[Mb-civic] Rumsfeld's dirty war on terror

ean at sbcglobal.net ean at sbcglobal.net
Thu Sep 16 13:26:49 PDT 2004

This is a rather long but pretty important article (actually an extract from his new 
book) by Seymour Hersh.  It traces how decisions by Donald Rumsfeld, endorsed by 
Bush, led to abuses at Abu Ghraib prison and war crimes by Americans...

Rumsfeld's dirty war on terror

The Guardian (UK) September 13, 2004

In an explosive extract from his new book, Seymour
Hersh reveals how, in a fateful decision that led to
the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, the US defence
secretary gave the green light to a secret unit
authorised to torture terrorist suspects


Part I

By Seymour Hersh

The Guardian In the late summer of 2002, a CIA analyst
made a quiet visit to the detention centre at the US
Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where an estimated
600 prisoners were being held, many, at first, in
steel-mesh cages that provided little protection from
the brutally hot sun. Most had been captured on the
battlefield in Afghanistan during the campaign against
the Taliban and al-Qaida.

The Bush administration had determined, however, that
they were not prisoners of war but "enemy combatants",
and that their stay at Guantanamo could be indefinite,
as teams of CIA, FBI, and military interrogators sought
to prise intelligence from them. In a series of secret
memorandums written earlier in the year, lawyers for
the White House, the Pentagon and the justice
department had agreed that the prisoners had no rights
under federal law or the Geneva convention. President
Bush endorsed the finding, while declaring that the al-
Qaida and Taliban detainees were nevertheless to be
treated in a manner consistent with the principles of
the Geneva convention - as long as such treatment was
also "consistent with military necessity".

But the interrogations at Guantanamo were a bust. Very
little useful intelligence had been gathered, while
prisoners from around the world continued to flow into
the base, and the facility constantly expanded. The CIA
analyst had been sent there to find out what was going
wrong. He was fluent in Arabic and familiar with the
Islamic world. He was held in high respect within the
agency, and was capable of reporting directly, if he
chose, to George Tenet, the CIA director. The analyst
did more than just visit and inspect. He interviewed at
least 30 prisoners to find out who they were and how
they ended up in Guantanamo. Some of his findings, he
later confided to a former CIA colleague, were

"He came back convinced that we were committing war
crimes in Guantanamo," the colleague told me. "Based on
his sample, more than half the people there didn't
belong there. He found people lying in their own
faeces," including two captives, perhaps in their 80s,
who were clearly suffering from dementia. "He thought
what was going on was an outrage," the CIA colleague
added. There was no rational system for determining who
was important.

Two former administration officials who read the
analyst's highly classified report told me that its
message was grim. According to a former White House
official, the analyst's disturbing conclusion was that
"if we captured some people who weren't terrorists when
we got them, they are now".

That autumn, the document rattled aimlessly around the
upper reaches of the Bush administration until it got
into the hands of General John A Gordon, the deputy
national security adviser for combating terrorism, who
reported directly to Condoleezza Rice, the national
security adviser and the president's confidante.
Gordon, who had retired from the military as a four-
star general in 2000 had served as a deputy director of
the CIA for three years. He was deeply troubled and
distressed by the report, and by its implications for
the treatment, in retaliation, of captured American
soldiers. Gordon, according to a former administration
official, told colleagues that he thought "it was
totally out of character with the American value
system", and "that if the actions at Guantanamo ever
became public, it'd be damaging to the president".

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, there had been
much debate inside the administration about what was
permissible in the treatment of prisoners and what was
not. The most suggestive document, in terms of what was
really going on inside military prisons and detention
centres, was written in early August 2002 by Jay S
Bybee, head of the justice department's office of legal
counsel. "Certain acts may be cruel, inhuman, or
degrading, but still not produce pain and suffering of
the requisite intensity to fall within [a legal]
proscription against torture," Bybee wrote to Alberto R
Gonzales, the White House counsel. "We conclude that
for an act to constitute torture, it must inflict pain
that is difficult to endure. Physical pain amounting to
torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain
accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ
failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death."
(Bush later nominated Bybee to be a federal judge.)

"We face an enemy that targets innocent civilians,"
Gonzales, in turn, would tell journalists two years
later, at the height of the furore over the abuse of
prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. "We face an
enemy that lies in the shadows, an enemy that doesn't
sign treaties."

