Gen. David Petraeus, the top US soldier in the Middle East, says the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” has “bitten us on our backside” and there’s no reason US forces can’t adhere to Geneva Convention rules when prosecuting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
During an appearance Sunday on NBC’s Meet The Press, Gen. Petraeus, the head of US Central Command, told host David Gregory that he doesn’t regret the US won’t have Bush-era interrogation techniques to use on the recently captured Pakistan Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
“Do you wish you had the interrogation methods that were available to you during the Bush administration to get intelligence from a figure like this?” Gregory asked.
“I have always been on the record, in fact, since 2003, with the concept of living our values,” Petraeus responded. “And I think that whenever we have, perhaps, taken expedient measures, they have turned around and bitten us in the backside.”
Petraeus said, “We decided early on in the 101st Airborne Division we’re just going to — look, we just said we’d decide to obey the Geneva Convention, to move forward with that. … We have worked very hard over the years, indeed, to ensure that elements like the International Committee of the Red Cross and others who see the conduct of our detainee operations and so forth approve of them. Because in the cases where that is not true, we end up paying a price for it ultimately.”
“Abu Ghraib and other situations like that are nonbiodegradables. They don’t go away,” Petraeus told Gregory. “The enemy continues to beat you with them like a stick in the Central Command area of responsibility. Beyond that, frankly, we have found that the use of the interrogation methods in the Army Field Manual that was given, the force of law by Congress, that that works.”
Petraeus also reiterated that he supports closing the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay, and said he wasn’t troubled by the delays in its closure.
“I’m not seized with the issue that it won’t be done by a certain date. In fact, I think it it’s very prudent to ensure that, as we move forward with that, wherever the remaining detainees are relocated and so forth, whatever jurisdiction is used in legal cases and so forth, is really thought through and done in a very pragmatic and sensible manner,” he said.
This video is from NBC’s Meet the Press, broadcast Feb. 21, 2010.