Transcript : Taguba, Cambone on Abu Ghraib Report
The president looked at a dozen more pictures of abuse, and reportedly shook his head in disgust. But the apologies, regrets and mea culpas are now history. It's back to business as usual.
And if anyone missed those subtleties, the vice president was even more direct over the weekend when he said, quote, "People ought to get off of his case and let him do his job," referring to the secretary of defense.
In other words, we should stop meddling and interfering and let them go back to running the war.
This morning illustrates the difficulty in a hearing to get beyond the words to the realities.
DAYTON: General Taguba's report and directness here today are notable exceptions, but it shows why the pictures made such a difference. They showed us the truth.
Most of the words today have managed to obscure that truth. We're told there were papers and procedures, policies and protocols. There were directives given, conditions set and everyone followed the Geneva Convention, international law, United States principles, except for a few people who did very bad things unbeknownst to anyone else, all of whom were doing what they were doing to save American lives.
So let's dispense with this and get back to our good intentions, the great progress going unreported in 95 percent of Iraq, the upcoming handoff of democracy to whoever the recipients shall be. And that's why those pictures are so disruptive because they defy that sanitizing. They can't be obscured by nondescriptions like, quote, "the inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature," close quote, which were words used to describe the forced masturbation of one detainee or the rape of another. That's why Pentagon officials are reportedly preventing the additional pictures from being publicly released.
White House communications director said that the president wants the Pentagon to, quote, "use its best judgment about the release of the photos," close quote. Well, we've seen where that best judgment has gotten us so far, and I think it's deplorable that they intend again to try to suppress the truth and all the truth from the American people.
WARNER: Senator, having worked on that question with the department, at this point in time, the decision as to public release is an ongoing review. To the best of my knowledge, as of late last night, no final decision has been made by the Department of Defense, the White House or others.
DAYTON: All right. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
If you go elsewhere -- and thank goodness for a free and vigilant press, because I don't think we would find most of this out any other way.
But there's a Red Cross report which describes patterns of excessive force used by U.S. soldiers in prisons, and not just the one subject to this investigation, but throughout the country.
The Red Cross wrote that, "ill treatment during capture was frequent, that often included pushing people around, insulting, taking aim with rifles, punching, kicking, striking which seemed to reflect a usual modus operandi and appeared to go beyond the reasonable, legitimate, proportional use of force required to apprehend suspects or restrain persons resisting arrest or capture."
The published reports say that as many as 43,000 Iraqis were detained at various times and that an estimated 90 percent of them were determined to not have any involvement in the matters that were of concern to U.S. authorities, that only 600 were turned over for prosecution, but 8,000 remain in detention now for indefinite periods of time. Although, I gather that there's now steps being taken to release all but 2,000 of them.
My time is up but I'm just going to complete here by just referring to one individual that said he was taken from a barber shop where he was getting a shave and he was beaten with pipes starting on his legs and back and moving to his head.
DAYTON: He was bleeding from his mouth and ears. He fainted. When he woke up he was in a dog's cage at a local military base. He was left naked in the cage for several days, receiving only scant food and water until soldiers hung him from a tree by his cuffed hands. "They told me they would bring my wife and hang her next to me."
I don't take any pleasure in recounting these incidents, but I take umbrage that there are still those who want to deny that they occurred to any degree or to those that want to ascribe other motives to those of us who are just trying to face up to them.
I want the United States to succeed in Iraq. I'm deeply concerned that what's occurred there is going to cause further violence that will come down on our troops who will bear the brunt of this and set back our ability to meet our objectives there.
But I don't see how that's going to be served by trying to obscure or deny what's occurring there or what has occurred there and make sure -- try to make sure it doesn't happen again, there or anywhere else in the world.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, my time has expired.
WARNER: I thank you, Senator.
CORNYN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General Taguba, Chairman Warner asked, I believe, earlier the question, "What went wrong?" And you answered, "There was a failure of leadership from the brigade level and down."
In your investigation, did you find any evidence -- any evidence whatsoever that culpability extended beyond the brigade level?
TAGUBA: No, sir, we did not. However, we did recommend, based on some evidence that we gathered of the complicity of M.I. interrogators and we recommended that that would be -- a separate investigation be provided under procedure 15 of 380-10.
