The Taguba Report


Major General Antonio Taguba's report on Abu Ghraib is now online.

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  1. torture (tor’ cher)n.

    (1)Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.
    (2)An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain.
    (3)Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony: the torture of waiting in suspense.
    (4)Something causing severe pain or anguish

    Rape, forced sodomy and physical abuse qualify under definitions 1, 3 and 4. What is the level of permissiveness we’re setting? Anything short of electrodes to genitals isn’t torture?

    I’m not saying we’re worse than Saddam, but no matter what side you’re on this is detrimental to our cause. I think the Iraqis would prefer a homegrown torturer, even if he’s more cruel, than a foreign one.

  2. Jesse Walker,

    “Sodomizing a prisoner with a chemical light isn’t torture”

    Not really, although it pushes the envelope. A military light stick is about 1.5 centimeters in diameter and about 10 centimeters long. It would be painful and humiliating but would not cause any tissue damage to an adult male. On a scale of torture it would rank pretty low. That is assuming that the event actually occurred. Right now we only have an accusation that the investigation authority find “credible.”

    My main point is not that bad things didn’t happen but that the attention paid is wildly out of proportion the actual physical harm caused. Here we have a system that processed hundreds of thousands of prisoner, everything from civilian criminals and POWs to illegal combatants and this is the worse excess that we can find?

    Two US soldiers have been convicted of homicide in the killing of prisoners since 9/11. Here about them? One soldiers went berserk after a prisoner struck him for the nth time and beat the prisoners head against a rock on the ground. Where was the moral outrage then?

    At present, we have:
    Deaths due to torture:Zero
    Maimings due to torture:Zero
    Extensive hospitalization due to torture:Zero
    Actual confirmed incidents of torture:Zero

  3. They ought to put these assholes into the dock right after Saddam’s trial is finished. If the Iraqi’s have the right to try one torturer, they should be allowed to try them ALL.

  4. I am a hawk who is furious by these soldiers’ criminal acts. I hope this immorality is not wide spread, but fear the worst. As if the left wing is not doing enough to undermine the war, now there are legitimate claims. The cruel acts these soldiers and contractors apparently have done may cost many thousands of lives in the long run. Prove it up and send them to Lev. for the rest of their lives. If there is anything outrageous enough, give the perpetrators the death penalty.

  5. That’s it?

    From the media reports I expected the second coming of Auswitch but what I actually find when I read the report is that in terms of physical abuse.

    “a.? (S) Punching, slapping, and kicking detainees; jumping on their naked fee”

    “k.? (S) A male MP guard having sex with a female detainee;” [which is statutory rape even if she consented]

    “l.?? (S) Using military working dogs (without muzzles) to intimidate and frighten detainees, and in at least one case biting and severely injuring a detainee;”

    “g.? (U) Sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick” [credible detainee allegation]

    Clearly, that we are talking about Nazi levels of evil here. Clearly, these acts reveal the true dark heart of the American military. Clearly, this invalidates our entire mission in Iraq.


    Clearly, this in another in a long line media hysterics like the “massacre at Jennin” or the looting of Baghdad Museum where the final truth was nothing like the over the top initial reports.

    I find it illuminating that the psychological abuse carried out in furtherance of interrogations gets far more attention than the lack of training and leadership that led to riots where prisoners were actually shot and killed. The first has dramatic photos but nobody died. The second has no photos but people died. What gets the most press?

    (Oh, and before anybody tries to erect any strawmen, I think this was abuse but not torture or atrocity. It represents a breakdown in training and leadership and those involved should face criminal charges. But on scale of 1 (good) to 10 (bad) of abuses that occur in prisons, this ranks around a 5.)

  6. Sodomizing a prisoner with a chemical light isn’t torture? Come on, Shannon.

  7. I agree with Steve. You can’t say those things weren’t torturous without sounding a bit barbaric and crazy yourself.

    I have been so pissed off by this whole thing. There is absolutely no excuse for what those so-called soldiers did at that prison. Somehow, they managed to find the single most effective way to humiliate Arabs and then proceeded to use that method to its maximum efficacy. Absolutely amazing that they could be so incredibly efficient and successful at these heinous crimes.

    Now I have heard that Sadam used to throw prisoners into wood chippers (alive or not alive??? I hope they were DEAD, but I fear many were alive) and dip them in acid. How’s that for torture?

    But when you compare yourself to someone like that, the evilest among us come out looking like saints.

    Let’s not drop our standards. These men and women who did these things were Americans, I am sad to say. But as I heard this retired Army General who had served in Vietnam say, any of them who had spent just a couple days in Sunday School would have known better.

  8. I wonder how would you feel if you were the victim in the cases depicted? I’m sure you would just say, “hey, let these poor soldiers go, they were harmless. They only raped, humilliated and beated me, among other silly things. Oh, and when I slapped back he crushed rightfully my head against a rock. Sorry, my fault”.

    You sound crazy, you knew?

    These acts are barbaric and will never end if we dont take exemplary action against the perpetrators.

  9. Sodomizing with a lightstick. Is that aking to using a cigar?

  10. Your comment, Mike, is meant, presumably, to imply an equivalence between President Clinton’s sexual acts with Monica Lewinski (oral sex, or “sodomy,” and use of a cigar) and the acts of torture in the Abu Ghraib prison complex.

