Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rule change in Afghanistan.

NATO forces will be operating under new set of rules when it comes to detaining potential enemies.

WASHINGTON - A controversial policy that gives U.S. forces in Afghanistan four days to question detainees is being changed to give soldiers more time to interrogate the captives, Gen. David Petraeus said Tuesday.

Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee that American troops will now be able to hold detainees for up to 14 days before either releasing them or turning them over to the Afghan government. In some cases, longer detention will be an option, he said.

Currently, U.S. troops have 96 hours to question people picked up in the field before they must either release them or hand them over to Afghan authorities. The rule is designed to give the Afghan government control over detainees and avoid abuses.

The 4 day rule was put in place to protect detainees from abuse...

The result was something else, at least according the US Army.

CNN began examining the 96-hour rule with the case of Roger Hill, a former Army captain who received a general discharge for his role in the questioning of 12 detainees. Those men, including one who was his trusted interpreter, had worked on his base in Afghanistan.

Hill was the U.S. commander in Wardak Province, in eastern Afghanistan, for much of 2008, and said he feared the enemy was tracking his every move. He suspected an inside threat.

"Out of a 90-man company, we had 30 wounded, to include two killed in action," he said. He said his headquarters sent a team to the base to detect possible spies. The team screened cell phone activity to find out which Afghan civilians working on the base were really working for the Taliban - and his interpreter was one of them.

Angry and frustrated that the interpreter might be the one sabotaging missions, Hill detained all 12 men in a small building on the base. That's when the 96-hour rule went into effect.

Hill said the rule does not work, and many times dangerous suspects are released because there's not enough time to gather evidence. As the clock ticked toward the 96-hour NATO deadline, Hill made a decision that would cost him his military career.

"I decided that I needed to break protocol and interrogate them myself," he said. "I took three gentlemen outside, sat them down, walked away, and fired my weapon into the ground three times, hoping that the men inside, left to their own imagination, would think that they really needed to talk."

Hill walked back inside. "And sure enough, some of the detainees started to talk," he said.

What the detainees told him was enough to persuade the Afghans to take all 12 men into custody, including Hill's interpreter. Hill said he felt he had made the correct decision to protect his soldiers, but the Army charged him with detainee abuse, leading to his discharge from the military.

The 12 men were released, despite the confession, according to Army investigators. No one knows where they are now and what's they're doing.

A hundred years ago Hill wouldn't have fired a few shots into the ground to scare some men in another area into thinking he had executed some others to get them to speak. Instead, he would have had all the men brought outside and started shooting them one by one until they started spilling their guts. Hill found a solution to get the information he needed that did not involve bringing any physical harm to the men he had detained. The result was that the Army lost a commander who obviously cared a great deal for his men.

Had I been in a position similar to Hills after he was shit canned, I do believe some prisoners would have been 'shot while attempting escape.'

I'm glad the new rules are going into effect. I hope they do some good.

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