Thursday, December 02, 2004

CIA Was Wary of U.S. Interrogation Methods in Iraq

Report warning of possible abuses was sent to officials before Abu Ghraib photos surfaced.
CIA officers in Iraq were ordered to stay away from a U.S. military interrogation facility last year because agency officials questioned the way detainees were being interrogated, according to a December 2003 report on a secret special operations unit.
The report warning of possible abuses of Iraqi detainees in U.S. custody was sent to commanders in Iraq a month before the now infamous photographs of the Abu Ghraib prison emerged early this year, the Pentagon said Wednesday in confirming some of the findings.
The report by retired Army Col. Stuart A. Herrington - who visited Iraq in 2003 to assess U.S. intelligence gathering operations against Iraqi insurgents - warned that U.S. special operations troops and CIA operatives might be abusing Iraqi prisoners.
Herrington's report went up the chain of command to Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. commander in Iraq at the time, who ordered that the possible abuses be investigated, Pentagon officials said.
Pentagon officials could not say Wednesday what became of that investigation. The Herrington report was included as a classified attachment to a report released this summer by Maj. Gen. George R. Fay and Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones, who investigated the role of U.S. intelligence officials in Iraqi prisoner abuse. The contents of the attachment were first reported Wednesday by the Washington Post.
Herrington included a warning in the year-old report that Task Force 121- a secret unit made up of special operations troops and CIA paramilitary operatives - needed to be "reined in with respect to its treatment of detainees," according to a source familiar with the report.
The source said Herrington reported that the CIA had ordered its officers to steer clear of a detention facility being run by the military because of the way prisoners were being handled there.
Herrington wrote that one CIA official told him that the agency "had been directed not to have any contact" with the interrogation facility run by Task Force 121 "because practices there were in contravention" to agency rules on questioning detainees.
The source did not say whether the report detailed the practices.
Herrington's report also warned about the perils of a system in which the CIA was keeping detainees off prison records, largely so that they could be questioned before their detention was revealed publicly. The Fay-Jones report confirmed dozens of cases of so-called ghost detainees, whose detentions were kept secret.
The CIA inspector general's office is still investigating allegations of detainee abuses, a U.S. intelligence official said. Several cases involving the agency have been referred to the Justice Department, and one CIA operative has been charged in connection with the death of a prisoner held in CIA custody in Afghanistan.
The official said that "the CIA has worked closely with the Department of Defense to investigate possible cases of abuse whenever there are allegations."

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