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The General’s Report

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    Taguba knew his report would make him unpopular: If I lie, I lose. And, if I tell the truth, I lose. Photograph by Mary Ellen Mark. How Antonio Taguba, who
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2007
      Taguba knew his report would make him unpopular: "If I lie, I lose.
      And, if I tell the truth, I lose." Photograph by Mary Ellen Mark.

      How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became
      one of its casualties.
      by Seymour M. Hersh

      Related Links
      Hersh on Abu Ghraib (2004): "Torture"; "Chain of Command": "The Gray

      On the afternoon of May 6, 2004, Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba
      was summoned to meet, for the first time, with Secretary of Defense
      Donald Rumsfeld in his Pentagon conference room. Rumsfeld and his
      senior staff were to testify the next day, in televised hearings
      before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees, about
      abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq. The previous week, revelations
      about Abu Ghraib, including photographs showing prisoners stripped,
      abused, and sexually humiliated, had appeared on CBS and in The New
      Yorker. In response, Administration officials had insisted that only a
      few low-ranking soldiers were involved and that America did not
      torture prisoners. They emphasized that the Army itself had uncovered
      the scandal.

      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:

      Numerous 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
      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."

      from the issuecartoon banke-mail thisAt 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. It said that approximately ten soldiers
      were shown, involved in acts that included:

      Having male detainees pose nude while female guards pointed at their
      genitals; having female detainees exposing themselves to the guards;
      having detainees perform indecent acts with each other; and guards
      physically assaulting detainees by beating and dragging them with
      choker chains.

      Taguba said, "You didn't need to `see' anything—just take the secure
      e-mail traffic at face value."

      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.

      On January 20th, the chief of staff at Central Command sent another
      e-mail to Admiral Keating, copied to General Craddock and Lieutenant
      General Ricardo Sanchez, the Army commander in Iraq. The chief of
      staff wrote, "Sir: update on alleged detainee abuse per our
      discussion. DID IT REALLY HAPPEN? Yes, currently have 4 confessions
      implicating perhaps 10 soldiers. DO PHOTOS EXIST? Yes. A CD with
      approx 100 photos and a video—CID has these in their possession."

      In subsequent testimony, General Myers, the J.C.S. chairman,
      acknowledged, without mentioning the e-mails, that in January
      information about the photographs had been given "to me and the
      Secretary up through the chain of command. . . . And the general
      nature of the photos, about nudity, some mock sexual acts and other
      abuse, was described."

      Nevertheless, Rumsfeld, in his appearances before the Senate and the
      House Armed Services Committees on May 7th, claimed to have had no
      idea of the extensive abuse. "It breaks our hearts that in fact
      someone didn't say, `Wait, look, this is terrible. We need to do
      something,' " Rumsfeld told the congressmen. "I wish we had known
      more, sooner, and been able to tell you more sooner, but we didn't."

      Rumsfeld told the legislators that, when stories about the Taguba
      report appeared, "it was not yet in the Pentagon, to my knowledge." As
      for the photographs, Rumsfeld told the senators, "I say no one in the
      Pentagon had seen them"; at the House hearing, he said, "I didn't see
      them until last night at 7:30." Asked specifically when he had been
      made aware of the photographs, Rumsfeld said:

      There were rumors of photographs in a criminal prosecution chain back
      sometime after January 13th . . . I don't remember precisely when, but
      sometime in that period of January, February, March. . . . The legal
      part of it was proceeding along fine. What wasn't proceeding along
      fine is the fact that the President didn't know, and you didn't know,
      and I didn't know.

      "And, as a result, somebody just sent a secret report to the press,
      and there they are," Rumsfeld said.

      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."

      from the issuecartoon banke-mail thisIn response to detailed queries
      about this article, Colonel Gary Keck, a Pentagon spokesman, said in
      an e-mail, "The department did not promulgate interrogation policies
      or guidelines that directed, sanctioned, or encouraged abuse." He
      added, "When there have been abuses, those violations are taken
      seriously, acted upon promptly, investigated thoroughly, and the
      wrongdoers are held accountable." Regarding early warnings about Abu
      Ghraib, Colonel Keck said, "Former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has
      stated publicly under oath that he and other senior leaders were not
      provided pictures from Abu Ghraib until shortly before their release."
      (Rumsfeld, through an aide, declined to answer questions, as did
      General Craddock. Other senior commanders did not respond to requests
      for comment.)

      During the next two years, Taguba assiduously avoided the press,
      telling his relatives not to talk about his work. Friends and family
      had been inundated with telephone calls and visitors, and, Taguba
      said, "I didn't want them to be involved." Taguba retired in January,
      2007, after thirty-four years of active service, and finally agreed to
      talk to me about his investigation of Abu Ghraib and what he believed
      were the serious misrepresentations by officials that followed. "From
      what I knew, troops just don't take it upon themselves to initiate
      what they did without any form of knowledge of the higher-ups," Taguba
      told me. His orders were clear, however: he was to investigate only
      the military police at Abu Ghraib, and not those above them in the
      chain of command. "These M.P. troops were not that creative," he said.
      "Somebody was giving them guidance, but I was legally prevented from
      further investigation into higher authority. I was limited to a box."

