Wednesday, March 29, 2006

 

Senator contacts 50 who served at Abu Ghraib

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Message: Does the Senator think the rank and file will risk telling on their superiors?

Article Title: Senator contacts 50 who served at Abu Ghraib
http://www.veteransforcommonsense.org/?Page=Article&ID=7007

About 50 American soldiers who worked at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq while detainees were being abused there have received letters from Sen. Carl Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, asking about the involvement of higher-ranking officials in authorizing harsh interrogation tactics, Levin's office confirmed today.

About 50 American soldiers who worked at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq while detainees were being abused there have received letters from Sen. Carl Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, asking about the involvement of higher-ranking officials in authorizing harsh interrogation tactics, Levin's office confirmed today.

The four-page questionnaires from the Michigan Democrat follow Democrats' failure to persuade Congress to open an independent investigation into allegations of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and other U.S. military detention facilities. The letters were first reported today by The Washington Post.

Similar letters will be sent to contractors and civilians who worked at Abu Ghraib and other facilities, said Tara Andringa, Levin's press secretary. She said the number of people to be surveyed isn't yet known, but it could number in the hundreds.

Former Army staff sergeant Ivan L. "Chip" Frederick, a military police reservist serving more than eight years in prison for abuse at Abu Ghraib, got one of Levin's questionnaires several weeks ago, said his civilian attorney, Gary Myers.

"I welcome it because I asked at the very outset of this for a court of inquiry to bring disinterested fact-finders to bear upon these questions," Myers said.

The Pentagon has already has done several of its own investigations and has argued that another would be redundant.

Levin has said those reviews weren't thorough enough. At a hearing in early February, he said the lack of accountability above the level of 10 enlisted soldiers who have been convicted in the Abu Ghraib scandal was "unacceptable."

Seven of the convicted soldiers were from the 372nd Military Police Company, an Army Reserve unit based in Cresaptown, Md.

Levin's letters seek to assess the origin of the severe tactics documented in Abu Ghraib photographs and how those tactics were applied -- an approach the full committee has not endorsed.

The first wave of letters was sent in recent weeks to about 50 military intelligence soldiers and MPs who were affiliated with Abu Ghraib in late 2003 and early 2004. Separate questionnaires are being developed for people who worked at detention facilities at Bagram, Afghanistan; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and locations in Iraq, including at Qaim, where an Iraqi general was killed during an interrogation in November 2003.

The first letter states that an examination is being conducted into "alleged mistreatment by U.S. personnel, the factors that may have contributed to such mistreatment, and the accountability of officials for policies, actions, or failures to act, which may have contributed to detainee abuse."

The letter poses 19 questions, including who authorized tactics such as isolation, nudity, sleep manipulation, the use of dogs, stress positions and placing detainees in female underwear. It also requests descriptions of how Army Special Forces soldiers, contractors and "other government agencies" -- usually a euphemism for the CIA -- may have ordered or directed mistreatment.

Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., chairman of the Armed Services Committee, intends to call Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, former commander at Guantanamo Bay, and Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the top military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib, to testify about their roles in using the severe tactics, according to John Ullyot, a spokesman for Warner. The date of that hearing hasn't been set, Ullyot said.

During the court-martial that last week ended in the conviction of an Army dog handler of using his unmuzzled animal to frighten detainees at Abu Ghraib, Pappas testified that he approved the use of dogs during an interrogation in late 2003. He said he learned about the tactic from an advisory group that Miller had brought to Iraq. Miller invoked his right not to testify at the court-martial.

Please visit Veterans for Common Sense at http://www.veteransforcommonsense.org
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