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Gen Taguba Unveils Abu Ghraib, US Gulag
- The abused are only Iraqis !
|by K. Gajendra Singh|
Recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world : Preamble, Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service. And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values." ï¿½ US Gen Antonio Taguba.
A senior US General in Iraq to Gen Taguba --" the abused detainees were 'only Iraqis.'"
"US Soldier Sodomized Female Iraqi Detainee". Former British Ambassador Craig Murray's blog headline.
" ï¿½ 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. I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable." ï¿½ Gen Taguba
"It must always be remembered that whatever is happening in Iraq is the responsibility of US which led the illegal invasion of Iraq and continues forced occupation against the will of its people, acquiesced in by an impotent and dying United Nations under Sec Gen ï¿½What is his name !" ï¿½ Author
Seymour Hersh , the well known US investigative journalist has done it again ï¿½methodically chipping away at United State administration's blatant lies and spins to further unveil the torture and abuse of Iraqis at US created 'Gulag' at Abu Ghraib and US Administrations effort to muzzle an honest US voice.
In an interview with Hersh in New Yorker, Major General Antonio Taguba who led the first military investigation in 2004 into human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq has bluntly questioned the integrity of former US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, suggesting he misled the US Congress by downplaying his own prior knowledge of what had happened. Gen Taguba also claimed in the interview that President George Bush also "had to be aware" of the atrocities despite saying at the time of the scandal that he had been out of the loop until he saw images in the US media.
As usual the White House denied it and ï¿½ "the President said over three years ago that he first saw the pictures of the abuse on the television," added Scott Stanzel, a spokesman.
There has been little reaction in US main line media i.e. corporate controlled 'be the first' purveyors of spins and lies. Or among honorable members of the US Congress who had sanctioned the illegal invasion of Iraq opening up the gates of hell on hapless Iraqis. As if the well documented US ugliness belongs to some one else. Even the US electorate's demand last November to bring back US troops home from Iraq has been totally ignored. Some government of the people this!
Such things were to be expected after an invasion launched to grab Iraqi oil. The men should be impeached and tried for misleading the world and the American people. The naked ugly truth is being slowly but relentlessly being exposed. Libby's conviction, illegal doings of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and a Vice President who even claims immunity from the law of the land. Verily USA has created a lawless jungle abroad and at home too.
The New Yorker interview has only amplified what was partially known. Gen Taguba, who investigated Abu Ghraib, confirms details of the abuse not previously known thus publicly giving them official authority. It also confirms that the torture was sanctioned from the top.
Not part of the interview, but General Janis Karpinski has testified that she saw a memorandum on "Interrogation techniques" pinned to the wall by military intelligence at Abu Ghraib, signed by Defence Secretary Rumsfeld himself. Karpinski was at the top of the line of command of the guards - the military police - but not the interrogators. Doubtless more of the details of the war crimes at Abu Ghraib, and of extraordinary rendition and Guantanamo, will continue to emerge in the next few months as the war party in Washington becomes totally discredited.
Sexual aggression is not really about sex or gender, but about power: The powerful humiliating the powerless
The General's 53-page report, first written in February 2004, had found Iraqi detainees in a cellblock of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad subjected to "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" at the hands of their U.S. jailers. The abuses included sodomizing of prisoners, pouring cold water and chemicals on naked bodies, threatening detainees with rape and dog attacks, hitting them with chairs and broomsticks and locking them in isolation without food, water or a toilet for three days. The report also found a virtual collapse of the command structure in Abu Ghraib with Army reservists being urged by military intelligence and CIA employees to "set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses."
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Richard Myers had then denied the contents to the media but gave conflicting answers. And when pressed, he acknowledged that he had not even read the report.
Gen Taguba noted that Rumsfeld not only denied advance knowledge, but even denied afterwards having seen Taguba's report or knowing what had happened. Rumsfeld testified before Congress that he had no idea of the extent of the abuse.
"He's trying to acquit himself and a lot of people who are lying to protect themselves," the magazine quoted Taguba as saying, referring to Rumsfeld's May 7, 2004 testimony in the Congress.
Taguba affirmed, "There was no doubt in my mind that this stuff"ï¿½the explicit imagesï¿½"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 in the Congress what he (Rumsfeld) knew about Abu Ghraib had failed the nation.
