DoD Creates Office of Detainee Affairs
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 16, 2004 – The Defense Department is changing the way it
handles detainee issues and has created a new internal organization to deal
with Red Cross reports, a senior official said in the Pentagon today.
Officials have created an Office of Detainee Affairs that will be responsible
for strategy development and policy recommendations, Principal Deputy
Undersecretary for Policy C. Ryan Henry announced in a news briefing.
An as-yet-unnamed deputy assistant secretary who will report to the
undersecretary for policy will head the office. The new deputy will chair a
joint committee composed of the undersecretary for intelligence and
representatives from the Joint Staff, the Office of General Counsel, the
Department of the Army, and others who might be involved in detainee affairs.
The new office also will handle reports from the International Committee of the
Red Cross, Henry said.
"Normally, in the past, … they've been left at the field level," he said. Now,
such reports will be forwarded to the deputy assistant secretary for detainee
affairs, who, in turn, will convene the joint committee to review those reports
and then advise Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for his guidance, Henry
"The deputy assistant secretary and the Office of Detainee Affairs will be the
single focal point in communicating with the ICRC on DoD's behalf, he said.
Henry said steps have been taken to maintain the ICRC's confidential nature.
Without that confidentiality, free-flowing information and the collegial
environment that exists between the ICRC and local commanders could be stifled,
In trying to keep Congress in the loop, the department has made parts of some
ICRC reports available to House and Senate members.
"This is part of an ongoing effort that the secretary has directed in keeping
the congressional members informed and so they can effectively have their
oversight function, " Henry said.
Asked if the creation of the Office of Detainee Affairs and other changes
constituted an admission by Rumsfeld and the department that detainee
operations have been handled poorly, Henry replied that it was "part of an
ongoing effort by a learning organization."
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld
Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for
Policy C. Ryan Henry
DoD Values Red Cross
Scrutiny, Ideas for Improvement