Gonzales added that Bush bore no responsibility for the
wrongdoing. "The president has not authorised, ordered
or directed in any way any activity that would
transgress the standards of the torture conventions or
the torture statute, or other applicable laws,"
Gonzales said. In fact, a secret statement of the
president's views, which he signed on February 7, 2002
contained a loophole that applied worldwide: "I
determine that none of the provisions of Geneva apply
to our conflict with al-Qaida in Afghanistan or
elsewhere throughout the world," the president

John Gordon had to know what he was up against in
seeking a high-level review of prison policies at
Guantanamo, but he persevered. Finally, the former
White House official recalled, "We got it up to Condi."

As the CIA analyst's report was making its way to Rice,
in late 2002 there were a series of heated complaints
about the interrogation tactics at Guantanamo from
within the FBI, whose agents had been questioning
detainees in Cuba since the prison opened. A few of the
agents began telling their superiors what they had
witnessed, which, they believed, had little to do with
getting good information.

"I was told," a senior intelligence official recalled,
"that the military guards were slapping prisoners,
stripping them, pouring cold water over them, and
making them stand until they got hypothermia. The
agents were outraged. It was wrong and also
dysfunctional." The agents put their specific
complaints in writing, the official told me, and they
were relayed, in emails and phone calls, to officials
at the department of defence, including William J
Haynes II, the general counsel of the Pentagon. As far
as day-to-day life for prisoners at Guantanamo was
concerned, nothing came of it.

The unifying issue for General Gordon and his
supporters inside the administration was not the abuse
of prisoners at Guantanamo, the former White House
official told me: "It was about how many more people
are being held there that shouldn't be. Have we really
got the right people?" The briefing for Condoleezza
Rice about problems at Guantanamo took place in the
autumn of 2002. It did not dwell on the question of
torture or mistreatment. The main issue, the former
White House official told me, was simply, "Are we
getting any intelligence? What is the process for
sorting these people?"

Rice agreed to call a high-level meeting in the White
House situation room. Most significantly, she asked
Secretary Rumsfeld to attend. Rums feld, who was by
then publicly and privately encouraging his soldiers in
the field to get tough with captured prisoners, duly
showed up, but he had surprisingly little to say. One
participant in the meeting recalled that at one point
Rice asked Rumsfeld "what the issues were, and he said
he hadn't looked into it". Rice urged Rumsfeld to do
so, and added, "Let's get the story right." Rumsfeld
seemed to be in agreement, and Gordon and his
supporters left the meeting convinced, the former
administration official told me, that the Pentagon was
going to deal with the issue.

Nothing changed. "The Pentagon went into a full-court
stall," the former White House official recalled. "I
trusted in the goodness of man and thought we got
something to happen. I was naive enough to believe that
when a cabinet member" - he was referring to Rumsfeld -
"says he's going to take action, he will."

Over the next few months, as the White House began
planning for the coming war in Iraq, there were many
more discussions about the continuing problems at
Guantanamo and the lack of useful intelligence. No one
in the Bush administration would get far, however, if
he was viewed as soft on suspected al-Qaida terrorism.
"Why didn't Condi do more?" the official asked. "She
made the same mistake I made. She got the secretary of
defence to say he's going to take care of it."

There was, obviously, a difference between the reality
of prison life in Guantanamo and how it was depicted to
the public in carefully stage-managed news conferences
and statements released by the administration. American
prison authorities have repeatedly assured the press
and the public, for example, that the al-Qaida and
Taliban detainees were provided with a minimum of three
hours of recreation every week. For the tough cases,
however, according to a Pentagon adviser familiar with
detainee conditions in mid-2002, at recreation time
some prisoners would be strapped into heavy jackets,
similar to straitjackets, with their arms locked behind
them and their legs straddled by straps. Goggles were
placed over their eyes, and their heads were covered
with a hood. The prisoner was then led at midday into
what looked like a narrow fenced-in dog run - the
adviser told me that there were photographs of the
procedure - and given his hour of recreation. The
restraints forced him to move, if he chose to move, on
his knees, bent over at a 45-degree angle. Most
prisoners just sat and suffered in the heat.

One of the marines assigned to guard duty at Guantanamo
in 2003, who has since left the military, told me,
after being promised anonymity, that he and his
enlisted colleagues at the base were encouraged by
their squad leaders to "give the prisoners a visit"
once or twice a month, when there were no television
crews, journalists, or other outside visitors at the

"We tried to fuck with them as much as we could -
inflict a little bit of pain. We couldn't do much," for
fear of exposure, the former marine, who also served in
Afghanistan, told me.