The photographs that became public at the time of enquiry and created worldwide reprehension, revulsion and condemnation - showed US jailers humiliating inmates who were naked, hooded, on leashes or piled into a human pyramid.
Gen Taguba said that other material not yet public or mentioned in trials included a video showing "a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee". The first wave of images also included images of sexual humiliation between a father and his son.
Gen Taguba also added he was ordered to limit his inquiry into the conduct of military police at the jail even as he became convinced they had a green light from higher up. "Somebody was giving them guidance but I was legally prevented from further investigation into higher authority. I was limited to a box." He declares, "Even today ... those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable."
Gen Taguba was victimized for doing his duty as he was subsequently forced to retire early. His conclusion was that he was being punished for honest investigation. "They always shoot the messenger," Gen Taguba told Seymour Hersh. "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." And he did that as an honest and upright officer and as a decent human being.
The politicians in the Congress could not care less. A Quinnipiac University poll this month found Congress with an approval rating of just 23 percent. "People voted for change. But they don't think they got it," said Peter Brown, an assistant director of the poll. A Gallup poll last month had put Congress's approval rating at 29 percent. The number had fallen to 21 percent last December, just when Republicans were sent packing by the electorate.
Some extracts from the New Yorker interview;
"Here . . . comes . . . that famous General Tagubaï¿½of the Taguba report!" Rumsfeld declared, in a mocking voice. The meeting was attended by Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's deputy; Stephen Cambone, the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence; General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ( J.C.S.); and General Peter Schoomaker, the Army chief of staff, along with Craddock and other officials. Taguba, describing the moment nearly three years later, said, sadly, "I thought they wanted to know. I assumed they wanted to know. I was ignorant of the setting."
In the meeting, the officials professed ignorance about Abu Ghraib. "Could you tell us what happened?" Wolfowitz asked. Someone else asked, "Is it abuse or torture?" At that point, Taguba recalled, "I described a naked detainee lying on the wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator shoving things up his rectum, and said, 'That's not abuse. That's torture.' There was quiet." Rumsfeld was particularly concerned about how the classified report had become public. "General," he asked, "who do you think leaked the report?" Taguba responded that perhaps a senior military leader who knew about the investigation had done so. "It was just my speculation," he recalled. "Rumsfeld didn't say anything."
Rumsfeld also complained about not being given the information he needed. "Here I am," Taguba recalled Rumsfeld saying, "just a Secretary of Defense, and we have not seen a copy of your report. I have not seen the photographs, and I have to testify to Congress tomorrow and talk about this." As Rumsfeld spoke, Taguba said, "He's looking at me. It was a statement."
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. (Schoomaker later sent Taguba a note praising his honesty and leadership.)
When Taguba urged one lieutenant general to look at the photographs, he rebuffed him, saying, "I don't want to get involved by looking, because what do you do with that information, once you know what they show?"
On January 20th, the chief of staff at Central Command sent another e-mail to Admiral Keating, copied to General Craddock and Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the Army commander in Iraq. The chief of staff wrote, "Sir: update on alleged detainee abuse per our discussion. DID IT REALLY HAPPEN? Yes, currently have 4 confessions implicating perhaps 10 soldiers. DO PHOTOS EXIST? Yes. A CD with approx 100 photos and a videoï¿½CID has these in their possession."
In subsequent testimony, General Myers, the J.C.S. chairman, acknowledged, without mentioning the e-mails, that in January information about the photographs had been given "to me and the Secretary up through the chain of command. . . . And the general nature of the photos, about nudity, some mock sexual acts and other abuse, was described."
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. "It breaks our hearts that in fact someone didn't say, 'Wait, look, this is terrible. We need to do something,' " Rumsfeld told the congressmen. "I wish we had known more, sooner, and been able to tell you more sooner, but we didn't."
Rumsfeld told the legislators that, when stories about the Taguba report appeared, "it was not yet in the Pentagon, to my knowledge." As for the photographs, Rumsfeld told the senators, "I say no one in the Pentagon had seen them"; at the House hearing, he said, "I didn't see them until last night at 7:30," when asked specifically when he had been made aware of the photographs.
US Army ï¿½ A veritable Mafia
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."