CORNYN: How many individuals do you believe were involved in this abuse at Abu Ghraib?
TAGUBA: Sir, directly there were those six or seven, I believe. I know that the ongoing investigation continues under Article 32. I don't know anybody -- of any others.
In terms of those soldiers' supervisors and leaders, I illuminated that on my report, I believe there were a total of 17 that I identified.
CORNYN: So there were seven -- there was disciplinary action taken against the seven supervisors and then there was the actual criminal charges that have now been brought, I guess, against another seven, is that correct?
TAGUBA: Yes, sir. Those were the criminal investigation, you know, but I'm not involved in that whole process. But my investigation was truly administrative, to gather facts and circumstances that were related to detainee abuse and the other things that I mentioned to you earlier. Principally their leaders.
CORNYN: I asked those questions because I'm concerned that there are those who are suggesting that somehow what you have said was exceptional misconduct on the part of these guards and their superior officers was somehow the norm.
CORNYN: Indeed, there was a question asked earlier, attempting to suggest that this was the implementation of policies and procedures that are in existence at Guantanamo Bay. There was a question asked about whether Guantanamo Bay was somehow the baseline, and that now that represented the norm, and this was the logical conclusion of those policies and procedures at Guantanamo Bay.
I have to tell you that, like other members of the committee no doubt, I've travelled to Guantanamo Bay, because of my interest in the detention of the individuals there, who, of course, plan, finance and execute terrorist attacks against Americans and other innocent civilians.
And had an opportunity to meet General Jeffrey Miller, who was the commander of the joint task force at Guantanamo. And I was very impressed with the treatment, with the policies and procedures that allow the humane interrogation of detainees there.
And let me just ask you, is there any -- whether they're enemy combatants or unlawful combatants or common criminals, is there any policy that you're aware of in the United States military that allows for less than humane treatment of detainees?
TAGUBA: No, sir. Did not find that anywhere.
CORNYN: And, of course, we are concerned about the atypical conduct on the part of these individuals who committed these crimes, and those who failed to see that they got the supervision and the leadership necessary in order to avoid these crimes.
But I must add my voice to those of others that say, while we are absolutely committed to getting to the bottom of this -- and your report gets us a long way there -- and making sure that the guilty are held accountable, we can't forget the context in which all of this is taking place. And that is in a larger context of many other military troops serving honorably in Iraq, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and the need to get essential information from some of these detainees that could well protect America from the next 9/11.
CORNYN: And so, I want to commend you and the others for the wonderful service that you're performing and thank you for helping us get to the bottom of this, and I hope that we will ultimately be successful in doing so, holding those accountable who are responsible, and then making sure we focus on our greater and more important job of making sure that America is safe in this war on terror.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
WARNER: Thank you very much, Senator.
CLINTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And I want to join in thanking you, General Taguba, for your service and for this report.
You know, I don't think anyone disagrees with the last comment by my colleague that our objective is to prosecute this war on terrorism successfully and also to ensure the safety and security of our own people from future attacks. The question is whether behavior and conduct and decisions with respect to the treatment of these detainees undermines the potential success that we all agree is essential to our national security.
I am still confused, and my confusion is this: With respect to the actions that are described in your report, General Taguba, you also included a number of other problems at other detention facilities. But is it your best information that no detention facility that was in any way connected with the 800th M.P. Brigade had the level of problems that you reported in this unit at Abu Ghraib?
TAGUBA: Yes, ma'am. The scope again was within the context of those facilities that the 800th M.P. operated.
CLINTON: And the 800th M.P. Brigade was under the command of General Karpinski. Is that correct?
TAGUBA: Yes, ma'am.
CLINTON: Now, if the problems were severe and located principally in this one unit, then I think it is appropriate to follow the chain of command up to the decision to send General Miller to that prison where, as I understand the testimony thus far, he set up a specific joint interrogation unit. He did, however one wants to describe it, either coordinate or direct the M.P.s' involvement in the conditioning of the detainees.
CLINTON: Is that a correct statement, General?
TAGUBA: Yes, ma'am.
CLINTON: All right.
So it seems to me that if, indeed, General Miller was sent from Guantanamo to Iraq for the purpose of acquiring more actionable intelligence from detainees, then it is fair to conclude that the actions that are at point here in your report are in some way connected to General Miller's arrival and his specific orders, however they were interpreted, by those M.P.s and the military intelligence that were involved.