"There were always newspeople there," he said. "That's
why you couldn't send them back with a broken leg or
so. And if somebody died, I'd get court-martialled."

The roughing up of prisoners was sometimes spur-of-the-
moment, the former marine said: "A squad leader would
say, 'Let's go - all the cameras on lunch break.'" One
pastime was to put hoods on the prisoners and "drive
them around the camp in a Humvee, making turns so they
didn't know where they were. [...] I wasn't trying to
get information. I was just having a little fun -
playing mind control." When I asked a senior FBI
official about the former marine's account, he told me
that agents assigned to interrogation duties at
Guantanamo had described similar activities to their

In November 2002, army Major General Geoffrey Miller
had relieved Generals Dunlavey and Baccus, unifying the
command at Guantanamo. Baccus was seen by the Pentagon
as soft - too worried about the prisoners' well-being.
In Senate hearings after Abu Ghraib, it became known
that Miller was permitted to use legally questionable
interrogation techniques at Guantanamo, which could
include, with approval, sleep deprivation, exposure to
extremes of cold and heat, and placing prisoners in
"stress positions" for agonising lengths of time.

In May 2004, the New York Times reported that the FBI
had instructed its agents to avoid being present at
interrogation sessions with suspected al-Qaida members.
The newspaper said the severe methods used to extract
information would be prohibited in criminal cases, and
therefore could compromise the agents in future legal
proceedings against the suspects. "We don't believe in
coercion," a senior FBI official subsequently told me.
"Our goal is to get information and we try to gain the
prisoners' trust. We have strong feelings about it."
The FBI official added, "I thought Rumsfeld should have
been fired long ago."

"They did it the wrong way," a Pentagon adviser on the
war on terror told me, "and took a heavy-handed
approach based on coercion, instead of persuasion -
which actually has a much better track record. It's
about rage and the need to strike back. It's evil, but
it's also stupid. It's not torture but acts of kindness
that lead to concessions. The persuasive approach takes
longer but gets far better results."

There was, we now know, a fantastical quality to the
earnest discussions inside the White House in 2002
about the good and bad of the interrogation process at
Guantanamo. Rice and Rumsfeld knew what many others
involved in the prisoner discussions did not - that
sometime in late 2001 or early 2002, the president had
signed a top-secret finding, as required by law,
authorising the defence department to set up a
specially recruited clandestine team of special forces
operatives and others who would defy diplomatic
niceties and international law and snatch - or
assassinate, if necessary - identified "high-value" al-
Qaida operatives anywhere in the world.

Equally secret interrogation centres would be set up in
allied countries where harsh treatments were meted out,
unconstrained by legal limits or public disclosure. The
programme was hidden inside the defence department as
an "unacknowledged" special-access programme (SAP),
whose operational details were known only to a few in
the Pentagon, the CIA and the White House.

The SAP owed its existence to Rumsfeld's desire to get
the US special forces community into the business of
what he called, in public and internal communications,
"manhunts", and to his disdain for the Pentagon's
senior generals. In the privacy of his office, Rumsfeld
chafed over what he saw as the reluctance of the
generals and admirals to act aggressively. Soon after
September 11, he repeatedly made public his disdain for
the Geneva convention. Complaints about the United
States' treatment of prisoners, Rumsfeld said, in early
2002, amounted to "isolated pockets of international

One of Rumsfeld's goals was bureaucratic: to give the
civilian leadership in the Pentagon, and not the CIA,
the lead in fighting terrorism. Throughout the
existence of the SAP, which eventually came to Abu
Ghraib prison, a former senior intelligence official
told me, "There was a periodic briefing to the National
Security Council [NSC] giving updates on results, but
not on the methods." Did the White House ask about the
process? The former officer said that he believed that
they did, and that "they got the answers".

By the time of Rumsfeld's meeting with Rice, his SAP
was in its third year of snatching or strong-arming
suspected terrorists and questioning them in secret
prison facilities in Singapore, Thailand and Pakistan,
among other sites. The White House was fighting terror
with terror.

On December 18 2001, American operatives participated
in what amounted to the kidnapping of two Egyptians,
Ahmed Agiza and Muhammed al-Zery, who had sought asylum
in Sweden. The Egyptians, believed by American
intelligence to be linked to Islamic militant groups,
were abruptly seized in the late afternoon and flown
out of Sweden a few hours later on a US government-
leased Gulfstream private jet to Cairo, where they
underwent extensive and brutal interrogation. "Both
were dirty," a former senior intelligence official, who
has extensive knowledge of special-access programmes,
told me, "but it was pretty blatant."

