A veteran combat paratrooper who is now "[t]he top Army general in Alaska" will be the next commander at Fort Lewis, the U.S. Army announced Friday, and the News Tribune (Tacoma, WA) reported on the background of Maj. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. on Saturday morning. -- What the News Tribune glossed over, UFPPC's Mark Jensen reports, is that Gen. Jacoby is the author of an important report on U.S. torture -- the Jacoby Report on Afghanistan.[1,3,4] -- But there is nothing new in the News Tribune's reticence about seamy aspects of government activities: we have seen the same thing in its reporting on the Northwest Detention Center, the Nabila Bare case, the Watada court-martial, the port militarization resistance protests at the Port of Tacoma — and now, the biography of the new commander at Fort Lewis....
NEWS TRIBUNE GLOSSES OVER NEW FORT LEWIS COMMANDER'S PAST
By Mark Jensen
United for Peace of Pierce County (WA)
April 7, 2007
TACOMA, Washington -- A veteran combat paratrooper who is now "[t]he top Army general in Alaska" will be the next commander at Fort Lewis, the U.S. Army announced Friday, the News Tribune (Tacoma, WA) reported Saturday morning.
A graduate of West Point (1978) and a native of Michigan, Maj. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., 52, will take over on Apr. 29.
Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik, the current commander, will go to Iraq to head up the "Multi-National Transition Security Command," charged with training and equipping the military and police forces of the Iraqi government.
Jacoby's role may be more important than Dubik's: "The I Corps headquarters is reported to be in line to take over as the lead command element for U.S. forces in Iraq sometime in late 2008," Michael Gilbert reported.
As a young officer, Jacoby commanded a company of the 82nd Airborne Division in the invasion of Grenada in 1983. He has held posts in Hawaii, at Fort Bragg, N.C., in Honduras, and on the staff of Southern Command, and also served as a deputy division commander in Afghanistan in 2004-2005. Gen. Jacoby holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Michigan and master’s degrees from the Army Command and General Staff College and the National Defense University, and has taught history at West Point, Mike Gilbert reported Saturday.
But what the News Tribune glossed over in a single, evasive sentence (perhaps because it would be unseemly for the publisher of the Northwest Guardian, the official newspaper of Fort Lewis, to discuss such a seamy aspect of military life) is that Gen. Jacoby is also the author of the infamous Jacoby Report on Afghanistan.
This July 2004 report, on the abusive handling of prisoners in Afghanistan by U.S. forces, was the subject of a front-page Washington Post story in December 2004, in the aftermath of Abu Ghraib.
It was the "first attempt to survey the scope of prison shortcomings in Afghanistan," the Post reported.
R. Jeffrey Smith noted that "Many of the officials at Abu Ghraib had served in Afghanistan and honed their approach to handling prisoners there, according to two Defense Department reports issued in August .
The reports said, for example, that the idea of using dogs to intimidate prisoners at Abu Ghraib migrated from Afghanistan, where U.S. soldiers noted that many citizens feared dogs; other methods transferred to Iraq included stripping prisoners, forcing them into stress positions, and depriving them of light, sleep or human contact."
The Post noted that "Jacoby did not attempt to measure the compliance of U.S. units with the internationally accepted standards of the Geneva Conventions, which spell out protections for military detainees. Instead, following a Bush administration doctrine, the military has maintained that unlawful combatants in Afghanistan -- who [spokeswoman for the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Pamela] Keeton said make up the majority of the prison population -- are not covered by the conventions' strict protections."
But the full text of the report has never been published. A highly redacted version was finally released in mid-2006 as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request, and was the subject of an article by Karen Greenberg, the executive director of the Center on Law and Security at the New York University School of Law and co-editor of The Torture Papers (Cambridge University Press, 2005).
Greenberg complained that "Startling amounts of the report were redacted or blacked out. Where there should have been text against white space, there was section after section filled with nothing but solid black blocs. Even some subsection titles were missing. Pure ink. Meant not to be read."
Greenberg noted: "Withdrawal of information has been a deeply rooted tactic of the Bush administration. The urge not to tell, never to reveal, has been at the heart of its approach to government, whether what's at stake is court records, statistics on Iraq, or information about detainees."
And in the journalism of the News Tribune, our local newspaper, we can see a similar "withdrawal of information," whether in reporting on the Northwest Detention Center, the Nabila Bare case, the Watada court-martial, the port militarization resistance protests at the Port of Tacoma, or, now, the biography of the new commander at Fort Lewis.