      General Taguba is a slight man with a friendly demeanor and an
      unfailingly polite correctness. "I came from a poor family and had to
      work hard," he said. "It was always shine the shoes on Saturday
      morning for church, and wash the car on Saturday for church. And
      Saturday also for mowing the lawn and doing yard jobs for church."

      His father, Tomas, was born in the Philippines and was drafted into
      the Philippine Scouts in early 1942, at the height of the Japanese
      attack on the joint American-Filipino force led by General Douglas
      MacArthur. Tomas was captured by the Japanese on the Bataan peninsula
      in April, 1942, and endured the Bataan Death March, which took
      thousands of American and Filipino lives. Tomas escaped and joined the
      underground resistance to the Japanese before returning to the
      American Army, in July, 1945.

      Taguba's mother, Maria, spent much of the Second World War living
      across the street from a Japanese-run prisoner-of-war camp in Manila.
      Taguba remembers her vivid accounts of prisoners who were bayonetted
      arbitrarily or whose fingernails were pulled out. Antonio, the eldest
      son (he has six siblings), was born in Manila in 1950. Maria and Tomas
      were devout Catholics, and their children were taught respect and,
      Taguba recalls, "above all, integrity in how you lived your life and
      practiced your religion."

      In 1961, the family moved to Hawaii, where Tomas retired from the
      military and took a civilian job in logistics, preparing units for
      deployment to Vietnam. A year after they arrived, Antonio became a
      U.S. citizen. By then, as a sixth grader, he was delivering
      newspapers, serving as an altar boy, and doing well in school. He went
      to Idaho State University, in Pocatello, with help from the Army
      R.O.T.C., and graduated in 1972. As a newly commissioned second
      lieutenant, he was five feet six inches tall and weighed a hundred and
      twenty pounds. His Army service began immediately: he led troops at
      the platoon, company, battalion, and brigade levels at bases in South
      Korea, Germany, and across America. (He married in 1981, and has two
      grown children.) In 1986, Taguba, then a major, was selected to attend
      the College of Naval Command and Staff at the Naval War College, in
      Newport, Rhode Island. While there, he wrote an analysis of Soviet
      ground-attack planning that became required reading at the school. He
      was promoted, ahead of his peers, to become a colonel and then a
      general. On the way, Taguba earned three master's degrees—in public
      administration, international relations, and national-security studies.

      "I'll talk to you about discrimination," he said one morning, while
      discussing, without bitterness, his early years as an Army officer.
      "Let's talk about being refused to be served at a restaurant in
      public. Let's talk about having to do things two times, and being
      accused of not speaking English well, and having to pay myself for my
      three master's degrees because the Army didn't think I was smart
      enough. So what? Just work your ass off. So what? The hard work paid

      Taguba had joined the Army knowing little about his father's military
      experience. "He saw the ravages and brutality of war, but he wasn't
      about to brag about his exploits," Taguba said. "He didn't say
      anything until 1997, and it took me two years to rebuild his records
      and show that he was authorized for an award." On Tomas's eightieth
      birthday, he was awarded the Bronze Star and a prisoner-of-war medal
      in a ceremony at Schofield Barracks, in Hawaii. "My father never
      laughed," Taguba said. But the day he got his medal "he smiled—he had
      a big-ass smile on his face. I'd never seen him look so proud. He was
      a bent man with carpal-tunnel syndrome, but at the end of the medal
      ceremony he stood himself up and saluted. I cried, and everyone in my
      family burst into tears."

      from the issuecartoon banke-mail thisRichard Armitage, a former Navy
      counter-insurgency officer who served as Deputy Secretary of State in
      the first Bush term, recalled meeting Taguba, then a lieutenant
      colonel, in South Korea in the early nineteen-nineties. "I was told to
      keep an eye on this young guy—`He's going to be a general,' " Armitage
      said. "Taguba was discreet and low key—not a sprinter but a marathoner."

      At the time, Taguba was working for Major General Mike Myatt, a marine
      who was the officer in charge of strategic talks with the South
      Koreans, on behalf of the American military. "I needed an executive
      assistant with brains and integrity," Myatt, who is now retired and
      living in San Francisco, told me. After interviewing a number of young
      officers, he chose Taguba. "He was ethical and he knew his stuff,"
      Myatt said. "We really became close, and I'd trust him with my life.
      We talked about military strategy and policy, and the moral aspect of
      war—the importance of not losing the moral high ground." Myatt
      followed Taguba's involvement in the Abu Ghraib inquiry, and said, "I
      was so proud of him. I told him, `Tony, you've maintained yourself,
      and your integrity.' "

      Taguba got a different message, however, from other officers, among
      them General John Abizaid, then the head of Central Command. A few
      weeks after his report became public, Taguba, who was still in Kuwait,
      was in the back seat of a Mercedes sedan with Abizaid. Abizaid's
      driver and his interpreter, who also served as a bodyguard, were in
      front. Abizaid turned to Taguba and issued a quiet warning: "You and
      your report will be investigated."

