Seymour Hersch’s infuriating piece on General Taguba and his hamstrung investigation of the Abu Ghraib atrocities.
If there was a redeeming aspect to the affair, it was in the
thoroughness and the passion of the Army’s initial investigation. The
inquiry had begun in January, and was led by General Taguba, who was
stationed in Kuwait at the time. Taguba filed his report in March. In
it he found:
incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were
inflicted on several detainees . . . systemic and illegal abuse.
Taguba was met at the
door of the conference room by an old friend, Lieutenant General Bantz
J. Craddock, who was Rumsfeld’s senior military assistant. Craddock’s
daughter had been a babysitter for Taguba’s two children when the
officers served together years earlier at Fort Stewart, Georgia. But
that afternoon, Taguba recalled, “Craddock just said, very coldly,
‘Wait here.’ ” In a series of interviews early this year, the first he
has given, Taguba told me that he understood when he began the inquiry
that it could damage his career; early on, a senior general in Iraq had
pointed out to him that the abused detainees were “only Iraqis.” Even
so, he was not prepared for the greeting he received when he was
finally ushered in.
“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
I learned from Taguba that the first wave of materials included
descriptions of the sexual humiliation of a father with his son, who
were both detainees. Several of these images, including one of an Iraqi
woman detainee baring her breasts, have since surfaced; others have
not. (Taguba’s report noted that photographs and videos were being held
by the C.I.D. because of ongoing criminal investigations and their
“extremely sensitive nature.”) Taguba said that he saw “a video of a
male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee.” The
video was not made public in any of the subsequent court proceedings,
nor has there been any public government mention of it. Such images
would have added an even more inflammatory element to the outcry over
Abu Ghraib. “It’s bad enough that there were photographs of Arab men
wearing women’s panties,” Taguba said.
Read the rest ASAP. For Andrew Sullivan’s take, go here.
Update: What would Taguba have found if his investigation hadn’t been handcuffed? Read Spencer Ackerman on the separate, harsher interrogation tactics permitted for Special Ops Forces. More from Dan Froomkin here (thanks again to Andrew for staying on this). Short of it: Bush knew, and did nothing.