Thursday, May 06, 2004

Possible Widespread Prevalence of Iraqi Prison Abuse

Via E-mail

Dear Producers and Hosts:

As far as I have seen, heard or read, the media has not inquired into or discussed whether the kind of misconduct that occurred at Abu Ghraib in Iraq did or did not occur at Guantanamo as well. It is important to us as Americans for the press to begin inquiring about and discussing this question. It is only the more important because the Administration has told the Supreme Court that nobody has any authority over what it does at Guantanamo. I urge you to bring up the question on your programs, especially because of a lengthy article in yesterday’s New York Times.

The article said that the new commander of Abu Ghraib, Major General Geoffrey A. Miller, was previously the chief of detentions and interrogations at Guantanamo. Last August he visited Iraq “with a team of 30 experts to recommend ways of making the detentions and interrogations ‘more effective and more efficient,’” and “to help make the prison staff ‘more able to garner intelligence as rapidly as possible.’” Apparently, the abuse at Abu Ghraib that currently is being reported occurred after these recommendations.

The Times also reported that General Miller “saw his main purpose in both places as extracting as much information as possible,” and said that there are over 50 coercive techniques that are sometimes used on prisoners. General Miller “defended” the use of certain coercive techniques like sleep deprivation and forcing prisoners into “‘stress positions.’”

General Miller also recommended last August that a way of making “detention and interrogations ‘more effective and more efficient . . . . was to give the military police guarding the detainees a larger role in gathering intelligence.” He also recently “defended the use of contract interrogators, saying he had employed 30 at Guantanamo.” Military police and contract interrogators have been involved in the abuses in Iraq.

In these circumstances, it seems obvious to me that, given the abuses in Iraq, the media should be discussing and investigating whether, God forbid, the same abuses as occurred in Iraq may have occurred at Guantanamo too. Is this not equally obvious to you? General Miller is quoted by The Times as saying “trust us” in regard to the assertedly corrected situation which he says now exists at Abu Ghraib. Surely, the media should not blindly follow that advice regarding Guantanamo or Iraq, but should instead investigate and discuss the pertinent questions. Am I wrong?


Lawrence R. Velvel

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