Monday, June 18, 2007

Hard Rain Journal 6-18-07: Impeachment is Off the Table? Well, Here is a List of What is Still On the Table, Courtesy of Sy Hersh and Maj. Gen. Taguba

Geneva Conventions, A Reference Guide, Society for Professional Journalists

Hard Rain Journal 6-18-07: Impeachment is Off the Table? Well, Here is a List of What is Still On the Table, Courtesy of Sy Hersh and Major Gen. Taguba

By Richard Power

Two American heroes.

A US Army General who abided by his oath to defend the Constitution.

And a journalist who abided by his oath to serve the truth.

Will the members of the US Congress abide by their oaths?

Impeachment is off the table?

Well, here is what is still on the table --

A list of the 3,000 innocents slaughtered on 9/11, whose murders have yet to be avenged on Bin Laden and Zawahiri.

A list of over 3,500 men and women of the US military who have lost their lives in the Mega-Mogadishu of Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands of notches representing the lives of Iraqis who have died, but remain uncounted, and therefore unacknowledged, by the Bush-Cheney regime.

A bill for the trillion dollars our children will pay for this debacle.

A burning map of the Middle East, with a big target encircling Iran, drawn in red crayola crayon.

A blood-soaked hard copy of the PNAC document.

The fingerprints of Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, Rice, Gonzalez, Libby, Rove, Cambone, Lieberman, Murdoch, Judith Miller, Thomas Friedman, and many others.

And, oh yes, a CD containing graphic evidence of our descent into Hell.

One item that is not on the table is our prestige in the world, that has been lost.

Of course, there is so much more.

Impeachment is off the table?

OK, we're realists. But couldn't the Democratic Leadership at least bemoan the fact that it is off the table? Couldn't the Democratic Leadership at least stand before the people and say Bush and Cheney should be impeached, but the Cult formerly known as the Republican Party is still too strong in the Senate and no matter how damning the evidence presented, those hollow men and women would vote to acquit?

The story of Major Gen. Taguba and of what is on that CD is not new to many of us.

Those who live on the frontiers of the Blogosphere, and have been immersed in the resistance since as early as 2000 and 2001, read Major Gen. Taguba's report back then, as well as the most shocking of Sy Hersh's revelations.

Despite the horror of what Taguba and Hersh have just reminded this nation about, there is still an even greater horror wrapped inside of it, and that is the horror of our self-serving indifference and fear.

This story will be largely ignored.

And yes, that's even worse than the horror of what was done in our name at Abu Ghraib -- because it shows that most of us have learned nothing, and do not really care, or even understand, what this country was meant to offer the world.

Here are a few excerpts from Sy Hersh's latest expose in The New Yorker, with a link to the full text:

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. ... 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.’ ” ...

At 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. ...
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.

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. ... 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. ...

[US Marine Corps Major General Mike 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.” ...

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.”

Seymour M. Hersh, Annals of National Security: The General’s Report -- How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties, New Yorker, 6-25-07

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