Sunday, September 02, 2007

Abu Ghraib investigation hampered by senior brass

In his article, Why the Pentagon Doesn’t Want Me to Testify About Abu Ghraib, Sam Provance, a former sergeant specializing in intelligence analysis, who served for five months at Abu Ghraib prison at the height of the abuses, writes of the Abu Ghraib investigation:

"Only one general officer passes the smell test, and he with flying colors -- Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba.

"On Jan. 31, 2004, he was asked to look into the abuses at Abu Ghraib. A mark of his seriousness of purpose is the fact that Taguba completed his investigation in two months and did not sugarcoat his findings: 'Systemic and illegal abuse of detainees … numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses.'

"He did an honest job, and we would probably not ever have seen his unvarnished findings had not some patriotic truth teller (aka leaker) made them available. That was the end of Taguba's Army career, however. Several months after his report was leaked, Taguba got a phone call from his boss telling him to retire.

"Looking back, Taguba recently told Seymour Hersh, 'I assumed they wanted to know. I was ignorant of the setting.'

"The general spoke of his futile attempts to get senior generals to focus on the problem of torture. One lieutenant general was at least candid in rebuffing Taguba: 'I don't want to get involved … because what do you do with that information, once you know? ...'

"Taguba also spoke of the indignities thrown his way by Rumsfeld and martinets like Gen. John Abizaid who, like so many other high officials, civilian, as well as military, seem to have forgotten the oath we all took to defend the Constitution of the United States.

"A few weeks after his report became public, Abizaid turned to Taguba with a pointed warning: 'You and your report will be investigated.' Preferring to hold on to his belief in an Army led by generals with integrity, Taguba later expressed his disappointment that Abizaid would have that attitude.

"Awakening to the new reality, Taguba let it all out in a very telling way: 'I had been in the Army 32 years by then, and it was the first time that I thought I was in the Mafia.'"

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