13 May 2004

axis of abuse

Go read Boykin, Schoomaker and Cambone: A Bushian trifecta for the roles of various actors in the matter of Abu Ghraib.

US Under-secretary of Defence for Intelligence Cambone appeared with General Taguba before the Senate yesterday. The transcript is instructive.

CAMBONE: The order placing the military police at Abu Ghraib under the tactical control of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade -- and here, for more of the detail, I can defer to General Smith -- but on November 19th of 2003, General Sanchez issued an order effectively placing Abu Ghraib under the tactical control of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade.

This order was within the authority of General Sanchez to give. And, as I say, Lieutenant General Smith might elaborate on the reasons that the order was given.

But what it did is it gave a senior officer responsibility for the facility -- for the facility. We needed someone to take care of such matters as security, force protection, the internal security, living conditions for the troops and other things. It did not give, as far as I understand it, the military intelligence brigade commander authority over military police operations.

And as I might note, if you look at General Karpinski's CNN interview last night, she makes comments to that effect.

Let me stress that the promulgation of the order in no way changed the rules governing the conduct of military police and military personnel in Iraq with respect to the laws of war, the Geneva Convention, CENTCOM directions or CJTF directions and instructions.


TAGUBA: Sir, the -- I did not question the order that was given to Colonel Pappas on the fragmentary order that he received on the 19th of November. It was not under my purview. I did ask him to elaborate on what his responsibilities were.

LEVIN: Your report states that that change in command, quote, "effectively made a military intelligence officer rather than an M.P. officer responsible for the M.P. units conducting detainee operations at that facility."

LEVIN: Is that your conclusion?

TAGUBA: Yes, sir. Because the order gave him tactical control of all units that were residing at Abu Ghraib.

LEVIN: All right.

Secretary Cambone, you disagree with that?

CAMBONE: Tactical control is the question here.

LEVIN: Do you disagree with what the general just said?

CAMBONE: Yes, sir.

LEVIN: Pardon?

CAMBONE: I do. I do not believe that the order placing Colonel Pappas in charge gave him the authority to direct the M.P.s' activities in direct OPCON (ph) conditions.

Is that true, General?

It's frankly unbelievable that a general of Taguba's rank and an under-secretary to Rumsfeld are unable to agree on who had control of the Abu Ghraib prison. It almost sounds like the kind of administrative cock-up bound to lead, under a less superb defence secretary, to the abuse and torture of prisoners.

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