The seizure of Agiza and Zery attracted little
attention outside of Sweden, despite repeated
complaints by human-rights groups, until May 2004 when
a Swedish television news magazine revealed that the
Swedish government had cooperated after being assured
that the exiles would not be tortured or otherwise
harmed once they were sent to Egypt. Instead, according
to a television report, entitled The Broken Promise,
Agiza and Zery, in handcuffs and shackles, were driven
to the airport by Swedish and, according to one
witness, American agents and turned over at plane-side
to a group of Americans wearing plain clothes whose
faces were concealed. Once in Egypt, Agiza and Zery
have reported through Swedish diplomats, family members
and attorneys, that they were subjected to repeated
torture by electrical shocks distributed by electrodes
that were attached to the most sensitive parts of their
bodies. Egyptian authorities eventually concluded,
according to the documentary, that Zery had few ties to
ongoing terrorism, and he was released from jail in
October 2003, although he is still under surveillance.
Agiza was acknowledged by his attorneys to have been a
member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist group
outlawed in Egypt, and also was once close to Ayman al-
Zawahiri, who is outranked in al-Qaida only by Osama
bin Laden. In April 2004, he was sentenced to 25 years
in an Egyptian prison.

Rumsfeld's dirty war on terror (Part II)

Fredrik Laurin, a Swedish journalist who worked on The
Broken Promise, extensively researched the leased
Gulfstream jet that was used to take Zery and Agiza to
Cairo. Laurin told me that he was able to track the
aircraft to landings in Pakistan, Kuwait, Egypt,
Germany, England, Ireland Morocco, as well as the
Washington DC area. It also made visits to Guantanamo.
The company told Laurin that the plane was leased
almost exclusively to the US government. Significantly,
the records obtained by Laurin indicate that the
Gulfstream apparently halted its overseas trips from
May 5 2004 - the week after the Abu Ghraib scandal
broke - until July 7, when it flew from Dulles Airport
in suburban Washington to Cairo.

After the Abu Ghraib abuses were revealed, a former
senior intelligence official with direct information
about the SAP gave me an account of how and why the
top-secret programme had begun. As the American-led
hunt for al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden began to stall,
he said, it was clear that the American intelligence
operatives in the field were failing to get useful
intelligence in a timely manner. With the pressure
mounting, some information was being delivered via the
CIA by friendly liaison intelligence services - allies
of the United States in the Middle East and south-east
Asia - who were not afraid to get rough with prisoners.
The tough tactics appealed to Rumsfeld and his senior
civilian aides.

Rumsfeld then authorised the establishment of the
highly secret programme, which was given blanket
advance approval to kill or capture and, if possible,
interrogate high-value targets. The SAP - subject to
the defence department's most stringent level of
security - was set up, with an office in a secure area
of the Pentagon. The people assigned to the programme
recruited, after careful screening, highly trained
commandos and operatives from US elite forces - navy
seals, the army's delta force, and the CIA's
paramilitary experts.

"Rumsfeld's goal was to get a capability in place to
take on a high-value target - a stand-up group to hit
quickly," the former senior intelligence official told
me. The operation had across-the-board approval from
Rumsfeld and from Condoleezza Rice. Fewer than 200
operatives and officials, including Rumsfeld and
General Myers [Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of
Staff], were "completely read into the programme", the
former intelligence official said. "The rules are 'Grab
whom you must. Do what you want.'"

One Pentagon official who was deeply involved in the
programme was Stephen Cambone, the undersecretary of
defence for intelligence. Cambone had worked closely
with Rumsfeld in a number of Pentagon jobs since the
beginning of the administration, but this office, to
which he was named in March 2003, was new; it was
created as part of Rumsfeld's reorganisation of the
Pentagon. Known for his closeness to Rumsfeld, Cambone
was a strong advocate for war against Iraq. He chafed,
as did Rumsfeld, at the CIA's inability before the Iraq
war to state conclusively that Saddam Hussein harboured
weapons of mass destruction.

Early in his tenure, Cambone provoked a bureaucratic
battle within the Pentagon by insisting that he be
given control of all special-access programmes that
were relevant to the war on terror. In mid-2003, the
SAP was regarded, at least in the Pentagon, as one of
the success stories of the war on terror.

