On September 18, Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, who is in charge of all detention facilities in Iraq, participated in a "Blogger Roundtable" with a group of milbloggers. Here is part of what Stone told them [emphasis mine]:
Marine Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone ( Commander, U.S. detention facilities in Iraq ): Hello. Major General Doug Stone. Can I help you?
Charles "Jack" Holt (Chief, New Media Operations, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, Public Affairs): General Stone, Jack Holt here with the bloggers roundtable. Welcome to the bloggers roundtable again, sir. Thanks so much for joining us.
Stone: Jack, it's good to be with you again.
Holt: Thank you, sir. Do you have an opening statement for us today?
Stone: Well, you know, I can -- how long do you usually reserve opening statements for?
Holt: Just as long as you think it's necessary.
Stone: (Laughs.) Well, you know, given that I can't exactly remember we were last time, let me give you kind of a quick thumbnail. We just crossed 25,000 in detention today. The statistic has changed a little bit. We've dropped two points. We're now down to 83 percent Sunni and the balance being in Shi'a; that's I think because of the major push here in the Shi'a parts of Baghdad by the corps, where we weren't doing that before.
We are now almost full-bore into all of our new programs -- the transition in barracks, where we do some initial -- not "some" but a lot of initial assessments to understand who we've got and what their orientation towards religion, their skill, their education, their morale and motivation of what got them here. We are assigning them to certain theater internment facilities based on, you know, what our assessment is of being able to take them from, if they are on the extremist end or just under the unemployment end, to kind of get them modeled back and bend them back to our will. We have our education courses going; probably just under or just at 7,000 now are in basic ed from one to five.
What are the ages of these detainees? Any children among them?
Q: Okay, and my main question is, the L.A. Times reports that a lot of boys, some as young as 11, now outnumber the foreign fighters that are at the detention camps in Iraq. And I believe you were quoted as saying, the number's risen from -- to 800 from 100 since March. Is this making a difference in how our detainees are handled, how the war's being fought? And how do we know now if a child is a killer or an innocent bystander just kind of swept up with the crowd?
Stone: Yeah, it's a -- all good questions. Let me reconfirm what I did say.
The number of third-country nationals we have now are about 280. I mean, I haven't quite checked this morning. I don't remember seeing any coming in. So those are the third-country nationals we have, or what you would call foreign fighters, right? I mean, guys that aren't Iraqis. And our number is -- it's a little over 800 and if I can find the document that's sitting in front of me, which I'm not finding. Wait a minute. That number's probably -- I don't know, let's just make it 820 or so and change. Actually, foreign fighters are 282, and juveniles are just under -- it's about 840-something, so we had 6 come in yesterday.
So now, the trend is towards the youth. And you know, if they're 11 years old and 12 years old and 13 years old, we tend to see them, the psychologists tend too see them as, you know, kids that, you know, are -- can be told to do anything and they'll go do it. The older ones, the 15, 16, 17-year-old ones, you know, they're the harder nuts. And again my numbers are going to be a little bit off, but 50 to 60 of those we've been able to actually get criminal court hearings against.
Nice, very nice. I wonder what the response would be from the White House if Iran or Syria talked about sending detainees to "theater internment facilities" for a little bit of "modeling back and bending to our will"?
Helena Cobban sees similarities to a British "detain and brainwash" program called Operation Pipeline used (unsuccessfully) to put down a Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya 50 years ago.