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More revelations about Abu Ghraib

Seymour Hersh has a very disturbing article up on the New Yorker website: TORTURE AT ABU GHRAIB. If you haven't read it already, go do so; it shows that the Army has known about problems at Abu Ghraib at least since November of 2003. Then read behind the cutline for at least one strong indication that some of the guilty are still on the job.


Apparently, one of Hersh's primary sources is an internal Army report: A fifty-three-page report, obtained by The New Yorker, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba and not meant for public release, was completed in late February. Its conclusions about the institutional failures of the Army prison system were devastating.

As the international furor grew, senior military officers, and President Bush, insisted that the actions of a few did not reflect the conduct of the military as a whole.Taguba's report, however, amounts to an unsparing study of collective wrongdoing and the failure of Army leadership at the highest levels. The picture he draws of Abu Ghraib is one in which Army regulations and the Geneva conventions were routinely violated, and in which much of the day-to-day management of the prisoners was abdicated to Army military-intelligence units and civilian contract employees. Interrogating prisoners and getting intelligence, including by intimidation and torture, was the priority.


This appears to be at least the second report on the subject; Major General Donald Ryder, the Army's Provost Marshal General (and commander of the Criminal Investigative Command), also found that there were "potential" problems, but that the situation had not approached a crisis point. (Note that Hersh calls Ryder the Provost General, but his real title is the Provost Marshal General - a post just re-established last September, according to this story about the re-establishment ceremony.)

There's at least one indication that the Army ignored some (if not all) of Taguba's recommendations. A reader of the Whiskey Bar blog found that Minneapolis radio station KSTP had just pulled the online diary of Joe Ryan, one of its on-air personalities who is currently serving as a military interrogator at (where else?) Abu Ghraib. However, Google had
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Seymour Hersh has a very disturbing article up on the New Yorker website: <a href="http://newyorker.com/fact/content/?040510fa_fact">TORTURE AT ABU GHRAIB</a>. If you haven't read it already, go do so; it shows that the Army has known about problems at Abu Ghraib at least since November of 2003. Then read behind the cutline for at least one strong indication that some of the guilty are still on the job.

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Apparently, one of Hersh's primary sources is an internal Army report: <q cite="http://newyorker.com/fact/content/?040510fa_fact">A fifty-three-page report, obtained by The New Yorker, written by Major General Antonio M. Taguba and not meant for public release, was completed in late February. Its conclusions about the institutional failures of the Army prison system were devastating.</q>

<blockquote>As the international furor grew, senior military officers, and President Bush, insisted that the actions of a few did not reflect the conduct of the military as a whole.Taguba's report, however, amounts to an unsparing study of collective wrongdoing and the failure of Army leadership at the highest levels. The picture he draws of Abu Ghraib is one in which Army regulations and the Geneva conventions were routinely violated, and in which much of the day-to-day management of the prisoners was abdicated to Army military-intelligence units and civilian contract employees. Interrogating prisoners and getting intelligence, including by intimidation and torture, was the priority.</blockquote>

This appears to be at least the <b>second</b> report on the subject; Major General Donald Ryder, the Army's Provost Marshal General (and commander of the Criminal Investigative Command), also found that there were "potential" problems, but that <q cite="http://newyorker.com/fact/content/?040510fa_fact">the situation had not approached a crisis point.</q> (Note that Hersh calls Ryder the Provost General, but his real title is the Provost Marshal General - a post just re-established last September, according to <a href="http://www.dcmilitary.com/army/pentagram/8_43/national_news/26066-1.html">this story</a> about the re-establishment ceremony.)

There's at least one indication that the Army ignored some (if not all) of Taguba's recommendations. A reader of the <a href="http://billmon.org">Whiskey Bar</a> blog found that Minneapolis radio station <a href="http://www.am1500.com">KSTP</a> had just pulled the <a href="http://www.am1500.com/personalities/joeryan.htm">online diary</a> of Joe Ryan, one of its on-air personalities who is currently serving as a military interrogator at (where else?) Abu Ghraib. However, Google had <a href="http://216.239.41.104/search?q=cache:XYYOCOWnu_8J:www.am1500.com/personalities/joeryan.htm KSTP "Joe Ryan"&hl=en">cached the page</a>; the April 25, 2004 entry includes this paragraph:

<blockquote>I got to take the rest of the day off after our long booth time. This gave us a nice evening after dinner to head to the roof and play a round of golf. Scott Norman, Jeff Mouton, Steve Hattabaugh, Steve Stefanowicz, and I all took turns trying to hit balls over the back wall and onto the highway. Since the club is a left handed 3 iron, I had an unfair advantage and missed a dump truck by only about ten feet. Not bad since the highway is about 220 yards. We do what we can to make it fun here.</blockquote>
According to Hersh, Taguba's recommendations included the following:
<blockquote>[Taguba] further urged that a civilian contractor, Steven Stephanowicz, of CACI International, be fired from his Army job, reprimanded, and denied his security clearances for lying to the investigating team and allowing or ordering military policemen "who were not trained in interrogation techniques to facilitate interrogations by 'setting conditions' which were neither authorized" nor in accordance with Army regulations. "He clearly knew his instructions equated to physical abuse," Taguba wrote. He also recommended disciplinary action against a second CACI employee, John Israel. (A spokeswoman for CACI said that the company had "received no formal communication" from the Army about the matter.)
"I suspect," Taguba concluded, that Pappas, Jordan, Stephanowicz, and Israel "were either directly or indirectly responsible for the abuse at Abu Ghraib," and strongly recommended immediate disciplinary action.
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As billmon notes, either there are two completely separate interrogators named Steven Stephanowicz working at Abu Ghraib, or Taguba's recommendations regarding Stephanowicz were completely blown off. And, as of last week at least, Stephanowicz seems to still be hard at work.

The full text of the Hersh article is available at http://newyorker.com/fact/content/?040510fa_fact
The Whiskey Bar blog entry is at http://billmon.org/archives/001442.html
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