"It was an active programme," the former senior
intelligence official told me. "As this monster begins
to take life, there's joy in the world. The monster is
doing well - real well" - at least from the perspective
of those involved who, according to the former officer,
began to see themselves as "masters of the universe in
terms of intelligence".

I was initially told of the SAP's existence by members
of the intelligence community who were troubled by the
programme's prima facie violation of the Geneva
convention; their concern was that such activities, if
exposed, would eviscerate the moral standing of the
United States and expose American soldiers to
retaliation. In May 2004, a ranking member of Congress
confirmed its existence and further told me that
President Bush had signed the mandated finding
officially notifying Congress of the SAP.

The legislator added that he had none the less been
told very little about the programme. Only a few
members of the House and Senate leadership were
authorised by statute to be informed of it, and, even
then, the legislators were provided with little more
than basic budget information. It's not clear that the
Senate and House members understood that the United
States was poised to enter the business of
"disappearing" people.

The Pentagon may have judged the SAP a success, but by
August 2003, the war in Iraq was going badly and there
was, once again, little significant intelligence being
generated in the many prisons in Iraq. The president
and his national security team turned for guidance to
General Miller, the "Gitmo" [Guantanamo] commander.
Recounting that decision, one of the White House
officials who had supported General Gordon's ill-fated
effort to change prisoner policy asked me,
rhetorically, "Why do I take a failed approach at
Guantanamo and move it to Iraq?"

By the autumn of 2003, a military analyst told me, the
extent of the Pentagon's political and military
misjudgments in Iraq was clear. The solution, endorsed
by Rumsfeld and carried out by Cambone, was to get
tough with the Iraqi men and women in detention - to
treat them behind prison walls as if they had been
captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan. General
Miller was summoned to Baghdad in late August to review
prison interrogation procedures.

Rumsfeld and Cambone went a step beyond "Gitmoizing",
however: they expanded the scope of the SAP, bringing
its unconventional methods to Abu Ghraib. The commandos
were to operate in Iraq as they had in Afghanistan. The
male prisoners could be treated roughly and exposed to
sexual humiliation.

"They weren't getting anything substantive from the
detainees in Iraq," the former intelligence official
told me. "No names. Nothing that they could hang their
hat on. Cambone says, I've got to crack this thing and
I'm tired of working through the normal chain of
command. I've got this apparatus set up - the black
special-access programme - and I'm going in hot.

"So he pulls the switch, and the electricity begins
flowing last summer. And it's working. We're getting a
picture of the insurgency in Iraq and the intelligence
is flowing into the white world. We're getting good

Cambone then made another crucial decision, the former
intelligence official told me: not only would he bring
the SAP's rules into the prisons, he would bring some
of the army military intelligence officers working
inside the Iraqi prisons under the SAP's auspices.

"So here are fundamentally good soldiers - military
intelligence guys - being told that no rules apply,"
the former official said.

In a separate interview, a Pentagon consultant, who
spent much of his career directly involved with
special-access programmes, spread the blame. "The White
House subcontracted this to the Pentagon, and the
Pentagon subcontracted it to Cambone," he said. "This
is Cambone's deal, but Rumsfeld and Myers approved the
programme." When it came to the interrogation operation
at Abu Ghraib, he said, Rumsfeld left the details to
Cambone. Rumsfeld may not be personally culpable, the
consultant added, "but he's responsible for the checks
and balances. The issue is that, since 9/11 we've
changed the rules on how we deal with terrorism and
created conditions where the ends justify the means."

According to interviews with several past and present
American intelligence officials, the Pentagon's
operation - aspects of which were known inside the
intelligence community by several code words, including
Copper Green - encouraged physical coercion and sexual
humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate
more intelligence about the insurgency. A senior CIA
official confirmed the details of this account and said
that the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld's long-
standing desire to wrest control of clandestine and
paramilitary operations from the CIA.

Who was in charge of Abu Ghraib - whether military
police or military intelligence - was no longer the
only question that mattered. Hard-core special
operatives, some of them with aliases, were working in
the prison. The military police assigned to guard the
prisoners wore uniforms, but many others - military
intelligence officers, contract interpreters, CIA
officers, and the men from the SAP - wore civilian
clothes. It was not clear who was who, even to General
Karpinski, then the commander of the 800 military
police brigade. "I thought most of the civilians there
were interpreters, but there were some civilians that I
didn't know," Karpinski told me. "I called them the
disappearing ghosts. I'd seen them once in a while at
Abu Ghraib and then I'd see them months later." The
mysterious civilians, she said, were "always bringing
in somebody for interrogation or waiting to collect
somebody going out". Karpinski added that she had no
idea who was operating in her prison system.

