Morning Report 1/10/05
Abu Ghraib: The Naked Truth
Laying bare the documents underlying the Graner abuse trial
Thanks to Abu Ghraib's own soldiers, there's plenty of photographic evidence that Specialist Chuck Graner, whose court-martial starts today, is a creep.
Even worse than Randy Moss? Yes, America. Even worse than that dastardly Minnesota Vikings football player who simulated mooning the crowd after he scored a touchdown yesterday in an NFL playoff game. Sportscasters and decent folk all across our great land excoriated Moss for pretending to drop trou. He insulted our game, we're told.
Meanwhile, our procedure at Abu Ghraib, aside from terrorizing prisoners, was to strip any and all of them, whether or not they had "intelligence value." That game is an insult to our rule of law.
Our standard operating procedure was to keep these Iraqis naked or nearly naked and, at the drop of a hat, force them to strip all the way down. Graner's fellow soldier Jeremy Sivits has testified that the moronic Graner played around with naked Iraqi prisoners, stacking them into pyramids.
Even his play toy, fellow soldier Lynndie England, has told investigators that Graner slammed prisoners into walls and, like a hillbilly Cecil B. DeMille, directed her to put a dog leash on a naked prisoner and smile for the cameras.
Is Chuck Graner ready for his closeup? Who cares? But are we ready? That's the question.
His lawyers will argue that he was following orders. The Pentagon insists that the Abu Ghraib soldiers were just rogues, that the abuses were aberrations.
I'll say it again—and read the documents if you don't believe me: The standard practice at Abu Ghraib was to keep the prisoners naked—despite the fact that very few of the prisoners were thought to have any intelligence value (see below).
Thousands of page of reports, depositions, interviews, and other material speak directly about these and other systematic, ingrained abuses. What a disaster that place was, and it started somewhere very near the top—not in Iraq but in D.C.
Go to the Center for Public Integrity's staggering collection, The Abu Ghraib Supplementary Documents, and pick a page. How about the testimony of bigwig Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan, the head of the government's Joint Interrogation and Detention Center at Abu G?
During grilling by Major General Antonio Taguba in February 2004 (before any abuse photos reached the public), Jordan denied seeing any abuse at all—a contention contradicted by other witnesses.
However, there's no question that Jordan saw a hell of lot of naked or nearly naked Iraqi prisoners, because the Taguba report strongly indicates that this was apparently the policy—not Chuck Graner's policy, but the standard operating procedure there, even in the winter at the chilly old prison.
In fact, Jordan claimed that he met resistance from interrogators when he wanted to put clothes on the prisoners before the Red Cross saw them. Here's an excerpt from page 93 of Taguba's interview of Jordan:
Taguba: You've never seen anybody walking around naked or at least raise any curiosity of—in your infrequent checks of seeing a detainee naked in his or her cell. You never saw any of that?
Jordan: Sir, I never saw any female detainees unclothed.
Taguba: What about male?
Jordan: Sir, I had seen, at times, male detainees that didn't have all their clothing—you know, had shorts on, or what have you. I never saw any detainee totally naked.
Taguba: When was that? I mean, you see folks without their clothing in the dead of winter—
Jordan: No, sir, I'm not saying—I'm talking September, October time frame.
Taguba: I'm talking after—
Jordan: Sir, I never saw anybody—
Taguba: Not at all?
Jordan: Never, never. I did get report from the International Red Cross that they wanted to—what do I want to say—chat with detainees, but they had female Red Cross personnel and they could not chat with detainees that were naked. And they mentioned this in front of me and Colonel Phillabaum and I said, "I'm not aware of anything that prohibits clothing a detainee to talk to somebody from the International Red Cross." And again, sir, I met with some resistance from the 519th element [military intelligence] of like, Colonel Jordan you're a tree hugger or—I'm like—look, you want to talk to the International Red Cross if the removal of clothing is part of the interrogation plan for the compel them to be a little more compelling with information, I see no harm in somebody putting on their orange jump suit or something and talking to the International Red Cross. And I said, "We had allegations of detainee supposedly being electrocuted—this by the International Red Cross, I never saw the report, but this is what Colonel [Thomas] Pappas told me, underwear on their heads, being made to dance."
Yeah, well, I've danced with underwear on my head, but it's not my standard policy to force others to do so.
Now what Don Rumsfeld likes, I don't know—for that answer, I always consult my colleague Ward Sutton.
But here's more of the Jordan interrogation (from page 111) that indicates the Pentagon and White House (through the CIA) knew what the hell was going on as a matter of policy at Abu Ghraib:
Taguba: Okay. So you felt that there was a pressure to get information going and get this suckers going and—
Jordan: Sir, I'm gonna give you a couple instances where I feel that there was additional pressure.
Jordan: One is that we had a White House staff visit from a representative on Condoleezza Rice's staff purely on detainee operations and reporting. And we also had a fact-finding visit by a retired colonel by the name of Harrington, and a couple folks from UCOM and I think CENTCOM that came down—
Taguba: Did somebody include—did that somebody else also include Major General Miller from Task Force GITMO?
Jordan: Sir, I think he was there before my time.
Taguba: Do you remember Major General Rider who came there?
Jordan: Oh yes, sir. I remember his visit distinctly, yes sir.
Taguba: All right, so there was pressure to get—were involved in any of the discussions?
Jordan: Sir, I was just told a couple of times by Colonel Pappas that some of the reporting was getting read by Rumsfeld, folks out at Langley, some very senior folks.
What were they reading? What were they looking at? Anything besides naked Iraqis?
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