      "I wasn't angry about what he said but disappointed that he would say
      that to me," Taguba said. "I'd been in the Army thirty-two years by
      then, and it was the first time that I thought I was in the Mafia."


      Taguba was given the job of investigating Abu Ghraib because of
      circumstance: the senior officer of the 800th Military Police Brigade,
      to which the soldiers in the photographs belonged, was a one-star
      general; Army regulations required that the head of the inquiry be
      senior to the commander of the unit being investigated, and Taguba, a
      two-star general, was available. "It was as simple as that," he said.
      He vividly remembers his first thought upon seeing the photographs in
      late January of 2004: "Unbelievable! What were these people doing?"
      There was an immediate second thought: "This is big."

      Taguba decided to keep the photographs from most of the interrogators
      and researchers on his staff of twenty-three officers. "I didn't want
      them to prejudge the soldiers they were investigating, so I put the
      photos in a safe," he told me. "Anyone who wanted to see them had to
      have a need-to-know and go through me." His decision to keep the staff
      in the background was also intended to insure that none of them
      suffered damage to his or her career because of involvement in the
      inquiry. "I knew it was going to be very sensitive because of the
      gravity of what was in front of us," he said.

      The team spent much of February, 2004, in Iraq. Taguba was overwhelmed
      by the scale of the wrongdoing. "These were people who were taken off
      the streets and put in jail—teen-agers and old men and women," he
      said. "I kept on asking these questions of the officers I interviewed:
      `You knew what was going on. Why didn't you do something to stop it?'

      Taguba's assignment was limited to investigating the 800th M.P.s, but
      he quickly found signs of the involvement of military
      intelligence—both the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, commanded
      by Colonel Thomas Pappas, which worked closely with the M.P.s, and
      what were called "other government agencies," or O.G.A.s, a euphemism
      for the C.I.A. and special-operations units operating undercover in
      Iraq. Some of the earliest evidence involved Lieutenant Colonel Steven
      L. Jordan, whose name was mentioned in interviews with several M.P.s.
      For the first three weeks of the investigation, Jordan was nowhere to
      be found, despite repeated requests. When the investigators finally
      located him, he asked whether he needed to shave his beard before
      being interviewed—Taguba suspected that he had been dressing as a
      civilian. "When I asked him about his assignment, he says, `I'm a
      liaison officer for intelligence from Army headquarters in Iraq.' "
      But in the course of three or four interviews with Jordan, Taguba
      said, he began to suspect that the lieutenant colonel had been more
      intimately involved in the interrogation process—some of it brutal—for
      "high value" detainees.

      "Jordan denied everything, and yet he had the authority to enter the
      prison's `hard site' "—where the most important detainees were
      held—"carrying a carbine and an M9 pistol, which is against
      regulations," Taguba said. Jordan had also led a squad of military
      policemen in a shoot-out inside the hard site with a detainee from
      Syria who had managed to obtain a gun. (A lawyer for Jordan disputed
      these allegations; in the shoot-out, he said, Jordan was "just another
      gun on the extraction team" and not the leader. He noted that Jordan
      was not a trained interrogator.)

      Taguba said that Jordan's "record reflected an extensive intelligence
      background." He also had reason to believe that Jordan was not
      reporting through the chain of command. But Taguba's narrowly focussed
      mission constrained the questions he could ask. "I suspected that
      somebody was giving them guidance, but I could not print that," Taguba

      from the issuecartoon banke-mail this"After all Jordan's evasiveness
      and misleading responses, his rights were read to him," Taguba went
      on. Jordan subsequently became the only officer facing trial on
      criminal charges in connection with Abu Ghraib and is scheduled to be
      court-martialled in late August. (Seven M.P.s were convicted of
      charges that included dereliction of duty, maltreatment, and assault;
      one defendant, Specialist Charles Graner, was sentenced to ten years
      in prison.) Last month, a military judge ruled that Jordan, who is
      still assigned to the Army's Intelligence and Security Command, had
      not been appropriately advised of his rights during his interviews
      with Taguba, undermining the Army's allegation that he lied during the
      Taguba inquiry. Six other charges remain, including failure to obey an
      order or regulation; cruelty and maltreatment; and false swearing and
      obstruction of justice. (His lawyer said, "The evidence clearly shows
      that he is innocent.")

