June 19th, 2007

Chris Keeley

How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties.

by Seymour M. Hersh 

Taguba knew his report would make him unpopular: “If I lie, I lose. And, if I tell the truth, I lose.” Photograph by Mary Ellen Mark.

On the afternoon of May 6, 2004, Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba was summoned to meet, for the first time, with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in his Pentagon conference room. Rumsfeld and his senior staff were to testify the next day, in televised hearings before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees, about abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq. The previous week, revelations about Abu Ghraib, including photographs showing prisoners stripped, abused, and sexually humiliated, had appeared on CBS and in The New Yorker. In response, Administration officials had insisted that only a few low-ranking soldiers were involved and that America did not torture prisoners. They emphasized that the Army itself had uncovered the scandal.

If there was a redeeming aspect to the affair, it was in the thoroughness and the passion of the Army’s initial investigation. The inquiry had begun in January, and was led by General Taguba, who was stationed in Kuwait at the time. Taguba filed his report in March. In it he found:

Numerous incidents of sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses were inflicted on several detainees . . . systemic and illegal abuse.

Taguba was met at the door of the conference room by an old friend, Lieutenant General Bantz J. Craddock, who was Rumsfeld’s senior military assistant. Craddock’s daughter had been a babysitter for Taguba’s two children when the officers served together years earlier at Fort Stewart, Georgia. But that afternoon, Taguba recalled, “Craddock just said, very coldly, ‘Wait here.’ ” In a series of interviews early this year, the first he has given, Taguba told me that he understood when he began the inquiry that it could damage his career; early on, a senior general in Iraq had pointed out to him that the abused detainees were “only Iraqis.” Even so, he was not prepared for the greeting he received when he was finally ushered in.

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Chris Keeley

From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless servic

From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service,” Taguba said. “And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable.”
Chris Keeley

Comic gems: tragi-condom-edy, and the golden age of nukes

Comic gems: tragi-condom-edy, and the golden age of nukes

Fringe comix archivist Ethan Persoff has just scanned and posted two new mindblowingly awesome classics:

(1) Condoms and the Pill, 1956/1962 Planned Parenthood comic on Birth Control. Features a women so terrified at the thought of having a fourth baby she won't even let her husband KISS her. The husband gets so starved for sex he can't concentrate and jams his hand into heavy machinery at the plant! Amazing time capsule showing US views toward condoms and other birth control to be still heavily stigmatized as late as 1962. [Ed. Note: Boy, good thing all THAT's changed!]

Contains my favorite single comic panel seen in some time: JPEG Link (shown above). Be sure to stick around for the Malaysian version.

(2) POWER FOR PROGRESS (1972) -- Nuclear Power Plant Comic Book. Further description is not necessary here.

Previous BB posts about Ethan Persoff's archives: Link.

posted by Xeni Jardin on June 18, 2007, 09:30 PM

Chris Keeley

Eugène Atget: Une rétrospective

Eugène Atget: Une rétrospective

Eugène Atget... Cabaret de L'Enfer, boulevard de Clichy (Tirage entre 1910 et 1912 d'après négatif de 1910, Série 'Paris pittoresque, 2e série,' Photographie positive sur papier albuminé, d'après négatif sur verre au gélatino-bromure). From the exhibition Eugène Atget: Une rétrospective at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. (fr)


Chris Keeley

Seymour Hersh Reveals Rumsfeld Misled Congress over Abu Ghraib; How Gen. Taguba was Forced to Retire

Seymour Hersh Reveals Rumsfeld Misled Congress over Abu Ghraib; How Gen. Taguba was Forced to Retire over his Critical Abu Ghraib Report; and the Site of Another Secret U.S. Prison (Mauritania)

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007


Over three years ago, Seymour Hersh exposed the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib in an article largely based on a leaked report by Major General Antonio Taguba. Now Taguba has spoken to Hersh in his first interview since being forced to retire. Taguba reveals that he was blocked from investigating who ordered the abuse at Abu Ghraib and how more pictures and video exist showing the torture. [includes rush transcript - partial]


New details have emerged in the Abu Ghraib scandal -- and with them new questions that reach right to the top. In his first interview since leading the Pentagon's investigation into Abu Ghraib, Major General Antonio Taguba says he was forced to retire because his report was too critical of the U.S. military. He says the military has unpublished photographs and videos that show the abuse and torture was even worse than previously disclosed. That includes video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee, and information of the sexual humiliation of a father and his son.

