Tuesday, August 01, 2006

US general who oversaw detentions retires with honors

US general who oversaw detentions retires with honors
By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who commanded the Guantanamo prison and helped shape detention practices at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, retired from the U.S. military on Monday with a top honor and praise from the Army.

Miller headed the prison camp for foreign terrorism suspects at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from 2002 to 2004 and was sent to Iraq in 2003 to help extract more information from prisoners there. He oversaw all detention operations in Iraq for nine months in 2004.

Human rights activists have accused Miller of permitting widespread abuse of prisoners and of importing the harsh techniques used at Guantanamo to Iraq. They contend that Miller's influence helped create the conditions for the sexual humiliation and abuse of Abu Ghraib prisoners.

"This is yet another case where you have somebody who is integrally involved in setting the stage for abuse -- implementing tactics that people are now being prosecuted for -- and rather than being held accountable, he's getting honors," said Amnesty International official Jumana Musa.

Military investigators last year recommended that Miller be admonished for failing to monitor and limit the "abusive and degrading" interrogation of a prisoner, but the general who headed U.S. Southern Command rejected the recommendation.

The Army inspector general's office also cleared Miller.

This year, Miller initially invoked his right not to incriminate himself in the trials of two U.S. soldiers charged with abusing Abu Ghraib prisoners with dogs.

He later did testify in one trial, telling jurors in May he never suggested using military dogs in interrogations. The soldier, who had sought to show that top officers were responsible for the abuse, was convicted.

During a ceremony presided over by Gen. Richard Cody, the Army's No. 2 officer, Miller was presented with the Distinguished Service Medal, the Army's fourth-highest award, before a crowd of 200 people in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.

Cody called Miller a "role model, innovator and leader" who was asked to "tackle two of the toughest jobs in the global war on terror."

The Army said Miller has agreed to testify before Congress about detainee issues if he is asked.