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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

 
There Were No Limits

by digby


Via Salon, I see that General Geoffrey D. Ripper has skated once again. He baldfacedly lied to the congress and nothing happens. Seems there's a difference between "briefing " someone and "directly discussing" something:

The Army inspector general has concluded that Miller, who set up detention operations at Abu Ghraib just before the infamous abuse there, did brief a top Pentagon intelligence official about his work at the Iraqi prison. Miller had been accused of lying under oath to Congress in May 2004, when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he had "no direct discussions" with Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone. He later admitted to delivering a briefing to five senior Pentagon officials, including Cambone.

In a report obtained by Salon through the Freedom of Information Act, the inspector general found that the two seemingly contradictory statements were both true, a distinction that has a Senate Democrat crying foul.

"Maj. Gen. Miller's apparent position that he did not discuss the subject with Undersecretary Cambone but that he briefed Cambone on the same subject is a distinction without a difference to me," said Sen. Carl Levin, the senior Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Miller is a central player in the detainee abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib and at the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he was previously the commander. A separate Army investigation found Miller should be admonished in connection with the "degrading and abusive" treatment of so-called 20th hijacker Mohammed al-Kahtani at Guantánamo in late 2002. Miller's superior later rejected that recommendation.


Miller, you may recall, is the artillery officer who was sent in to Gitmo to "take off the gloves." He knew nothing about interrogation or prisons, but Rummy thought he was his kind of sadist. He did such a good job of torturing prisoners at Guantanamo that they sent him to Iraq when the "terrorist" Iraqis they were capturing by the thousands weren't giving over --- mostly because they were just poor schmucks who'd been captured in sweeps and knew fuck all about anything. We know what happened then.

For reasons we can only speculate about, Miller seems to be getting a lot of protection in the Pentagon. I don't suppose it could be because of this:

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was personally involved in the late 2002 interrogation of a high-value al-Qaida detainee known in intelligence circles as "the 20th hijacker." He also communicated weekly with the man in charge of the interrogation, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the controversial commander of the Guantánamo Bay detention center.

During the same period, detainee Mohammed al-Kahtani suffered from what Army investigators have called "degrading and abusive" treatment by soldiers who were following the interrogation plan Rumsfeld had approved. Kahtani was forced to stand naked in front of a female interrogator, was accused of being a homosexual, and was forced to wear women's underwear and to perform "dog tricks" on a leash. He received 18-to-20-hour interrogations during 48 of 54 days.

Little more than two years later, during an investigation into the mistreatment of prisoners at Guantánamo, Rumsfeld expressed puzzlement at the notion that his policies had caused the abuse. "He was going, 'My God, you know, did I authorize putting a bra and underwear on this guy's head?'" recalled Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt, an investigator who interviewed Rumsfeld twice in early 2005.

These disclosures are contained in a Dec. 20, 2005, Army inspector general's report on Miller's conduct, which was obtained this week by Salon through the Freedom of Information Act. The 391-page document -- which has long passages blacked out by the government -- concludes that Miller should not be punished for his oversight role in detainee operations, a fact that was reported last month by Time magazine. But the never-before-released full report also includes the transcripts of interviews with high-ranking military officials that shed new light on the role that Rumsfeld and Miller played in the harsh treatment of Kahtani, who had met with Osama bin Laden on several occasions and received terrorist training in al-Qaida camps.

In a sworn statement to the inspector general, Schmidt described Rumsfeld as "personally involved" in the interrogation and said that the defense secretary was "talking weekly" with Miller. Schmidt said he concluded that Rumsfeld did not specifically prescribe the more "creative" interrogation methods used on Kahtani. But he added that the open-ended policies Rumsfeld approved, and that the apparent lack of supervision of day-to-day interrogations permitted the abusive conduct to take place. "Where is the throttle on this stuff?" asked Schmidt, an Air Force fighter pilot, who said in his interview under oath with the inspector general that he had concerns about the length and repetition of the harsh interrogation methods. "There were no limits."


If I were Miller I wouldn't plan on taking any trips to foreign countries during my retirement. Many of them tend to be testy about sadistic war criminals.


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