      Taguba came to believe that Lieutenant General Sanchez, the Army
      commander in Iraq, and some of the generals assigned to the military
      headquarters in Baghdad had extensive knowledge of the abuse of
      prisoners in Abu Ghraib even before Joseph Darby came forward with the
      CD. Taguba was aware that in the fall of 2003—when much of the abuse
      took place—Sanchez routinely visited the prison, and witnessed at
      least one interrogation. According to Taguba, "Sanchez knew exactly
      what was going on."

      Taguba learned that in August, 2003, as the Sunni insurgency in Iraq
      was gaining force, the Pentagon had ordered Major General Geoffrey
      Miller, the commander at Guantánamo, to Iraq. His mission was to
      survey the prison system there and to find ways to improve the flow of
      intelligence. The core of Miller's recommendations, as summarized in
      the Taguba report, was that the military police at Abu Ghraib should
      become part of the interrogation process: they should work closely
      with interrogators and intelligence officers in "setting the
      conditions for successful exploitation of the internees."

      Taguba concluded that Miller's approach was not consistent with Army
      doctrine, which gave military police the overriding mission of making
      sure that the prisons were secure and orderly. His report cited
      testimony that interrogators and other intelligence personnel were
      encouraging the abuse of detainees. "Loosen this guy up for us," one
      M.P. said he was told by a member of military intelligence. "Make sure
      he has a bad night."

      The M.P.s, Taguba said, "were being literally exploited by the
      military interrogators. My view is that those kids"—even the soldiers
      in the photographs—"were poorly led, not trained, and had not been
      given any standard operating procedures on how they should guard the

      Surprisingly, given Taguba's findings, Miller was the officer chosen
      to restore order at Abu Ghraib. In April, 2004, a month after the
      report was filed, he was reassigned there as the deputy commander for
      detainee operations. "Miller called in the spring and asked to meet
      with me to discuss Abu Ghraib, but I waited for him and we never did
      meet," Taguba recounted. Miller later told Taguba that he'd been
      ordered to Washington to meet with Rumsfeld before travelling to Iraq,
      but he never attempted to reschedule the meeting.

      If they had spoken, Taguba said, he would have reminded Miller that at
      Abu Ghraib, unlike at Guantánamo, very few prisoners were affiliated
      with any terrorist group. Taguba had seen classified documents
      revealing that there were only "one or two" suspected Al Qaeda
      prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Most of the detainees had nothing to do with
      the insurgency. A few of them were common criminals.

      Taguba had known Miller for years. "We served together in Korea and in
      the Pentagon, and his wife and mine used to go shopping together,"
      Taguba said. But, after his report became public, "Miller didn't talk
      to me. He didn't say a word when I passed him in the hallway."

      Despite the subsequent public furor over Abu Ghraib, neither the House
      nor the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings led to a serious
      effort to determine whether the scandal was a result of a high-level
      interrogation policy that encouraged abuse. At the House Committee
      hearing on May 7, 2004, a freshman Democratic congressman, Kendrick
      Meek, of Florida, asked Rumsfeld if it was time for him to resign.
      Rumsfeld replied, "I would resign in a minute if I thought that I
      couldn't be effective. . . . I have to wrestle with that." But, he
      added, "I'm certainly not going to resign because some people are
      trying to make a political issue out of it." (Rumsfeld stayed in
      office for the next two and a half years, until the day after the 2006
      congressional elections.) When I spoke to Meek recently, he said,
      "There was no way Rumsfeld didn't know what was going on. He's a guy
      who wants to know everything, and what he was giving us was hard to

      Later that month, Rumsfeld appeared before a closed hearing of the
      House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which votes on the funds
      for all secret operations in the military. Representative David Obey,
      of Wisconsin, the senior Democrat at the hearing, told me that he had
      been angry when a fellow subcommittee member "made the comment that
      `Abu Ghraib was the price of defending democracy.' I said that wasn't
      the way I saw it, and that I didn't want to see some corporal made
      into a scapegoat. This could not have happened without people in the
      upper echelon of the Administration giving signals. I just didn't see
      how this was not systemic."

      Obey asked Rumsfeld a series of pointed questions. Taguba attended the
      closed hearing with Rumsfeld and recalled him bristling at Obey's
      inquiries. "I don't know what happened!" Rumsfeld told Obey. "Maybe
      you want to ask General Taguba."

      Taguba got a chance to answer questions on May 11th, when he was
      summoned to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
      Under-Secretary Stephen Cambone sat beside him. (Cambone was
      Rumsfeld's point man on interrogation policy.) Cambone, too, told the
      committee that he hadn't known about the specific abuses at Abu Ghraib
      until he saw Taguba's report, "when I was exposed to some of those

      Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, tried to focus on whether Abu Ghraib
      was the consequence of a larger detainee policy. "These acts of abuse
      were not the spontaneous actions of lower-ranking enlisted personnel,"
      Levin said. "These attempts to extract information from prisoners by
      abusive and degrading methods were clearly planned and suggested by
      others." The senators repeatedly asked about General Miller's trip to
      Iraq in 2003. Did the "Gitmo-izing" of Abu Ghraib—especially the model
      of using the M.P.s in "setting the conditions" for interrogations—lead
      to the abuses?

