Thursday, November 15, 2007

Consequences of Gitmo SOP Leak: the Pentagon Replies

I can't access the Camp Delta Standard Operating Procedures manual leaked the other day. It could be demand is so high it crashed the servers at Wikileaks. [Here's an alternate link.] I wanted to check more on what I'm hearing is in all those hundreds of pages, including the fact that the initial period of isolation of prisoners is four, not two weeks in length. Also, other reports are describing, for instance, the use of military dogs with prisoners to "enhance physical security and as a psychological deterrent". Both the ACLU and the Center for Human Rights are reported to have lawyers looking carefully at the document.

For those of use who have been protesting within the American Psychological Association (APA) about its policy of permitting psychologists to work in "war on terror" interrogation centers like Guantanamo, the Delta SOP is of more than passing interest. Colonel Larry James, who spoke against a moratorium resolution (banning psychologist participation in interrogations at places like Guantanamo) at the last APA conference, warning that without psychologists involved in the interrogation process "people are going to die" (meaning prisoners, I suppose; he wasn't clear), was Chief Psychologist with the Joint Intelligence Group at Guantanamo during the period the controversial SOP was in operation. The APA has defended Colonel James to the present day, and even put him forward as someone who helped blunt human rights abuses at the facility.

It's evident from the documentary material now that everything was not kosher (to say the least) at Guantanamo during James's stint. It will be interesting to see how APA spins this. This is especially so now as certain APA leaders have initiated a charm offensive with the internal opposition, making allowances on the torture issue that are supposed to placate the critics, even as they refuse to ban psychologist presence in a non-medical capacity at facilities that allow indefinite detention and other forms of human rights abuses. Meanwhile, none of the current crop of candidates for APA President are willing to endorse any change of direction on APA and the interrogations issue.

The military has also given its statement on the leak and the manual itself (military acronyms include JTF-GTMO, for Joint Task Force-Guantánamo and SOP for Standard Operating Procedures):

On 14 November 2007, JTF-GTMO became aware that, what appears to be a 2003 Camp Delta SOP, had been posted on the World Wide Web.

While the document was "Unclassified" it had been designated "For Official Use Only" and for many reasons (to include the safety and security of U.S. service members) was not intended for mass distribution.

It is important to understand that SOPs by definition, undergo periodic review and change as situations warrant. Detention operations at JTF-GTMO have evolved significantly since 2003, prompting many SOP changes.

Additionally, there have been three changes in Command leadership since 2003; [Army] Maj. Gen. [Jay] Hood, [Navy] Rear Adm. [Harry] Harris, and [Navy] Rear Adm. [Mark] Buzby.

As a general rule, for reasons of personnel safety and operational security, the U.S. military will not publicly discuss the specific contents of SOP's.

JTF-GTMO policy is clear -- we treat all detainees humanely.

The JTF operates safe, humane and professional detention operations for unlawful enemy combatants. These enemy combatants are dangerous men and are providing valuable information in preventing further terrorist attacksaround the world.

In essence, the military is saying, don't look at what we did or said, just believe us now: trust us.

But the amount of people who trust the military in these matters is growing smaller and smaller with each passing day.

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