Rumsfeld Testifies Before House Armed Services Committee
This is FM 34-52. That's what it says.
And it also puts our soldiers and allied personnel at risk.
This is the book. This is what the book says. And the book apparently was ignored or not read or people were not trained in it. Or, as my colleague from New Mexico pointed out, under FRAGO 1108, issued on 19 November 2003, the lines that discriminated between M.I. personnel and M.P. personnel were blurred.
SIMMONS: Now, I also went through the report, not the one with the annexes but the one with the basic text, and what I see in the 800th M.P. Brigade is a unit with low morale, no posted SOPs, no METL, poor training, no discipline, no saluting.
And when the M.I. folks said we need to salute, the brigadier general said no, we're not going to salute. No strictness on uniform and no corrective actions. And it seems to me that under those circumstances that general should have been relieved, but my guess is that the FRAG order was issued to bring some of her M.P.s under the control of the M.I. so that the M.I. could get what they wanted out of the situation.
And then I look at the recommendations for punishment for the general, for the lieutenant colonel, promotable, for Colonel Pappas and for the others -- relieved of command, reprimands.
And I guess my question goes to two things: When you discover that you have a senior officer who's not getting it done, why don't you just get rid of them, send them home; not move the system around so that M.I. and M.P. are blurred because we know that's not the way it's supposed to be and we know that's what the regulations say should not be done?
And are people really going to be convinced of our seriousness about the leadership problems in the chain of command?
SIMMONS: If it's the enlisted personnel -- and I served as an enlisted person for three and a half years -- if it's the enlisted who had their hands on the prisoners that are going to get the court martials, and the majors and the lieutenant colonels and the colonels and the brigadier generals are going to essentially get a reprimand and off they go, is that the message that we want to be sending out at this point in time?
RUMSFELD: I guess that's a question that is difficult for each of us to answer, because of the problem of command influence.
The investigations are open, criminal and otherwise. They are proceeding. Each level, as I understand the process, and as you know, has an opportunity to review. And for those of us here in senior positions of responsibility to be commenting on the nature of the decisions that have been made at the lower levels would be -- could have an unintended consequence.
SIMMONS: I thank you for that answer, and I respect the situation you're in.
Let me just ask you this: Do you understand what my concern is?
RUMSFELD: I do.
SIMMONS: Thank you.
HUNTER: I thank the gentleman.
The gentlelady from California, Ms. Tauscher.
TAUSCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, General Myers, Secretary Brownlee, General Schoomaker, General Smith, it's been a long day. And I know that it's been uncomfortable for many of you as it has been for us. I think a lot's been made of the pictures and I think the pictures certainly were a gut punch for many of us.
TAUSCHER: But I'd like to talk for a second about the fact that I believe you, Mr. Secretary, when you say that while there's a criminal investigation going on it's very difficult because of the necessary protections one has to afford people that are under alleged crimes and under alleged criminal activity and potential prosecution that, you know, evidence and things like that need to be protected.
But I guess I wonder, were there no other sources or ways to know that there was a real problem?
And I look at that time line over there and I find it interesting that the October to December '03 alleged detainee abuse occurred, and I look above that and I see that basically from May/June until -- thank God for Specialist Darby -- basically where would we be today without Specialist Darby?
It confounds me that there was no other way for us to know that there were problems.
Where was the International Red Cross? Where were the humanitarian organizations? Where was the Red Crescent?
Mr. Secretary, there was no other way for you to find this out? You were not aware of concerns offered by the Red Cross?
There are press reports today that the Red Cross and other human rights organizations were talking to Secretary Powell, Dr. Rice and others in 2003, before Specialist Darby came forward. And if their concerns had been addressed, if they had a proper hearing, perhaps we wouldn't be in a situation right now where we have parallel criminal investigations going on, where we can't speak to issues, and maybe we could have addressed this a lot sooner.
RUMSFELD: The International Committee of the Red Cross visits all of the facilities that the Department of Defense has. They have been doing so since the outset. They have made a series of comments on each of their visits.
RUMSFELD: Those comments have been addressed by the Department of Defense, by the commands that have the responsibility for managing detainees.
