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Step off, old man!
Sunday, 12 September 2004
Did they know?
Why doesn't anyone care that the Bush Administration disregarded the Geneva Convention in abusing prisoners and actually hiding them from the International Red Cross. This really must comfort our troops knowing that they are also subject to this type of treatment now. And don't tell me a few lower level types were responsible for this.

This is from today's Washington Post about the upcoming Seymour Hersch book.

"Senior military and national security officials in the Bush administration were repeatedly warned by subordinates in 2002 and 2003 that prisoners in military custody were being abused, according to a new book by a prominent journalist.

Seymour M. Hersh, a writer for The New Yorker magazine who earlier this year was among the first to disclose details of the abuses of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, makes the charges in his book "Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib" (HarperCollins), which is being released Monday. The book draws on the articles he has written about the campaign against terrorism and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Hersh asserts that a CIA analyst who visited the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in the late summer of 2002 filed a report of abuses there that drew the attention of Gen. John A. Gordon, the deputy to Condoleezza Rice, the White House national security adviser. But when Gordon called the matter to her attention and she discussed it with other senior officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, no significant change resulted. Hersh's account is based on anonymous sources, some of them secondhand, and could not be independently verified.

Hersh also says that a military officer involved in counterinsurgency operations in Iraq learned of the abuses at Abu Ghraib in November and reported it to two of his superiors, Gen. John P. Abizaid, the regional commander, and his deputy, Lt. Gen. Lance Smith.

"I said there are systematic abuses going on in the prisons," the unnamed officer is quoted as telling Hersh. "Abizaid didn't say a thing. He looked at me -- beyond me, as if to say, `Move on. I don't want to touch this.'"

Hersh also reports that FBI agents complained to their superiors about abuses at Guantanamo, as did a military lawyer, and that these complaints, too, were relayed to the Pentagon.

Hersh's thesis is that "the roots of the Abu Ghraib scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists" who have been charged so far, "but in the reliance of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld on secret operations and the use of coercion -- and eye-for-eye retribution -- in fighting terrorism."

In particular, Hersh has reported that a secret program to capture and interrogate terrorists led to the abuse of prisoners.

In a statement posted on its Web site, the Pentagon said: "Based on media inquiries, it appears that Seymour Hersh's upcoming book apparently contains many of the numerous unsubstantiated allegations and inaccuracies which he has made in the past based upon unnamed sources."

The statement added that several investigations so far "have determined that no responsible official of the Department of Defense approved any program that could conceivably have authorized or condoned the abuses seen at Abu Ghraib."

The Pentagon's statement is a classic non-denial denial. While there may not have been an official program that was OK'd, it seems most likely that the higher-ups knew what was going on.

Posted by brettdavey at 11:18 AM EDT
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