--Mark Jensen is a member of United for Peace of Pierce County (WA), of People for Peace, Justice, and Healing (Tacoma), and of the faculty of Pacific Lutheran University.
NEW FORT LEWIS CHIEF NAMED
By Michael Gilbert
** U.S. Army Alaska commander nominated to succeed Dubik at post **
News Tribune (Tacoma, WA)
April 7, 2007
The top Army general in Alaska, a paratrooper with combat experience in Afghanistan and Grenada, has been named to become the next commander at Fort Lewis, the Army announced Friday.
Maj. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby, Jr., 52, is a Michigan native and West Point graduate who for two years has led the Army’s buildup in the 49th state and managed the flow of thousands of troops from posts there to Iraq and back again.
President Bush nominated the commander of U.S. Army Alaska on Friday for a third star and assignment as commanding general at Fort Lewis and I Corps, the Army announced.
If the Senate confirms the appointment, Jacoby will become the 62nd commanding general in the local post’s 90-year history. The Fort Lewis command is also the unofficial senior leadership position among the heavy concentration of military installations -- Army, Navy, and Air Force -- in the Puget Sound region.
He will succeed Lt. Gen. James M. Dubik, who has been assigned to take over leadership of the Multi-National Transition Security Command in Iraq -- the effort to train and equip Iraqi military and police forces.
A change of command ceremony has been scheduled for April 29.
Army officials in Alaska could not be reached for comment Friday.
As it has been for Dubik, the war in Iraq will be at the forefront of Jacoby’s tenure at Fort Lewis.
The post has one Stryker brigade -- the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division -- 10 months into its scheduled yearlong deployment to Iraq, and another -- the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division -- on its way there now, a month ahead of schedule as part of the “surge” of U.S. forces into Iraq.
Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade and their families are waiting to learn whether the unit will be ordered to stay past its anticipated June return.
Jacoby has experience in dealing with the difficult issues that arise when a unit is forced to work overtime. He had the tricky job of helping families and soldiers through last summer’s extension of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which stayed an additional four months in Iraq.
“Those of us on the periphery of this decision can only begin to imagine the thoughts and emotions going through the minds of these soldiers and especially the minds of their families,” Jacoby told reporters at the time.
At Fort Lewis, Jacoby might have his own deployment to plan for. The I Corps headquarters is reported to be in line to take over as the lead command element for U.S. forces in Iraq sometime in late 2008, which would be about halfway through Jacoby’s anticipated tenure.
In Alaska, Jacoby has overseen the recent buildup of Fort Richardson near Anchorage and Fort Wainwright near Fairbanks. The posts are home to more than 12,000 troops and 2,500 civilian employees; Fort Lewis has twice that many of each.
Jacoby is responsible for the effort to get the 172nd -- since renamed the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division -- rested, reset and ready for another deployment, and also oversaw preparations for the deployment of the 4th Brigade, 25th Infantry Regiment to Iraq.
During his time in Alaska he has also combined some facilities at Fort Richardson and nearby Elmendorf Air Force Base -- a project he’ll inherit on a much larger scale in the pending merger of many administrative functions at Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base.
Jacoby drew the ire of gun-rights advocates last spring when he forbade Alaska-based soldiers from carrying concealed weapons on or off post. The move was in response to a number of gun-related incidents involving soldiers.
The rule didn’t sit well in Alaska, where state residents aren’t required to get a permit to carry concealed weapons.
Jacoby graduated from West Point in 1978 and spent the early years of his career with the 82nd Airborne Division. He commanded a company with the division during Operation Urgent Fury, the invasion of Grenada in 1983.
He held a number of staff positions in the 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii, commanded the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment at Fort Bragg, N.C., and served his brigade command assignment was to lead Joint Task Force Bravo in Honduras. There he helped direct relief efforts following Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
Jacoby also held senior staff positions with the U.S. Southern Command and on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, and then moved back to Hawaii as assistant division commander in the 25th.
He deployed to Afghanistan as the division’s deputy commander in 2004-05.
While there he was ordered to investigate conditions at U.S. military detention facilities and found many of the same problems that existed at military prisons in Iraq.
During his career he has taught history at West Point, and he holds a master’s degree in history from the University of Michigan and master’s degrees from the Army Command and General Staff College and the National Defense University.