And it has been an ongoing relationship. They take their reports. They give them to the local commander. They also periodically visit the White House. They visit the Department of State. They visit the Department of Defense and provide their concerns, and the concerns get addressed.
It's a continuing process. It goes on and on and on.
The implication that there was some pocket of information in the Department of State or in the White House that wasn't available to the Department of Defense and hadn't been addressed by the command, it seems to me, is a misunderstanding, notwithstanding how it's being written in the press.
Do you want to comment, General Smith?
TAUSCHER: Actually, before you do that...
RUMSFELD: He's the one who received the report.
TAUSCHER: But you're telling us that you never heard of any suspected abuse prior to Specialist Darby coming forward in January of '04?
RUMSFELD: I have to think. There had been other charges of abuse at different locations around the world. It happens from time to time.
TAUSCHER: But you heard of no terrible abuse or questions of criminal behavior...
RUMSFELD: In Abu Ghraib...
TAUSCHER: In Abu Ghraib prior to Specialist Darby coming forward?
RUMSFELD: I recall no -- an indication to you, Dick?
MYERS: No, sir.
RUMSFELD: To you, Steve?
Yes. He just said what I said, that we had continuing reports of troubles in various places, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, but that in terms -- nothing of the scope that you're talking about here.
TAUSCHER: So they were not taking seriously -- they -- it was the pictures, then, you're suggesting, that (inaudible) everybody?
RUMSFELD: No, I'm not. No, I'm not.
Of course they're taken seriously. They're taken seriously. There are 18,000 criminal investigations opened a year in the Department of Defense.
RUMSFELD: You would not open them if you did not take them seriously. They are the responsibility of the commands.
General Smith is the deputy combatant commander for the command. I think he should comment on this.
L. SMITH: We did get the ICR, International Red Cross report. Now, you know that that's not releasable information because of the relationship between the people that they investigate or that they visit. And so we can't, theoretically, talk about exactly the things that they saw.
But that report was received. The 800th M.P. Brigade commander responded to that. Whether the response was adequate or not, I can't tell you, but then the ICRC came back and visited 4 through 8 January. And the indications from there was that there were improvements. And it's a continuing system of improvements.
And so the interesting thing about the October one is it was a no-notice visit, and they didn't debrief anybody on the way out. So no action could be taken or respond to it until they submitted the formal report, which was significantly later.
So the 800th M.P. Brigade command response was not until the 24th of December. But they obviously improved sufficient that they got a better report card in the January visit.
TAUSCHER: Could that have been because they weren't there at night?
L. SMITH: Possible.
TAUSCHER: Thank you.
HUNTER: I thank the gentlelady.
The gentleman from Oklahoma, Mr. Cole.
COLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that.
Before we begin, I just wanted to, frankly, thank each one of you for your service. You've collectively spent your lives -- and, Mr. Secretary, you in more capacities than almost anybody I could imagine serving your country.
And I appreciate that. I think everybody here respects your patriotism, collectively and individually, and your professionalism, and, frankly, your professional integrity.
COLE: And this is a very sad and difficult day for us; I can't imagine what it is for you. And I just felt like that needed to be said.
Having said that, I want to make one other comment before I get to my questions -- or make two other points.
One, it was mentioned earlier that the response, once this came up, was timely and thorough. And I think that's true, but only to a point. I think it's very true with respect to, as soon as people knew what was happening, criminal investigations began, people started looking at it, actions were taken.
But I think the department, frankly, was extraordinarily slow in understanding the implications of what was going on, and what that was going to do to public support for this effort in this country, what it was going to do to our efforts to win support in Iraq, and what it was going to do with respect to our enemy.
I mean, we shouldn't kid ourselves, this is a political and public relations Pearl Harbor. It is a disaster of enormous magnitude, and a great setback to us. And I think we were very slow to recognize that.
I would also say, and I agree with my friend Mr. Snyder, I think you were very slow in coming to your civilian counterparts, or certainly to Congress. I think we could have, and would have, been helpful.
I mean, terrible things happen in war. Awful things happen in war. But I know this country well enough to know we can't sustain conflict if it doesn't believe in the conflict that it's fighting, and it doesn't believe in the cause that it's for.