Taguba says he was blocked from investigating who ordered the torture at Abu Ghraib. In May of 2004, he indicated where that may have led him when he was questioned by Senator John Warner of Virginia and Senator Carl Levin of Michigan.

  • Gen. Taguba, testifying in May of 2004.
The new details of General Taguba's story were revealed by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in this week's issue of The New Yorker Magazine. Hersh first exposed the Abu Ghraib scandal three years ago. His latest article is called: “The General”s Report --How Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one of its casualties.” Seymour Hersh joins me now from Washington, DC.

AMY GOODMAN: New details have emerged in the Abu Ghraib scandal

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Chris Keeley

U.S. Values Iraqi Life At $2,500

U.S. Values Iraqi Life At $2,500
Meanwhile a new government report has raised questions over a U.S. military program to offer financial payments to Iraqis affected by the war. The report found that the military offers a maximum of $2,500 to families of Iraqis civilians killed as a result of U.S. forces. The U.S. offers the same amount of money to Iraqis if their car is destroyed because of U.S. actions.

Iraq Ranked Second Most Unstable Nation In World
A new survey by Foreign Policy Magazine has determined Iraq is the second most unstable country in the world, behind Sudan. Afghanistan was ranked eighth in the annual Failed States Index.

Hundreds of Thousands of White House Emails Destroyed
House investigators have learned that the Bush administration has routinely violated federal laws by using private email accounts for official business. At least 88 White House officials have Republican National Committee email accounts and House investigators say hundreds of thousands of these emails may have been destroyed. President Bush's top adviser Karl Rove sent or received 140,000 emails on his RNC account. According to House investigators, the RNC has preserved only 130 e-mails sent to Rove during Bush's first term and no e-mails sent by Rove prior to November 2003, including the period in the lead up to the Iraq war. Congressman Henry Waxman accused the Bush administration of completely disregarding the Presidential Records Act.

Scrutiny Increases Over Bush's Use of Signing Statements
A new government study has revealed that federal officials have disobeyed several new laws that President Bush challenged by issuing signing statements. According to the Boston Globe, the report provides the first evidence that the government may have acted on claims by Bush that he can set aside laws under his executive powers. President Bush has used signing statements to challenge more than 1,100 sections of bills -- more than all previous presidents combined. Virginia Sloan, of the Constitution Project, condemned the president's use of signing statements. Sloan said: "This report should put to rest any doubts as to the real impact of signing statements. The Constitution does not bestow upon the president the power to simply ignore portions of laws he doesn't like." The Congressional study did not cover any of President Bush's most controversial claims such as his assertion that he can set aside a torture ban and new oversight provisions in the USA Patriot Act because he is the commander in chief.

Court: Gov't Needs Warrant to Search Emails
Civil liberties advocates are hailing a new federal appeals court ruling that determined that the government can not secretly search emails without a warrant. The appeals court said protecting emails is "as important to Fourth Amendment principles today as protecting telephone conversations has been in past." The government has contended that e-mails stored with service providers could be seized without warrants.

Vietnamese Agent Orange Victims Argue Case In NYC Court
Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange appeared in a New York courtroom on Monday to argue that U.S. chemical companies should be held accountable for manufacturing the toxin. One of the plaintiffs, Nguyen Van Quy, said he has suffered from cancer and two of his children had birth defects.

  • Nguyen Van Quy: "I am here as a living evidence to tell the people in the court that dioxin really has a negative impact on human beings as well as the environment."

U.S. warplanes dumped about 18 million gallons of Agent Orange during the Vietnam war. Constantine Kokkoris is one of the attorneys representing the Vietnamese plaintiffs.

  • Constantine Kokkoris: "It poisoned an entire country. Even though the effect of that poison was latent, it took a long time to manifest in some cases, it's still poisoning nonetheless. It's basically like dropping an atom bomb during a war and then having people affected by radiation for the next 30 years. That's illegal under international law and we hope that they're going to see that point."

The Vietnamese government says more than three million people have been disabled by Agent Orange. But the United States maintains there is no scientifically proven link between the wartime spraying and the disabilities. Attorney Jonathan Moore disputed the claims of the U.S. government.

  • Jonathan Moore: "Well, we spent three and a half hours listening to issues about agent orange and fully vetted our belief that what these companies did during the war was a violation of international law because they used poison and because it was unnecessary and unjustified under any standard. Hopefully, the court will agree with this and let us go forward."