New York Times
September 11, 2004
WASHINGTON, Sept. 10 - A classified directive issued in August 2003 by the Central Intelligence Agency specifically prohibited the agency's employees from conducting the kinds of unsupervised interrogations of Iraqi detainees that military investigators say occurred on a widespread basis at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, senior intelligence officials said Friday.
The officials described the directive for the first time, building on what has become a fierce battle between the Pentagon and the C.I.A. over responsibility for the abuses at Abu Ghraib. On Thursday, two Army generals investigating the abuses told Congress they had not been able to determine who had authorized C.I.A. operatives' practices at the prison and elsewhere in Iraq, including the use of the military facility by the agency to hide at least two dozen detainees from the Red Cross.
The senior intelligence officials suggested that the use of Abu Ghraib by C.I.A. officers for unsupervised interrogations had not been authorized, at least by the agency's headquarters. But they declined to speak for the record, or to discuss the matter in any detail, saying allegations of abuse and misconduct by C.I.A. officials in Iraq were still being investigated by their inspector general.
Senior members of Congress who oversee the military and the C.I.A. said they were increasingly convinced that the question of the agency's role in interrogations in Iraq, including the treatment of the "ghost detainees," required further investigation.
Representative Jane Harman of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said she and the former chairman, Representative Porter J. Goss, Republican of Florida, were the only members of the committee who had been given classified briefings by the agency about its role in interrogations and detention in Iraq.
Among the questions to be pursued is whether misconduct by agency officials reflected more than individual wrongdoing. In a telephone interview on Friday, Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, said that among those who should still be questioned by Congress about the matter is L. Paul Bremer III, who as the top American official in Baghdad until June would have had a supervisory role over the C.I.A. there.
An agency spokesman, Mark Mansfield, challenged complaints by Defense Department investigators who have said that the agency refused their requests for information about abuses at Abu Ghraib. "The notion that the C.I.A. has not cooperated and has not provided any information to the military on these matters is flat-out wrong," he said.
Mr. Mansfield said the agency had provided Defense Department investigators with documents including "copies of C.I.A. guidance to its officers in Iraq regarding interrogations and debriefings."
In separate interviews on Friday, Defense Department officials and intelligence officials each cited previously undisclosed directives as they vied to portray their own agencies as having acted more responsibly in addressing concerns about abuse.
One order described by Defense Department officials was issued by the Army general in charge of interrogating captured Baathist officials and weapons scientists in Iraq, they said. That order banned C.I.A. personnel from questioning those prisoners unless military personnel were present, and it was issued in August 2003, in part out of concern that agency personnel were involved in abuse, the officials said.
The Defense Department officials said the order, by Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton of the Defense Intelligence Agency, applied only to a facility near Baghdad airport under General Dayton's control, not to Abu Ghraib and other military facilities.
In testimony on Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, a former defense secretary, James Schlesinger, who led one Pentagon investigative panel, said he had been told that General Dayton had issued the order because of "assertions that there might be abuse on the part of C.I.A. people."
The Defense Department officials said that concerns about abuse had been a factor, but that the main reason for the order had been a desire to improve coordination between military intelligence officials and the C.I.A. in the questioning of so-called high-value detainees, most of them former Iraqi officials.
By contrast, the senior intelligence officials interviewed later in the day described General Dayton's order as having simply reinforced the agency's own directive, which was issued on Aug. 8, 2003, and which they said applied to agency employees operating across Iraq.
The intelligence officials would not say whether the order had been prompted by specific concerns about abuse. In general, they said, the agency had believed that it was appropriate, in part for reasons of accountability, that the Defense Department monitor all interrogations in Iraq because it had primary responsibility for Iraqi prisoners.
The intelligence officials also disclosed for the first time what they described as a cable sent by the C.I.A's Baghdad station to headquarters on July 16, 2003. That cable expressed concern that Special Operations forces who served on joint teams with agency personnel had used techniques that had become too aggressive.
"We were not happy and the station was not happy that the military was using certain interrogation techniques as part of the battlefield interrogation process," a senior intelligence official said.