And, therefore, I for one don't believe I yet have adequate information from Mr. Cambone and the Defense Department as to exactly what General Miller's orders were, what kind of reports came back up the chain of command as to how he carried out those orders, and the connection between his arrival in the fall of '03 and the intensity of the abuses that occurred afterward.
Now, we know that General Karpinski has been rightly singled out for appropriate concern about her behavior and her failure of command.
But I just want to read to you a comment she made in an interview which I find extraordinary, and I quote, "But when I looked at those pictures and when I continued to see those pictures, I don't think that there was anything that was improperly done because this wasn't something that was a violation of a procedure. This was something they were instructed to do as a completely new procedure. I'm not sure that those M.P.s had ever been confronted with any instructions like this before."
CLINTON: General Taguba, can you explain for us the disparity between holding this brigade commander completely accountable and the comments that I just read to you in light of the fact that certainly the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade was given tactical control over that prison? Can you explain General Karpinski's comment?
TAGUBA: Yes, ma'am.
During the course of our investigation, there was clear evidence based on my interview of General Karpinski and Colonel Pappas that there was friction between those two commanders in the operation of Abu Ghraib.
The distinction was that who was in charge of when and at what time. They could not explain, so that's the context of the ambiguity of the order that was given to Colonel Pappas. It was clear that he was directed to be the forward operating base commander there for security detainees and force protection. However, General Karpinski challenged that and she noted that in her recorded testimony, point one.
I held her accountable and responsible, not exclusively and solely for the abuse cases there at Abu Ghraib, but the context of her leadership, the lack of leadership on her part overall in terms of her training, the standards, supervisory omission, the command climate in her brigade.
TAGUBA: Those are all in totality why I held her accountable and responsible now.
CLINTON: And just one last follow up, General. Did Colonel Pappas report directly to General Miller?
TAGUBA: That I did not know because General Miller was not there. He reported, I believe, to CJTF-7.
CLINTON: General Smith, do you know who Colonel Pappas reported directly to?
SMITH: Yes, ma'am, through CJTF-7.
Ma'am, General Miller had no command relationship in this at all. I mean, he came over to do an investigation and make some findings and recommendations on how to improve. Nobody reported to him. Nobody -- he had no relationship whatsoever other than to report details.
ACTING CHAIR: Thank you, Senator Clinton.
GRAHAM: Thank you, Senator.
I think they've left, but just a few minutes ago there were some foreign military officers that came to the hearing and I would just want to say for the record that I'm very proud of the fact that our military command system, civilian and military, comes out in the open -- fast, hard questions -- has to appear before the public.
And you've documented, General Taguba, some failings.
I think we're failing the country ourselves up here a bit. I think we're overly politicizing this. This should be what binds us, not what tears us apart. I think Republicans and Democrats have a different view of a lot of things, but it seems to me that investigating a prison abuse scandal, when you say you're the good guy, should pull you together, not tear you apart. And I would just hope my colleagues can understand that when you say you're the good guys, you've got to act as the good guys.
General Taguba, how long have you been in uniform?
TAGUBA: Sir, this is my 32nd year.
GRAHAM: Saddam Hussein is in our control. How would you feel if we sick dogs on him tomorrow?
TAGUBA: Sir, on Saddam Hussein?
TAGUBA: Sir, we still have to follow the tenants of international law.
GRAHAM: As much as you and I dislike him, as mean a tyrant as he is and you know he'd kill us all tomorrow, I am so proud of you.
What are we fighting for, General Taguba, in Iraq? To be like Saddam Hussein? Is that what we're fighting for?
TAGUBA: No, sir.
GRAHAM: Our standard, General Smith, can never be to be like Saddam Hussein, can it be, sir?
SMITH: No, sir.
GRAHAM: How long have you been in the service?
SMITH: 34 years.
GRAHAM: Is it OK with you if the International Red Cross comes and looks at our prisons?
SMITH: Absolutely, sir, and they should.
God bless you both.
General Taguba, it comes down to this for me. You got one prison that was run differently than other prisons. The photo we see of the detainee on the stool wired up, was that just six or seven people having a good time in a perverted way at that person's expense or was there something deeper going on there, and do you know?
