Ghost Detainees: More Than Previously Reported

Two Army Generals said in depositions and interviews Thursday that the number of prisoners held in Iraq who were hidden from the Red Cross far exceeded a few dozen and may have numbered up to 100.

Army jailers in Iraq, acting at the Central Intelligence Agency's request, kept dozens of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and other detention facilities off official rosters to hide them from Red Cross inspectors, two senior Army generals said Thursday. The total is far more than had been previously reported.

Under the Geneva Conventions, the temporary failure to disclose the identities of prisoners to the Red Cross is permitted under an exemption for military necessity. But the Army generals said they were certain that the practice used by the C.I.A. in Iraq went far beyond that.

The disclosure added to questions about the C.I.A.'s practices in Iraq, including why the agency took custody of certain Iraqi prisoners, what interrogation techniques it used and what became of the ghost detainees, including whether they were ever returned to military custody. To date, two cases have been made public in which prisoners in C.I.A. custody were removed from Iraq for a period of several months and held in detention centers outside the country.

The report leaves several unanswered questions.

Another question left unanswered on Thursday was why Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the military intelligence officer who oversaw interrogations at the prison, agreed to let C.I.A. officers use the prison to hide ghost detainees. The Army report said that when Colonel Pappas raised questions about the practice, a top military intelligence officer in Baghdad at the time, Col. Steven Boltz, encouraged him to cooperate with the C.I.A. because "everyone was all one team." Still, General Kern said Colonel Pappas should have challenged the practice.

The dislosures drew strong reactions from Senators:

The new disclosures about unregistered prisoners drew angry criticism from Democrats and Republicans, and a promise from Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia and the committee chairman, to hold a separate hearing.
Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, said, "The situation with C.I.A. and ghost soldiers is beginning to look like a bad movie."

Who's responsible?

lawmakers directed the military investigators to review their results to determine whether senior officers, including Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the top commander in Iraq at the time, and his senior aides, should be punished, not just singled out for criticism. Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, singled out the top lawyer in General Sanchez's command, Col. Marc Warren, for knowing about prisoner abuses witnessed by Red Cross inspectors and failing to report them to his boss for more than a month because he said he did not believe them.

Two of former defense secretaries, James R. Schlesinger and Harold Brown, said

that failures on the part of two of Mr. Rumsfeld's top deputies to properly oversee the development of interrogation policies for Iraq had contributed to the abuses, But both were more specific than in the past in identifying two under secretaries of defense, Douglas J. Feith and David S. C. Chu, and the Pentagon's general counsel, William J. Haynes, as having fallen short.

William Haynes has been nominated by Bush for a seat on the 4th Circuit Court of appeals. His nomination has been received by strong criticism.

Criticisms extended to Rumsfeld and those even higher up the command chain:

Mr. Brown, who served under President Jimmy Carter, also pointed a finger of blame beyond Mr. Rumsfeld to the "very top" of the Bush administration for what he called "the responsibility for failing to plan for what actually happened after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein."

And while not calling for resignations, Mr. Brown, in his testimony before the House committee, said judgments about the administration's conduct in Iraq, on Abu Ghraib and other matters, were now up to voters to make. "When it comes to overall performance, there's another way of dealing with it, and that's called an election," Mr. Brown said.

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