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Dec 12th, 2008

U.S. Senate Report Ties Rumsfeld to Abu Ghraib Abuse

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (center) with Brigadier-General Janis Karpinski (left), who was responsible for military jails in Iraq.

By David Morgan

Dec. 11, 2008

WASHINGTON — Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior U.S. officials share much of the blame for detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, according to portions of a report released on Thursday by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The report’s executive summary, made public by the committee’s Democratic chairman Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan and its top Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, said Rumsfeld contributed to the abuse by authorizing aggressive interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay on Dec. 2, 2002.

He rescinded the authorization six weeks later. But the report said word of his approval continued to spread within U.S. military circles and encouraged the use of harsh techniques as far away as Iraq and Afghanistan.

The report concluded that Rumsfeld’s actions were “a direct cause of detainee abuse” at Guantanamo and “influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques … in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

“The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own,” the executive summary said.

“Interrogation techniques such as stripping detainees of their clothes, placing them in stress positions and using military working dogs to intimidate them appeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistan and at (Guantanamo).”

The detainee scandal at Abu Ghraib and later revelations of aggressive U.S. interrogations such as “waterboarding” led to an international outcry and charges that the United States allowed prisoners to be tortured, a claim denied by the Bush administration.

The Bush administration has since recanted the policies under pressure from Congress, while President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay.

The report found that the military derived the techniques from a Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape program, or SERE, which trains U.S. soldiers to resist enemy interrogation that does not conform to the Geneva Conventions or international law.

“These policies are wrong and must never be repeated,” McCain, who last month lost the U.S. presidential election, said in a statement released with the executive summary.

McCain said the report revealed an “inexcusable link between abusive interrogation techniques used by our enemies who ignored the Geneva Conventions and interrogation policy for detainees in U.S. custody.”

Levin said: “The message from top officials was clear. It was acceptable to use degrading and abusive techniques against detainees.”

The full report, billed as the most thorough examination of U.S. military detainee policy by Congress, remains classified.

Committee staff said the full report was approved on Nov. 20 in a unanimous voice vote by 17 of the panel’s 25 members. The panel consists of 13 Democrats and 12 Republicans.

The executive summary also traces the erosion of detainee treatment standards to a Feb. 7, 2002, memorandum signed by President George W. Bush stating that the Geneva Convention did not apply to the U.S. war with al Qaeda and that Taliban detainees were not entitled to prisoner of war status or legal protections.

“The president’s order closed off application of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment,” the summary said.

Members of Bush’s Cabinet and other senior officials participated in meetings inside the White House in 2002 and 2003 where specific interrogation techniques were discussed, according to the report.

The committee also blamed former Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers for undermining the military’s review of interrogation methods.


Abu Ghraib prison photos
Caution: Viewers may find content disturbing or offensive.


At Least 55 killed, 120 Wounded in Iraq Restaurant Bombing

Iraqi soldiers secure the entrance to the damaged “Abdullah” restaurant following a suicide bomber attack outside the northern city of Kirkuk some 225 km from Baghdad on December 11, 2008, the largest such death toll in nearly six months, officials said. (Photo credit: Marwan Ibrahim / AFP — Getty Images)

Dec. 11, 2008

BAGHDAD — A suicide bomber struck a crowded restaurant Thursday near the northern city of Kirkuk where Kurdish officials were meeting with Arab tribal leaders, killing at least 55 people and wounding about 120, police said.

It was the deadliest attack in Iraq in nearly six months and occurred at a time of rising tension between Kurds and Arabs over oil, political power and Kirkuk.

Police Brig. Gen. Sarhad Qadir, who gave the casualty figures, said the blast occurred at the upscale Abdullah Restaurant. He said the dead included at least five women and three children. …

Kirkuk, the center of Iraq’s northern oil fields, has seen fewer attacks than other regions such as Baghdad, and security tends to be lax in the primarily Kurdish area. But the city remains the focus of years of competition and political wrangling among ethnic groups with rival claims to it.

A Kurdish official said Arab tribal leaders were having lunch with members of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the Kurdish party of President Jalal Talabani, when the bombing occurred. They were to attend a meeting with Talabani after the lunch to discuss ways to defuse tensions among Arabs, Kurds and Turkomen in the Kirkuk area.

The restaurant was also packed with families celebrating the final day of the Eid al-Adha religious holiday. …

‘I saw dead bodies soaked with blood’

At the city’s main hospital, family members wept and screamed in the blood-smeared corridors as doctors tried to save lives. Many of the victims were horrifically wounded, and mangled bodies of the dead lay unattended on the emergency room floor. …

The attack was the deadliest in Iraq since June 7, when a car bomb killed 63 people in a Shiite neighborhood of Baghdad. …

Ethnic tensions over power sharing

The Kurds want to annex Kirkuk and surrounding Tamim province into their self-ruled region in northern Iraq. Most Turkomen and Arabs want the province to remain under central government control, fearing the Kurds would discriminate against them.

Iraq’s parliament exempted the Kirkuk area from next month’s provincial elections because the different ethnic groups could not agree on how to share power there.

Iraq’s constitution provides for a referendum to be held in Kirkuk to determine whether it would be annexed to the Kurdish regional administration. But the vote has been repeatedly postponed because of fears that the balloting would worsen ethnic tension.

Last July, a suicide bomber killed 25 people at a Kurdish political rally in Kirkuk. Angry bystanders stormed the headquarters of a Turkomen party, torching the building and nearby parked cars.

Conflict in Iraq video

Dozens killed in Iraq restaurant bombing (MSNBC, Dec. 11, 2008) — A suicide bomber struck a popular restaurant in northern Iraq, killing at least 55 people and wounding about 120 others.’s Dara Brown reports. (00:53)

2 Responses to “Rumsfeld Fingered on Abu Ghraib”
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