- The Washington Times - Friday, June 16, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

U.S. special operations forces fed some Iraqi detainees only bread and water for up to 17 days, used unapproved interrogation practices such as sleep deprivation and loud music and stripped at least one prisoner, according to a Pentagon report on incidents dating to 2003 and 2004.

The report concludes that the detainees’ treatment was wrong but not illegal and reflected inadequate resources and lack of oversight and proper guidance rather than deliberate abuse. No military personnel were punished as a result of the investigation.

Released to the American Civil Liberties Union yesterday, the details of the report were part of more than 1,000 pages of documents, including two major reports — one by Army Brig. Gen. Richard Formica on specials operations forces in Iraq and one by Brig. Gen. Charles Jacoby on Afghanistan detainees.

While some of the incidents have been reported previously and reviewed by members of Congress, this was the first time the documents were released publicly. Specific names and locations, including the identities of the military units, were blacked out.

“Both the Formica and the Jacoby report demonstrate that the government is really not taking the investigation of detainee abuse seriously,” said Amrit Singh, an ACLU lawyer.

Miss Singh questioned why the two reports only focused on a limited number of incidents. In particular, she said there have been numerous documents showing that special operations forces abused detainees, and yet Gen. Formica only reviewed a few cases.

Ordered more than two years ago, the Formica review recommended changes including better training, new standards for detention centers and updated policies for detainee operations. His final report is dated November 2004 but was just released to the ACLU in its unclassified, censored form yesterday.

Gen. Formica found that overall conditions “did not comport with the spirit of the principles set forth in the Geneva Conventions,” which require humane treatment of prisoners.

Gen. Jacoby was dispatched in May 2004 to examine the treatment of detainees at facilities in Afghanistan.

His report found “no systematic or widespread mistreatment of detainees,” but concluded that the opportunities for mistreatment and the ever-changing battlefield there demanded changes in procedures.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros said, “We’ve undertaken significant steps to investigate, hold people accountable and change our operations as appropriate. This is all part of our effort to be transparent and show that we investigate all allegations thoroughly, and we take them seriously.”

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