Military intelligence personnel assigned to Abu Ghraib
repeatedly wore "sterile", or unmarked, uniforms or
civilian clothes while on duty. "You couldn't tell them
apart," a source familiar with the investigation said.
The blurring of identities and organisations meant that
it was impossible for the prisoners, or, significantly,
the military policemen on duty, to know who was doing
what to whom and who had the authority to give orders.

By last autumn, according to the former intelligence
official, the senior leadership of the CIA had had
enough. "They said, 'No way. We signed up for the core
programme in Afghanistan - pre-approved for operations
against high-value terrorist targets. And now you want
to use it for cab drivers, brothers-in-law, and people
pulled off the streets.'" The CIA balked, the former
intelligence official said: "The agency checks with
their lawyers and pulls out," ending those of its
activities in Abu Ghraib that related to the SAP. (In a
later conversation, a senior CIA official confirmed
this account.)

The CIA's complaints were echoed throughout the
intelligence community. There was fear the situation at
Abu Ghraib would lead to the exposure of the secret
SAP, and thereby bring an end to what had been, before
Iraq, a valued covert operation. "This was stupidity,"
a government consultant told me. "You're taking a
programme that was operating in the chaos of
Afghanistan against al-Qaida, a stateless terror group,
and bringing it into a structured, traditional war
zone. Sooner or later, the commandos would bump into
the legal and moral procedures of a conventional war
with an army of 135,000 soldiers."

In mid 2003, Rumsfeld's apparent disregard for the
requirements of the Geneva convention while carrying
out the war on terror had led a group of senior
military legal officers from the Judge Advocate
General's (JAG) Corps to pay two surprise visits within
five months to Scott Horton, who was then chairman of
the New York City Bar Association's Committee on
International Human Rights. "They wanted us to
challenge the Bush administration about its standards
for detentions and interrogation," Horton told me in
May 2004. "They were urging us to get involved and
speak in a very loud voice. [ ... ] The message was
that conditions are ripe for abuse, and it's going to
occur." The military officials were most alarmed about
the growing use of civilian contractors in the
interrogation process, Horton recalled. The JAG
officers told him that, with the war on terror, a 50-
year history of exemplary application of the Geneva
convention had come to an end.

In July 2004, I again spoke to Scott Horton, who has
maintained contact with a network of JAG lawyers. He
told me that Rumsfeld and his civilian deputies had
pressured the army to conclude the pending
investigations by late August, before the Republican
convention in New York. Horton added that the politics
were blatant.

Pentagon investigations, he said, "have a reputation
for tending to whitewash, but even taking this into
account, the current investigations seem to be setting
new standards". Rumsfeld's office had circumscribed the
investigators' charge and also placed tight controls on
the documents to be made available. In other words,
Horton said, "Rumsfeld has completely rigged the
investigations. My friends say we should expect
something much akin to the army inspector general's
report - 'just a few rotten apples'."

But General Taguba's highly critical internal
investigation into military prisons in Iraq - which,
together with the shocking photographs of prisoner
abuse, sparked the Abu Ghraib scandal in April -
amounted to an unsparing study of collective wrongdoing
and the failure of army leadership at the highest
levels. The picture Taguba drew of Abu Ghraib was one
in which army regulations and the Geneva convention
were routinely violated, and in which much of the day-
to-day management of the prisoners was abdicated to
army military intelligence units and civilian contract

Rumsfeld's most fateful decision, endorsed by the White
House, came at a time of crisis in August 2003 when the
defence secretary expanded the highly secret SAP into
the prisons of Iraq. The roots of the Abu Ghraib
scandal therefore lie not in the criminal inclinations
of a few army reservists, but in the reliance of George
Bush and Donald Rumsfeld on secret operations and the
use of coercion - and eye-for-an-eye retribution - in
fighting terrorism. ____

. This is an edited extract from Chain of Command: The
Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, by Seymour M Hersh,
published today by Penguin Press. To order a copy for
#15.99 plus UK p&p (rrp #17.99), call the Guardian Book
Service on 0870 836 0875

Guardian Unlimited (c) Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

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want to be on our list, send an email to ean at sbcglobal.net and tell us which 
option you'd like.

Action is the antidote to despair.  ----Joan Baez
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