Sun, Jul 02, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Pentagon report on abuse of detainees made public


The Pentagon released on Friday a military review last year of prisoner interrogation policies, which concluded that no uniformed or civilian leaders directed or encouraged prisoner abuses committed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The report, largely disclosed more than a year ago, found a number of "missed opportunities" in the development of detainee policies, including failure to provide commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan specific and early guidance on interrogation techniques.

Had that guidance been provided earlier, "interrogation policy could have benefited from additional expertise and oversight," Vice Admiral Albert Church wrote in the report.


A declassified version of the review was made public on Friday, but its conclusions and other details were released in March last year and were the subject of a congressional hearing.

Church's review also found, in the cases of detainee operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, that the dissemination of approved interrogation policy to commanders in the field was generally poor. In Iraq in particular, it found that compliance with approved policy guidance also was generally poor.

Church concluded that no single explanation would account for the mistreatment of Iraqi, Afghan and other prisoners under the control of US military personnel.

"The fundamental finding of the report was that there was no policy that condoned or authorized abuse of detainees," said Lieutenant Colonel Mark Ballesteros, a Pentagon spokesman.


He said the report is among 12 reviews into detention operations that have led to nearly 500 recommendations for changes and improvements in the system. Most have been implemented, he said.

The Church probe was among several triggered by disclosures last year of prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison complex in Iraq. Church, formerly the Navy's chief investigator, was directed to look at how interrogation policies were developed and implemented from the start of the terror war in late 2001.

Church examined the 187 Pentagon investigations of alleged prisoner abuse that had been completed as of Sept. 30, 2004, of which 70 he counted as having documented actual abuse. Six of the 70 involved prisoner deaths.

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