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Next week we have our bill on the floor, according to the current schedule, so, in all likelihood, we'll have to suspend this series of hearings until after the bill has been considered.
Senator BILL NELSON. Mr. Chairman, will we continue with a second round?
Chairman WARNER. No, Senator, because I think we would be infringing on the policy counsels for both parties.
Thank you very much.
Senator DAYTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I thank you for holding today's hearings, and for your resolve to face these atrocities. You're an honorable man, and would that everyone shared your resolve to find the truth rather than to deny it or deflect it. Unfortunately, we in this committee were overshadowed yesterday by President Bush's words and actions, traveling to the Pentagon with the Vice President to tell the SECDEF, the country, and the world, "You're doing a superb job." The President looked at a dozen more pictures of abuse, and reportedly shook his head in disgust, but the apologies, regrets, and mea culpas are now history. It's back to business as usual.
If anyone missed those subtleties, the Vice President was even more direct over the weekend when he said, "People ought to get off of his case and let him do his job," referring to the SECDEF. In other words, we should stop meddling and interfering and let them go back to running the war.
This morning illustrates the difficulty in a hearing to get beyond the words to the realities. General Taguba's report and directness here today are notable exceptions. But it shows why the pictures made such a difference. They showed us the truth. Most of the words today have managed to obscure that truth. We're told there were papers and procedures, policies and protocols, there were directives given, conditions set, and everyone followed the Geneva Conventions, international law, United States principles, except for a few people, who did very bad things unbeknownst to anyone else, all of whom were doing what they were doing to save American lives. So let's dispense with this and get back to our good intentions, the great progress going unreported in 95 percent of Iraq, the upcoming handoff of democracy to whoever the recipients shall be. That's why those pictures are so disruptive, because they defy that sanitizing. They can't be obscured by non-descriptions like, "the inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature," which were words used to describe the forced masturbation of one detainee or the rape of another. That's why Pentagon officials are reportedly preventing the additional pictures from being publicly released.
The White House communications director said that the President wants the Pentagon to, "use its best judgment about the release of the photos." Well, we've seen where that best judgment has gotten us so far, and I think it's deplorable that they intend, again, to try to suppress the truth and all the truth from the American people.
Chairman WARNER. Senator, having worked on that question with the DOD, at this point in time the decision as to public release is an ongoing review. To the best of my knowledge, as of late
last night, no final decision has been made by the DOD, the White House, or others.
Senator DAYTON. All right. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
If you go elsewhere-and thank goodness for a free and vigilant press, because I don't think we would find most of this out any other way-but there is an ICRC report which describes excessive patterns of patterns of excessive force used by U.S. soldiers in prisons, and not just the one subject to this investigation, but throughout the country. The ICRC wrote that ill treatment during capture was frequent, that it often included pushing people around, insulting, taking aim with rifles, punching, kicking, striking, which seem to go beyond-seem to reflect a usual modus operandi, and appear to go beyond the reasonable, legitimate, proportional use of force required to apprehend suspects or restrain persons resisting arrest or capture.
The published reports say that as many as 43,000 Iraqis were detained at various times, and that an estimated 90 percent of them were determined to have not had any involvement in the matters that are under-that were of concern to U.S. authorities, that only 600 were turned over for prosecution, that 8,000 remain in detention now for indefinite periods of time, although I gather that there are now steps being taken to release all but 2,000 of them.
My time is up, but I'm just going to complete here by just referring to one individual who said he was taken from a barbershop where he was getting a shave, and he was beaten with pipes, starting on his legs and back, and moving to his head. He was bleeding from his mouth and ears, he fainted. When he woke up, he was in a dog's cage at a local military base. He was left naked in the cage for several days, receiving only scant food and water, until soldiers hung him from a tree by his cuffed hands, "They told me they would bring my wife and hang her next to me." I don't take any pleasure in recounting these incidents, but I take umbrage that there are still those who want to deny that they occurred to any degree or those that want to ascribe other motives to those of us who are just trying to face up to them.
I want the United States to succeed in Iraq. I'm deeply concerned that what's occurred there is going to cause further violence that will come down on our troops, that will bear the brunt of this, and set back our ability to meet our objectives there. But I don't see how that's going to be served by trying to obscure or deny what's occurring there or what has occurred there and make sure-try to make sure it doesn't happen again there or anywhere else in the world.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My time's expired.
Chairman WARNER. I thank you, Senator.
Senator CORNYN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General Taguba, Chairman Warner asked, I believe, earlier, the question, "What went wrong?" You answered, there was a failure of leadership from the brigade level on down-and down. In your investigation, did you find any evidence-any evidence whatsoever that culpability extended beyond the brigade level?
General TAGUBA. No, sir, we did not. However, we did recommend, based on some evidence that we gathered of the complic
ity of MI interrogators, and we recommended that a separate investigation be provided under Procedure 15 of 380-10.
Senator CORNYN. How many individuals do you believe were involved in this abuse at Abu Ghraib?
General TAGUBA. Sir, directly, there were those six or seven, I believe. I know that the ongoing investigation continues under Article 32. I don't know of any others. In terms of those soldiers' supervisors and leaders, I enumerated that on my report. I believe there was a total of 17 there that I identified.
Senator CORNYN. So there were seven-there was disciplinary action taken against the seven supervisors, and then there was the actual criminal charges that have now been brought, I guess, against another seven, is that correct?
General TAGUBA. Yes, sir. Those were the criminal investigations, but I'm not involved in that whole process, but my investigation was purely administrative, to gather facts and circumstances that were related to detainee abuse and the other things that I mentioned to you earlier, principally their leaders.
Senator CORNYN. I ask those questions because I'm concerned that there are those who are suggesting that somehow what you have said was exceptional misconduct on the part of these guards and their supervising their superior officers was somehow the norm. Indeed, there was a question asked earlier, attempting to suggest that this was the implementation of policies and procedures that are in existence at Guantanamo Bay. There was a question asked about whether Guantanamo Bay was somehow the baseline, and that now that represented the norm, and this was the logical conclusion of those policies and procedures at Guantanamo Bay.
I have to tell you that, like other members of the committee, no doubt, I've traveled to Guantanamo Bay because of my interest in the detention of the individuals there who-of course, who plan, finance, and execute terrorist acts against Americans and other innocent civilians. I had an opportunity to meet General Geoffrey Miller, who was the commander of the Joint Task Force at Guantanamo. I was very impressed with the treatment, with the policies and procedures that allowed the humane interrogation of detainees there.
Let me just ask you, is there any-whether they're enemy combatants or unlawful combatants or common criminals, is there any policy that you're aware of in the United States military that allows for less than humane treatment of detainees?
General TAGUBA. No, sir. I did not find that anywhere.
Senator CORNYN. Of course, we are concerned about the atypical conduct on the part of these individuals who committed these crimes, and those who failed to see that they got the supervision and the leadership necessary in order to avoid these crimes. But I must add my voice to those of others that say, while we are absolutely committed to getting to the bottom of this-and your report gets us a long way there-and of making sure that the guilty are held accountable, we can't forget the context in which all of this is taking place, and that is in a larger context of many other military troops serving honorably in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere,
and the need to get essential information from some of these detainees that could well protect America from the next 9/11.
So I want to commend you and the others for the wonderful service that you're performing, and thank you for helping us get to the bottom of this. I hope that we will ultimately be successful in doing so, holding those accountable who are responsible, and then making sure we focus on our greater and more important job of making sure that America's safe in this war on terror.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman WARNER. Thank you very much, Senator.
Senator CLINTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to join in thanking you, General Taguba, for your service and for this report.
I don't think anyone disagrees with the last comment by my colleague that our objective is to both prosecute this war on terrorism successfully and also to ensure the safety and security of our own people from future attacks. The question is whether behavior and conduct and decisions with respect to the treatment of these detainees undermine the potential success that we all agree is essential to our national security.
I am still confused, and my confusion is this. With respect to the actions that are described in your report, General Taguba, you also included a number of other problems at other detention facilities. But is it your best information that no detention facility that was in any way connected with the 800th MP brigade had the level of problems that you reported in this unit at Abu Ghraib?
General TAGUBA. Yes, ma'am. The scope, again, was within the context of those facilities that the 800th MP operated.
Senator CLINTON. The 800th MP brigade was under the command of General Karpinski. Is that correct?
General TAGUBA. Yes, ma'am.
Senator CLINTON. Now, if the problems were severe and located principally in this one unit, then I think it is appropriate to follow the chain of command up to the decision to send General Miller to that prison, where, as I understand the testimony thus far, he set up a specific joint interrogation unit. He did, however one wants to describe it, either coordinate or direct the MP's involvement in the conditioning of the detainees. Is that a correct statement, General?
General TAGUBA. Yes, ma'am.
Senator CLINTON. All right. So it seems to me that if, indeed, General Miller was sent from Guantanamo to Iraq for the purpose of acquiring more actionable intelligence from detainees, then it is fair to conclude that the actions that are at point here in your report are in some way to General Miller's arrival and his specific orders, however they were interpreted by those MPs and the MI that were involved. Therefore, I, for one, don't believe I yet have adequate information from Mr. Cambone in the DOD as to exactly what General Miller's orders were, what kind of reports came back up the chain of command as to how he carried out those orders, and the connection between his arrival in the fall of 2003 and the
Now, we know that General Karpinski has been rightly singled out for appropriate concern about her behavior and her failure of command. But I just want to read to you a comment she made in an interview, which I find extraordinary. I quote, "But when I looked at those pictures, and when I continued to see those pictures, I don't think that there was anything that was improperly done, because this wasn't something that was a violation of a procedure. This was something they were instructed to do as a completely new procedure. I'm not sure that those MPs had ever been confronted with any instructions like this before."
General Taguba, can you explain for us the disparity between holding this brigade commander completely accountable, and the comments that I just read to you, in light of the fact that certainly the 205th Military_Intelligence Brigade was given tactical control over that prison? Can you explain General Karpinski's comment?
General TAGUBA. Yes, ma'am. During the course of our investigation, there was clear evidence, based on my interview of General Karpinski and Colonel Pappas, that there was friction between those two commanders in the operation of Abu Ghraib. The dissension was who was in charge of-when, and at what time. They could not explain. So that's the context of the ambiguity of the order that was given to Colonel Pappas. It was clear that he was directed to be the forward operating base commander there for security detainees and force protection. However, General Karpinski challenged that, and she noted that in her recorded testimony. Point one.
I held her accountable and responsible, not exclusively and solely for the abuse cases there at Abu Ghraib, but the context of her leadership, the lack of leadership on her part overall, in terms of her training, the standards, supervisory omission, the command climate in her brigade. Those were all, in totality, why I held her accountable and responsible, ma'am.
Senator CLINTON. Just one last follow-up, General. Did Colonel Pappas report directly to General Miller?
General TAGUBA. That I did not know because General Miller was not there. He reported, I believe, to CJTF-7.
Senator CLINTON. General Smith, do you know who Colonel Pappas reported directly to?
General SMITH. Yes, ma'am. Through CJTF-7. Ma'am, General Miller had no command relationship in this at all. He came over to do an investigation and make some findings and recommendations on how to improve. Nobody reported to him. He had no relationship whatsoever, other than to report details.
Senator INHOFE [presiding]. Thank you, Senator Clinton.
Senator GRAHAM. Thank you, Senator.
I think they've left, but just a few minutes ago there were some foreign military officers who came to the hearing, and I would just want to say, for the record, that I'm very proud of the fact that our military command system, civilian and military, comes out in the open, is asked hard questions, and has to appear before the public.
You've documented, General Taguba, some failings. I think we're failing the country ourselves up here a bit. I think we're overly politicizing this. This should be what binds us, not what tears us