And, you know, I think we could have helped in that regard, and explained that. And I would hope, as we move forward, that you keep that in mind.
Having said those things, there's a couple of things I'd really like to focus on.
One, we've had these press reports, and we began to discuss them a moment ago, that we've had multiple alarm bells, not just a lot of bad things happening in one place, but a number of bad things happening in a number of different places.
And there's a big difference between those two. If we've got something that went wrong with a particular unit, a particular place, a particular time, that's one thing. If we've got a number of places where we are detaining prisoners of war, detainees of one sort or another, and there are bad things happening in all those places, then that suggests a real problem in our systems, our command personnel, our training, everything.
COLE: So I would ask you, which is it? And I'd be happy to direct -- maybe, Mr. Smith, you first, because I think you're most (inaudible). But I think that's a very important thing for us to establish, how broad is this problem?
L. SMITH: Sir, I mean, there is obviously abuse that occurs in the system from the time that somebody is captured to the time they're interned and released. Most of that occurs before arrival at the internment facility. But there are events that occur, but it is, in my view, not systemic, that they're rare events.
That's what I was trying to get at about when I described how Abu Ghraib is. I mean, at the time there were 7,000 to 8,000 detainees there, and while there were probably other levels of abuse, they were more the kind of being hooded and standing outside the facility with your arms tied behind you or something like that while they were waiting too long to get in. Nothing -- nothing -- that even begins to compare to what we see in the pictures.
COLE: Again, that is a very important point as you move forward to establish whether or not that's true because I really think the confidence that the country has, you know, will turn on that a great deal.
Second, let me ask you, I would argue and I think you've acknowledged that you were slow in informing Congress. We found out in a very unfortunate way, the American people found out in a very unfortunate way about this. Given that, when were you planning to let us know?
COLE: And how were you planning to let us know? And there's clearly, you know, a process here. But what were you thinking in terms of time line?
RUMSFELD: Well, let me walk back over it. It was announced to the public in January that there were charges of abuse. In March, he announced it again, and he listed specific indecent acts and sexual acts, and other aspects of the abuse. And that was announced to the world. It was briefed to the press in Baghdad.
RUMSFELD: It was questions on CNN here and...
COLE: I understand that, Mr. Secretary, and I'm not trying to be contrary or adversarial. But there is a big difference. I mean, you know...
RUMSFELD: Of course there is.
COLE: ... when you really want us to know something, it's amazing. We usually have a classified hearing. I'm not saying that needed to be, but...
RUMSFELD: I'll answer you.
COLE: Yes, sir.
RUMSFELD: You knew exactly what we knew, I knew. The people in the command who were running the investigations, the criminal investigations, who had access to that disc knew more. I didn't know it. The president didn't know it. You didn't know it.
The real issue is that a secret report was given to the press, and the disc, out of order. And you say, When did you plan to do this? We didn't plan it because we didn't know about it. We hadn't seen that report. We hadn't seen the disc.
COLE: And I think that's precisely, perhaps, the problem, Mr. Secretary.
COLE: Not just that it was let out, because honestly, something like this was going to get out. But why did this not get to you, I mean, with extraordinary speed? Because, I think, as you say, the minute you see it, the implications were breathtakingly obvious. But that information was in the system, that there was something badly wrong for months.
And this was not just a question of individual rights, but for months in a way that now have undercut our ability to wage this war, to be successful, the credibility of outstanding men and women. And it was not acted upon, and it was not brought to you or to us in a way in which we could help you.
And I would just hope, you know, this is -- I know this is agonizing to have to go back through this.
COLE: And I'm really trying to look forward. The most important thing to me is, one, could you figure out if it's systemic and let us work with you on it? Because if it is, we've got a big problem.
And two, how do we deal with this stuff where it doesn't break out of the blue on us in a way that really is an enormous setback to our efforts? Aside from the atrocity, the horror of this, where the individuals -- and I know you share that. I have no doubt. I mean, you're all honorable, decent men. I know you are repelled by what you saw and what occurred -- no doubt.
But we are even beyond that, as bad as that is, what has stemmed from this of national and international consequences. It's just staggering to me.
