In a New Yorker article today, Seymour Hersh interviews Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba, who led the Pentagon’s investigation into the abuses at Abu Ghraib. This article is the first time that Taguba has publicly spoken out about the scandal, revealing that the Pentagon forced him to retire early because of his aggressive pursuit of the issue.
Taguba also reveals that he believed high-level military officials, including Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, knew about the abuses but feigned ignorance, putting all the blame on low-level soldiers. Key highlights:
Taguba was threatened by Gen. John Abizaid:
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 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.“
White House “didn’t think the photographs were that bad”:
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.’”
Taguba was demoted and eventually forced to retire because of his investigation: Read more