A former high-level Defense Department official said that, when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, Senator John Warner, then the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, was warned "to back off" on the investigation, because "it would spill over to more important things." A spokesman for Warner acknowledged that there had been pressure on the Senator, but said that Warner had stood up to it ï¿½ insisting on putting Rumsfeld under oath for his May 7th testimony, for example, to the Secretary's great displeasure.
Richard Armitage, a former Navy counter-insurgency officer who served as Deputy Secretary of State in the first Bush term, recalled meeting Taguba, then a lieutenant colonel, in South Korea in the early nineteen-nineties. "I was told to keep an eye on this young guyï¿½'He's going to be a general,' " Armitage said. "Taguba was discreet and low keyï¿½not a sprinter but a marathoner."
General Taguba is a slight man with a friendly demeanor and an unfailingly polite correctness. "I came from a poor family and had to work hard," he said. "It was always shine the shoes on Saturday morning for church, and wash the car on Saturday for church. And Saturday also for mowing the lawn and doing yard jobs for church."
The Perfidious Brits are equally guilty in Iraq
The Brits too are very much in the business of torture. The reserve stiff upper lip keeps the ugliness under covers but too much has happened and the world has seen enough.
Robert Fisk of The Independent who "had seen British military brutality in Northern Ireland had hopes that things might have improved but the heart wrenching case of Baha Mousa, who died of abuse and torture, proved that the dark, sinister ways employed by the British in the Irish conflict have continued. He concluded that something had gone terribly wrong in the British Army in southern Iraq.
British Playing football with human beings
Fisk went to see Kifah Taha, who was beaten so badly by British troops in the presence of Baha Mousa with terrible wounds in the groin. Baha Mousa, son of a policeman Daoud Mousa in Basra, British area of occupation died from the brutal injuries he received in British custody, was a young, decent man who worked as a receptionist in a Basra hotel. Daoud Mousa and others will carry the grief of their son's killings or rapes of their daughters with them for ever.
Fisk was told how "the soldiers would call their Iraqi prisoners by the names of football stars - Beckham was one name they used - before kicking them around the detention headquarters in Basra. There were stories of Iraqi prisoners being forced to kneel on sharp stones, of being kicked and punched in the groin, the kidneys, the back, shoulders, forced to sit with their heads down lavatory holes."
There's an old rule of thumb applied to armies in the field said Fisk. "If you find out about one abuse, you can bet there were a hundred others that will never be revealed. New stories of "forced disappearances", hostage-taking and torture in British custody are emerging from Basra. US troops are still being questioned about unlawful killings and torture in Iraq. If one girl is raped and murdered and her family slaughtered by a US unit south of Baghdad - all of which is true - how many others have died in circumstances we shall never discover?", added Fisk.
But there would be blow back too. Accounts would be settled.
American detainees in Iran
For Americans, it would be a surprise to see the word "detainee" suddenly appear in a different country, in a different context, this time to a group of Americans. After all, "detainee" is the word the Bush administration coined to deal with suspected terrorist captives who, they argued, should be subjected to extra-legal treatment as part of the Global War on Terrorism. As feared the terminology is, being turned against American citizens under detention in Iran now.
The Iranian government currently holds in custody Haleh Esfandiari, Kian Tajbakhsh, Parnaz Azima, and Ali Shakeri, Iranian-American scholars and activists accused of being spies and/or employees of the U.S. government intent on fomenting dissent and disruption within Iran. (A fifth American, Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent engaged in business of an unknown nature in Iran, disappeared on March 8th) The four are reportedly behind bars at Tehran's notorious Evin prison, meant for political prisoners including human rights activists. The Americans had abducted 6 Iranian diplomats in Kurdistan from the Irbil Consulate arousing much anger and dismay in the Kurdish regional government.
Anyway who carries out US overt and covert policies of regime change inside Iran, for which the Congress regularly apportions many tens of millions of US dollars.
Sexual sadism of Western culture ï¿½ In peace and war
At the time of hearings in May 2004, Katharine Viner wrote in 'The Guardian' about 'The sexual sadism of our culture, in peace and in war" She had received some horrific photographs from Iraq, depicting " the sexual abuse of women by US servicemen. On some, chadors were hitched up over the women's heads. On others, the women were naked while they were raped by groups of men. ... They make you sick to your stomach. And they look strangely familiar - like the XXX films in hotel rooms, like those "live rape!" emails sent to internet users, like porn.