RUMSFELD: Congressman, we're trying to figure out what can be done to the process that is respectful of the defendants' rights, that does not put the Pentagon into the 18,000 criminal investigations that are going on in any one year, and yet we have the ability to find out something that is that big, that enormous, that has that potential for damage to our country.
The system currently does not provide for that. And unless somebody down below looked at it and out of the -- probably first, in the criminal investigation procedures -- looks at it and says, well, we don't give these things to anybody. This has got to be kept in the criminal prosecution -- but this is different. And I don't know how we do that, but we're going to sure try to figure out a way to do that.
COLE: Well, if I may just close with this: Let us work with you on that, because this committee is full of your friends on both sides of the aisle, I can assure you of that, and believes in what you're trying to do and trusts your personal integrity.
And part of this perhaps is we've not had quite the degree of trust or dialogue back and forth that we ought to have. So let us work with you to try and achieve that objective.
COLE: Again, thank you for you service. I can't say -- I know this is a tough, tough day, and you've earned everybody's respect in this country and certainly on this committee.
HUNTER: I thank the gentleman.
The ranking member had a comment.
SKELTON: I'd like to follow up with an observation based on Ms. Tauscher's line of questioning and now Mr. Cole's questions.
You know, if Private Jones down in the 2nd Platoon lost his helmet, no one's going to pay much attention to that. If Private Jones down in the 2nd Platoon lost his rifle, that's going to go up the chain of command to goodness knows where, probably with someone with stars on his or her shoulders.
This is very much like losing a weapon, not just an ordinary piece of equipment.
I know there are a lot of court martials out there, but there's some that are so explosive strategically that they ought to go up the chain of command, at least the potential of it.
I would hope that there would be some established procedure should these things come to pass in the future, because this is an absolute nightmare for everyone involved -- our country, our soldiers, the Iraqi people.
And I would hope along that line there could be a recognition of the potential strategic court martials that have such an impact.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
HUNTER: I thank the gentleman.
The gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Langevin.
LANGEVIN: Rhode Island, Mr. Chairman.
HUNTER: Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Langevin, I'm sorry, Rhode Island.
LANGEVIN: It's been a long day, but thank you, Mr. Chairman.
HUNTER: The distinguished gentleman from Rhode Island, Mr. Langevin.
LANGEVIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. But we're very close with Connecticut.
Let me just thank you, gentlemen, for being here. It's been a long day.
I share my colleagues' outrage at this entire situation. It has done an enormous amount of damage to the credibility of this nation, and it's going to take us years to recover from it.
LANGEVIN: It's done great damage to us achieving the mission in Iraq, and I have been of the opinion that the success in Iraq is by no means assured, although we know that failure is not an option, and this is going to make it measurably more difficult to achieve the mission of establishing a functioning democracy in Iraq.
What I want to know as we go forward from this point forward, how do we repair the damage to our credibility as a nation on the issue of human rights? How do we criticize other nations on their human rights violations?
How does the president of the United States speak with credibility on human right violations of other nations when he's meeting with foreign leaders? What advice are you going to give him to be able to do that with any sense of credibility, especially in the Arab world on this particular issue and winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people?
The overwhelming majority -- I want to be on record, too, as acknowledging the overwhelming majority of our men and women in uniform are doing an outstanding job. I've traveled to Iraq and I had the opportunity to visit with our soldiers and I know the pride that they share in the professionalism of their service and their dedication to the mission.
They've been tarnished by all this. They're owed an apology not only by the individuals who committed these acts, but the way this whole thing was bungled in terms of its handling -- informing the world and particularly the Congress, because it could have been done better.
Mr. Secretary, I'm looking at this chart, this elaborate chart, and the one thing I don't see on there is the specific date in which you and General Myers actually became aware that something like this existed.
LANGEVIN: And I'd like that clarified, if I could, for the record. I know that we've touched on it, but the specific date -- and I also want to know what efforts were taken by -- I see there was a -- on the 16th of January, that General Kimmitt notified reporters, but what did he or others do in terms of taking the specific steps to run this up the flagpole as high to the Pentagon as it could possibly go?
I'd like some answers to those questions.
RUMSFELD: Well, let me see if I can -- I cannot be certain of this. My memory's not perfect. But my first recollection of being aware of the abuses was in the context of the announcement that was made by the Central Command that they had someone who had provided information about possible abuses in that prison. That would have been in the mid-January period.
