Military will investigate Guantanamo allegations
Published: Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 6, 2005 at 12:24 a.m.
The U.S. military command that runs the prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has opened an investigation into allegations of prisoner abuse outlined in recently released FBI documents, officials said Wednesday.
But human rights groups on Wednesday called for an independent investigation into abuse at Guantanamo where 550 detainees from nearly 40 countries are accused of links to Afghanistan's ousted Taliban regime or al-Qaeda terror network.
"Although more transparency is always welcome, we're way past the point where internal inquiries can be considered sufficient," said Alistair Hodgett, a spokesman for London-based Amnesty International.
Documents published last month show that FBI agents sent to Guantanamo warned the government about abuse and mistreatment when the first prisoners arrived in 2002, more than a year before a scandal over mistreatment at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. One letter, written by a senior Justice Department official and obtained by The Associated Press, suggested the Pentagon failed to act on the FBI complaints.
Also last month, the American Civil Liberties Union released e-mails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act in which the FBI accused military interrogators of posing as FBI agents and humiliating and abusing detainees. Techniques included inserting lit cigarettes in prisoners' ears and shackling them into a fetal positions for up to 24 hours, forcing them to soil themselves.
The U.S. Southern Command in Miami will begin the investigation this week and has assigned Army Brig. Gen. John T. Furlow to lead it, an official said.
A report on Furlow's findings and recommendations is expected to be submitted the first week of February to the command's top official, Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock.
But Furlow has the option of requesting an extension for the investigation, Duany said. Once Craddock reviews the report, he will decide on the next steps to be taken, he said.
Furlow's investigation will focus on the FBI documents that came to light last month, but will not be limited to them if other allegations surface, Duany said. The general will interview military personnel and may speak to detainees as well, he said.
Additional documents released by the U.S. American Civil Liberties Union and the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights - obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request - show a special operations task force in Iraq sought to silence Defense Intelligence Agency personnel who may have observed abusive interrogations.
The military has acknowledged 10 cases of abuse since the detention mission began at Guantanamo, including a female interrogator climbing onto a detainee's lap and a detainee whose knees were bruised from being forced to kneel repeatedly.
Those cases are not among three incidents detailed in a July FBI letter to Maj. Gen. Donald J. Ryder, the Army's chief law enforcement officer investigating abuses at the U.S.-run prisons.
The AP-obtained memo documents abuses that included a female interrogator grabbing a detainee's genitals and bending back his thumbs, a prisoner being gagged with duct tape and an attack dog being used to intimidate a detainee, who later showed "extreme" psychological trauma.
Additional investigations into abuse and mistreatment at Guantanamo Bay, as well as other aspects of the detention mission, are also pending, Pentagon officials say.
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