February 18th, 2010
04:19 PM ET

U.S. reviews '96-hour' rule for detainees

Roger Hill, a former Army captain (right), meets with Afghan elders in Afghanistan with his interpreter next to him.

Roger Hill, a former Army captain (right), meets with Afghan elders in Afghanistan with his interpreter next to him.

 The case of Roger Hill, a former Army captain who received a general discharge for his role in the questioning of 12 Afghan detainees, prompted CNN's investigation of what's known as the "96-hour rule." Under the rule, NATO troops have 96 hours to either turn over detainees to Afghan authorities or release them - a rule put in effect to avoid Abu Ghraib-like offenses. But now that rule is under review by U.S. Defense Department officials, a spokesman for the department told CNN. 

Soldiers interviewed by CNN said it could put them in danger because it forces them to release detainees in a short time span. For Hill, the 96-hour countdown began when he took 12 men he suspected were possible spies to a small building on the base. 

Read the full story from Abbie Boudreau and Scott Zamost of the CNN Special Investigations Unit


Filed under: Pentagon • Troops
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. larry

    A Smith of Oregon, Monday morning quarterbacks,like you are sooooo wonderful, how much time did you spend over there in the "killing zone"... If you weren't there for the precise circumstances, and at the precise time of Capt. Hill and his soldiers' experiences, you have no business giving retro advice to those who walked the walk. In short, brother, you are dipping in the kool-ade without knowing the flavor. I feel sorry for misinformed worms like you crawling out of the woodwork with johnny-come-lately advise to those who were actually over there doing their best to stop the suffering and dying of our brave soldiers. Have a nice day. It was a tough mission, no easy choices, those who have been there know that. To Capt. Hill and his soldiers, THANKS for your service to our country, and for looking out for yourselves and each other the best you could. you are our finest American soldiers. You needed help you didn't get, unfortunately. Your higher command "was out to lunch" when you needed them. And as a country and government, our policy makers have let our service members down. We have a bunch of ignorant sickoes back here who haven't a clue, giving advice and making policy. You are expected to operate under the 'panty waist rules of a cricket club' with one arm tied behing your back, while engaging in brutal combat with a cowardly, ghostly enemey who has no rules. Yet our service members are still dedicated to protecting us and freedom around the world. I am grateful to you all. POLICY MAKERS WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE.

    March 18, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. jUNE belgrano

    Discharging a WEST POINTER,right or wrong,is a bloody waste of an excellent government resource!!!

    February 25, 2010 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tony

    What a mess, can you imagine risking your life and having to abide by the "rules of engagment". Is the Taliban holding and releasing it's captured ? Would the Taliban "catch and release" if given the opportunity...NO These are terrorists that have no rules, and will abide by no international treaty...Let's get it together America for our solders, I say this a a veteran of Gulf 1 and who also has a son who served during the operation Iraqi freedon !!

    February 22, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. A. Smith, Oregon

    After numerous surprise ambushes and a great many of the troops he swore to protect were killed, it suddenly dawned on Roger Hill, a former Army captain that he 'might' have local supporters of the Taliban working on his operational base? (12 of them).

    Gross dereliction of duty is not the same as gross stupidity and no defense for gross stupidity getting a large number of your men killed. As Roger Hill, a former Army captain followed up on the 'hunch' that kept killing his men, he called upon the communications corp which routinely monitor all field chatter made by cell phones and handy talkies to possibly intercept Taliban trafficking to confirm his 'hunch'.

    What is entirely missing in this 'hero's recollection' is that mobile communications intercept teams are routine and numerous on the Afghanistan forward and mobile bases. Roger Hill, a former Army Captain should have been using communication intercept monitors ongoing as a standard precaution, not long after the fact that a great many of his men were killed and then attempting to follow standard operating procedures.

    Its a miracle this sad excuse for an Army Officer was not killed by friendly fire. I would have personally spit in this man's face if I was one of the lucky survivors, regardless of the consequences.

