New York Times
April 28, 2005
WASHINGTON, April 27 - The Army is preparing to issue a new interrogations manual that expressly bars the harsh techniques disclosed in the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, and incorporates safeguards devised to prevent such misconduct at military prison camps in the future, Army officials said Wednesday.
The new manual, the first revision in 13 years, will specifically prohibit practices like stripping prisoners, keeping them in stressful positions for a long time, imposing dietary restrictions, employing police dogs to intimidate prisoners and using sleep deprivation as a tool to get them to talk, the officials said.
Those practices were not included in the manual in use when the bulk of the abuses occurred at Abu Ghraib in Iraq in the fall of 2003, but neither were they specifically banned.
Military investigations have faulted senior officials - including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the former top commander in Iraq - for adding to the confusion by giving approval, and then rescinding it, for limited use of harsh techniques that went beyond what was allowed in the manual.
Accompanying the new manual, which runs more than 200 pages, will be a separate classified training document that will provide dozens of interrogation scenarios and go into exacting detail on what procedures may or may not be used, and in what circumstances.
As examples of the new rules, Thomas A. Gandy, director of human intelligence and counterintelligence for the Army, said interrogators questioning a prisoner in a small room could throw a chair against the wall in a fit of mock rage to frighten the captive, a technique called "fear up." But under no circumstance, he said, could the interrogator throw the chair at the prisoner or otherwise threaten him directly.
Army interrogators have never had such a set of specific guidelines that would help teach them how to walk right up to the line between legal and illegal interrogations.
"It's going to be specific yeses and noes," Mr. Gandy, a career military intelligence officer, said in an interview. He provided details from the manual's final draft and emphasized that the document would require adherence to the Geneva Conventions, as does the current manual.
The interrogations manual applies only to Army forces, but the Army controls the vast majority of detainee operations in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and Mr. Gandy said there had been a effort to synchronize the Army's policies with practices of the other armed services.
The new manual would not govern interrogations by the Central Intelligence Agency at its detention sites. But in a change, it expressly prohibits the C.I.A. from keeping unregistered prisoners, called "ghost detainees," at Army prisons like Abu Ghraib.
Mr. Gandy said the new document banned physical or mental torture, slapping or humiliation. But he declined to offer more examples of specific techniques that would be allowed, saying he did not want to tip off potential captives on what they could expect. "The key to interrogations is uncertainty and putting the guy on edge," he said. "We don't want to tell them where the edge is."
The revamped manual, titled "Human Intelligence Collector Operations," is part of a wide-ranging overhaul of interrogation and detention policies and operations undertaken by the Army, and the military in general. The Army, for instance, has embarked on a systematic revamping of its training and doctrine for military police and intelligence officials. The new manual contains a broader focus beyond interrogations to include how human intelligence officials run informant networks in the field.
The Army is planning to create 35 additional units specially trained in detention operations over the next three years. It is also preparing to add 9,000 military intelligence personnel, including 3,000 interrogators, case officers to run informant networks and other so-called human intelligence officials. Interrogators' final field exercise will last about 11 days instead of 5, Mr. Gandy said.
At Abu Ghraib, the American command in Baghdad has already instituted a new set of training standards. Newly arrived interrogators spend two weeks in orientation on policies and practices. Before they conduct interrogations on their own, they question prisoners in tandem with a more experienced interrogator.
All interrogators are observed during their questioning sessions to ensure they hew to the guidelines. Interrogators received mandatory refresher training every 90 days.
Mr. Gandy said the new manual would formalize practices that in some cases have been in effect in the field for months. Some details about the manual were first reported last month by The Baltimore Sun. Chapter by chapter, it tries to clarify ambiguities that military investigators say contributed to prisoner abuse in Iraq.
The manual, for instance, prohibits the military police from taking part in interrogations, but allows military intelligence personnel to debrief prison guards about their observations of particular prisoners. Some military police officers at Abu Ghraib said they were encouraged to soften up prisoners before questioning to help interrogators extract more information on insurgents.
The manual also calls for several safeguards, including requiring soldiers to report anything that appears to violate international treaties or standards of humane treatment.
Mr. Gandy said the new manual barred interrogators and other intelligence officials from posing as medics, journalists or chaplains to gain information from detainees. But they are allowed to use ruses, like falsely promising to free a captive in exchange for information, he said.
The manual is being approved by Maj. Gen. Barbara G. Fast, who commands the Army's Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. General Fast served in Iraq from July 2003 to June 2004 as the intelligence deputy for General Sanchez, and she played an extensive role in developing policies and practices for the interrogation center at Abu Ghraib. An investigation by the Army inspector general recently exonerated her of any responsibility for the abuses.
Human rights groups reacted warily to reports of the new manual, in part because they have not seen a copy. "I've been nervous about this whole process," said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. "The existing manual was clear. It was the exceptions that caused problems."
Last month, Vice Adm. Albert T. Church III became the latest investigator to fault high-level American officials for failing to establish clear procedures for interrogating prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While the most notorious abuses captured on video - those involving the military police at Abu Ghraib - did not involve interrogations, an independent panel headed by former Defense Secretary James R. Schlesinger found last August that of 66 confirmed abuse cases up to that point, about one-third were related to the questioning of prisoners.