McChrystal on Detainee Abuses Under His Former Command

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009 at 10:37 am

Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal sent a written statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee on detention policy, which is a focal point of criticism for his nomination to head the Afghanistan war. “We must at all times obligation treat detainees humanely … military necessity does not permit us” to deviate from those obligations, it reads, according to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who reads from it.

But what about Camp Nama? How many Special Mission Unit Task Forces were there? The Senate Armed Services Committee report on torture determined that a memorandum on harsh detainee treatment from former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in December 2002 informed detainee policy for those task forces.

“Sir, there were multiple,” he replied. Between two and four in Afghanistan; as many as eight to ten task forces in Iraq when he was commander of the Joint Special Operations Command. McChrystal was never a commander of one of those units but they were subordinate to McChrystal. What did he know about the treatment of detainees? Levin wants to know.

“I do not and have not condone the mistreatment of detainees and I never will.” McChrystal said he investigated every abuse allegation. But the interrogation structure was inadequate for his task forces. “We stayed within all the established and authorized guidelines, they were there when I took command,” McChrystal says. He says “constant improvement” turned something “acceptable and legal” into something “I could be more proud of” as time wore on. Concedes that he initially was informed by Rumsfeld’s memorandum authorizing “stress positions, use of dogs and nudity” and said that “some of [those techniques] were used.” He said he was uncomfortable with those authorized techniques and worked to reduce their usage.

McChrystal added, in response to a question from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), that the interrogation techniques outlined in the Army Field Manual on interrogation are “absolutely” sufficient and he does not seek any others.

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