8 June 2004

Chain Of Command

REPORTER LIZ JACKSON: It has now emerged that an Australian lawyer, Major George O'Kane, worked in Colonel Warren's office, and was involved in preparing that response to the Red Cross concerns. Four Corners has obtained a copy of this. It's dated 24 December 2003. It's apparent from the Army's response that the Red Cross had raised concerns specifically about the prisoners deemed to have 'ongoing intelligence value' - those they found naked and in total darkness in Tier 1A. The response that Major O'Kane helped draft explains to the Red Cross that the condition of these prisoners needs to be seen 'in the context of ongoing strategic interrogation', and, under the circumstances, it says, 'we consider their detention to be humane'. It concludes that, in any event, the Army takes the legal view that 'where absolute military security so requires, security internees will not obtain full Geneva Convention protection'. The letter was signed by General Karpinski.

BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT: In Iraq, all security detainees, internees and prisoners of war are treated in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. There are no exceptions.

LIZ JACKSON: Well, why would a letter that was signed by Brigadier Karpinski make a special point of saying that security internees will not necessarily obtain Geneva Convention protections?

BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT: I can't, uh, speak to why General Karpinski would raise those charges, but that is not correct.

LIZ JACKSON: And I understand that was drafted by the Judge Advocate's Office, by Marc Warren's office.

BRIGADIER GENERAL MARK KIMMITT: Again, I haven't seen the letter so I can't comment on it.

KEN ROTH, PRESIDENT, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: I know that a number of the senior commanders are saying they didn't see the Red Cross reports of abuse until quite late, and that may well be true. But that again obscures the fact that many of the abusive interrogation techniques didn't have to be discovered via the Red Cross - they were the orders. They were the official interrogation practices the Bush administration was authorising.

LIZ JACKSON: In the glare of public scrutiny following these photos, the army high command was pressured to produce the actual list of interrogation techniques that was stuck on the wall of the interrogation centre at Abu Ghraib in October last year - the so-called 'Interrogation Rules of Engagement'. Scott Horton is from the New York Bar's committee on international law.

SCOTT HORTON, NEW YORK CITY BAR ASSOCIATION: We had been asking the Department of Defense for a year for a better description of the rules of engagement and interrogation. They had steadfastly refused and then suddenly at this hearing, out pops these rules of engagement, and I think we looked at them and there was a collective expression of shock.

LIZ JACKSON: The techniques included sleep management - that's being kept awake; sensory deprivation - that's total darkness; stress positions - that's pain; isolation for more than 30 days, and the presence of military working dogs.

SCOTT HORTON: It's possible to give explanations for some of them that might be consistent with the Geneva Conventions. Possible, I'll say that. But when they talk about stress positions of 45 minutes and they talk about sensory deprivation, they talk about sleep management potentially for three days, they talk about the use of military working dogs, these sorts of tactics are effective only when pain is involved, and when you cross the threshold to pain you have violated the Fourth Geneva Convention.

LIZ JACKSON: Two weeks after the army told the Red Cross that it considered the conditions at Abu Ghraib to be humane, a low-level military police guard working in Tier 1A slipped a letter and a computer disk of photos under the door of the army's criminal investigation division. Specialist Joseph Darby later told investigators it was because 'the Christian in me says it's wrong'. He'd copied the photos from a disk he'd been given by Specialist Charles Graner, who he says had told him, quote, 'The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'I love to make a grown man piss himself.'' Within 24 hours of the photos arriving, army investigators were knocking on Chip Frederick's door at 2:30 in the morning.

The Australian government has a copy of the O'kane draft. The government refuses to either release that document or have Major O'Kane examined before the Senate estimates committee. If the Four Corners report is wrong they have only to publish the text.

The Australian government has given a plausible (if contested) denial of knowing about the matter of Abu Ghraib. They have not given any explanation why a civilised government in close alliance with the United States, as soon as it became aware of this matter, would not immediately make diplomatic representations at the highest level for these abuses to end.

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