Friday, May 14, 2004

What Took So Long?

The U.S. military is finally proscribing the use in Iraqi prisons of interrogation and detention practices that violate the Geneva Conventions, more than five months after being warned by the International Red Cross of the abuses, and more than two months after being warned in Gen. Taguba's report of "possible improper interrogation practices."

It is unconscionable that it has taken this long for the Bush administration and the U.S. military to act, and difficult to avoid the conclusion that until the last week the administration still harbored delusions of a viable cover-up.

It is not yet apparent, however, whether Rumsfeld has given up on the idea of scapegoating these sorry-ass MPs. No one outside the 800th Military Police Brigade has yet been charged, despite the accumulation of evidence that leads from Abu Ghraib to senior military intelligence officials in Iraq and indeed into the Pentagon.

Lynddie England and Charles Graner have now confirmed that they were abusing and humiliating Iraqi detainees at the instigation of military intelligence personnel. Their claims are backed by Karpinski's insistence, confirmed by Gen. Taguba, that command over the MPs had been ceded to military intelligence.

We also know the abuses commenced shortly after Maj.Gen. Geoffrey Miller, formerly in charge of the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, arrived in Iraq. Miller was dispatched to Iraq in August 2003 by Stephen A. Cambone, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Rummy's right-hand man, expressly for the purpose of "gitmo-izing" the intelligence gathering operations at Iraqi prisons. At approximately the same time, Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, was working to eviscerate regulations that required the presence of JAG military attorneys at interrogations of detainees, thereby paving the way for the interrogation abuses.

Every day that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cambone and Feith remain in their offices at the Pentagon is a day of disgrace for this nation.


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