      Cambone confirmed that Miller had been sent to Iraq with his approval,
      but insisted that the senators were "misreading General Miller's
      intent." Questioned on that point by Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of
      Rhode Island, Cambone said, "I don't know that I was being told, and I
      don't know that General Miller said that there should be that kind of
      activity that you are ascribing to his recommendation."

      Reed then asked Taguba, "Was it clear from your reading of the
      [Miller] report that one of the major recommendations was to use
      guards to condition these prisoners?" Taguba replied, "Yes, sir. That
      was recommended on the report."

      At another point, after Taguba confirmed that military intelligence
      had taken control of the M.P.s following Miller's visit, Levin
      questioned Cambone:

      LEVIN: Do you disagree with what the general just said?

      CAMBONE: Yes, sir.

      LEVIN: Pardon?

      CAMBONE: I do.

      Taguba, looking back on his testimony, said, "That's the reason I
      wasn't in their camp—because I kept on contradicting them. I wasn't
      about to lie to the committee. I knew I was already in a losing
      proposition. If I lie, I lose. And, if I tell the truth, I lose."

      Taguba had been scheduled to rotate to the Third Army's headquarters,
      at Fort McPherson, Georgia, in June of 2004. He was instead ordered
      back to the Pentagon, to work in the office of the Assistant Secretary
      of Defense for Reserve Affairs. "It was a lateral assignment," Taguba
      said, with a smile and a shrug. "I didn't quibble. If you're going to
      do that to me, well, O.K. We all serve at the pleasure of the
      President." A retired four-star Army general later told Taguba that he
      had been sent to the job in the Pentagon so that he could "be
      watched." Taguba realized that his career was at a dead end.

      Later in 2004, Taguba encountered Rumsfeld and one of his senior press
      aides, Lawrence Di Rita, in the Pentagon Athletic Center. Taguba was
      getting dressed after a workout. "I was tying my shoes," Taguba
      recalled. "I looked up, and there they were." Rumsfeld, who was
      putting his clothes into a locker, recognized Taguba and said, "Hello,
      General." Di Rita, who was standing beside Rumsfeld, said
      sarcastically, "See what you started, General? See what you started?"

      Di Rita, who is now an official with Bank of America, recalled running
      into Taguba in the locker room but not his words. "Sounds like my
      brand of humor," he said, in an e-mail. "A comment like that would
      have been in an attempt to lighten the mood for General Taguba." (Di
      Rita added that Taguba had "my personal respect and admiration" and
      that of Rumsfeld. "He did a terrific job under difficult
      circumstances.") However, Taguba was troubled by the encounter, and
      later told a colleague, "I'm now the problem."


      A dozen government investigations have been conducted into Abu Ghraib
      and detainee abuse. A few of them picked up on matters raised by
      Taguba's report, but none followed through on the question of ultimate
      responsibility. Military investigators were precluded from looking
      into the role of Rumsfeld and other civilian leaders in the Pentagon;
      the result was that none found any high-level intelligence involvement
      in the abuse.

      An independent panel headed by James R. Schlesinger, a former
      Secretary of Defense, did conclude that there was "institutional and
      personal responsibility at higher levels" for Abu Ghraib, but cleared
      Rumsfeld of any direct responsibility. In an August, 2004, report, the
      Schlesinger panel endorsed Rumsfeld's complaints, citing "the
      reluctance to move bad news up the chain of command" as the most
      important factor in Washington's failure to understand the
      significance of Abu Ghraib. "Given the magnitude of this problem, the
      Secretary of Defense and other senior DoD officials need a more
      effective information pipeline to inform them of high-profile
      incidents," the report said. Schlesinger and his colleagues apparently
      were unaware of the early e-mail messages that had informed the
      Pentagon of Abu Ghraib.

      The official inquiries consistently provided the public with less
      information about abuses than outside studies conducted by
      human-rights groups. In one case, in November, 2004, an Army
      investigation, by Brigadier General Richard Formica, into the
      treatment of detainees at Camp Nama, a Special Forces detention center
      at Baghdad International Airport, concluded that detainees who
      reported being sodomized or beaten were seeking sympathy and better
      treatment, and thus were not credible. For example, Army doctors had
      initially noted that a complaining detainee's wounds were "consistent
      with the history [of abuse] he provided. . . . The doctor did find
      scars on his wrists and noted what he believed to be an anal fissure."
      Formica had the detainee reëxamined two days later, by another doctor,
      who found "no fissure, and no scarring. . . . As a result, I did not
      find medical evidence of the sodomy." In the case of a detainee who
      died in custody, Formica noted that there had been bruising to the
      "shoulders, chest, hip, and knees" but added, "It is not unusual for
      detainees to have minor bruising, cuts and scrapes." In July, 2006,
      however, Human Rights Watch issued a fifty-three-page report on the
      "serious mistreatment" of detainees at Camp Nama and two other sites,
      largely based on witness accounts from Special Forces interrogators
      and others who served there.

