Thursday, January 12, 2006

Former Gitmo Commanding General Invokes the Fifth in Abu Ghraib Case

The Washington Post notes today that General Michael Miller, a former commander at the Guantanamo detention center who also assisted in setting up the center at Abu Ghraib, has invoked his right against self-incrimination and refused to give testimony in one of the military trials against a lower ranking soldier accused of abuse at Abu Ghraib:

Harvey Volzer, an attorney for one of the dog handlers, has been seeking to question Miller to determine whether Miller ordered the use of military working dogs to frighten detainees during interrogations at Abu Ghraib. Volzer has argued that the dog handlers were following orders when the animals were used against detainees.

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. 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.

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.

The failure of the DoD investigations of abuse at Abu Ghraib to lead to any criminal charges against senior officials has been repeatedly criticized by international human rights organizations, some of whom view the prosecution of the smaller fish as evidence of a cover up. (See this press release from Human Rights Watch.) I am no expert on military law, but would be interested in knowing from those of you more expert in this field whether this invocation of the the right to non-self incrimination is no big deal, or a sign that the net may be widened.


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