Allegations of Abuse
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RAY SUAREZ: The Senate Armed Services Committee focused on alleged abuse of detainees held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Many of the allegations were detailed in memos from FBI agents at Guantanamo recently made public.
Gen. Bantz Craddock, the commander of U.S. Southern Command, said Army investigators followed up on the FBI charges. They looked at techniques military interrogators and guards allegedly used on prisoners captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere. These included use of dogs, putting duct tape on prisoners’ mouths, sleep deprivation, denial of food and water and extreme heat and cold.
GEN. BANTZ CRADDOCK: I also directed General Furlow to investigate two additional allegations concerning a female military interrogator performing a lap dance on a detainee and the use of red ink as fake menstrual blood during an interrogation.
RAY SUAREZ: Lt. Gen. Randall Schmidt is the lead investigator. He said some of the techniques had been approved in a memo from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld in December 2003 but withdrawn a few months later.
LT. GEN. RANDALL SCHMIDT: Twice interrogators brought military working dogs into the interrogation room and directed to growl, bark and show teeth at the detainee. Dogs were authorized under the secretary of defense action memo.
RAY SUAREZ: Guantanamo interrogators were trying to crack a tough nut: Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi captured in 2001 along the Pakistani border. Al-Qahtani tried to enter the U.S. in the summer of 2001, but was turned away from the airport in Orlando, Florida. Also at the airport that day, Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta. It’s long been alleged that al-Qahtani might have been coming to America to join a 9/11 hijack team.
He was questioned 18 to 20 hours a day, 54 days straight, using those controversial techniques. Gen. Schmidt said the tactics weren’t abuse when examined one by one but used together, during long-term segregation and for so many days in a row, they were a problem.
LT. GEN. RANDALL SCHMIDT: He was forced to wear women’s lingerie, multiple allegations of homosexuality and that his comrades were aware of that. He was forced to dance with a male interrogator, subject to strip searches for control measures, not for security. And he was forced to perform dog tricks, all this to lower his personal sense of worth.
RAY SUAREZ: The lieutenant general concluded that Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the commander of the Guantanamo prison, was responsible for the abuses that occurred under his watch and should get an official reprimand.
But General Craddock rejected his subordinate’s suggestion. General Miller was not held responsible for the questioning of al-Qahtani, called by his prisoner number “ISN-063.”
GEN. BANTZ CRADDOCK: My reason for disapproving that recommendation is that the interrogation of ISN-063 did not result in any violation of a U.S. law or policy, and the degree of supervision provided by Major General Miller does not warrant admonishment under the circumstances.
RAY SUAREZ: Several committee Republicans, led by Chairman John Warner, stressed the importance of the intelligence obtained at Guantanamo.
SEN. JOHN WARNER: Now, the interrogation at Gitmo, it is clear was producing a lot of very important intelligence that helped our operating forces, primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is thoroughly documented, General Craddock?
GEN. BANTZ CRADDOCK: Yes, sir.
SEN. JOHN WARNER: To save lives, be it Americans or coalition forces fighting in those —
GEN. BANTZ CRADDOCK: We believe so.
RAY SUAREZ: Rhode Island Democrat Sen. Jack Reed wondered if the problems at Guantanamo weren’t made worse by the Bush administration’s decision not to apply the rules governing the treatment of prisoners laid out in the Geneva Conventions.
SEN. JACK REED: The confusion I think here is that there are standards we have to apply in the Geneva Convention but the answer here was we were operating essentially with just the direction the secretary of defense and whatever improvisations that could be made down there at Guantanamo. Is that fair?
LT. GEN. RANDALL SCHMIDT: Senator, what would be fair is there were authorized techniques in the application of the status not protected by the Geneva Convention — although he had humane treatment — were taken fairly liberally.
RAY SUAREZ: After the public hearing, the senators took further testimony in closed session.