Michael Gilbert: 253-597-8921
War on terror
GENERAL CITES PROBLEMS AT U.S. JAILS IN AFGHANISTAN
By R. Jeffrey Smith
December 3, 2004
A recent classified assessment of U.S. military detention facilities in Afghanistan found that they have been plagued by many of the problems that existed at military prisons in Iraq, including weak or nonexistent guidance for interrogators, creating what the assessment described as an "opportunity" for prisoner abuse.
The inspection, conducted this summer by a one-star Army general, has not been publicly released by the Defense Department. But three government officials privy to its conclusions said this week that Army Brig. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. had found a wide range of shortcomings in the military's handling of prisoners in Afghanistan, including an unwarranted use of rectal exams instead of magnetic wands to search for contraband.
Jacoby, who was ordered to conduct the survey in May by the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan after the military's abuse of Iraqi prisoners became public knowledge, found that just half of the roughly two dozen U.S. prisons in Afghanistan had posted written orders spelling out approved interrogation practices.
Jacoby also found those practices in need of revision and better enforcement, according to the government officials. Lacking any approved guidance, U.S. military commanders in the field were using their own judgment about how prisoners should be handled, opening the door to abuse and a loss of valuable intelligence, the officials said Jacoby concluded.
At the time of Jacoby's visit, senior U.S. military officials in Iraq and Washington had known for more than four months about photographic evidence of abused prisoners in Iraq. Senior U.S. military officers in the region had also known for more than five months about an Army report alleging abuses by a CIA-Special Operations Forces group in Iraq.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. military operation in Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Pamela Keeton, said yesterday that while Jacoby did not find any instances of abuse underway during his visit, he did find that prison officers needed better military rules and training.
She said, for example, that before his inspection, prisoners could be held for indefinite periods at temporary prison facilities, where representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross had no access to them. Now, Keeton said, U.S. military rules bar the detention of any prisoner at a temporary prison for more than 10 days without release or transfer to a regular prison, and Red Cross representatives must be provided access within 15 days of their detention.
Keeton also said the practice of conducting invasive bodily searches among prisoners have been stopped in most cases. Efforts have also been made to curtail the number of temporary prisons in the field, she said; Jacoby's report suggested that the worst conduct may have occurred at such facilities.
Although the report represents the military's first attempt to survey the scope of prison shortcomings in Afghanistan, indications of widespread abuses there had turned up earlier this year, when Army investigators looked into the mistreatment of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Many of the officials at Abu Ghraib had served in Afghanistan and honed their approach to handling prisoners there, according to two Defense Department reports issued in August. The reports said, for example, that the idea of using dogs to intimidate prisoners at Abu Ghraib migrated from Afghanistan, where U.S. soldiers noted that many citizens feared dogs; other methods transferred to Iraq included stripping prisoners, forcing them into stress positions, and depriving them of light, sleep or human contact.
Also, a report by investigators with the Army's Criminal Investigation Command, completed in May on the eve of Jacoby's visit and stamped "For Official Use Only," implicated more than two dozen military policemen in the deaths of two Afghan prisoners in Bagram, Afghanistan, in 2002.
That Army report, obtained by the *Washington Post*, also said that a senior officer of the 377th Military Police Company based in Cincinnati and eventually deployed to Iraq had admitted he knew his soldiers were striking detainees in Afghanistan, and it concluded that his dereliction of duty contributed to routine prisoner mistreatment.
The report listed a range of abuses committed by members of the 377th and a battalion of military intelligence officers from Fort Bragg, N.C., during their deployment in Afghanistan, including slamming prisoners into walls, twisting handcuffs to cause pain, kneeing prisoners, forcing a detainee to maintain "painful, contorted body positions," shackling the detainee's arms to the ceiling, and forcing water into the mouth of the detainee "until he could not breathe."
Jacoby's inspection tour occurred after the 377th had already moved to Iraq and looked mostly at procedures followed by other Army units. His 21-page report, completed in July, was not meant to be a probe of wrongdoing, according to Keeton; in fact, the officials said, he did not speak to detainees.
Also, Jacoby did not attempt to measure the compliance of U.S. units with the internationally accepted standards of the Geneva Conventions, which spell out protections for military detainees. Instead, following a Bush administration doctrine, the military has maintained that unlawful combatants in Afghanistan -- who Keeton said make up the majority of the prison population -- are not covered by the conventions' strict protections.
They are subject, under current military rules, Keeton said, to a standard of "humane treatment" not spelled out in international laws but consistent with the spirit of the conventions. In his report, however, Jacoby concluded that the standards and compliance with them were not uniform throughout the country. He called for more properly trained corrections experts and interrogators.
