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7/10/2004

US News Acquires Classified Annexes to Taguba Report

US News and World Report has copies of the classified annexes to the Taguba report. When I first read the article, I thought it was a joke - a Jesus' General type spoof. The claims are so bad, so outrageous.

Taguba focused mostly on the MPs assigned to guard inmates at Abu Ghraib, but the 5,000 pages of classified files in the annexes to his report show that military intelligence officers-?-dispatched to Abu Ghraib by the top commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez-?-were intimately involved in some of the interrogation tactics widely viewed as abusive.

Col. Henry Nelson, an Air Force psychiatrist who prepared a report for Taguba on Abu Ghraib, described it as a "new psychological battlefield," and detailed the nature of the challenge faced by the Americans working in the overcrowded prison. "These detainees are male and female, young and old," Nelson wrote; "they may be innocent, may have high intelligence value, or may be terrorists or criminals. No matter who they are, if they are at Abu Ghraib, they are remanded in deplorable, dangerous living conditions, as are soldiers."
In her secret testimony, Karpinski, who was criticized for leadership failures in the Taguba report, said Sanchez refused to provide her with the necessary resources to run Abu Ghraib and other prisons. She said that he didn't "give a flip" about soldiers, and she added this biting criticism: "I think that his ego will not allow him to accept a Reserve Brigade, a Reserve General Officer and certainly not a female succeeding in a combat environment. And I think he looked at the 800th Brigade as the opportunity to find a scapegoat..."

Another classified annex reported that the prison complex was seriously overcrowded, with detainees often held for months without ever being interrogated. Detainees walked around in knee-deep mud, "defecating and urinating all over the compounds," said Capt. James Jones, commander of the 229th MP Battalion. "I don't know how there's not rioting every day," he testified.

Among the more shocking exchanges revealed in the Taguba classified annexes are a series of E-mails sent by Major David Dinenna of the 320th MP Battalion. The E-mails, sent in October and November to Major William Green of the 800th MP Brigade, and copied to the higher chain of command, show a quixotic attempt to simply get the detainees at Abu Graib edible food. Dinenna pressed repeatedly for food that wouldn't make prisoners vomit. He criticized the private food contractor for shorting the facility on hundreds of meals a day, and for providing food containing bugs, rats, and dirt.

"As each day goes by tension within the prison population increases," Dinenna wrote. "...Simple fixes, food, would help tremendously." Instead of getting help, Major Green scolded him. "Who is making the charges that there is dirt, bugs or what ever in the food?," Major Green replied in an E-mail. "If it is the prisoners I would take it with a grain of salt." Dinenna shot back: "Our MPs, Medics and field surgeon can easily identify bugs, rats, and dirt, and they did." Ultimately, the food contract was not renewed, an Army spokeswoman says, although the contractor holds other contracts with the military.

Some officers told Taguba's staff that they believed the Abu Ghraib mess had its roots in an earlier case at the Camp Bucca detention center in southern Iraq last summer. The Army developed evidence that MPs viciously attacked prisoners there, including one who had his face smashed in. Four soldiers were given less than honorable discharges, but were not prosecuted. Said one major who worked at Abu Ghraib: "I'm convinced that what happened [at Abu Ghraib] would never have happened if" the Camp Bucca case had been prosecuted.
I'm speechless.

 

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