TAGUBA: Sir, based on the evidence, it was six or seven people that created that type of a scenario or situation.
GRAHAM: OK, to the dog scenario where you see the detainee with two dogs, was that a couple of guards with dogs in a perverted way having a good time, or was there something else going on?
TAGUBA: No, sir. The dogs were invited in there, according to written statements and collaborated by interviews by the two M.P. guards.
GRAHAM: The way these people were stacked up in sexual positions and the sexual activity, was that just individual guards or was that part of something else going on?
TAGUBA: Sir, those actual acts, based again on interviews and statements and collaborated by the detainees' statements as well.
GRAHAM: Part of the defense that we're going to be hearing about in these courts-martial is that the people that we're charging are going to say this system that we see photographic evidence of was at least encouraged if not directed by others. Do you think that's an accurate statement?
TAGUBA: Sir, I would say that they were probably influenced by others, but not necessarily directed specifically by others.
GRAHAM: For those -- we're not going to have a seminar in military law today. But I have a different view of command influence than some people have suggested in terms of what we can disclose and how it would affect courts-martial.
There are another level of accountability in the military beyond just participating in out-of-bounds behavior, Geneva Convention or otherwise. Do you agree with me that the Uniform Code of Military Justice prevents this conduct regardless of the Geneva Convention?
GRAHAM: So, ladies and gentlemen, what we're here today is to show the world that our military is governed by the rule of law just like all of us. And having been a JAG officer for over 20 years, a prosecutor, a defense attorney, now a Reserve judge, I've got great confidence that we'll get to the bottom of this. Do you agree with that, General Smith?
SMITH: Yes, sir, I do.
GRAHAM: Now, dereliction of duty, as a concept unique to military law. Probably should apply to us in politics; a lot of us would be in trouble, probably me included if that was the case. But in the military, as a commander, it can be a criminal offense if you derelict your duty to maintain good order and discipline in a way that crosses the line, is that correct?
SMITH: Yes, sir.
GRAHAM: You interviewed a general officer. And in your report, you indicated that you thought the general officer misled you about how many times that person had been through the prison system. Is that correct?
SMITH: Yes, sir, that was collaborated by her own aide.
GRAHAM: I would suggest to you, General Taguba, that out of this investigation not only should we focus on the privates and the sergeants and the specialists who did criminal activity, but we also should have higher accountability; that if a general or officer misrepresents what they did in terms of command and control that a letter of reprimand may not be the appropriate sanction. But I will leave that discussion for others.
GRAHAM: Colonel Phillabaum -- your description of his time there was classic dereliction of duty. You have recommended a letter of reprimand for him.
CAMBONE: And a relief from command, sir, and to be removed from the promotion list.
GRAHAM: My point is that Secretary Rumsfeld should not be held accountable for the criminal activity of others. It would be unfair to any military commander, politician or otherwise to have to take a fall when people break the law and take the law into their own hands. However, those of us in responsibility do have a burden to bear.
ACTING CHAIRMAN: Senator Graham, your time has expired.
GRAHAM: Can I just end with this one thought, Mr. Chairman?
ACTING CHAIRMAN: Yes, sir.
GRAHAM: Secretary Rumsfeld has to manage the whole war. I think it would be unfair for him to take a fall if this is just a limited activity of a few people or of a prison poorly run.
At the end of the day, General Taguba, responsibility, command and otherwise, is very much a part of the military law and culture, and I appreciate what you've done to expose the failings.
Thank you very much.
ACTING CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Senator Graham.
BAYH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, gentlemen, for your presence here today.
Two quick questions for you, Mr. Cambone, and then one observation that if any of you want to react to I would appreciate it. And I apologize for moving expeditiously, but there is a vote that is about to expire.
Mr. Cambone, I'd like to follow up on the questions of some others -- I think Senator McCain started it and then it was touched upon a little bit later with regard to Ambassador Bremer's warnings.
CAMBONE: Yes, sir.
BAYH: The published reports indicate that he began raising these warnings in about August of last year. And as I understand your testimony, these were, sort of, general in nature about the overcrowding and the concern for transiting people through there and returning them to their civilian situation when they didn't need to be retained any longer.
The Red Cross report came to his attention in February or March, and you seem to imply that perhaps his warnings became more specific with regard to activities in the prison thereafter. Is that the case?
