Posted by: Lister | June 19, 2007

Major General Antonio Taguba

Taguba, in an interview with the New Yorker, claims that Bush and Rumsfeld had to know what was going on in Abu Ghraib before the pictures became public. He had been conducting an officical investigation since January that same year (2004). That investigation became public when pictures where leaked to the media, but not by Taguba.

Taguba’s description of his first meeting with Rumsfeld et al:

“Here . . . comes . . . that famous General Taguba—of the Taguba report!” Rumsfeld declared, in a mocking voice. The meeting was attended by Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld’s deputy; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (J.C.S.); and General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, along with Craddock and other officials. Taguba, describing the moment nearly three years later, said, sadly, “I thought they wanted to know. I assumed they wanted to know. I was ignorant of the setting.”

In the meeting, the officials professed ignorance about Abu Ghraib. “Could you tell us what happened?” Wolfowitz asked. Someone else asked, “Is it abuse or torture?” At that point, Taguba recalled, “I described a naked detainee lying on the wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator shoving things up his rectum, and said, ‘That’s not abuse. That’s torture.’ There was quiet.”

Rumsfeld was particularly concerned about how the classified report had become public. “General,” he asked, “who do you think leaked the report?” Taguba responded that perhaps a senior military leader who knew about the investigation had done so. “It was just my speculation,” he recalled. “Rumsfeld didn’t say anything.” (I did not meet Taguba until mid-2006 and obtained his report elsewhere.) Rumsfeld also complained about not being given the information he needed. “Here I am,” Taguba recalled Rumsfeld saying, “just a Secretary of Defense, and we have not seen a copy of your report. I have not seen the photographs, and I have to testify to Congress tomorrow and talk about this.” As Rumsfeld spoke, Taguba said, “He’s looking at me. It was a statement.”

At best, Taguba said, “Rumsfeld was in denial.” Taguba had submitted more than a dozen copies of his report through several channels at the Pentagon and to the Central Command headquarters, in Tampa, Florida, which ran the war in Iraq. By the time he walked into Rumsfeld’s conference room, he had spent weeks briefing senior military leaders on the report, but he received no indication that any of them, with the exception of General Schoomaker, had actually read it. (Schoomaker later sent Taguba a note praising his honesty and leadership.) When Taguba urged one lieutenant general to look at the photographs, he rebuffed him, saying, “I don’t want to get involved by looking, because what do you do with that information, once you know what they show?”

Taguba also knew that senior officials in Rumsfeld’s office and elsewhere in the Pentagon had been given a graphic account of the pictures from Abu Ghraib, and told of their potential strategic significance, within days of the first complaint. On January 13, 2004, a military policeman named Joseph Darby gave the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (C.I.D.) a CD full of images of abuse. Two days later, General Craddock and Vice-Admiral Timothy Keating, the director of the Joint Staff of the J.C.S., were e-mailed a summary of the abuses depicted on the CD.

Quite a few news reports on this. A round-up with some further details:

The Independent

Maj-Gen Taguba said that other material not yet publicly disclosed or mentioned in subsequent trials included a video showing “a male American soldier in uniform sodomising a female detainee”. The first wave of images he received also included images of sexual humiliation between a father and his son.

The General said he was ordered to limit his inquiry into the conduct of military police at the jail even as he became convinced they had a green light from higher up. “Somebody was giving them guidance but I was legally prevented from further investigation into higher authority. I was limited to a box.” He adds: “Even today … those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable.”

Al-Jazeera

Taguba was told to retire by January 2007 and was offered no reason. He said he was “ostracised for doing what I was asked to do”.

Well aware that his former military colleagues would be angry at his speaking out, the retired general said: “The fact is … we violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values.

The Washington Post gives a summary of past accusations, past press comments, etc.

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