Middle East

Taguba Talks

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Seymour Hersh's latest dispatch on the torture scandal includes extensive comments from Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, author of the first major report on the abuses at Abu Ghraib. For a long time Taguba refused to talk to the press. Now that he's speaking, he's scathing. Here's one excerpt:

Taguba, watching the hearings, was appalled. He believed that Rumsfeld's testimony was simply not true. "The photographs were available to him–if he wanted to see them," Taguba said. Rumsfeld's lack of knowledge was hard to credit. Taguba later wondered if perhaps Cambone had the photographs and kept them from Rumsfeld because he was reluctant to give his notoriously difficult boss bad news. But Taguba also recalled thinking, "Rumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. There's no way he's suffering from C.R.S.–Can't Remember Shit. He's trying to acquit himself, and a lot of people are lying to protect themselves." It distressed Taguba that Rumsfeld was accompanied in his Senate and House appearances by senior military officers who concurred with his denials.

"The whole idea that Rumsfeld projects–'We're here to protect the nation from terrorism'–is an oxymoron," Taguba said. "He and his aides have abused their offices and have no idea of the values and high standards that are expected of them. And they've dragged a lot of officers with them."

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  1. Someone in government lying?

    Someone catch me, I’m gettin’ the vapors.

    Seriously, liars were truffles, congress would be a dead pig.

  2. The notion that “a few bad apples” would have taken the initiative to carry out an ongoing campaign of tormenting and humiliating the prisoners in their custody is absurd. This could only happen if the guards had strong, if not certain, expectation that such behavior would not result in prosecution.

  3. When I read stuff like this, I think about all those people out there who think there is no way the government can keep a secret.

  4. Better moneyquote:

    [b]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.[/b]

    To the FOIA room, journos!

  5. When I read stuff like this, I think about all those people out there who think there is no way the government can keep a secret.

    Yeah, we never found out about that Abu Gharib stuff. For crying out loud, this is a GENERAL pointing this out. If the government keeps a secret, it’s an anamoly.

  6. Ghraib, I meant. Doh!

  7. Yeah, we never found out about that Abu Gharib stuff.

    You mean as opposed to the stuff we don’t know about at other prisons? Or as opposed to the stuff (eg, pictures, video) we still don’t have from Abu Gharib itself?

  8. You mean as opposed to the stuff we don’t know about at other prisons?

    Dave W to the rescue — we know it is there because we don’t know it is there.

  9. The lack of evidence is certain proof that it happened and the government successfully covered it up. That is sooo obvious.

    That’s why we don’t know about prisons in Afghanistan or outsourcing torture, because the government is just so damned competent.

  10. Dave W.

    We actually know plenty about abuses in prisons of all kinds. These are hardly well-kept secrets. For the most part, though, people don’t really care and many actually think “they deserve everything they get”.

  11. Dave W to the rescue — we know it is there because we don’t know it is there.

    Look at Rumsfeld’s whole attitude, the attitudes of the miliary commanders around him. Things like giving important orders verbally, instead of in writing. Things like purposely not investigating up the command chain.

    The culture of secrecy and compartmentalization is unmistakeable. This is an organization built to hide things. Even when a whistleblower submits several pictures directly to the press, the press can’t even get its act together enough to get us the rest of the pictures. If you think about that for a minute, it is just incredible.

  12. For a long time Taguba refused to talk to the press. Now that he’s speaking, he’s scathing

    While I can grasp the practicality of protecting their pensions and avoiding courts martial, why is it that none of these higher ups had enough principle to discretely slip word to an investigative reporter or two WHEN IT WOULD HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE? Better yet, retire early and speak freely. This all smacks of BS mea culpa to me.

  13. If we’re feeling generous, let’s Hague the bastards.
    If we’re feeling a rightous anger, hang em high.

  14. right on TBone- I would guess this gutless fuck wanted to make sure he got his full pension before he dared to open his mouth.

  15. Even if this is a case of “sour apples” over not getting promoted any higher, former-Spc. Joseph Darby certainly and retired-Gen. Taguba (to a lesser but still worthy extent) are the heroes of this sordid story.

    Darby is much like Hugh Thompson, Glenn Andreotta and Lawrence Colburn. Unlike Darby, if Taguba may have to live with questions about whether he believed what he is quoted by Hersh as believing when he was investigating. Perhaps as some suggest, his honor isn’t completely without stain… but whose is? I’d be damned before I’d impugn another man’s honor and integrity without proof.

    (BTW, Taguba could have retired with his full pension before, during, or after the investigation. So that accusation is false at least. Speculating about whether he kept his tongue in hopes of further promotion is probably what Tbone is getting at, and it’s the sort of thing an accuser should expect to have to defend himself from a beating for doing.)

    Taguba should be credited with trying hard to do the right thing in a tough situation, like retired Lt Gen Schmidt, who investigated Gitmo.

    Anyone who says otherwise should be ashamed.

    cecil – I’m looking at you.

  16. I have certain reservations about anyone with ties (if that is operative here) to Seymour Hersch. Was is astonishing to me is that people still find his reporting credible. Guess people will see what they want to see.

  17. J sub D,

    Not to defend Dave W., but apparently the only reason that we found out about Abu Ghraib (at least at the time we did) was because those involved were dumb enough to take pictures.

  18. I have certain reservations about anyone with ties (if that is operative here) to Seymour Hersch. Was is astonishing to me is that people still find his reporting credible. Guess people will see what they want to see.

    The usual charge against Hersh is that he relies too much on anonymous sources. In this case, Taguba is speaking on the record.

  19. Jesse Walker,

    I guess the assertion is that the fellow’s mere association with Hersh (that he interviewed him?) makes him suspect?

    Anyway, it seems what Hersh has said in speeches has been the subject of more criticism than his columns of late.

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