March 2nd, 2005


(no subject)

The CIA reportedly was responsible for torturing an Iraqi prisoner to death in Abu Ghraib, according to documents reviewed by the Associated Press and the anonymous testimony of a US Navy Seal.

The prisoner in question was held in a position referred to as a "Palestinian hanging", with his body suspended by his wrists, shackled behind his back.

An Army guard, Sgt. Jeffery Frost, said the prisoner’s arms were stretched behind him in a way he had never before seen. Frost told investigators he was surprised al-Jamadi’s arms “didn’t pop out of their sockets,” according to a summary of his interview.

The unnamed Navy Seal testified that the prisoner in question was kicked, slapped, and punched during interrogation, while the documents on the case indicate thatwhen the guards released the prisoner from his torturously suspended position, blood gushed from his mouth “as if a faucet had been turned on.” 

The military pathologist who ruled the case a homicide found the prisoner had several broken ribs -- which, by description, presumably punctured either the stomach or the lungs -- and which were caused either by the beating or by the unnatural pressure on his chest from the position in which he was suspended.

What hasn't been shown yet is who authorized this extreme level of torture. We should pay closer attention, perhaps, to the claims of Sgt. Samuel Provance, a military intelligence officer, who said previously that the Army is actively covering up who gave the orders, and that the orders came straight from the interrogators -- military intelligence and/or the CIA.

Incidentally, this might explain Rumsfeld's evasive testimony to John McCain.

MCCAIN: Mr. Secretary, I'd like to know -- I'd like you to give the committee the chain of command from the guards to you, all the way up the chain of command. I'd like to know...

RUMSFELD: I think General Myers brought an indication of it, and we'll show it.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

I'd like to know who was in charge of the -- what agencies or private contractors were in charge of interrogations? Did they have authority over the guards? And what were their instructions to the guards?

RUMSFELD: First, with respect to the...

SMITH: We did not bring it.


SMITH: Yes, oh, my is right.

RUMSFELD: It was all prepared.

SMITH: Yes, it was, indeed.

RUMSFELD: Do you want to walk through it?

MCCAIN: Anyway, who was in charge? What agency or private contractor was in charge of the interrogations? Did they have authority over the guards? And what were the instructions that they gave to the guards?

SMITH: I'll walk through the chain of command and...

MCCAIN: No. Let's just -- you can submit the chain of command, please.

WARNER: General Smith, do you want to respond?

MCCAIN: No. Secretary Rumsfeld, in all due respect, you've got to answer this question. And it could be satisfied with a phone call. This is a pretty simple, straightforward question: Who was in charge of the interrogations? What agencies or private contractors were in charge of the interrogations? Did they have authority over the guards? And what were the instructions to the guards?

This goes to the heart of this matter.

RUMSFELD: It does indeed.

As I understand it, there were two contractor organizations. They supplied interrogators and linguists. And I was advised by General Smith that there were maybe a total of 40.

MCCAIN: Now, were they in charge of the interrogations?

SMITH: Thirty-seven interrogators, and...

WARNER: The witnesses voice are not being recorded. You'll have to speak into your microphone.

Would you repeat the conversation in response to the senator's question?

SMITH: Yes, sir. There were 37 interrogators that were...

MCCAIN: I'm asking who was in charge of the interrogations.

SMITH: They were not in charge. They were interrogators.

MCCAIN: My question is who was in charge of the interrogations?

SMITH: The brigade commander for the military intelligence brigade.

MCCAIN: And were they -- did he also have authority over the guards?

SMITH: Sir, he was -- he had tactical control over the guards, so he was...

MCCAIN: Mr. Secretary, you can't answer these questions?

RUMSFELD: I can. I'd be -- I thought the purpose of the question was to make sure we got an accurate presentation, and we have the expert here who was in the chain of command.

MCCAIN: I think these are fundamental questions to this issue.


MCCAIN: Were the instructions to the guards...

RUMSFELD: There's two sets of responsibilities, as your question suggests. One set is the people who have the responsibility for managing the detention process; they are not interrogators. The military intelligence people, as General Smith has indicated, were the people who were in charge of the interrogation part of the process.

And the responsibility, as I have reviewed the matter, shifted over a period of time and the general is capable of telling you when that responsibility shifted.

MCCAIN: What were the instructions to the guards?

RUMSFELD: That is what the investigation that I have indicated has been undertaken...

MCCAIN: Mr. Secretary...

RUMSFELD: ... is determining...

MCCAIN: ... that's a very simple, straight-forward question.

RUMSFELD: Well, the -- as the chief of staff of the Army can tell you, the guards are trained to guard people. They're not trained to interrogate, they're not -- and their instructions are to, in the case of Iraq, adhere to the Geneva Convention.

The Geneva Conventions apply to all of the individuals there in one way or another. They apply to the prisoners of war, and they are written out and they're instructed and the people in the Army train them to that and the people in the Central Command have the responsibility of seeing that, in fact, their conduct is consistent with the Geneva Conventions.

The criminals in the same detention facility are handled under a different provision of the Geneva Convention -- I believe it's the fourth and the prior one's the third.

MCCAIN: So the guards were instructed to treat the prisoners, under some kind of changing authority as I understand it, according to the Geneva Conventions?

RUMSFELD: Absolutely.

Absolutely?! Then how does this square with Rumsfeld's authorizing torture, or with the orders that military intelligence / the CIA gave to the MPs? Did Rumsfeld knowingly purjure himself before Congress?

Torture and ice cream.

While the Pentagon has made a handful of MPs and Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski the scapegoats for Abu Ghraib, all of the latest testimony is pointing out what some reporters knew a long time ago. The true chain of command for those orders looks something like this:

George W. Bush --> Donald Rumsfeld -->  Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez --> Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast --> Maj. General Geoffrey Miller --> Col. Thomas Pappas --> Lt. Col. Stephen Jordan.

As you see, this bypasses Karpinski entirely. The ultimate truth, however, is that there were multiple chains of command, with many cooks in the kitchen from rival agencies, with Donald Rumsfeld leveraging his power to gather his own intelligence seperately from the CIA. He did this through a command chain that looks somewhat different.

Donald Rumsfeld --> Douglas Feith --> Michael Cambone --> Lt. Gen. William Boykin --> Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller --> Col. Thomas Pappas --> Lt. Col. Stephen Jordan.

There was also other forces in the government at work, applying often contradictory rules on how to deal with detainees. These chains included:
George W. Bush --> Condoleeza Rice --> Fran Townsend --> Lt. Col. Stephen Jordan
George W. Bush --> George Tenet --> CIA interrogators -->Pappas/Jordan

The CIA used Abu Ghraib as a place to interrogate prisoners "off the books", intentionally avoiding scrutiny of the Red Cross and other international organizations. Their methods of interrogation were not the same as those generally used by military intelligence, though it is unclear to what extent MI took its cues from the CIA operatives onsite and visa versa.

Basically, there were too many cooks, no clear chain of command... and Rumsfeld was at the center of all of it, playing several contradictory roles:
Official face of Pentagon: The US should abide by the rules of the Geneva convention in Iraq.
What he told his generals: We should toughen up the individual procedures to make our prisoners as uncomfortable as possible, in an attempt to get information from them.
What he told his intelligence wing: We should import questionable interrogation techniques used elsewhere, even if those techniques were used in a context where the Geneva Conventions don't apply.

Rumsfeld can't have it all three ways and still walk away with clean hands.

...and your hands won't be clean either, if you celebrate Yahoo's birthday by getting a free scoop of ice cream at your local Baskin-Robbins.

So, there you have it. Torture and ice cream. (Rumsfeld raspberry ripple?!)