Friday, May 07, 2004

Rummy highlights:

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...


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.

MCCAIN: I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I call bullshit on rumsfeld's claim. See Taguba Report, Recommendations:

4 (U) That detention facility commanders and interrogation facility commanders ensure that appropriate copies of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War and notice of protections be made available in both English and the detainees’ language and be prominently displayed in all detention facilities. Detainees with questions regarding their treatment should be given the full opportunity to read the Convention.

Boils down to: regulations weren't posted.

KENNEDY: I know that Secretary Brownlee referred to this.

In particular, in December of 2002, military doctors at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan ruled that two Afghan men in U.S. custody died from blunt force injuries. No one in the military has been held accountable for those homicides.

You and your senior leadership have shown, I believe, a disregard for the protection of the Geneva Conventions in detainee operations. In January, 2002, you were asked why you believe the Geneva Conventions do not apply to detainees in Guantanamo. You replied that you did not have the slightest concern about their treatment, in light of what has occurred in 9/11.

According to the New York Times, you have known about the graphic photographs, evidence of abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison since mid- January. You told President Bush about these reports of abuse shortly thereafter. And yet, rather than work with Congress to deal with the problem together, you and other top Defense Department officials have apparently spent the last three weeks in preparing the public relations plan.

Can you tell us what exactly did you tell the president about these reports of abuse in late January, and what did he say, and what did you do about it, and why month after month after month had to pass before anything has happened and then we find out that the pictures came out and that the president is indeed angry?

RUMSFELD: First, Senator Kennedy, your statement that other agencies of government were concerned about detainees and the Department of Defense failed to act is simply not correct.

KENNEDY: This wasn't brought to your attention by the secretary of the State Department?

RUMSFELD: I'll respond. I did not say that. I said your statement that the Department of Defense...

KENNEDY: Well, it was brought to you then by the State Department. We don't want to parse words.

KENNEDY: Was this brought to you by the State Department? I mentioned Secretary Powell. Question is whether this was brought to you and when did you know. When did you know it?

You gave us a laundry list in your presentation about the timeline on it. I'm trying to find out, because it has been published, that you were notified about this a series of times and advised to do something about it and nothing was done.

RUMSFELD: It's not correct to say "Nothing was done." You're making a set of conclusions that are just simply not accurate.

We've had numerous discussions, interagency, on detainees. All in all, there have been some 43,000 people who were captured or detained in Iraq, of whom 31,850 have already been released. That is a big task for the Army to undertake. The...


RUMSFELD: ... the actions of the ICRC -- you said they came in and indicated concerns about the Abu Ghraib prison. That's correct. And the prison officials began the process of making corrections and the general's report -- Taguba -- found that a number of those things were already under way, in terms of corrections. And when he made his study, a number of additional things and corrections were made.

So it seems to me that the ICRC report was helpful, and that the military command, as I understand it, undertook a series of corrections.

Now, with respect to when were we knowledgeable of this, the situation was this: Specialist Darby told the CID that he had information about abuses in the prison. I believe it was on the 13th or 14th of January.

RUMSFELD: By the 15th or 16th, an investigation had been initiated. And the Central Command public affairs people went out and told the world -- they told everyone in the world that there were allegations of abuse and they were being investigated.

Again, by mid-March, when some criminal -- I don't know the legal term but -- some criminal actions were initiated, the Central Command's public affairs people went out again and announced that not only were there allegations of abuses but they listed the types of abuses. And then this is to the world. Everyone knew it. CNN was there asking questions.

And that is the time frame when General Myers and I were meeting with the president and discussed the reports that we had obviously heard because they weren't hiding anything. They disclosed it to the world.
You'll find that this tactic changes. Rumsfeld refers to CNN's January report as "released to the world, everyone knew" but later will assert the report was secret, no one knew about it. I believe this is during the Clinton questioning.

Joe Lieberman, not content to have people simply think he's an asshole, opens up his mouth and proves it:
LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Secretary, the behavior by Americans at the prison in Iraq is, as we all acknowledge, immoral, intolerable and un-American. It deserves the apology that you have given today and that have been given by others in high positions in our government and our military.

I cannot help but say, however, that those who were responsible for killing 3,000 Americans on September 11th, 2001, never apologized. Those who have killed hundreds of Americans in uniform in Iraq working to liberate Iraq and protect our security have never apologized.

LIEBERMAN: And those who murdered and burned and humiliated four Americans in Fallujah a while ago never received an apology from anybody.

So it's part of -- wrongs occurred here, by the people in those pictures and perhaps by people up the chain of command.

But Americans are different. That's why we're outraged by this. That's why the apologies Joe, Iraq and 9/11 are two different things. Stop tying the two together.