Published January 14, 2015
The top U.S. general in Afghanistan (search) on Tuesday promised "rapid action" on an internal review of Afghan jails where at least three prisoners have died, but said details of techniques used there will remain classified.
The U.S. military ordered the review last month as the scandal over prisoner abuse in Iraq drew new attention to long-standing allegations of mistreatment in Afghanistan.
"I intend to take rapid action on any area of concern which he identifies," Lt. Gen. David Barno said of the report to be presented mid-June by his operational deputy Big. Gen. Charles Jacoby.
But Barno said he would reveal publicly only "some of the key conclusions."
He said he expected some of the results "would be classified in terms of the specific techniques," said Barno. He did not say whether he meant interrogation or incarceration practices, or both.
Concern about U.S. jails in Afghanistan centers on the deaths of two detainees at the main Bagram facility, north of Kabul, in December 2002. Both were ruled homicides after autopsies found the men died from "blunt-force injuries."
The military says it has made unspecified changes to its prison regime as a result of the deaths. But the army has yet to release results of its criminal investigations.
The death of another detainee in eastern Afghanistan in June 2003 is also under investigation by the CIA and allegations of mistreatment brought by two former detainees last month — including beatings, hooding and shackling as well as sexual abuse — prompted two more investigations.
Jacoby is visiting about 20 U.S. detention facilities in Afghanistan, most of them at remote bases in the south and east of the country where some 20,000 mainly American soldiers are battling a virulent Taliban (search)-led insurgency.
Some 2,000 prisoners in all had been held at the jails since U.S. troops entered Afghanistan in late 2001, Barno said, adding that nearly 400 were currently in custody.
Barno said that the techniques used to extract intelligence from prisoners since he took command last fall had been "extremely useful" in helping field commanders identify targets and protect their own troops.
But "regardless of any intelligence value, I will tell you without hesitation that intelligence procedures have got to be done in accordance with the appropriate standards," Barno said.
Barno said that he expected that "all of our forces will treat every detainee here with dignity and respect ... while maintaining necessary operational security for our soldiers."
The military has resisted pressure to open its holding facilities to outside scrutiny.
Barno said that he would decide this week whether to grant the International Committee of the Red Cross (search), which already visits Bagram, access to its jail at Kandahar, the main military base in the south.