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secrets & lies #2 « Previous | |Next »
February 22, 2005

Robert Manne has a good article in The Age on the questioning of the Defence Department at last weeks Senate Estimates. He reminds us that Defence Minister Robert Hill reported to Parliament that "Australia did not interrogate prisoners" on June 16 2004. That has been the position since then.

So what is an interrogation? The definition was debated in the Senate Estimates last week. Manne says:

Lieutenant-General Peter Leahy described interrogations as "the systematic extraction of information from an individual, either willing or unwilling". For Brigadier Steve Meekin, however, the idea of a willing participant at an interrogation seemed to make no sense. For him an interview became an interrogation when the prisoner was non-compliant. For his part, Pezzullo thought that an interrogation necessarily involved methods of duress. By the end of the hearing what Defence actually understood by an interrogation was more obscure than when the hearing had begun.

The Defence strategy was to fog the issue, whilst saying that the difference between an interview and an interrogation would be obvious to people with a defence background. The end point was to reach a situation where one knew what was going on and few cared.

Manne makes another good point about Greg Barton's involvement in what he says were interrogations of high-value Iraqi prisoners. He says:

Soon after arriving in Baghdad, he [Barton] came to the view that the interrogation procedures of the ISG [Iraq Survey Group]were a mess. With the agreement of its head he called a meeting of the 45 or so interrogators of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Centre attached to the ISG. After this meeting a new operational structure was devised. Barton was, thus, not merely involved in one high-level interrogation. He actually initiated a reform of the ISG interrogation procedures.

Time to call a spade a spade me thinks.

It is time to call this Department to account. It is unable to get its financial act together and get its books in order. There was more delay and fog on that issue as well.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:59 AM | | Comments (0)