      Formica, asked to comment, wrote in an e-mail, "I conducted a thorough
      investigation . . . and stand by my report." He said that "several
      issues" he discovered "were corrected." His assignment, Formica noted,
      was to investigate a unit, and not to conduct "a systematic analysis
      of Special Operations activities."

      The Army also protected General Miller. Since 2002, F.B.I. agents at
      Guantánamo had been telling their superiors that their military
      counterparts were abusing detainees. The F.B.I. complaints were
      ignored until after Abu Ghraib. When an investigation was opened, in
      December, 2004, General Craddock, Rumsfeld's former military aide, was
      in charge of the Army's Southern Command, with jurisdiction over
      Guantánamo—he had been promoted a few months after Taguba's visit to
      Rumsfeld's office. Craddock appointed Air Force Lieutenant General
      Randall M. Schmidt, a straight-talking fighter pilot, to investigate
      the charges, which included alleged abuses during Miller's tenure.

      "I followed the bread-crumb trail," Schmidt, who retired last year,
      told me. "I found some things that didn't seem right. For lack of a
      camera, you could have seen in Guantánamo what was seen at Abu Ghraib."

      Schmidt found that Miller, with the encouragement of Rumsfeld, had
      focussed great attention on the interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani,
      a Saudi who was believed to be the so-called "twentieth hijacker."
      Qahtani was interrogated "for twenty hours a day for at least
      fifty-four days," Schmidt told investigators from the Army Inspector
      General's office, who were reviewing his findings. "I mean, here's
      this guy manacled, chained down, dogs brought in, put in his face,
      told to growl, show teeth, and that kind of stuff. And you can imagine
      the fear."

      At Guantánamo, Schmidt told the investigators, Miller "was responsible
      for the conduct of interrogations that I found to be abusive and
      degrading. The intent of those might have been to be abusive and
      degrading to get the information they needed. . . . Did the means
      justify the ends? That's fine. . . . He was responsible."

      Schmidt formally recommended that Miller be "held accountable" and
      "admonished." Craddock rejected this recommendation and absolved
      Miller of any responsibility for the mistreatment of the prisoners.
      The Inspector General inquiry endorsed Craddock's action. "I was open
      with them," Schmidt told me, referring to the I.G. investigators. "I
      told them, `I'll do anything to help you get the truth.' " But when he
      read their final report, he said, "I didn't recognize the five hours
      of interviews with me."

      Schmidt learned of Craddock's reversal the day before they were to
      meet with Rumsfeld, in July, 2005. Rumsfeld was in frequent contact
      with Miller about the progress of Qahtani's interrogation, and
      personally approved the most severe interrogation tactics. ("This
      wasn't just daily business, when the Secretary of Defense is
      personally involved," Schmidt told the Army investigators.)
      Nonetheless, Schmidt was impressed by Rumsfeld's demonstrative
      surprise, dismay, and concern upon being told of the abuse. "He was
      going, `My God! Did I authorize putting a bra and underwear on this
      guy's head and telling him all his buddies knew he was a homosexual?' "

      Schmidt was convinced. "I got to tell you that I never got the feeling
      that Secretary Rumsfeld was trying to hide anything," he told me. "He
      got very frustrated. He's a control guy, and this had gotten out of
      control. He got pissed."

      Rumsfeld's response to Schmidt was similar to his expressed surprise
      over Taguba's Abu Ghraib report. "Rummy did what we called `case law'
      policy—verbal and not in writing," Taguba said. "What he's really
      saying is that if this decision comes back to haunt me I'll deny it."

      Taguba eventually concluded that there was a reason for the evasions
      and stonewalling by Rumsfeld and his aides. At the time he filed his
      report, in March of 2004, Taguba said, "I knew there was C.I.A.
      involvement, but I was oblivious of what else was happening" in terms
      of covert military-intelligence operations. Later that summer,
      however, he learned that the C.I.A. had serious concerns about the
      abusive interrogation techniques that military-intelligence operatives
      were using on high-value detainees. In one secret memorandum, dated
      June 2, 2003, General George Casey, Jr., then the director of the
      Joint Staff in the Pentagon, issued a warning to General Michael
      DeLong, at the Central Command:

      CIA has advised that the techniques the military forces are using to
      interrogate high value detainees (HVDs) . . . are more aggressive than
      the techniques used by CIA who is [sic] interviewing the same HVDs.

      DeLong replied to Casey that the techniques in use were "doctrinally
      appropriate techniques," in accordance with Army regulations and
      Rumsfeld's direction.


