SAN FRANCISCO – Sgt. Ken Weichert interrogated hundreds of Iraqis to gather wartime intelligence, but says only once did he raise his voice to extract information.
Military interrogators such as Weichert say they never used, or even witnessed, the type of violence and sexual humiliation captured in photographs of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib (search) prison in Baghdad.
Such tactics aren't necessary or even effective, they say.
"They would just tell us everything," said Weichert, 37, a counterintelligence officer for the California National Guard (search) who returned from Iraq earlier this year. "I never, ever had a problem trying to get information from Iraqis, even the high-ranking enemy."
Weichert was one of nearly 100 members of the California National Guard's 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion gathering in San Francisco for an awards ceremony Saturday. Members of his battalion interrogated detainees to gather information on the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein (search) and his top officials but never worked in Baghdad or the Abu Ghraib prison.
Military interrogators say torture and other physical abuse are not only inhumane, they produce unreliable results. Prisoners may tell interrogators what they want to hear, rather than the truth, just to stop the abuse.
Military intelligence officers receive extensive training in proper interrogation methods, soldiers say, including an emphasis on the humane treatment of prisoners and prohibitions against torture.
Seven soldiers are facing military charges related to the abuse and humiliation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The soldiers and their lawyers say military intelligence officials running the interrogations told military police assigned as guards to abuse the prisoners to make interrogations easier.
"It looks like the actions of immature kids that were pressured by higher command to get results," said Weichert, who runs a business that teaches wilderness survival.