He also said closed-circuit television should be installed at a large detention center in Bagram and urged the renovation of other facilities.
U.S. forces have "tightened up procedures for training up our people to handle and care for the prisoners," Keeton said. They now have standard operating procedures in place, she said, and mechanisms to enforce them.
--Staff writer Josh White contributed to this report.
THE COLOR OF TRANSPARENCY IS BLACK
By Karen Greenberg
July 20, 2006
Imagine my disappointment. Two long-awaited Pentagon reports on detainee policy had finally reached public view: the Jacoby Report on Afghanistan and the Formica Report on Iraq, available as a result of Freedom of Information Act suits, like thousands of other pages of government reports on the war on terror. As the co-editor of The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib [Cambridge University Press, 2005], a collection of the memos, reports, and interview logs related to Bush administration detainee policy, I was naturally eager to see those parts of the story that were unfortunately still classified at the time of the book's publication in December 2004.
Both reports promised to contain new information about detainee policy. In June of 2004, Brigadier General Charles H. Jacoby, Jr. had submitted the results of his investigation into detainee operations and standards of detainee treatment in Afghanistan. In November of that year, Brigadier General Richard P. Formica had delivered his findings on command and control questions and allegations of detainee abuse in Iraq. Lieutenant General Richard Sanchez, Commander of the Multinational Force in Iraq and the military officer connected to the interrogation unit at Abu Ghraib, had commissioned Formica to determine whether or not U.S. forces in Iraq were in compliance with Department of Defense guidelines on detainee treatment.
Now, a mere two years or so later, I began skimming through the introductory matter and the boldface headings of the Jacoby Report. I stopped first at "Detainee Operations Standard Operating Procedures." Here it would be in black and white -- or so I thought. But, as it happened, I was only half right. Startling amounts of the report were redacted or blacked out. Where there should have been text against white space, there was section after section filled with nothing but solid black blocs. Even some subsection titles were missing. Pure ink. Meant not to be read.
For example, when I reached the subsection entitled, "Interrogation Techniques," there was but a black blot of ink, two pages long. I couldn't help myself. I automatically lifted the paper to check if there weren't some way to see beneath the overlay of ink. But of course that was a hopeless thought. Whatever information had been there was gone, eradicated, tossed down the public memory hole that has eaten so much of the detail that I, along with many others, have been trying to discover for two years now.
Still, I plowed doggedly on. The deeper I went, the more redacted sections there were, leaving me with two "reports" that lacked, by my rough estimate, at least 50% of their contents.
Blackened page followed blackened page; introductory sentences led nowhere; subsection titles introduced nothing; elaborating details were rendered invisible along with most of each report's conclusions. If one were to treat the pages of each report like a flip-book, visually the story line would be a solid mass of black.
Not surprisingly, then, when it came to informational value, the offerings were slim indeed. And yet, the Pentagon has touted these very offerings as yet another sign "that the department is committed to transparency," echoing President Bush's recent remarks, delivered in Europe, that "We're a transparent democracy. People know exactly what's on our mind. We debate things in the open. We've got a legislative process that's active."
But there is nothing "transparent" about these reports. They are quite literally opaque documents; and, in this respect, they differ from earlier releases such as the Taguba Report, the Schlesinger Report, the Fay-Jones Report, and the Mikolashek Report, all dealing with detention policy, all of which were made public in 2004.
The eleventh and twelfth Bush administration reports on detainee policy, the Jacoby and Formica Reports, held onto until now, are in a league with other recent administration releases which have been notable for the information they hide rather than reveal. Witness, for example, the Schmidt Report, the Inspector General's report on Guantanamo, which was released in April of this year. More than 50% of it, too, is redacted.
And only days ago, the long-awaited Church Report appeared. As with Jacoby and Formica, Naval Inspector General Vice Admiral Albert Tom Church III completed his report on Defense Department interrogation policies from Afghanistan and Gitmo to Iraq back in 2004. Though a brief summary was released, the report itself was held for two years and, like its most recent predecessors, its tale, though tantalizing, has largely been reduced to blackened page after blackened page.
The Pentagon claims that these massive redactions occur for technical and legal reasons, as cited in code numbers placed in the margins where text is missing, each representing a category of explanation for a deletion. Facts need to be deleted, for example, if they reveal installation locations or intelligence gathering unit names, or if they come from parts of inter- or intra-agency memos. Apparently justified by these code numbers, here is some of what you can't learn from the Jacoby and Formica reports.
