Initially uncomfortable on camera, I became accustomed to television interviews. While I had no direct role in either detention or interrogation, the history and current base operations were interesting to the media, as background, and I had a solid understanding of the base’s storied past. Most of the reporters were polite and interested.
Government officials also came to the base, though many of the visitors had only a marginal need to view the detainees. Probably the most distinguished of visitors was Donald Rumsfeld. The Secretary made a short visit -- partly to satisfy in his own mind that the detainees were receiving humane treatment. He came away content that the conditions of the detention facility were acceptable and met international standards. Numerous congressional delegations made similar visits, ostensibly for similar reasons. They were constrained to less than one day, partly because of limited billeting facilities, and partly to reduce the burden the revolving door of visitors placed on base personnel.
In addition to holding the detainees, the Secretary of Defense directed Southern Command to implement a Department of Defense/Interagency interrogation effort. As a result, Southern Command established Joint Task Force 170 on 16 February 2002, to coordinate U.S. military and government agency interrogation efforts (focused on intelligence collection, force protection, and planned terrorist activities) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In short, JTF-160 was responsible for detention and JTF-170 covered interrogations. Rumors of discord between the Commander of JTF-160 and the Commander of JTF-170 were founded in reality. Formally, superiors don’t have problems with subordinates. Unfortunately, the way the organization was set in GTMO, neither JTF Commander was directly subordinate to the other.
The two gentlemen had little in common. Major General Michael Dunlavey, Commander of JTF-170, was tasked in part with keeping all the various agencies working together to collect intelligence from the detainees. The consummate communicator, Dunlavey was well-connected within the Department of Defense, a necessary relationship to keep tabs on opposing agendas and conflicting priorities. He displayed a command of law, politics, and human nature. At the various functions we attended, he was always making the rounds, shaking hands, talking, even occasionally singing and dancing.
At social functions, by contrast, Brigadier General Bacchus stood apart, drinking water. But his ability to size up the essential elements of a mission or challenge was impressive -- he was supremely focused and devoted, a tough yet fair, sober individual with a sharp analytical mind. Brigadier General Bacchus’s attention to detail allowed him to maintain appropriate supervision of the myriad budget, construction, and personnel issues that assailed him daily. He was tasked with the care and welfare of a force of almost 2,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen.