINGER: You will see that Mr. Cambone's name is mentioned in the report. He is mentioned as one of our interviewees, period. He has no further connection.
I think that the question arose about Mr. Cambone at the time of his testimony with Major General Miller. He stated at that time that he had encouraged General Miller to go out. He did not do so directly. He did not have any contact with General Miller. He talked to the JCS and said: Miller has done a good job down at Guantanamo. Send him out to make some advisory comments to -- in Iraq.
Miller did. Miller went out there. He made some comments, which reflected his experiences at Guantanamo.
When he actually took over command in March of 2004, the situation at Abu Ghraib cleared up.
The thing to bear in mind is that all -- that Cambone's only connection with this, so far as we know, was his encouragement to the JCS to send Miller out there.
Q Sir --
MR. SCHLESINGER: Sir?
Q Sir, particularly, a point of fact, the working group report, which the secretary convened and which finished work in April -- the final report recommended as one of its recommendations that if the expanded set of interrogation techniques which the report said would be all right -- if they were to be put in place, then the report recommended that the president himself, as commander in chief, should sign the authorization for those. The military, I think, insisted that that go into the report. Can you tell us whether you find any evidence that the president did sign off on the authorization to use those expanded set of techniques?
MR. SCHLESINGER: One, we -- the president was not further involved in these matters after he signed the decision memorandum of February the 7th, 2002, so far as we know.
I do not think that any suggestion that the president should sign off would be taken seriously. I think that there may be some confusion introduced by the OLC document that occurred early on, that said in his role as commander in chief he could even authorize torture. That document has certainly been repudiated as too strong a term, but there's been distancing from that document over the course of the last few months. And the president had no further association with this issue after he gave the general orders with regard to the Taliban and al Qaeda in 2002.
Q Did you find any involvement by anybody at the White House after that point?
MR. SCHLESINGER: Only in the sense that one member of the NSC staff did visit Abu Ghraib.
Q Dr. Schlesinger, a lot of Americans have been sickened by what they saw with these photos that came out of the prison. Without getting into the specific findings of the report and the recommendations, what would you say to the average American about what you learned during the course of your investigation of where things stand right now?
MR. SCHLESINGER: I emphasize the fact that the photos that you see were strictly an extracurricular activity of those on the night shift at Abu Ghraib; that you had none of these activities on the day shift that had different noncom leadership; that those photos that you saw, which have been misinterpreted, misinterpreted by some as suggesting that these people were being subjected either to torture or intimidation as a way of extracting intelligence information, is entirely wrong. These -- none of the people in the pictures was even an intelligence target, nor were they considered to be appropriate for interrogation. Most of the people that you see in the stack of prisoners in the picture or -- were people there that were criminals.
And going back to the question of chaos, one of the problems that we have was this mix of prisoners that Harold Brown referred to -- mix of detainees. Some were simple criminals. Some were indeed security risks -- relatively few. Some of were prisoners of war. Some were innocents who just happened to be picked up because one of their neighbors suggested that they had connection with the insurgency. And you had them all lumped together in tier one. Next door, in tier two, and elsewhere in Abu Ghraib, you have Iraqi police running an entirely separate operation, but in some ways contaminating what was going on in tier one in that they were not above corruption, and they were not above passing armaments in.
One must remember, with regard to these military police, that throughout this that they were subject to mortar attacks. Some of them, if I recall correctly, were killed by mortar attacks. They were short-handed. They were being subjected to misbehavior on the part of the detainees -- throwing urine at them, throwing other things at them. And the consequence was that they were both irritable and to some extent concerned about their own well-being under these conditions. And this does -- no way justifies their behavior -- no way justifies their behavior. Nonetheless it does help explain the mental attitude of some who were not under strict discipline.
STAFF: One more question.
MR. SCHLESINGER: Ma'am.
Q Could you tell us -- you mentioned that you didn't have access -- in your report -- you didn't have access to the CIA. Did you seek access and were not granted it, or didn't you seek it?
MR. SCHLESINGER: We had partial access to the CIA. They --
Q Did you want more and were denied?
MR. SCHLESINGER: We -- denied is too strong a term. We did not have sharing.
Q Could you -- in the report you mentioned there's five cases of abuse at Guantanamo Bay and yet you said that this isn't an ideal detention facility, given the guard-to-prisoner ratio and the policies that are there. Could you explain how there can be five cases of abuses in an ideal facility?
MR. SCHLESINGER: What were the abuses?
GEN. HORNER: If I -- as far as I -- as best I can recollect, the abuse at Guantanamo occurred before Miller took over.
MR. SCHLESINGER: That goes back to the question about Cambone and so forth. There is considerable praise for General Miller after he took command of detention operations in 2004, that things cleared up at Abu Ghraib and that he brought to Abu Ghraib the same disciplines that he had brought to Guantanamo. Then there is this sort of floating suspicion that he was sent out for other purposes by people in the Pentagon, possibly by Secretary Cambone.
Those two criticisms do not jive. Major General Miller ran a good ship, following orders, at Guantanamo. He discovered at Guantanamo that there must be better cooperation and integration between the military police and military intelligence. That did not occur prior to his taking command at Abu Ghraib, most obviously in October and November of 2003. After he took over there was the appropriate degree of collaboration. One of the recommendations that we make is that the Army in particular, but the other services as well, rethink the relationship between military police and military intelligence people in the war on terror, which is quite different from that which occurred during either World War II or the Cold War.
Q: Just --
Q: I mean --
Q: I really wanted to clear something up. To your knowledge, in this stovepipe at Abu Ghraib, were there any CIA or State Department contract interrogators there, or was this strictly under the Pentagon? In other words, might the CIA also fall under this, under this camp of responsibility, as you said above --
MR. SCHLESINGER: There were interrogators from the agency at Abu Ghraib, as I recall.
GEN. HORNER: The rules required a military intelligence person be present when a CIA person interrogated a detainee in the DOD facility. There were indications that on at least once case that did not occur. That doesn't mean there was abuse associated with it.
Q Thank you.
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