" ... We know that such images exist, because a US government report confirmed it. And we know that Iraqi women are being raped throughout the country, because both Amal Kadham Swadi, the Iraqi lawyer, and the US's own internal inquiry say that abuse is systemic and widespread. We also know this because all wars feature the abuse of women as a byproduct, or as a weapon. The ancient Greeks considered rape socially acceptable; the Crusaders raped their way to Constantinople; the English invaders raped Scottish women on Culloden Moor. The first world war, the second world war, Bosnia, Bangladesh, Vietnam - where the gang rape and murder of a peasant woman by US soldiers was photographed in stages by one if its participants.
"The poses, the large numbers of men to one woman, the violence - they have all the hallmarks of contemporary porn. Indeed, there is suspicion that the photos are part of a gruesome new trend. There's a difference, of course, between the making of pornography for money and the photographing of pornographic poses as war trophies: the consent of the woman involved? But to the consumer of these images, there's no way of knowing if there's been consent or not. They look the same."
In February, 2004 US soldiers were accused of raping more than 112 colleagues in Iraq and Afghanistan --- seem to have to prove that they are one of the guys by sexually humiliating the only people less important than they are: Iraqi prisoners, of whatever sex. It's a chilling lesson, that women can be sexual sadists just as well as men. Just give them the right conditions - and someone weaker to kick. It's proof that sexual aggression is not really about sex or gender, but about power: the powerful humiliating the powerless?
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, 19th cent German philosopher, inspired by Plato's Utopia aka Republic, in turn inspired the evil genius and 20th Cent political philosopher Leo Strauss, at whose feet sat the still influential Neo-Cons and Zeo-cons, stated that Christian love and piety was an outcome of fear. The fear of the strongly built neighbor or the fear of a criminal from a policeman.
Nietzsche believed that it was not possible that a man could genuinely feel universal love, perhaps because of his self-created halo of a 'noble' man. That was perhaps meant for two combatants or knights matching their valor on level ground, not like F-16 bombers against kids armed with slingshots or rudimentary guns.
Many in the West are not even ashamed describing the US "victory" over Iraq in 2003 an example of military valor when US defence expenditure was $ 450 billion vs Iraq's 2.5 billion after US-UK implemented sanctions had decayed Iraqi defences.The sanctions also killed half a million children of malnutrition according to UN reports.
Kemal Ataturk, the great strategician, would have laughed his head off at this spurious claim. Even Montgomery who believed that 4 to one superiority was enough when attacking. Only ignoble deeds by ignoble men shine in the US led West. The so called western 'noble' is now likely to be a poor American from rural areas, a high tech brute ensconced in his armor afraid to come out of his humvee against motivated bombers with just their body to sacrifice against all odds. Would Nietzsche have called the bombers 'noble'!
The noble martial combat was over after the second siege of Vienna in late 16th century, when high-tech killing started taking over from Janissaries valor. The final result now is the complete take over of the US by consumerist Military Industry complex, which gobbles up as much in 'defence ' expenditure as the rest of the world put together, of which the generals and soldiers are consumers paid for by the people of America and now of the world with an iniquitous economic order wherein US just prints greenbacks. US power has morphed into world financed-techno-barbarian brute.
In his book on what Bertrand Russell calls History of Western Philosophy (West has generally produced linear thought, its real philosophers are ridiculed) he quotes from Shakespeare's King Lear, on the verge of madness
(Exactly what the top US leadership has achieved in Iraq and threatens doing more of the same.)
This is Nietzsche's philosophy in nutshell. Donald Rumsfeld's unknown unknowns or Bush's all options including tactical weapons when there is no danger of an Iranian nuke in near future. No wonder a worried and wizened El bardai in Vienna called for a control on 'crazies 'in USA.
Russell says there are two sorts of saints, saints by nature and saints by fear. The first have spontaneous love of mankind. Because to do so gives him happiness and the second, a frightened man afraid of fear. (Western leaders like Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair would fit the bill).
It is existential fear of Jesus Christ's saying turned devilshly on its head. Do not do unto others what you would not like done unto you. The fear what Iran would do after 5 years or ten years! What Iraqis would do? Would Assassins emerge from the Middle East and Asia or Muslim citizens in Europe and Black Muslims in USA? What north Korea with nukes and missiles threatened to do to stop a menacing US. Humans and the world has now been reduced by USA to lawless jungle.
