Thursday, January 12, 2006

Abu Ghraib - Maj Gen Geoffry Miller Invokes Article 31

Major General Geoffry D. Miller, the former Commanding General of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility and one of the more significant members of the US command structure involved in the Abu Ghraib detention and interrogation abuse allegations, has invoked his right to refuse to answer questions under Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

UCMJ Art. 31 is similar to the US Constitution's 5th Amendment and the Miranda warning provided for civil law enforcement. The difference is that when a US service person is being questioned they have the right not to answer questions before any arrest or accusation is made.
Miller's assertion is that he has previously answered all questions now being put to him.

Maj. Michelle E. Crawford, a defense lawyer representing Miller, said the general decided not to answer further questions because he has "been interviewed repeatedly over the last several years" about his role at Guantanamo Bay and his visit to Iraq and he stands by his many statements to Congress, Army investigators and lawyers.
I'm not a lawyer, but I have conducted many investigations and disciplinary interviews. The reason an investigator asks the same questions over and over is to determine if the answers are the same each time.

Miller's "choice to no longer answer the same questions . . . was based on the advice of counsel and includes the fact that he has already, and repeatedly, answered all inquiries fully," Crawford said.
That's a dodge. Neither Maj. Gen. Miller nor Maj. Crawford can know the what questions would be asked unless they were submitted to counsel in advance of the inquiry. While that is sometimes done, if the prosecution has more evidence they may wish to question the general further to clarify his involvement and the involvement of others.

Miller's decision came shortly after Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the commanding officer at Abu Ghraib, accepted immunity from prosecution this week and was ordered to testify at upcoming courts-martial. Pappas, a military intelligence officer, could be asked to detail high-level policies relating to the treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib.
Which would give him cause for concern if he had issued orders to Pappas.

Eugene R. Fidell, a Washington expert in military law, said that Miller's decision is "consistent with his being concerned that he may have some exposure to worry about." Fidell added: "It's very unusual for senior officers to invoke their Article 31 rights. The culture in the military tends to encourage cooperation rather than the opposite."
In fact, when general officers invoke their rights under Article 31, or such equivalent protections in other western militaries, it usually means they have something very serious to hide. The culture in the military is that for offences which affect the entire chain of command there is always someone superior in rank at whom to point the finger. The finger pointing tends to abate as higher ranks fall.

Miller has another problem. He told the Senate Armed Services Committee in May 2004 that he had only filed a report on a recent visit to Abu Ghraib, and did not talk to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or his top aides about the fact-finding trip. But in a recorded statement to attorneys three months later, Miller said he gave two of Rumsfeld's most senior aides - then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary for Intelligence Steve Cambone - a briefing on his visit and his subsequent recommendations.

It's starting to look like the "few bad apples" may in fact be a completely rotten tree.

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