- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 11, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Excerpts of opening remarks from Defense Undersecretary Stephen Cambone and Army Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, as transcribed by EMediaMillWorks Inc.:

Mr. Cambone: Before going further, let me say 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, and we didn’t do that. That was wrong. And I associate myself without reservation to the sentiments expressed by the secretary.

To those Iraqis mistreated by the U.S. armed forces, I offer my deepest apology. It was un-American and it was inconsistent with the values of our nation. …

So first, with respect to the application of the Geneva Convention 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. …

Nevertheless, there clearly was a breakdown in following Geneva Convention procedures at Abu Ghraib, and we are in the process, as you know, of investigating why that happened. …

Early in the war on terrorism, long before the war in Iraq, the president made a determination that the Geneva Convention did not apply to al Qaeda detainees. That decision was made because the Geneva Conventions govern conflicts between states and al Qaeda is not a state, much less a signatory of the convention. Moreover, the conventions forbid the targeting of civilians and require that military forces wear designated uniforms to distinguish them from noncombatants. …

The notion that this decision in some way undermined the Geneva Convention 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 Convention. Far from disrespect, the decision was made out of a notion of respect. …

Second, Major General [Geoffrey] Miller’s recommendations: Major General Miller was sent to Iraq — it was late August of ‘03.

Based on his experience with the flow of information gained by interrogation at Guantanamo Bay, he was sent under Joint Staff auspices, and as I said on Friday before this committee, with my encouragement to 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 [Lieutenant] General [Ricardo] Sanchez — 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 and military intelligence personnel, both of whom serve different functions, to act in a fashion such that the one, military police, did not undermine the efforts of the other, military intelligence, to discover during interrogation information that was important to coalition forces and to the lives of Iraqi civilians. …

I believe we can repair the damage done to our credibility in the region.

Gen. Taguba: I am Major General Antonio Taguba, the deputy commanding general for support, Army Central Command and Combined Forces Land Component Command, that is headquartered in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

On 24 January 2004, I was directed by Lieutenant General David McKiernan, the commanding general, ARCENT/CFLCC, to conduct an investigation into the allegations of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison, which is also known as the Baghdad Central Confinement Facility. …

The purpose of the investigation with specific instructions were as follows: First, inquire into all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the recent allegations of the detainee abuse, specifically allegations of maltreatment at the Abu Ghraib Prison.

Second, inquire into detainee escapes and accountability lapses as reported by CJTF-7, specifically allegations concerning these events at the Abu Ghraib Prison. Third, investigate the training, the standards, employment, command policies, internal procedures, and command climate in the 800 MP Brigade as appropriate.

And finally, make specific findings of facts concerning all aspects of this investigation and make recommendations for corrective action as appropriate.

Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican: I’m probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment. The idea that these prisoners — you know, they’re not there for traffic violations. … These prisoners, they’re murderers, they’re terrorists, they’re insurgents. Many of them probably have American blood on their hands.

And here we’re so concerned about the treatment of those individuals. And I hasten to say yeah, there are seven bad guys and gals that didn’t do what they should have done. They were misguided, I think maybe even perverted, and the things that they did have to be punished. And they’re being punished. …

But I’m also outraged by the press and the politicians and the political agendas that are being served by this, and I say political agendas because that’s actually what is happening. …

But what about some 300,000 troops have been rotating through all this time and they have — all the stories of valor are there.

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