The general who “Gitmoized” Abu Ghraib briefed Rumsefled’s top aides, it is now revealed—contradicting his own earlier testimony. From the Chicago Tribune July 15 via TruthOut:
General Contradicted Abu Ghraib Testimony
Transcripts reveal he briefed top officials.
Washington – An Army general who has been criticized for his role in the treatment of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention center and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has contradicted his sworn congressional testimony about contacts with senior Pentagon officials.
Gen. Geoffrey Miller told the Senate Armed Services Committee in May 2004 that he had only filed a report on a recent visit to Abu Ghraib, and did not talk to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or his top aides about the fact-finding trip.
But in a recorded statement to attorneys three months later, Miller said he gave two of Rumfeld’s most senior aides – then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary for Intelligence Steve Cambone – a briefing on his visit and his subsequent recommendations.
“Following our return in the fall, I gave an outbrief to both Dr. Wolfowitz and Secretary Cambone,” Miller said in the Aug. 21, 2004, statement to lawyers for guards accused of prisoner abuse, a transcript of which was obtained by the Tribune.
“I went over the report that we had developed and gave them a briefing on the intelligence activities, recommendations, and some recommendations on detention operations,” Miller added.
Specific interrogation techniques, he said, were not discussed.
Miller’s statement about the meeting, if true, suggests that officials at the very top of the Pentagon may have been more involved in monitoring activities at the prison than previously disclosed. Abu Ghraib was later at the center of a scandal surrounding prisoner abuse, which has led to punishments for soldiers.
Miller, Cambone and Wolfowitz, who is now acting director of the World Bank, each declined to respond to written questions about Miller’s contradictory statements. Rumsfeld, Cambone, Wolfowitz and Miller have denied knowledge of prisoner abuse.
In the Aug. 21 statement, Miller says that he never spoke directly to Rumsfeld about his Abu Ghraib visit or his subsequent recommendations for new, tougher interrogation tactics there.
Miller’s name came up again this week, when he was named in a military investigation made public Wednesday on FBI claims that detainees held by the US at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were being mistreated. The report recommended that Miller be reprimanded for not monitoring the interrogation tactics used on one detainee, Mohamed al-Qahtani, who allegedly intended to be the 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 plot.
Miller’s superior officer, Gen. Bantz Craddock, overruled the reprimand, arguing that there was no evidence that laws had been broken.
Cambone has asserted that he was not briefed by Miller after the general returned from Abu Ghraib. During his own appearance on May 11, 2004, before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Cambone said he and Miller did not speak about Abu Ghraib after Miller’s return from the September 2003 fact-finding mission.
“I was not briefed by Gen. Miller,” Cambone testified. Instead, Cambone said, a military aide, Gen. William Boykin, briefed Cambone on Miller’s trip.
Wolfowitz, who also testified before Congress in May 2004 about prisoner abuses, was not asked during the hearings if he was briefed by Miller.
Miller’s role at Abu Ghraib has come under scrutiny since news reports first revealed that US personnel within the prison abused inmates. The mistreatment occurred from the fall of 2003 until January 2004, when a soldier reported the abuses.
Miller was sent to visit the prison in late summer 2003 at the suggestion of Cambone, who had dealt previously with Miller on issues related to the detention of terror suspects at Guantánamo. At the time, the insurgency in Iraq was growing more violent, and US commanders were keen to get intelligence from the growing number of Iraqi men detained by US troops.
The abuses at Abu Ghraib began to occur after Miller’s visit, according to Pentagon inquiries, and after the arrival of so-called Tiger Team interrogation units from Guantánamo that Miller said in the August 2004 statement that he helped select.
“We tried to pick the best 10 people that we could send,” Miller said.
The abuses also took place after new military police and intelligence units arrived at Abu Ghraib, and after the then-US commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, approved a set of interrogation practices recommended by Miller. Those tactics were later scaled back at the recommendation of the US Central Command.
Pentagon officials and several investigative reports conducted by the Army and a civilian panel chosen by Rumsfeld have concluded that the abuses were the actions of lower-ranking soldiers, and were not ordered by senior officers.
7 GIs Convicted in Scandal
So far, seven soldiers have been convicted on charges related to the abuses. Two senior officers, an Army colonel and an Army Reserve brigadier general, have been reprimanded.
When he appeared before the Armed Services Committee on May 19, 2004, to explain his role at Abu Ghraib, Miller said that he had no contact with Cambone or others in Rumsfeld’s office after he returned from Iraq in September 2003.
“I submitted the report up to SOUTHCOM [US Southern Command, where Miller was attached in 2003],” Miller told the committee. “I had no direct discussions with Secretary Cambone.”
Miller made the same claim in a signed, sworn statement he gave to Army investigators on June 19, 2004. In his Aug. 21, 2004, statement to defense attorneys, though, Miller said he and Cambone discussed “how we could improve the flow of intelligence from Iraq through and in interrogations.”
Also present, he told the attorneys, were two top Army officers, Gens. Ron Burgess, the head of intelligence for the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, and William Caldwell, the military aide to Wolfowitz.
Miller said there was one other participant in the briefing, but he could not recall who it was.
A spokeswoman for Caldwell, who is now commander of the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, said, “All the meetings and briefs that our commanding general took part in during a previous assignment he considers private and confidential.”
Burgess also declined to respond to written questions about Miller’s statements.
See our last post on the ongoing torture scandal.