U.S. Limits Prisoner Interrogation Tactics in Iraq.

The top U.S. commander in Iraq banned prisoner interrogation techniques such as sleep deprivation, stress positions, and the use of military dogs to intimidate detainees after abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, Pentagon officials said.

Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez revised the rules yesterday even after he determined that most of the interrogation techniques didn't violate the Geneva Convention on prisoner-of-war treatment, Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita said at a press briefing.

A copy of the ``Interrogation Rules of Engagement'' was published this week by the Senate Armed Services Committee. It listed in a right-hand column nine techniques that required Sanchez's approval because they were considered the most extreme, officials said.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, on a surprise visit to Baghdad yesterday, told U.S. troops he'd taken steps ``see that those types of abuses to people for whom we have responsibility and custody will not happen again.'' Four U.S. soldiers have been ordered to face a court-martial in connection with the incidents.

`Cruelty of a Few'

Military investigators have portrayed the mistreatment as the work of a few undisciplined soldiers rather than tactics ordered by commanders to aid military intelligence efforts.

``In Iraq, the cruelty of a few has brought discredit to their uniform and embarrassment to our country,'' President George W. Bush said today in a speech at Concordia University, in Mequon, Wisconsin, outside Milwaukee.

``The consequences of their failures of character reach well beyond the walls of a prison.'' Bush has decried the abuses in speeches over the last 10 days.

The U.S. released 293 prisoners from Abu Ghraib today and plans to free 475 more next Friday, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said.

Interrogation techniques Sanchez has now banned in Iraq include ``sleep management'' for up to 72 hours, dietary and environmental ``manipulation,'' and ``sensory deprivation,'' DiRita said.

The interrogation rules still allow the isolation of prisoners from the general prison population, DiRita said.

Sanchez's decision resulted from a review of interrogation methods that started last year before the Abu Ghraib abuses were made public, DiRita said.

Geneva Code

U.S. senators grilled Rumsfeld on the tactics Wednesday when he appeared before the Appropriations defense subcommittee.

Some of the techniques ``go far beyond the Geneva Conventions,'' Senator Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said. Rumsfeld disagreed, saying that any interrogation procedures authorized by the Pentagon were examined by lawyers and approved as consistent with the Geneva code.

The abuses alleged to have occurred in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison apparently went beyond tactics permitted by the Army.

At a Senate hearing Tuesday, U.S. Army General Antonio Taguba, who investigated the treatment of Iraqi prisoners, issued a 53-page report on his findings that included charges that U.S. military and intelligence officials were ``breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape.''

Soldiers Charged

During today's briefing in Baghdad, Kimmitt said Specialist Charles A. Graner was charged with seven offenses, including conspiracy to maltreat detainees, dereliction of duty and adultery. A military judge will arraign Graner on Thursday.

The first soldier to face a court-martial for allegedly abusing Iraqis, Specialist Jeremy Sivits, told military investigators that one detainee screamed, ``Mister, Mister, please stop,'' as Graner clubbed him twice with a baton, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Houston attorney Guy Womack, who is representing Graner, said that ``anyone would try to deflect blame, rather than accept responsibility for what he's doing,'' CNN reported.

Staff Sergeant Ivan L. ``Chip'' Frederick II of Buckingham, Virginia, and Sergeant Javal Davis of Maryland, each face a general court-martial, which may order heavier penalties, Kimmitt said this week. Dates have yet to be set.

The charges the pair face include conspiracy to maltreat detainees, dereliction of duty for failing to protect detainees from abuse and maltreatment of detainees.

Sivits is expected to enter a guilty plea next week on lesser charges, because of his cooperation with military investigators, according to the New York Times. He will face a special court- martial, Kimmitt said, which is the military equivalent of a civilian misdemeanor court. Sivits faces as much as one year in prison if convicted.

Others who may face courts-martial are Specialists Megan Ambuhl and Sabrina Harman, and Private Lynndie England.

[Source: Bloomberg.com, Us, 14may04]

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