On the Jacoby investigation into detention in Afghanistan, the birthplace of the War on Terror's interrogation policies, you cannot learn: the full definition of the category of "detainees," detention criteria, interrogation techniques used, approved interrogation strategies, guidelines on the protection of detainees from harm by a third party, full guidelines for the use of force, and so much more.
What you cannot learn from the Formica Report investigating prisoner treatment in Iraq is: Its assessments of policies regarding "command and control," or what processing guidelines for detainees are, or even what average length of detention is. Also hidden from sight are the discussion sections on the "adequacy of facilities and treatment of security detainees" and "Interrogation methods and procedures," among many other matters.
Withdrawal of information has been a deeply rooted tactic of the Bush administration. The urge not to tell, never to reveal, has been at the heart of its approach to government, whether what's at stake is court records, statistics on Iraq, or information about detainees. In 2001, 8 million government documents were classified per year. That number has now expanded to 16 million. Moreover, the rate of declassification has decreased significantly. On average, only one-sixth as many documents are declassified each year as during the Clinton administration.
As the administration endlessly reminds us, we are in a time of war and information that could actually harm national security does need to be classified. But the nature of what appears in the Formica Report, for example, might make us wonder about what it is that the Pentagon is redacting in the blacked out half of the document. For instance, you can still read -- between the non-lines, so to speak -- about allegations of abuse and torture that proved (according to the report) unfounded in American facilities in Iraq. These include sodomy, electric shock, dog bites, and more. If what we can read are the "unfounded" charges, you can only wonder whether those solid black areas of the report contain allegations of abuse and torture that simply turned out to be accurate.
Given a blank space, the mind naturally has the tendency to fill it in -- and these latest reports in their blankness are nothing but invitations to invent the details yourself based on what is already well known. There is little question that censorship produces rumors, while secrecy keeps the swirl of rumor alive and unchecked.
Although the Formica Report insists repeatedly that "detainees generally make false statements," the Jacoby Report does also point out, in a readable passage, that "training in detainee operations as opposed to EPW (Enemy Prisoners of War) is a relatively new concept for the Army" and that military personnel have apparently been regularly placed in circumstances that lead to abusive behavior. "If a TIC [Troops in Contact] results in detention, an opportunity for abuse arises as a result of the stress and emotion." From what can be discerned, it does look like training and expectations for the holding of detainees just didn't match the grim reality in the field.
The odd thing about the increasing rate of redactions is that they are coming at a time when there have been signs from elsewhere in the administration that a change of policy is needed and, at least when it comes to Guantanamo, might be limping its way toward us. President Bush has finally said that he'd like to find a way to close Guantanamo. The Supreme Court has called the classification of the detainees into question by stating that the Geneva Conventions apply even to al-Qaeda. Only days ago, the Department of Defense revised its Guantanamo detainee policy to adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Meanwhile, the detainees are being cleared of accusations and released at a more rapid rate than previously. Two weeks ago, for instance, fourteen Saudis were released from Guantanamo and sent back to Saudi Arabia, bringing the number of prisoners cleared and released from Guantanamo to nearly three hundred. Internal military concerns for making Gitmo a humane and legal prison have grown. In the past several months, the military has instituted a ban on the use of dogs and a new policy of religious sensitivity with regard to the detainees.
And yet on this, as on so much else with the Bush administration, if it weren't for angry, frustrated, or horrified leakers from within the military, the intelligence community, and the federal bureaucracy generally, we might truly be plunged into informational darkness. Part of the aura of secrecy the Bush administration has created around its own behavior involves the insistence that only agreed-upon administration officials can tell the story and only their way -- and often only as a last resort.
It's not surprising then that the more reports appear on the treatment (or mistreatment) of detainees around the world, the less they bother to offer us the light of day; and the more all-black pages that enter the world, the less the public knows -- except about the nature of the Bush administration itself. Shrouded in secrecy and adamant about the right not to reveal, the administration stands defiantly behind its darkened pages. And so here we stand, too, the text of our world becoming increasingly unreadable as words turn into massive inkblots, and black spaces overcome white ones. The dark, it seems, continues to swallow the light.
--Karen J. Greenberg is the Executive Director of the NYU Center on Law and Security, the co-editor of The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Ghraib and the editor of The Torture Debate in America. [This article first appeared on Tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of American triumphalism in the Cold War, and of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing.]