( – promoted by buhdydharma )
The story has been out there since 2004. But, let’s give credit to Raw Story for drawing together the relevant facts.
Now, could the Pentagon response be accurate? Yes…
The story is ugly. The abuse at Abu Ghraib was more hideous than imagined. Gen. Taguba stated as much in his report in 2004. As Raw Story points out, he wasn’t the only one who stated as much.
SFGate reported in May 2004:
(05-08) 04:00 PDT Washington — Embattled Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress on Friday that he wouldn’t rule out resigning and warned that yet-undisclosed images of Iraqi prisoner abuse containing what one lawmaker described as “rape and murder” might touch off a new furor.
That “one” lawmaker was Sen. Lindsey Graham:
Graham, speaking after Rumsfeld’s Senate testimony, suggested that material in at least one tape held by Defense Department investigators could be by far the most-damaging yet to the U.S. military effort in Iraq and its prestige around the world.
“The American public needs to understand, we’re talking about rape and murder here. We’re not just talking about giving people a humiliating experience. We’re talking about rape and murder and some very serious charges,” Graham said to reporters. Graham said, however, he hadn’t seen the videos that are part of the investigation into the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers and military contractors.
So, if Sen. Graham hadn’t seen the video, how did he know there was a video? That there was a video is not in doubt. Obviously, there was, at one time.
CNN reported at the same time:
A military report about that abuse describes detainees being threatened, sodomized with a chemical light and forced into sexually humiliating poses.
That report was Gen. Taguba’s 2004 report, which, the Telegraph referenced in its claims.
Taguba also found evidence of a “male MP guard having sex with a female detainee.”
Male guard. Female detainee. Sounds like rape to me. But, the investigation by Rumsfeld of all people, included at the time:
Rumsfeld said James Schlessinger, a former defense secretary under President Nixon, had agreed to participate in the investigation, as did former Rep. Tillie Fowler, a Florida Republican, and Gen. Chuck Horner, a retired Air Force general.
That investigation was a whitewash. A Nixon official. A Republican. And a retired Air Force General who would no doubt not wish to harm the standing of our Armed Services during wartime.
Again, at the same time, the LA Times reported:
Among the new photos and videos shown to lawmakers in secure rooms on Capitol Hill were those of Iraqi women apparently forced to expose their breasts. Others showed unexplained dead Iraqis with U.S. soldiers smiling or flashing a thumb-up nearby, said House and Senate members who saw the images.
So, we know these photos existed since House and Senate members saw them and told the LA Times “off the record”.
There is simply too many statements by too many people who saw the photos and videos to say that they never existed. Which leads to this point: did the Pentagon and Gibbs LIE?
If you consider that the Pentagon’s, and Gibb’s, retort was that the Telegraph “got their facts wrong”, instead of actually addressing the substance, then no, they probably didn’t lie. The Telegraph’s report was:
Unreleased photographs of alleged abuse by U.S. military personnel of prisoners at Iraqi prisons – which President Obama refused to release earlier this month – may include images of rape and sexual abuse, according to a new report.
Well, they wouldn’t show images of rape if those photos and videos were already destroyed. So, yes, both may be “right” in the sense that neither actually lied.
Now, did this mean that Bush and Cheney, much less Rumsfeld, were directly involved as a matter of policy to rape people? Hardly. Even though top officials witnessed some of the interrogations, no official would tell soldiers “go rape them if you need to”. Were they culpable to those abuses? YES. When you tell the soldiers “we are taking the gloves off”, when the soldiers know that we are waterboarding, ie, torturing prisoners, when they are told “soften them up”, then these soldiers know that anything goes. If interrogators can torture, surely us getting some sex, ie, raping detainees, isn’t off-limits. Not in their minds.
Leadership sets the tone of what is right and what is wrong. You lead by example. When you, as the leader, are sanctioning torture, then, those troops will view any indignity as “open for business”, so to say.
Does this mean that President Obama doesn’t view rape as sensational? Not at all, especially if those photos and videos were destroyed years ago. He very well could have been told by his Commanders that releasing new photos only hurt the troops and he was forced to agree. Fine.
What is not fine is that nobody is going to be held to account for these war crimes. Not the CIA. Not the contractors. Not the lawyers. Not the people who ordered it. Just two lowly military troops. THAT is the travesty of justice.
But, that also leaves us with the problem that if President Obama has no will to prosecute, then that pressure must come from us, the public, photos or no photos. The evidence has already been viewed. It is admissible in a court of law by those who saw the photos and can testify to seeing them prior to them being destroyed.
This all comes down to whether we will allow President Obama to sweep this under the rug so that the next Republican administration does even worse or not.