      Abu Ghraib had opened the door on the issue of the treatment of
      detainees, and from the beginning the Administration feared that the
      publicity would expose more secret operations and practices. Shortly
      after September 11th, Rumsfeld, with the support of President Bush,
      had set up military task forces whose main target was the senior
      leadership of Al Qaeda. Their essential tactic was seizing and
      interrogating terrorists and suspected terrorists; they also had
      authority from the President to kill certain high-value targets on
      sight. The most secret task-force operations were categorized as
      Special Access Programs, or S.A.P.s.

      from the issuecartoon banke-mail thisThe military task forces were
      under the control of the Joint Special Operations Command, the branch
      of the Special Operations Command that is responsible for
      counterterrorism. One of Miller's unacknowledged missions had been to
      bring the J.S.O.C.'s "strategic interrogation" techniques to Abu
      Ghraib. In special cases, the task forces could bypass the chain of
      command and deal directly with Rumsfeld's office. A former senior
      intelligence official told me that the White House was also briefed on
      task-force operations.

      The former senior intelligence official said that when the images of
      Abu Ghraib were published, there were some in the Pentagon and the
      White House who "didn't think the photographs were that bad"—in that
      they put the focus on enlisted soldiers, rather than on secret
      task-force operations. Referring to the task-force members, he said,
      "Guys on the inside ask me, `What's the difference between shooting a
      guy on the street, or in his bed, or in a prison?' " A Pentagon
      consultant on the war on terror also said that the "basic strategy was
      `prosecute the kids in the photographs but protect the big picture.' "

      A recently retired C.I.A. officer, who served more than fifteen years
      in the clandestine service, told me that the task-force teams "had
      full authority to whack—to go in and conduct `executive action,' " the
      phrase for political assassination. "It was surrealistic what these
      guys were doing," the retired operative added. "They were running
      around the world without clearing their operations with the ambassador
      or the chief of station."

      J.S.O.C.'s special status undermined military discipline. Richard
      Armitage, the former Deputy Secretary of State, told me that, on his
      visits to Iraq, he increasingly found that "the commanders would say
      one thing and the guys in the field would say, `I don't care what he
      says. I'm going to do what I want.' We've sacrificed the chain of
      command to the notion of Special Operations and GWOT"—the global war
      on terrorism. "You're painting on a canvas so big that it's hard to
      comprehend," Armitage said.

      Thomas W. O'Connell, who resigned this spring after nearly four years
      as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and
      Low-Intensity Conflict, defended the task forces. He blamed the
      criticisms on the resentment of the rest of the military: "From my
      observation, the operations run by Special Ops units are
      extraordinarily open in terms of interagency visibility to embassies
      and C.I.A. stations—even to the point where there's been a question of
      security." O'Connell said that he dropped in unannounced to Special
      Operations interrogation centers in Iraq, "and the treatment of
      detainees was aboveboard." He added, "If people want to say we've got
      a serious problem with Special Operations, let them say it on the record."

      Representative Obey told me that he had been troubled, before the Iraq
      war, by the Administration's decision to run clandestine operations
      from the Pentagon, saying that he "found some of the things they were
      doing to be disquieting." At the time, his Republican colleagues
      blocked his attempts to have the House Appropriations Committee
      investigate these activities. "One of the things that bugs me is that
      Congress has failed in its oversight abilities," Obey said. Early last
      year, at his urging, his subcommittee began demanding a classified
      quarterly report on the operations, but Obey said that he has no
      reason to believe that the reports are complete.

      A former high-level Defense Department official said that, when the
      Abu Ghraib scandal broke, Senator John Warner, then the chairman of
      the Armed Services Committee, was warned "to back off" on the
      investigation, because "it would spill over to more important things."
      A spokesman for Warner acknowledged that there had been pressure on
      the Senator, but said that Warner had stood up to it—insisting on
      putting Rumsfeld under oath for his May 7th testimony, for example, to
      the Secretary's great displeasure.

      An aggressive congressional inquiry into Abu Ghraib could have
      provoked unwanted questions about what the Pentagon was doing, in Iraq
      and elsewhere, and under what authority. By law, the President must
      make a formal finding authorizing a C.I.A. covert operation, and
      inform the senior leadership of the House and the Senate Intelligence
      Committees. However, the Bush Administration unilaterally determined
      after 9/11 that intelligence operations conducted by the
      military—including the Pentagon's covert task forces—for the purposes
      of "preparing the battlefield" could be authorized by the President,
      as Commander-in-Chief, without telling Congress.

      There was coördination between the C.I.A. and the task forces, but
      also tension. The C.I.A. officers, who were under pressure to produce
      better intelligence in the field, wanted explicit legal authority
      before aggressively interrogating high-value targets. A finding would
      give operatives some legal protection for questionable actions, but
      the White House was reluctant to put what it wanted in writing.