The first time I was aware of this report, I believe, was after it had been given to the media. It had still basically been in the Central Command chain.
The first time I was aware of the photos was when somebody said -- rumored that there were photos connected with the allegations of abuse in the prison. And that would have been some time between January 16th and the "60 Minutes" show.
At that next point, there were a few pictures made available that had been doctored to make them less sensitive.
The first time I saw the disc was last night at 7:30 at night.
And I have now still never seen the videos nor have I seen the remainder of possibly a second disc, which I'm told today may exist.
RUMSFELD: I believe you're roughly the same time period.
MYERS: The same time frame. I remember, I did a little research, and I can't tell you the exact date, but it was in the 13th or 14th of January time frame, maybe the 15th, certainly before General Kimmitt's going to the media, or General Abizaid, we talk to him once a day, once every other day, depends on what's going on, and he informed us of this, and that was -- he informed us of basically the same thing that General Kimmitt said, "Hey, there's reports of abuse," or, "reports of pictures. Here's what basically the pictures might show. This is a big deal."
And so we knew that back then. And then he outlined the steps that were being taken.
RUMSFELD: I'm told that there was some notification that came up in the connection with the announcement that was made in the Central Command, and at that time there was a reference to the fact that there were some pictures connected to it. So...
LANGEVIN: On the credibility question...
RUMSFELD: Pardon me?
LANGEVIN: The credibility question, where do we go from here? How do we restore our credibility on human rights, Mr. Secretary? How do you advise the president on this issue of restoring our credibility on human rights when we come to criticize other nations?
RUMSFELD: Well, when you've got 2.4 men and women in uniform -- active duty, Guard, Reserve, Selective Reserve -- they're doing a lot of wonderful things in the world. Some people did some perfectly terrible things. What happened after that? We announced it. It became public. We're having an open process. We're prosecuting the people who have done something wrong.
The world is seeing what a democracy does. The world is seeing how people who care about human rights behave.
This isn't a pattern or practice or a policy of the government as it was under Saddam Hussein. This is something totally different.
And how do we always get from one step to the next step? We live our lives as best we can, knowing we're imperfect, mistakes get made, people do bad things to people.
RUMSFELD: We see it in every state in the union, every year -- murders, rapes.
How do we restore our credibility? What we do is, we get up the next day and try to live our lives better, and we try to do a better job in government and public service. And over time truth wins out.
We have a free, open system. We've got wonderful people in this country. We're not an evil society. There's not something bad about America. America is not what's wrong with the world.
And the overwhelming majority of the people in the world know that.
I mean, why do people line up to get into this country, year after year after year? I read all this stuff -- "people hate us, people don't like us" -- the fact of the matter is, people line up to come into this country every year.
Because it's better here than other places, and because they respect the fact that we respect human beings.
And we'll get by this. I don't like it any more than you do.
MYERS: Let me just talk about the military angle of that.
We've got 37,000 folks in Korea, been there for 50 years. We've got 47,000 troops in Japan, been there for over 50 years. Over 100,000 troops in Germany.
They want us there. Occasionally, a soldier, sailor, airman, Marine missteps and we work our way through it because it's been a long, long relationship.
The world knows that the U.S. military is the best-trained, the best-led and carries American values wherever they go. And they appreciate that.
And as despicable as these events are, and as disgusting as they are to us, the fact that we're having this hearing, the fact that democracy's working, the fact that this has been in the open, the fact that as soon as we knew about it, two days later we're in front of the press, the free press, and say, "We think this may have happened. We're going to do an investigation, and we think it's going to be bad."
MYERS: The fact that we did that earns the world's respect. Certainly there are going to be some setbacks, but most of the people that we've been working with in the world understand what this armed forces is about.
And I frankly think that we'll work our way through this just fine, because 99.9999 percent of the folks that serve on active duty -- and I didn't do the math on Iraq, I was going to -- but it would be whatever it is, is not going to be dispersed by six people. It will not happen.
I just came fro a NATO meeting. I talked to the major contributors to our operations in Iraq, the other countries. They were firm in their resolve. This incident was not lessening their resolve. They want to get the mission done. And I thanked them for that.