    Not even the most retrograde reactionary would countenance such a comparison. To the extent this remark is meant to suggest an equivalence between a private sexual act and deadly acts of torture in a war zone, and thus excuse these acts of physical and mental violence, the commment demeans and diminishes the bravery of our soldiers. It is, frankly, disgusting and utterly irresponsible.


  11. I don’t think that any serious person is really prepared to suggest a moral equivalency or close factual similarity between the disgusting acts and dereliction of duty by our military service people at Abu Ghraib, as compared to the much more prevalent and horrific acts of torture and abuse and killing perpetrated by Saddam (and now by the foreign terrorists, unreconstructed Baathists, and dissaffected Iraqi “insurgents”).

    But I think most Americans, including me, are upset and appalled when we fall so far short of our own standards of conduct. Because we have the best trained, most professional army in the world, I expect our service members to conduct themselves better than the Saddam regime, better than the governments of the surrounding Arab states and better than the terroristic insurgents in Iraq. The most relevant standard is our own, not what the Turks, Syrians or Iranians might do under similar circumstances.

    I am very concerned now that the next time an American soldier or contractor (or ally) falls into the hands of the Iraqi insurgents, he or she might get the same treatment or much worse. Anyone disposed already to maltreat American prisoners will have even more excuse now. Those future captors who might have been reluctant to abuse Americans before will be less reluctant now. It will be of no avail for any imprisoned American to argue that Sadaam was much worse because he gassed five thousand Kurds in one night. Americans should raise the standard for human rights, not lower it.

    There needs to be accountability, starting with Rummy, and going back down the chain of command. This is all damage control, because we aint’ winning any hearts and minds of neutral Iraqis by this kind of BS. I suspect that there was serious dereliction of duty going up the command chain and that rot has to be cut out. These incidents dishonor all Americans and put our troops and civilians at futher risk.

  12. Just one example for Shannon Love of a death if an Iraqi in while in custody. Visit the address here:

  13. What is most troubling is the fact that MG Taguba’s report makes it clear that all of the barbaric acts committed against prisoners in Iraq were clear violations of numerous articles of the various Geneva Conventions and the Rules of Land Warfare. There has not been a single comment in this regard by anyone in the Bush administration, the Pentagon, or the mainstream media. By any legal definition, the violations of these international norms are war crimes. There is absolutely no question that we would treat our enemies as war criminals were these same acts committed against American soldiers. There are, in fact, both Serbs and Croatians being tried at the Hague for the same acts committed at Abu Grahib by American soldiers.

    In case you missed it when the War on Terror began, individuals taken into custody in Afghanistan and Iraq are not prisioners of war; they are merely “detainees” who were not part of a “standing army”, and, therefore, have no rights. At no place in the Geneva Conventions or the Rules of Land Warfare is this distinction made. These euphemistic, false claims by Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney are the biggest load since Vietnam. It is, indeed, unfortunate, that the mainstream media and the majority of the American public do not care a whit about any of this.

    Anyone who actually thinks that we can democratize Iraq or be successful in any meaningful way other than getting rid of Saddam Hussein, is obviously on drugs. The saddest aspect of this is that the teenagers and 20-somethings who protested the Vietnam War are now the middle-aged, SUV driving yuppies who are supporting the war in Iraq. I spent eighteen months in combat in Vietnam and every day the Iraq debacle continues is another day of deja vu.

    Didn’t mean to get on a rant, but that’s my opinion.

  14. One reason Shannon is so confident in her assertions is that she not only has her facts wrong, she’s apparently made them up.

    Deaths in US detention facilities in Iraq(from 2002): 25
    Deaths due to torture: 10
    Deaths in all US detention facilities: 75
    Rape reported in Taguba study: Yes
    Use of attack dogs at Abu Ghraib: Yes
    Sodomizing with broom stic: Yes
    Forced masturbation of prisoners while photographed before female guards: Yes
    Forced posing of naked prisoners for oral and anal sodomy: Yes
    Photographing of same: Yes
    Hiding of naked prisoners from international investigative bodies in violation of military code: Yes

    The simple fact is that there was torture in US facilities; there was use of illegal and deadly force in interrogation techniques; there were multiple reports dating from late 2003 outlining in detail these abuses; BG Karpinski was admonished by LTG Sanchez but remained in her post; SSG Frederick (in many photos) wrote that “This is how military intelligence (MI) wants it done”.

    Shannon’s interpretation, or invention, of events is, quite simply ideologically driven, and thus dismissible.

  15. Hello:

    Please read the Red Cross reports of february 2004 that indicate what the treatment ws about. That’s the real story – the report notes that about 70-90% of the 40,000 detainees are justr citizens. That there were plenty of hospoitalizations, deaths, beatings, burnings, etc. People were left out in 50 degree sun for hours, isolted in unlit cells for 23 hrs of a day, shot at without cause, beaten with whips, hungs from their cells, kicked and whoel lot more.

  16. Hey,

    This is a general comment from an Australian. Our special forces went in before war was ‘declared’ -in support of the US invasion.

    You should be aware that many, many Australians were not in favour of that support. Their numbers have increased in the light of the events at Abu Grahib. It is a pretty shameful thing that has happened.

    Sorry – but there it is. Australian pilots flew in the early engagements and we were told carefully that their rules of engagement were not the same as for the American pilots. Why not the same? Because Australian pilots are not allowed the same discretion as American pilots when it comes to engaging targets [ie less likely to drop on civilians, without clear identification of targets].

    Why is it so? Surely if America does need the rest of the world and wants to be a world leader worthy of the name it needs to set the standards for others.

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