Friday, June 20, 2014

Torture Connection: From Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib

When you think "Iraq," one of the things you probably think about is Abu Ghraib.

And when you think "Abu Ghraib," you'll be right to ask, "Why does this seem so much like Guantanamo?"

From the Center for Torture Accountability:

As commanding officer responsible for interrogation of "high-value" prisoners at Guantanamo, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller implemented policies aimed at combining degrading detention conditions with interrogation methods, [using] dogs… and daily doses of degradation in prison routine, aimed at breaking prisoners mentally and emotionally.

When legal officers confronted him about the illegality of his procedures…Miller responded that these detainees would never be brought to trial, not "after what we've done to them."

In September 2003, upon orders from Donald Rumsfeld, Gen. Miller led a mission to "reform" interrogation methods at prisons in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib…

He met with some resistance from officers…But within a few months, officers and contractors more comfortable with Gen. Miller's approach were assigned to Abu Ghraib, and dogs, hoods, and other implements of Miller's torture methods soon became widespread in Iraqi detention facilities. The infamous Abu Ghraib photos were taken about two months after Miller's visit.

In April 2004, Maj. Gen. Miller moved from Guantanamo to Iraq and formally took over command of prisons and interrogations. When news of Abu Ghraib broke, however, he denied involvement, insisting that the abuse there preceded his posting to Iraq. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who had supervised the prison when Miller first showed up to urge "gitmo- ization" and who had attempted to resist the new methods, was cited for losing control of the prison and removed from command. Eventually, the officer who investigated the incident, Gen. Taguba, concluded that Miller's new methods had led to the breakdown of discipline among soldiers assigned to guard duty at Abu Ghraib and thus could be considered ultimately responsible for the atrocities committed there.

[I]n May 2006, Miller was asked to testify at the trial of soldiers who had worked handling dogs at Abu Ghraib. Miller refused to testify, claiming his right against self-incrimination… Such claims by high-level officers are virtually unheard of. He was pressured to testify by threatened cancellation of his retirement plans, and he finally appeared in court to say that he ordered use of dogs only to maintain security in the prison, not to enhance interrogations. The next day, Lt. Col. Jerry Phillabaum directly contradicted this assertion.

Miller retired in August 2006. At his retirement ceremony, he was awarded a medal for distinguished service and a citation for "innovation" in his career.

Read the full article: Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller enhanced prisoner interrogation with degrading conditions of confinement

394 Days Have Passed Since President Obama’s Renewed Promise to Close Guantánamo: Only 17 Men Released as of June 20, 2014

. 149 men remain imprisoned. 141 of them haven’t been charged.
. 78 men have been cleared for release, most of whom have been imprisoned without charge for more than 11 years.
. An unknown number of men are on hunger strike and are being force-fed. A mass hunger strike began on February 6, 2013. At its height, in June 2013, 106 men were reportedly participating in the hunger strike. On December 3, 2013, the U.S. military stopped daily reporting on the number of hunger strikers.

Join the Chicago Coalition to Shut Down Guantanamo at our vigil every Friday.