Leo Strauss was an admirer of the British Empire and Winston Churchill as an example of the will-driven statesman. Recent Churchill admirers are; the extinguished poodle Tony Blair and lame duck George Bush. After being part of killing of over 666,000 Iraqis Blair said history will judge him. He has been judged and the Brits would pay the price. If the Brits could not remove Blair early enough, then why blame poor Iraqis for not removing late President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, and why whom, now faced with acute security deficit and instability Iraqis miss, even Shias. And perhaps in their hearts the Americans too. Certainly before March 2003 USA was a hyper power, a phrase rarely used now for a degenerated ogre.
The use of deception and manipulation in current US policies flow directly from the doctrines of the Leo Strauss (1899-1973). His disciples including Paul Wolfowitz and other Neo-conservatives who have driven much of the political agenda of the Bush administration. Wolfowitz, acknowledged that the evidence used to justify the war was "murky" and added that weapons of mass destruction weren't the crucial issue anyway. Grabbing Iraqi oil for nothing was! He had told US Congress that Iraq's development would be financed by Iraq oil revenues (which US is trying to gift to US multinationals). Paul also tried to finance his love nest from the World Bank funds and refused to resign when caught with his hand in the till or wherever it should not have been.
Another Neo-Con Douglas Feith recently told one Wolf Blitzer (the kind of kid glove questions he poses, he could do with some media tutorials) on CNN, that US was justified in attacking Iraq over WMDs etc even if the US allegations proved to be untrue. Now listen, Feith added that last year if he had no car accident did not mean that he should not take out car insurance this year. So "operation Iraqi freedom" was an insurance policy! Some Straussian reasoning. On mere suspicions one could attack another country. Suppose some one is reading a book on fundamentals of nuclear Physics. Attack his country according to Straussian or Feith logic. Even Taimur lung, in those lawless days, attacked only if sure of a threat building up, not on suspicions alone. Wolf the Blitzer was so easily convinced. These are West's top journalists!
In Plato's Republic the citizens are divided into three classes, the common people, the soldiers and guardians. Only the last have political power and naturally are smaller in number (Three percent of US population). For the first time the guardians can be elected by the legislators or voters, then it becomes hereditary (In India it is now well established ï¿½ once elected then family dynasties are established. Indians also want dynastic succession for jobs) In USA the corporate masters, ideologues and hangers on are the guardians. Without a draft now, cannon fodder or soldiers are mostly composed of young men from poor and rural communities, almost without even protective gear as some had complained to Rumsfeld in Iraq. The common people are the rest of US population, Hispanics, the Blacks and other poor folks who continue to live in Katrina ravaged areas. And the rest of the world.
Curiously it was the Ottoman devshirme (slave household) system which approximated to the Plato's Utopia.The Sultans recruited non Muslim and hence Christian youths from the empire and beyond extending up to the gates of Vienna, aged between 12 to 18 years, circumcised them and brought them up as strict Muslims and gave them the best of the education. The most meritorious, (Indian Foreign and Civil Services in old days), worked in the Sultan's Topkapi Palace and were later appointed to the highest posts e.g. grand viziers (70% were slaves), military commanders and governors etc .The rest formed the shock elite corps of Janissaries -terror of Christian Europe. The system started collapsing once the merit system began leaking and Janissaries even maintained contacts with their families and their children started getting into devshirme system (Dynasty in jobs ). The Janissaries soon became the terror of the Sultans and deposed and even killed some of them. The Ottoman empire which had lasted for six hundred years declined and fell.
Did the US system reach its zenith of power and now lie exposed an abyss of cheating, chicanery, corruption, hypocrisy and total lawlessness.
The current direction of US led Western civilization, if you can call it so, is hurtling along retrograde evolution of human animal; away from the divine and spiritual moorings and identity as all religions discovered intuitively over millennia to a world of heedless and headless consumerism like an unerring laser towards self-destruction, Nuclear bombs and cold nights or climate catastrophes and apocalypse.
K Gajendra Singh, served as Indian ambassador to Turkey , Azerbaijan, Jordan, Romania and Senegal. He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies. Copy right with the author. E-mail: Gajendrak@hotmail.com
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