But they're with us. They know us.
The world knows us. We're probably in 140 countries today doing -- or this past year, we've been in 140 or 150 countries doing training operations and other things. They know us. They know the true American service men and women, and they trust us and they respect us.
HUNTER: I thank the gentleman.
LANGEVIN: And thank you for your time today, and thank you for your answers.
HUNTER: I thank the gentleman from Rhode Island.
The gentleman from Georgia, Dr. Gingrey?
GINGREY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And let me at the outset tell you, Mr. Secretary, the generals, that I have a great deal of confidence in you and your leadership. And I think what we have done here today, and maybe as well on the other side, or earlier in the day, it's a question of who knew what and when did you know it?
And you have answered those questions, at least to my satisfaction.
I agree with my colleague from Arkansas, a fellow physician, Dr. Snyder, and I think you agreed with him, too, that maybe in retrospect, when you did know it, when you did know the magnitude, when you had an opportunity to look at those heinous, disgusting photographs, it probably would have been good to let us know that, too, share that with us at that time and not wait for the Congress to see it on television.
RUMSFELD: I didn't see them until last night at 7:30.
GINGREY: Yes, I understand that, Mr. Secretary. And I think that's true of General Schoomaker as well as General Myers. And I understand that completely.
General Myers, you said -- and I agree with you -- earlier, in your testimony in response to somebody's question, that no matter how much training these individuals, six or eight miscreants, may have received, there was no way you could prevent just a few to go off on a tangent, as they did.
And I agree with your statement there. And indeed, I think every Girl Scout and Boy Scout in this country, without $50,000 worth of military training, clearly would understand that.
But at the same time, I would like to associate myself with my colleague, the gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Simmons, in regard to we need to look very, very closely I think at this chain of command.
And it's a little disturbing to me, and I think other members of this committee, that we take rather harsh but appropriate action for those miscreant few and maybe a slap on the wrist of those who were maybe in a situation of command and creating a climate upon which something like this could occur.
So those are my statements.
I wanted to specifically get back to Mr. Langevin's question, because the ranking member earlier at the outset mentioned: Well, gee, you know, for one thing, we ought to go in there and bulldoze that prison and wipe it from the face of the Earth.
GINGREY: But the damage, of course, has already been done, in regard to the prison. It's like shutting the barn door after the horse has already escaped.
I would like to know, and I think Mr. Langevin was asking this question too, is there something that we specifically can do to, other than the apology that the president gave to the Iraqi people, indeed to the Arab world, the same apology that you Secretary Rumsfeld have offered; is there more specifically that we can do to undo this damage?
As an example, should we consider some kind of reparation, even, indeed, financial for these particular prisoners, these 30 or so that were subject to both physical and emotional abuse?
RUMSFELD: Congressman, we've proposed that.
In my opening statement I mentioned it and I agree with you completely. It is -- I checked. We do have the legal authority to do it. I'm going to see that we do it. It's the right thing to do. Those people were badly treated by those people.
GINGREY: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and I'm very pleased with that response.
Let me ask one last question. In regard to these prisoners, were these considered high-value prisoners or particularly violent individuals, or were they low-level who had maybe just been swept up at either combat or intelligence operation?
And does the Army have a different standard operating procedure for detaining and interrogating a high-value target as opposed to say a low-level enemy combatant?
RUMSFELD: High-value targets are generally kept at a different facility, if by high-value you mean people like Saddam Hussein and the top 55 types that we've been looking after.
GINGREY: But no different treatment? The treatment is the same?
(UNKNOWN): (OFF-MIKE) ... for each and every prisoner.
RUMSFELD: In terms of the Geneva Conventions: On the other hand, there is a difference in this sense, that the high-value targets become much more interesting from the standpoint of the interrogation process, whereas a simple low-level person is simply being kept off the street for a period.
MYERS: But the standards, the Geneva Convention standards, and the standard treatment are as prescribed in the Army manual, and those were the orders that were issued by General Sanchez, which I have a copy of here, by the way.
GINGREY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, that concludes my questions.
HUNTER: I thank the gentleman.
The gentleman from Florida, Mr. Meek.
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