      A recently retired high-level C.I.A. official, who served during this
      period and was involved in the drafting of findings, described to me
      the bitter disagreements between the White House and the agency over
      the issue. "The problem is what constituted approval," the retired
      C.I.A. official said. "My people fought about this all the time. Why
      should we put our people on the firing line somewhere down the road?
      If you want me to kill Joe Smith, just tell me to kill Joe Smith. If I
      was the Vice-President or the President, I'd say, `This guy Smith is a
      bad guy and it's in the interest of the United States for this guy to
      be killed.' They don't say that. Instead, George"—George Tenet, the
      director of the C.I.A. until mid-2004—"goes to the White House and is
      told, `You guys are professionals. You know how important it is. We
      know you'll get the intelligence.' George would come back and say to
      us, `Do what you gotta do.' "

      Bill Harlow, a spokesman for Tenet, depicted as "absurd" the notion
      that the C.I.A. director told his agents to operate outside official
      guidelines. He added, in an e-mailed statement, "The intelligence
      community insists that its officers not exceed the very explicit
      authorities granted." In his recently published memoir, however, Tenet
      acknowledged that there had been a struggle "to get clear guidance" in
      terms of how far to go during high-value-detainee interrogations.

      The Pentagon consultant said in an interview late last year that "the
      C.I.A. never got the exact language it wanted." The findings, when
      promulgated by the White House, were "very calibrated" to minimize
      political risk, and limited to a few countries; later, they were
      expanded, turning several nations in North Africa, the Middle East,
      and Asia into free-fire zones with regard to high-value targets. I was
      told by the former senior intelligence official and a government
      consultant that after the existence of secret C.I.A. prisons in Europe
      was revealed, in the Washington Post, in late 2005, the Administration
      responded with a new detainee center in Mauritania. After a new
      government friendly to the U.S. took power, in a bloodless coup d'état
      in August, 2005, they said, it was much easier for the intelligence
      community to mask secret flights there.

      "The dirt and secrets are in the back channel," the former senior
      intelligence officer noted. "All this open business—sitting in staff
      meetings, etc., etc.—is the Potemkin Village stuff. And the good
      guys—like Taguba—are gone."

      In some cases, the secret operations remained unaccountable. In an
      April, 2005, memorandum, a C.I.D. officer—his name was
      redacted—complained to C.I.D. headquarters, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia,
      about the impossibility of investigating military members of a Special
      Access Program suspected of prisoner abuse:

      involvement in Special Access Programs (SAP) and/or the security
      classification of the unit they were assigned to during the offense
      under investigation. Attempts by Special Agents . . . to be "read on"
      to these programs has [sic] been unsuccessful.

      The C.I.D. officer wrote that "fake names were used" by members of the
      task force; he also told investigators that the unit had a "major
      computer malfunction which resulted in them losing 70 per cent of
      their files; therefore, they can't find the cases we need to review."

      The officer concluded that the investigation "does not need to be
      reopened. Hell, even if we reopened it we wouldn't get any more
      information than we already have."


      Rumsfeld was vague, in his appearances before Congress, about when he
      had informed the President about Abu Ghraib, saying that it could have
      been late January or early February. He explained that he routinely
      met with the President "once or twice a week . . . and I don't keep
      notes about what I do." He did remember that in mid-March he and
      General Myers were "meeting with the President and discussed the
      reports that we had obviously heard" about Abu Ghraib.

      Whether the President was told about Abu Ghraib in January (when
      e-mails informed the Pentagon of the seriousness of the abuses and of
      the existence of photographs) or in March (when Taguba filed his
      report), Bush made no known effort to forcefully address the treatment
      of prisoners before the scandal became public, or to reëvaluate the
      training of military police and interrogators, or the practices of the
      task forces that he had authorized. Instead, Bush acquiesced in the
      prosecution of a few lower-level soldiers. The President's failure to
      act decisively resonated through the military chain of command:
      aggressive prosecution of crimes against detainees was not conducive
      to a successful career.

      In January of 2006, Taguba received a telephone call from General
      Richard Cody, the Army's Vice-Chief of Staff. "This is your Vice," he
      told Taguba. "I need you to retire by January of 2007." No
      pleasantries were exchanged, although the two generals had known each
      other for years, and, Taguba said, "He offered no reason." (A
      spokesperson for Cody said, "Conversations regarding general officer
      management are considered private personnel discussions. General Cody
      has great respect for Major General Taguba as an officer, leader, and
      American patriot.")

      "They always shoot the messenger," Taguba told me. "To be accused of
      being overzealous and disloyal—that cuts deep into me. I was being
      ostracized for doing what I was asked to do."

      Taguba went on, "There was no doubt in my mind that this stuff"—the
      explicit images—"was gravitating upward. It was standard operating
      procedure to assume that this had to go higher. The President had to
      be aware of this." He said that Rumsfeld, his senior aides, and the
      high-ranking generals and admirals who stood with him as he
      misrepresented what he knew about Abu Ghraib had failed the nation.

      "From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor,
      integrity, and selfless service," Taguba said. "And yet when we get to
      the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers
      in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that
      we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the
      tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we
      violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not
      an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military
      leaders responsible should be held accountable."



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