By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
April 22, 2009 - The Defense Department provided full cooperation during a U.S. Senate committee investigation that examined detainee-interrogation operations, a senior official said here today. "We fully cooperated with that effort in responding to requests for interviews, as well as documents," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters.
The two-year Senate Armed Services Committee investigation centered on examining U.S. interrogation procedures for detainees captured during the war on terrorism. The committee's report is critical of some interrogation procedures. The report was released yesterday, after a Pentagon review for declassification purposes.
The Pentagon has conducted several internal investigations into detainee interrogation operations over the years, Whitman said.
"Some of the conclusions in the Senate report are duplicate conclusions to the ones that were made by these [Pentagon] investigations," Whitman said. "But, in those internal investigations, we have not found any policies of the department that ever permitted or condoned abusive treatment of detainees.
"Our policy has been one of treating detainees humanely," Whitman emphasized.
However, Whitman said, when instances of improper treatment of detainees by military members were discovered, disciplinary action was taken against the perpetrators.
In fact, Whitman said, more than 400 disciplinary actions were taken against personnel found to have abused detainees, including imprisonment, bad-conduct discharges, forfeiture of pay and other punitive actions.
"The department has always taken any allegations of abuse seriously," Whitman said. "All credible allegations of abuse have been thoroughly investigated, and when individuals have been found to be acting outside of our proscribed policies, they have been found accountable for their actions."
Numerous internal Pentagon reviews and reports conducted over the years have examined interrogation policies and detainee procedures, Whitman said.
"We've had some 14 very-senior-level, comprehensive reports," Whitman said, "which have covered not only interrogations, but also our detention operations."
The Defense Department has worked closely with the Senate investigative committee, Whitman reiterated. More than 200 interviews, some of which were more than eight hours in duration, were facilitated between the committee's staff and current and past Defense Department officials, he said.
"The effort to cooperate with the committee was significant," Whitman said, noting that the Pentagon had also provided almost 200,000 pages of documents to committee staffers.