CAMBONE: With respect to the first part of your question, sir, or your statement, I believe that to be the case. That is to say I was not in communications with Ambassador Bremer or know of any statements by him specific to these...
BAYH: So in his meetings with the secretary you were never present?
CAMBONE: I did not know of those. I did know of his general concern, as you said, for the prison population.
BAYH: What about following the Red Cross report?
CAMBONE: With respect to the 2004 report, I can only tell you again what I know. And that is that there was a meeting in that time frame of February at which senior members of the CPA staff met with members of the ICRC and this report was made available. And from that there were some communications from CPA to the State Department and elsewhere with respect to these concerns.
BAYH: About these abuses.
CAMBONE: That's what I think I know.
BAYH: Did that make its way into...
CAMBONE: Sir, I did not see the ICRC report until I began working my way into this problem over the last two weeks.
BAYH: My second question involves the dispute between you and the general about who had tactical control at the prison. As I understand it, he believes that the military intelligence individuals did exert practical, tactical control and it's your opinion that they did not.
As I understand your position, the intelligence authorities were given control over the facility but not control over the individuals running the facility.
What exactly does that mean? How do you have control over a facility but not the people who are running it?
CAMBONE: The same way that...
BAYH: What? Were they in charge of the plumbing, or the...
CAMBONE: No, sir. Well -- in the same way you have a building supervisor who doesn't tell the tenants how to do their business. In other words, you do require someone who is senior in command to be able to be responsible for the facility: that is for its security from outside activity, internal security, the care and feeding of folks, all of those administrative logistics tasks that go with running a large facility.
Then there are within that facility, a number of operations and activities that take place which are under the command of other individuals. And those individuals are responsible for the exercise of command over those activities.
BAYH: Well, a layman's opinion -- General, I'd be interested in your opinion -- it seems to me the attempt here to draw this line may have contributed to the confusion of who was in charge which may have led to some of these troubles. General, is that a fair comment?
TAGUBA: Yes, sir. We followed doctrine in the context of our investigation as a matter of our base lines. We use those as references.
Doctrinally take on, as given to Colonel Pappas, was that his mission was for security of detainees and force protection. Doctrinally, if you are take on to him, he establishes priorities.
BAYH: My comment -- yes, go ahead.
CAMBONE: That doesn't go, sir, to the heart of his being able to give what would have been -- and, General, correct me -- unlawful orders to the commander of that military police battalion.
SMITH: Sir, nor did it allow him to change their mission. In other words, they're trained to a specific task. It's the person with operational control that is allowed to change how they do business and the like.
So as General Taguba said, he can change the priorities for these folks, but they still have to operate within the guidelines and the doctrine that they are trained to. So they are still cops doing cop business.
TAGUBA: Sir, there were established standards, two in fact, that were signed by Lieutenant General Sanchez that stipulated what you can and cannot do. Those were clear. However, the feeling here was that some leaders just not complied with it. They were posted for a purpose, sir. And there are certain standards that they have to follow.
BAYH: I'm confounded by a number of other things including lack of uniformity in training.
My last comment -- and this gets to the dilemma that we face repeatedly in the intelligence arena, Mr. Chairman -- and that is the following.
Timely and accurate intelligence information is essential to our protecting our troops, civilians, winning the war against this insurrection and the larger war against terrorism. At the same time, preserving our honor and our moral integrity is also vitally important in the longer term to winning this struggle, because that at the end of the day is what differentiates us from those with whom we fight.
Now, it seems to be that there -- you've laid out to all of you in your testimony -- we begin taking our instructions about how do you draw the line? How do you draw the line between vigorous but acceptable interrogation versus morphing into abuse?
BAYH: We start with the Geneva Convention and general principles. I think, Mr. Cambone, you then used the terms, "approved interrogation techniques, of which there were 20 or 30," so we try to refine that general guidance into more specific guidance. Then exceptions are allowed at the behest or the direction of the commander, who I assume, in this case, would have been General Sanchez; is that correct? I assume he didn't authorize any exceptions. No.
That's the process that we go through in trying to determine where the line is, what you can do and what you can't do.
And I'd just like to conclude by saying, I think it is absolutely critical that we enforce the line as we defined it, vigorously, hold those who crossed it to account to show that we don't tolerate this kind of thing.
