By Josh White and Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, June 17, 2007
The Army two-star general who led the first investigation into detainee abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq believes that senior defense officials were involved in directing abusive interrogation policies and said that he was forced to retire early because of his pursuit of the issue, says an article to be published tomorrow in the New Yorker magazine.
Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba said that he felt mocked and shunned by top Pentagon officials, including then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, after filing an exhaustive report on the now-notorious Abu Ghraib abuse that sparked international outrage and led to an overhaul of the U.S. interrogation and detention policies. Taguba's report examining the 800th Military Police Brigade put in plain terms what had been documented in shocking photographs.
In interviews with New Yorker reporter Seymour M. Hersh, Taguba said that he was ordered to limit his investigation to low-ranking soldiers who were photographed with the detainees and the soldiers' unit, but that it was always his sense that the abuse was ordered at higher levels. Taguba was quoted as saying that he thinks top commanders in Iraq had extensive knowledge of the aggressive interrogation techniques that mirrored those used on high-value detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that the military police "were literally being exploited by the military interrogators."
Taguba also said that Rumsfeld misled Congress when he testified in May 2004 about the abuse investigation, minimizing how much he knew about the incidents. Taguba said that he met with Rumsfeld and top aides the day before the testimony.
"I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib," Taguba said, according to the article. "We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable."
Taguba could not be reached yesterday. Lawrence T. Di Rita, Rumsfeld's former spokesman at the Pentagon, disputed several of Taguba's characterizations.
"Secretary Rumsfeld appreciated that General Taguba had a tough job to do and did it to the best of his abilities," Di Rita said. "I only observed Secretary Rumsfeld treating him with the respect that a general officer performing a challenging assignment deserved."
Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.