WASHINGTON, June 18: A US military report has found evidence to suggest that US Special Operations troops used unauthorized interrogation techniques against detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2004.
The report, released under a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union, acknowledged that during a four-month period in early 2004 US troops used these illicit methods long after approval for them was rescinded.
ACLU maintained that both reports proved the Bush administration did not take inquiries on prisoners’ abuse seriously.
The Pentagon report, prepared by Army Brig. Gen. Richard Formica who conducted an investigation from May 2004 to November 2004, is the last of 12 major inquiries to be made public. All inquiries focus on allegations of detainee abuse by US personnel in Cuba, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The last inquiry is also the first to focus on Special Operations troops, who operate with more latitude than other military units. It details harsh treatment that continued at isolated bases even after the abuses first surfaced at the Abu Ghraib prison.
Special Operations interrogators gave some detainees only bread or crackers and water if they did not cooperate, according to the investigation. One prisoner was fed only bread and water for 17 days.
Other detainees were locked for as many as seven days in cells so small that they could neither stand nor lie down, while interrogators played loud music that disrupted their sleep.
The inquiry also determined that some detainees were stripped naked, drenched with water and then interrogated in air-conditioned rooms or in cold weather.
Gen. Formica noted that members of the US Navy Seals used that technique in the case of one detainee who died after questioning in 2004. But he reported seeing no specific allegation to suggest that the use of the technique was related to that death.
Gen. Formica recommended that none of the service members be disciplined, saying what they did was wrong but not deliberate abuse.
He faulted “inadequate policy guidance” for the mistreatment, and said that, from his observations, none of the detainees seemed to be the worse for wear because of the treatment.
“Seventeen days with only bread and water is too long,” the general said. But he added that the military command’s surgeon general had advised him “it would take longer than 17 days to develop a protein or vitamin deficiency from a diet of bread and water.”
The report released by Pentagon is a heavily redacted version of Gen. Formica’s inquiry and has been made public more than 18 months after its completion.
A Pentagon press release added that the investigation focused on three specific allegations against the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Arabian Peninsula, which operates throughout Iraq.
Gen. Formica made eight recommendations, which were all implemented, Pentagon said.
According to Pentagon, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Arabian Peninsula created a standard operating procedure about detainee operations. While task force personnel were creating this policy, they were erroneously provided the September 2003 Department of Defence policy on interrogation methods, which included methods that were removed from an updated policy in October 2003.
The investigation discovered this mistake, and the task force’s policy was corrected immediately to remove the unapproved interrogation methods.