But let's learn the lessons of the past as well. We are currently trying to overcome some past intelligence abuses -- 20, 30 years ago -- and our reaction to those abuses that have hamstrung us in the covert arena and otherwise.
So let's draw the line bright and clear, let's institute training, lets hold commanders who don't insist that the line be followed to account, as well as the foot soldiers.
But let's not throw the baby out with the bath water, because gaining the access to appropriate information is also important as we also preserve our moral integrity and our honor.
CAMBONE: Thank you for that, Senator.
And if I may say, in trying to answer the committee's questions today on these issues, if any way I suggested that if we find that there was misconduct or misbehavior or inappropriate behavior on the part of anyone associated with the military intelligence side of this, which General Fay is now looking at today, I can assure you and other members of this committee that we will be back here and we will tall you that.
ACTING CHAIRMAN: Thank you Senator Bayh.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thanks to the witnesses.
In absentia, I wanted to thank Chairman Warner and Senator Levin for the speed and intensity with which they've convened this series of hearings.
And to thank you, gentlemen, for being here.
LIEBERMAN: I mean, we've got a real challenge here, which is to deal with this inhumane, immoral, unacceptable, un-American behavior that happened in this prison -- and maybe others, I want to ask some questions about that -- and to do it as quickly as we can so that we can get back to fighting the war on terrorism; and to do it in so comprehensive and aggressive a way that we do not allow, or even facilitate unintentionally, the erosion of public support in this country for the critically important mission our troops are performing in Iraq and the broader war against terrorism.
And that's why I appreciate these hearings.
In that regard, I think the comprehensiveness of our investigation -- yours, really -- is critically important.
And General Taguba, I just want to make clear, when you were asked to investigate you were asked to investigate conditions at Abu Ghraib and two of the other most populated prison facilities in Iraq, is that correct?
TAGUBA: Yes, sir, with matters related to training, standards and internal policies and the like -- yes, sir.
LIEBERMAN: Are there other prison facilities in Iraq beyond those three, therefore, that have not been reviewed? Or are they being reviewed now for conduct that we're concerned about?
TAGUBA: Sir, I did not go beyond the four that I looked at during the course of the investigation and I believe a subsequent investigation by the Army inspector general conducted that following my investigation. They looked at other facilities.
LIEBERMAN: Is that General Ryder's investigation? It's another investigation.
CAMBONE (?): No, sir, there's an independent investigation put in train by the acting secretary of the Army that covers all -- as I understand it -- not only facilities in Iraq but in Afghanistan as well.
LIEBERMAN: That was my next question -- Afghanistan as well.
TAGUBA: That's ongoing, Senator.
LIEBERMAN: That is ongoing...
TAGUBA: Yes, sir.
LIEBERMAN: ... in the sense that it predates this scandal?
TAGUBA: No, sir. It was directed and it continues today. They are still...
LIEBERMAN: So that -- I got you. So that -- would it be fair for you to say, through us, to the American people, that we are essentially looking everywhere throughout the American military prison system to make sure that nothing like what happened at the Abu Ghraib Prison is occurring anywhere else?
CAMBONE: I'd have to look at the specific charge that the Department of Army I.G. was given, but I believe that to be the case. Certainly, they are looking -- well, go ahead.
SMITH: With respect to the CENTCOM AOR and the handling of prisoners there and the terrorists who are in detention, the secretary of defense has asked the secretary of the Navy to take a look, as well, at Charleston and other places where there may be internees.
LIEBERMAN: OK, that's very important.
Let me come back, and obviously you will continue to report to us on the conclusions of those investigations.
I had an exchange with Secretary Rumsfeld on Friday that reverberated in my own mind over the weekend. I think one of the other senators may have asked one of you a question about this and it is about the relevance of the Geneva Convention to the prisoners being held in Iraq.
I had read various statements by the secretary and others that confused me on this because I didn't think the Geneva Convention was being applied precisely to detainees, and in response to -- in Iraq -- and my question on Friday, Secretary Rumsfeld said "The president announced from the outset that everyone in Iraq who was a military person and was detained is a prisoner of war. Therefore, the Geneva Conventions apply."