    February 22, 2010 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. patricia in TX

    This rule is cruel to the hearts and souls of our young men and women we sent there to do a job! As a grandmother I understand the need for rules and guidelines in normal situations and conditions. This situation and certainly the conditions our young men and women are in are anything but normal!!! Just plain WRONG in everyway!!!

    February 19, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. 2nd Lt. Irish

    I agree with this policy. It forces our troops to gather evidence from weapons to documents of detainees otherwise they will be released. It forces us to do the type of police work associated with taking detainees. This policy prevents the type of problems we had in 2005 in Iraq where too many detainess were simply military aged males on the streets at the wrong times that we did not have enough evidence on for further prosecution. Don't forget this is counter insurgency and our goal is to garner the support of the people. That is why we have these policies in place, to make an abundance of detainess is not overloading our system. If we have a group of 100 detainees rounded up because there is not a higher standard and a policy to release them then the 10 true insurgents in the group are harder to find. If however there are 10 detainees and 1 insurgent our military intelligence and logistical system can spend more time and resources on them.

    Our forces are highly trained and have been taught proper search and documentation techniques for detainees such as tagging items found on them.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  7. Capt. Nick Strocchia

    I can easily see how this is a highly contended rule however, I believe that it is absolutely necessary if we are to eventually handover security responsibilities to the Afghanistan National Army.

    We have to rely on our ANA counterparts to make the call and prosecute insurgents, rather than have U.S. soldiers guide them through every step of the process.

    I have heard from my Army buddies that the previous rule was for a 24-hour detention period. 96 hours provides the U.S. military with significantly more time to process detainees before handing prisoners over to the ANA.

    I am not sure what the DoD review will yield, if anything, officials should engage a large sampling of soldiers on the ground before enacting any legislation that could inhibit their mission.

    February 19, 2010 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. Frances

    Now let me get this straight. Not only do our troops have to deal with the 96 rules but they also have to deal with the Rules of Engagment? Well hell, why not just tie their hands behind their backs and let the enemy just shoot them for God's sakes? I'm sure there's alot more Roger Hill's and Michael Behenna's out there in the world. We just don't know about them... yet! Let our troops do their jobs. Stop making these soldiers into criminals just because they are out there doing their job. Especially in a war zone. Thank you to all those out there serving and protecting our country. And to the US Government... screw you! These brave souls are out there protecting us and each other and when they do, they get charged and turned into "criminals". What the hell is wrong with this picture? When the real criminals are sitting on Capitol Hill and all over Washington DC. Go figure....

    February 19, 2010 at 5:59 am | Report abuse |
  9. linda in AR

    I support our troops. Throwing them into a cesspool of corruption and intricate tribal loyalties with a huge language barrier should have been a consideration before we began the stupidity of OEF followed by OIF.

    More BS Catch-22. We all know what runs down hill and the US troops pay for the policies that came down from the highest levels. Cpt Hill and others pay while the black site, extraordinary interrogation policy makers are not even held in disdain by guys like Sen. Graham.

    I don't know how Graham functions as a Reserve Officer doing his 2 week deployments, but as a Senator on strategic committees he went along with the extraordinary rendition and torture policies.

    How does Sen Graham feel about US soldiers dressed in civilian attire operating in Pakistan with the CIA? How does he feel about MERCs [Xe] being called CIA agents?

    How does Sen Graham feel about putting a grunt like Lynddie England with very little skills, resources or training in jail for the crimes of the mighty?

    Did the 96-hour policy lead to al-Eidan being turned over to the Saudis and the Taliban Mullahs being turned over to the ISI?

    Our troops deserve better leadership. Expecting the few to clean up the mess of decades of bad policy and centuries of history while dealing with the most corrupt in the world is so wrong.

    February 18, 2010 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dan Nelson Lafayette,IN

    I forgot to say that Roger Hill saved many lives and should be commended for his actions not discharged!

    February 18, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |