« PreviousContinue »
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR JOHN WARNER,
Chairman WARNER. The committee meets today for the second of a series of hearings regarding the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by some elements, and certain personnel, few in number, I hope, of the Armed Forces, in violation of United States and international law.
Testifying before us today is Major General Antonio M. Taguba, U.S. Army, Deputy Commanding General for Support, Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC).
On January 31, 2004, General Taguba was appointed by General Sanchez, Commander, Combined Joint Task Force-7 (CJTF-7), to conduct a Procedure-15 investigation into allegations of prisoner abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison. General Taguba's report was received by this committee on Tuesday, May 4, and its related annexes were received yesterday, May 10. As members know, they are in the possession of the committee, and members and staff worked on those reports until very late last night.
Joining General Taguba are Lieutenant General Lance L. Smith, U.S. Air Force, Deputy Commander of Central Command (CENTCOM); and Dr. Stephen A. Cambone, Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USDI).
We welcome our witnesses. General Taguba, I wish to personally commend you for your public service.
General TAGUBA. Yes, sir.
Chairman WARNER. Following the testimony of our witnesses, we'll receive testimony from a second panel of witnesses this afternoon, commencing at 2:30.
As I stated last week, this mistreatment of prisoners represents an appalling and totally unacceptable breach of military regulations and conduct. The damage done to the reputation and credibility of our Nation and the Armed Forces has the potential to undermine substantial gains and the sacrifices by our forces and their families, and those of our allies fighting with us in the cause of freedom.
This degree of breakdown in military leadership and discipline represents an extremely rare chapter in the otherwise proud history of our Armed Forces. It defies common sense, and contradicts all the values for which America stands. There must be a full accounting for the cruel and disgraceful abuse of Iraqi detainees, consistent with our laws and the protections of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).
I'm proud of the manner in which the Armed Forces have quickly reacted to these allegations, undertaken appropriate investigation, and begun disciplinary actions. We are a nation of laws, and we confront abuses of our laws openly and directly.
We have had an apparent breakdown of discipline and leadership at this prison, and possibly at other locations. We think it important to confront these problems swiftly, assuring that justice is done, and take the corrective actions so that such abuses never happen again. At the same time, it is important to remember that our commanders and their troops in Iraq are confronted with a very difficult, dangerous, complex military situation. Defeating insurgents and terrorists who seek to deny freedom and democracy
to all Iraqis and who threaten our troops is the highest priority. Our troops are working very hard and courageously sacrifice to achieve that mission. Intelligence obtained in the course of any military action, obtained in accordance with proper laws and professional procedures, is an essential element of any military campaign.
I was heartened by President Bush's words of support for our men and women of the Armed Forces, as he stated yesterday, in visiting the Department of Defense (DOD)—and I quote our President: "All Americans know the goodness and the character of the United States Armed Forces. No military in the history of the world has fought so hard and so often for the freedom of others. Today, our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are keeping terrorists across the world on the run. They're helping the people of Afghanistan and Iraq build democratic societies. They're defending America with unselfish courage. These achievements have brought pride and credit to this Nation. I want our men and women in uniform to know that America is proud of you, and that I'm honored to be your commander in chief."
Speaking for myself, I feel our President, our Secretary of Defense (SECDEF), Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), and the other officers of our military have very correctly and properly addressed the seriousness of these issues, and I commend them.
We must not forget our overall purpose in Iraq. Success there is absolutely essential. Our men and women in uniform make a remarkable institution in this great America. From time to time it must heal itself, consistent with law and tradition, and that is what we're doing in this particular case. We have a responsibility here in Congress to help them do that, and that is precisely the purpose of these hearings.
STATEMENT OF SENATOR CARL LEVIN
Senator LEVIN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Today's hearing continues the committee's examination of the events at Abu Ghraib detention facility and the effort to learn what led to the abuses of Iraqi prisoners so graphically depicted in the photographs that have shocked and disgusted the civilized world; and who may have authorized, encouraged, or suggested those despicable actions. Getting to the truth of what happened and who was responsible is important for our military men and women, for the American people, for the success of our mission in Iraq, and for a watching world.
General Taguba, while your report paints a disturbing picture of horrible abuses and leadership failures at Abu Ghraib, your report reflects an honest and detailed assessment of the situation there, and includes sensible recommendations on how to begin fixing those problems. I thank you for your professionalism in carrying out this service to our Nation.
The hearing we held last week barely scratched the surface of the issues that this committee must examine. It yielded little in the form of detailed information as to how these abuses could possibly have occurred and who was responsible for them, including those
within and without the chain of command whose policy decisions created an environment in which the abuses could occur.
The despicable actions described in General Taguba's report not only reek of abuse, they reek of an organized effort and methodical preparation for interrogation. The collars used on prisoners, the dogs, and the cameras did not suddenly appear out of thin air. These acts of abuse were not the spontaneous actions of lowerranking enlisted personnel who lacked the proper supervision. These attempts to extract information from prisoners by abusive and degrading methods were clearly planned and suggested by oth
Today, we begin what must be a determined pursuit of the answers to the questions:
Who organized the effort?
Who oversaw it?
Under what directives and policies were these actions im-
All of those up and down the chain of command who bear any responsibility must be held accountable for the brutality and humiliation they inflicted on the prisoners and for the damage and dishonor that they brought to our Nation and to the United States Armed Forces, which is otherwise filled with honorable men and women acting with courage and professionalism to bring stability and security and reconstruction to Iraq.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman WARNER. I'll ask the witnesses to rise. [Witnesses sworn.]
In accordance with the time-honored traditions of our country of civilian control over the military, we recognize Secretary Cambone, who is speaking on behalf of the DOD.
STATEMENT OF HON. STEPHEN A. CAMBONE, UNDER
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR INTELLIGENCE
Secretary CAMBONE. Mr. Chairman, thank you.
Members of the committee, we're here today to continue the discussion on the terrible activities at Abu Ghraib, begun last Friday by the SECDEF, the CJCS, and other members of the panel.
Before going further, let me say that we are dismayed by what took place. The Iraqi detainees are human beings. They were in U.S. custody. We had an obligation to treat them right. We didn't do that. That was wrong. I associate myself, without reservation, to the sentiments expressed by the SECDEF. To those Iraqis who were mistreated by members of the U.S. Armed Forces, I offer my deepest apology. It was un-American, and it was inconsistent with the values of our Nation.
Now, a number of issues arose related to those events during the hearing last Friday, which, as Senator Levin has noted, were not fully engaged. I wanted to tick off a short list that we have been developing since then as a way of preparation in answer to the questions we know that you have.
But before I go through those, let me say, again, that we will give you this information today, to the best of our knowledge. We do not have, yet, all the facts related to this case. There are at
least five other investigations ongoing, and we will need that information in order to come to a full understanding.
So, first, with respect to the application of the Geneva Conventions to detainees in Iraq, from the outset of the war in Iraq, the United States Government has recognized and made clear that the Geneva Conventions apply to our activities in that country. Members of our Armed Forces should have been aware of that. If they were not-if they were not-Lieutenant General Sanchez, the CJTF-7 commander, reminded them, on more than one occasion, that the forces under his command operated under that obligation. Nevertheless, there clearly was a breakdown in following Geneva Conventions procedures at Abu Ghraib, and we are in the process of investigating why that happened.
As Major General Miller, who is now in charge of detainee operations in Iraq, remarked on Saturday, "The procedures established for interrogations in Iraq were sanctioned under the Geneva Conventions and authorized in U.S. Army manuals. All permissible❞— permissible "interrogation activities were within the requirements and boundaries of applicable provisions of the Geneva Conventions." We are currently investigating why soldiers-some soldiers at Abu Ghraib did not abide by those understood procedures and guidelines.
Early in the war on terrorism, long before the war in Iraq, the President made a determination that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to al Qaeda detainees. That decision was made because the Geneva Conventions govern conflicts between states, and the al Qaeda is not a state, much less a signatory of the Geneva Conventions. Moreover, the Geneva Conventions forbid the targeting of civilians, and require that military forces wear designated uniforms to distinguish them from noncombatants. Terrorists don't care about the Geneva Conventions, nor do they abide by its guidelines. They deliberately target civilians, for example, and have brutalized and murdered innocent Americans. To grant terrorists the rights they so cruelly reject would make a mockery of the Geneva Conventions.
Nevertheless, President Bush did order-did order-that detainees held at Guantanamo be treated humanely and consistent with the Geneva Conventions' principles. In fact, those detainees in the war on terror are being provided with many of the privileges typically afforded to enemy prisoners of war.
The notion that this decision in some way undermined the Geneva Conventions or created a poor climate is false. To the contrary, the administration made this decision with the objective of assuring that those who would claim protection under its auspices, and not act in keeping with its intent, did not abuse the Geneva Conventions. Far from disrespect, the decision was made out of a notion of respect. The notion of a departmental belief that the alleged climate created and led to abuse in Iraq is, therefore, not in keeping with clear and stated determination to adhere to the Geneva Conventions.
Second, Major General Miller's recommendations. Major General Miller was sent to Iraq-it was late August 2003-based on his experience with the flow of information gained by interrogation at
I said on Friday before this committee, with my encouragementto determine if the flow of information to CJTF-7 and back to the subordinate commands could be improved. He laid out an approach to do this in a series of recommendations to General Sanchez. He had no directive authority in that visit.
One recommendation on detention operations was to dedicate and train a detention guard force subordinate to the joint intelligence commander that would, in the words of General Taguba's report and others, "set the conditions for the successful interrogation and exploitation of internees and detainees." In making this recommendation, Major General Miller was underscoring the need for military police (MP) and military intelligence (MI) personnel, both of whom serve different functions, to act in a fashion such that the one, MP, did not undermine the efforts of the other, MI, to discover, during interrogation, the information that was important to coalition forces and to the lives of Iraqi civilians. Ĉonsequently, he underscored the need for a legal review of his recommendations by a dedicated command staff judge advocate (SJA). With respect to detention operations, Major General Miller noted that their purpose is to provide a safe, secure, and humane environment that supports the expeditious collection of intelligence. In addition, he observed that detention operations must be structured to ensure the detention environment focuses the internees' confidence and attention on their interrogators. He recommended training in building the teamwork the interrogator and detention staffs needed to accomplish the objectives.
The order placing the MP 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 19, 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. 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 MI brigade commander the authority over MP operations. If 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 MP and military personnel in Iraq with respect to the laws of war, the Geneva Conventions, CENTCOM directions, or CJTF-7 directions and instructions.
Third, the role of contractors. Contractors may not perform interrogations except under the supervision of military personnel. There may have been circumstances under which this regulation was not followed. I cannot tell you that it was followed in all respects. This is a matter that General Fay is now examining. In addition, contractors may not supervise or give orders or direction to military personnel. While contractors are not under military discipline-another issue raised on Friday-they are subject to suspension from