And second, continuing with the secretary's statement, "The decision was made that civilians or criminal elements that are detainees are also treated subject to the Geneva Convention although it is a different element of it."
At an earlier point, in an interview he did on television, he -- and this is I think what was asked before, he said that they're not entitled to the Geneva Convention -- oh, I'm sorry. Here it is. "The decision was made that the Geneva Convention did not precisely apply but that every individual would be treated as though the convention did apply."
So, first off, my staff can't find the statement that the president made announcing that policy. And Secretary Cambone, I'd ask you...
CAMBONE: Sir, I'd be happy to get that for you. And I'm happy to ask the secretary this afternoon what, indeed, he had in mind in that expression. Senator Levin asked that question earlier. And I will ask him. I will get you an answer.
LIEBERMAN: I would appreciate that.
And as part of that -- and I'd ask General Taguba or General Smith to respond to this part of it -- how do we -- there's a report in one of the papers today, based on an International Red Cross report, that 70 to 90 percent of the detainees, according to the Red Cross, were captured without solid evidence of their guilt. And the numbers are large.
Is there a process for determining, considering what Secretary Rumsfeld said on Friday, who is a prisoner of war and who is a detainee? Who is military, and therefore treated as a prisoner of war, who's a detainee, and therefore who gets the higher level of rights legally?
CAMBONE: We have, at the moment, very few, as I recall, enemy prisoners of war left in the system. What we have primarily are those who have posed a threat to the security of the coalition forces, the Iraqi government, the Iraqi people, or others who may have committed crimes or one kind or another against Iraqi citizens.
There are some of those latter, who are, as I understand it, in custody and being in the custody of Iraqi security police and things of that sort. And they are in a process, to be brought forward before an Iraqi judicial process, which itself is slowly and painfully standing up.
LIEBERMAN: OK, so my final question. I think my time's up, maybe I should ask you to bring it back to the Pentagon and then respond, if you could -- is the status which is -- because as I read the Geneva Convention, I think the detainees have rights under the convention. They're a lot lower than the rights of prisoners of war. So I'm confused by what seems to be the policy that Secretary Rumsfeld articulated on Friday, that though they're not entitled to the rights of Geneva, that we're giving it to them.
CAMBONE: Yes, sir. Well, I will take one more step on behalf of my general counsel. And I will offer you him for a period of time to come by and brief you and other senators, as you might wish, Mr. Chairman, on precisely how this has unfolded, and so that there is no confusion left in the committee or in the American people about where we stand on the confusion.
LIEBERMAN: I appreciate that.
Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
WARNER: And thank you, Senator.
I will be discussing with the secretary of defense and others the other witnesses that I think should come before the committee. And I'm considering the general counsel, given his expertise in this area. So we'll do that.
CAMBONE: Yes, sir.
WARNER: And again, I wish to thank the secretary of defense, through you, Mr. Secretary, for the cooperation in putting together this series of hearings that we're holding today.
I would ask now, do you or any other witness have a response to a question, or wish to make any added statement before we close out this morning's record?
CAMBONE: Sir, I ordinarily begin my presentations here by saying that it's a pleasure. This is not. It is a duty and a responsibility. We take it seriously. We will get to the bottom of this.
Moreover, I would like to thank you for your courtesies. They are important to all of us who are grappling with a very difficult problem. And in the end, we will answer this committee's questions, and those of the other committees of the Congress, to the best of our knowledge, with as much knowledge as we have at the time we are asked the question.
And, sir, therefore, I say to you, if we read through this record and we find we have a mistake -- I have misspoken on a convention or I have told you something about command relationships that is incorrect -- I would beg your indulgence to allow us to correct that record as quickly and as accurately as we can, and make any changes known to every member of the committee when we do so.
WARNER: And I thank you for that offer, and it will be done.
This afternoon, we'll be having Lieutenant General Keith B. Alexander -- he's the deputy chief of staff G-2, United States Army, handling intelligence matters -- Major General Ronald L. Burgess Jr., director for intelligence, J-2, of the joint staff; and Major General Thomas J. Romig, judge advocate general of the United States Army.
If there are no other comments, I thank my colleagues for the sincerity, the tremendous time that each of them are putting in to prepare for this hearing.
And I think it has been a very successful hearing and I thank you Secretary Cambone, General Smith and General Taguba.
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