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In June, Gen. Stone said, boards were meeting at about the four-month mark.

The MNFRC clock starts ticking at about 14 days after a suspect is picked up on charges ranging from the most serious - attacking U.S. troops, possession of illegal firearms or bomb-making paraphernalia - to lesser offenses, including possession of jihadist literature, which could indicate involvement with anti-American and anti-government groups.

During the first 14 days of detention, a suspect is questioned at the battalion level, and then division level if evidence warrants further processing.

During that time, the detainee receives a medical examination to document any injuries. One reason for these exams is to counter any false accusations of physical mistreatment while in detention. If exculpatory evidence is not found and Iraqi authorities have not claimed the detainee for their own prosecution, the detainee, who can be held indefinitely, is transferred to Camp Bucca or Camp Cropper.

“There’s back and forth with the [Iraqi Security Forces] during the early process to check if they’re wanted by Iraqi authorities or to see what other information” is available on the suspect,” said Maj. Rob MacMillan, operations officer for 1-68.

“When we do the releases from here, we again give their names to the ISF and if they want them, we hand them over.”

While at the major detention facilities, where hard-core extremists are separated from the rest of the population, they are counseled by a Muslim cleric, visited by a social worker and given the option to take educational classes and vocational skills classes while awaiting release.

The harsh or demeaning conditions and treatment in Abu Ghraib prison in 2004 by errant Army National Guardsmen no longer exist, military officers said.

The current number of Iraqis in U.S. detention is about 21,000.

“I’m innocent. I did nothing wrong,” Tarik Aziz Fahed, a former Interior Ministry bodyguard told a Washington Times reporter Saturday. “In our [neighborhood], there were some suspected people, they had guns, and when coalition forces arrested them I was arrested too.

“All I want to do is go home now,” said Mr. Fahed who is a beneficiary of the review board process, but his claim of innocence couldn’t be confirmed because no documents were available.

On Saturday, he sat in a dimly lit, underground holding cell with 14 others at COP Callahan after transfer from Camp Bucca.

Fifteen months of incarceration were about to end. Despite admonitions from his U.S. Army minders, the former guard fidgeted incessantly while sitting on a wooden bench - one minute twisting his hands as if to shirk the plastic bands around his wrist, the next pushing his blindfold up and down.

He was first up when guards called for the men to stand and first in line to be taken aboveground and loaded onto an armored vehicle for the short ride to Joint Security Station Sha’ab, where family and freedom waited.

“Please, please don’t do anything bad again,” Kais Alwan al Mussawi, a district council member in charge of detainee affairs, told Mr. Fahed and those about to be released with him.

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