By Sgt. Sara Wood
WASHINGTON, June 17, 2006 – The Defense Department released a report yesterday detailing the findings of a 2004 investigation into allegations of detainee abuse in Iraq. The report, which was prepared by Army Brig. Gen. Richard Formica after he conducted an investigation from May 2004 to November 2004, was released under a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union, defense officials said.
The investigation was made into three specific allegations against the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Arabian Peninsula, which operates throughout Iraq. The investigation did not find any instances of abuse, but Formica did make eight recommendations, which were all implemented, a defense official familiar with the report said. "This is not new news. The major points and the recommendations (from this report) have been implemented," the official said, speaking on background. "This is an excellent example of the (Defense Department) doing the right thing; an excellent example of the department implementing the recommendations. You can't ask for more from your government."
The investigation was conducted while Formica was on the ground in Iraq, and he interviewed soldiers, commanders and medical personnel and reviewed medical screening records and interrogation reports, a senior military official familiar with the report said. One of the most important changes made as a result of this investigation was a clarification of authorized interrogation methods, the military official said, speaking on background. In February 2004, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Arabian Peninsula created a standard operating procedure about detainee operations. While task force personnel were creating this policy, they were erroneously provided the September 2003 DoD policy on interrogation methods, which included methods that were removed from an updated policy in October 2003, the official said.
The investigation discovered this mistake, and the task force's policy was corrected immediately to remove the unapproved interrogation methods, the official said. In the months between the policy's creation and the investigation, some interrogations had been conducted using five unapproved interrogation methods, but none had resulted in abuse, he said. "That's the important point - we found (the error) and looked into it," the official said. "When we discovered the error, we corrected it immediately."
Formica's investigation was one of 12 major investigations and reports DoD has done, the defense official said. The 12 investigations have yielded 492 recommendations, almost all of which have been implemented, he said. The release of this report is part of an ongoing release to the American Civil Liberties Union due to a court order, the defense official said. The release has taken a natural course through the legal process, he said. "What this does show is that the department is committed to transparency, and we balance our national security needs with that transparency," the official said. "We certainly are upfront about the accountability and all the major reforms that have taken place during that time period."