Geoffrey Miller

Torture Connection: 
Brought Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib
  • Born 1949, Menard, TX
  • Grew up in Gallipolis, OH
  • B.A. in history, Ohio State University. M.S. Educational Administration, University of Southern California.
  • Joined army in 1972, commissioned through ROTC.
  • As a major general, supervised Guantanamo operations, including prisoner interrogations there.
  • In September 2003, sent to Iraq by Donald Rumsfeld to "Gitmo-ize" U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib. 
  • In 2004, assigned to run prisons in Iraq.
  • In May 2006, refused to testify in trial of dog-handlers at Abu Ghraib.
  • Retired from military in July 2006.

Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller enhanced prisoner interrogation with degrading conditions of confinement

As commanding officer responsible for interrogation of "high-value" prisoners at Guantanamo, Miller implemented policies aimed at combining detention conditions with interrogation methods. He used dogs to inspire fear in prisoners even outside the interrogation room, and he ordered daily doses of degradation in prison routine, aimed at breaking prisoners mentally and emotionally. For example, prisoners might be told that all the other prisoners knew they were homosexual, and they could be forced to watch guards pretend to defecate on the Koran.

When legal officers confronted him about the illegality of his procedures and the difficulty they were likely to create in the future for prosecutors attempting to convict prisoners charged with terrorism, Maj. Gen. Miller responded that these detainees would never be brought to trial, not "after what we've done to them."

Miller sent to Iraq to spread the gospel of "Gitmo-izing" prisons there

In September 2003, upon orders from Donald Rumsfeld, Gen. Miller led a mission to "reform" interrogation methods at prisons in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib. Officers then working at Abu Ghraib later testified that Miller's first order was to get dogs, and to treat the prisoners at all times like dogs themselves. He briefed officers in Iraq on his method of utilizing ordinary prison guards to impose harsh confinement conditions upon prisoners during the hours they were not actively being interrogated, but he met with some resistance from officers who anticipated discipline issues if untrained soldiers were assigned to treat prisoners so disrespectfully. But within a few months, officers and contractors more comfortable with Gen. Miller's approach were assignedt to Abu Ghraib, and dogs, hoods, and other implements of Miller's torture methods soon became widespread in Iraqi detention facilities. The infamous Abu Ghraib photos were taken about two months after Miller's visit.

Miller assigned to supervise prisons in Iraq

In April 2004, Maj. Gen. Miller moved from Guantanamo to Iraq and formally took over command of prisons and interrogations. When news of Abu Ghraib broke, however, he denied involvement, insisting that the abuse there preceded his posting to Iraq. He denied ever telling officers to treat prisoners like dogs and claimed that his orders were misunderstood by the low-level soldiers charged with abusing prisoners. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who had supervised the prison when Miller first showed up to urge "gitmo-ization" and who had attempted to resist the new methods, was cited for losing control of the prison and removed from command. Eventually, the officer who investigated the incident, Gen. Taguba, concluded that Miller's new methods had led to the breakdown of discipline among soldiers assigned to guard duty at Abu Ghraib and thus could be considered ultimately responsible for the atrocities committed there.

Miller tries to avoid testifying at trials of Abu Ghraib soldiers

Enlisted personnel on trial at Abu Ghraib attempted to defend their actions by claiming that they had been ordered to treat the prisoners in inhumane and degrading ways. These claims were mostly disallowed, but in May 2006, Miller was asked to testify at the trial of soldiers who had worked handling dogs at Abu Ghraib. Miller refused to testify, claiming his right against self-incrimination, under Article 31 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Such claims by high-level officers are virtually unheard of. He was pressured to testify by threatened cancellation of his retirement plans, and he finally appeared in court to say that he ordered use of dogs only to maintain security in the prison, not to enhance interrogations. The next day, Lt. Col. Jerry Phillabaum directly contradicted this assertion.

Miller retired in August 2006. At his retirement ceremony, he was awarded a medal for distinguished service and a citation for "innovation" in his career.