“We don’t do [ Iraqi ] body counts.”
— General Tommy Franks, US Central Command

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"As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know."
— Donald Rumsfeld, 2/1202, Dept. of Defense News Briefing

"Bush said today canceling the ports deal sends a bad message to the Arab world. You know, not like invading their countries, putting them on leashes, making them masturbate, but bad."
— Bill Maher

 RUMSFIE  LOVES  LYNNDIE Pfc. Lynndie England has Rumsfeld on a tight leash

king george borg
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why they do it
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not in my name
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bush's bitch
dinner satire
karl rove piggie
who's in charge?
face of the dead
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More Calls for Rumsfeld to Leave

April 3, 2006

WASHINGTON, April 2 — For the second time in two weeks, a former general has called for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld over what both generals described as serious mistakes made in the war in Iraq.

In remarks Sunday on the NBC News program "Meet the Press," Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, who once led the United States Central Command and retired from the Marines in 2000, said Mr. Rumsfeld, among others, should be held accountable for tactical mistakes in Iraq.

When asked who should resign, General Zinni said, "Secretary of Defense, to begin with," adding that resignations should also come from others responsible for planning the war efforts and from military officials who sat by without pointing out potential problems.

On March 19, similar sentiments were expressed by Paul D. Eaton, a retired Army major general in charge of training the Iraqi military from 2003 to 2004. In an Op-Ed article in The New York Times, General Eaton criticized Mr. Rumsfeld's handling of the war and said that "President Bush should accept the offer to resign that Mr. Rumsfeld says he has tendered more than once."

Several days later, Mr. Bush dismissed calls for Mr. Rumsfeld to step down, saying he was satisfied with his job performance.

General Zinni was in charge of the Central Command from 1997 to 2000. In his television appearance, he was especially critical of what he said was the lack of "credible planning" for Iraq and "not adhering to the advice that was being given to us by others."

Referring to difficult choices made in wartime by other presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, General Zinni said: "You have to make tough choices. Integrity and getting on with the mission and doing it right are more important than loyalty. Both are great traits, but integrity, honesty and performance and competence have to outweigh, in this business, loyalty."

"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.
And when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you."

— Friedrich Nietzsche

"War is the symptom, not the disease."
— L. M. Heroux

"We thought it looked funny so pictures were taken."
— Pfc. Lynndie England

Lost in a Roman wilderness of pain...   And all the children are insane...
— Jim Morrison

"If we have to use force, it is because we are America. "We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future."
— Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State

"According to the New York Times, last year White House lawyers concluded that President Bush could legally order interrogators to torture and even kill people in the interest of national security — so if that's legal, what the hell are we charging Saddam Hussein with?"
— Jay Leno

"Prosecutors are having a difficult time building a case against Saddam Hussein. I'll tell you something, the guy is smart. See, when he tortured people, he didn't take snapshots."
— David Letterman
"You never know what you don't know."
— Donald Rumsfeld

"If Bush really wants to prove what a great job he's doing over there, he should just walk around Baghdad shouting, 'You're welcome everyone.' "
— Craig Kilborn

"The White House announced the notorious Abu Ghraib prison will be torn down, demolished and done away with. But don't worry, we'll always have our memories, and of course the photographs."
— Jay Leno

"Yesterday Vice President Dick Cheney gave a speech at the Coast Guard academy where he vowed that America would fight on in Iraq. Then he added, 'Well, not actually me, other Americans...'
You know, we should have a law in this country. Anybody vowing to fight on actually has to do some of the fighting."

— Jay Leno

"The Bush administration renewed its call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. So I guess they feel the only time that guys should be on top of each other naked is in an Iraqi prison."
— Jay Leno

"President Bush said today he wants U.S. troops to pull out— of each other."
— Jay Leno

"I feel bad saying it, but there's video of [Private Lynndie England] having group sex with American soldiers in front of Iraqi prisoners. Remember the good old days when the only new video we had to worry about came from Paris Hilton? Group sex. The sad thing is— this is the biggest coalition they've been able to put together in Iraq so far."
— Jay Leno

"A Bush administration official told Congress yesterday that the war in Iraq could cost almost 60 Billion dollars. President Bush said he plans to pay for it with a video series called 'Prison Guards Gone Wild.'  "
— Conan O'Brien

"They asked President Bush why we didn't observe the Geneva convention and Bush said, 'That's easy, we weren't in Geneva. We're in Iraq.' "
— Jay Leno

"Rumsfeld said that the Geneva Convention applies to Iraqi prisoners, but not to those at Guantanamo Bay... That's because nobody has pictures of Guantanamo Bay."
— Conan O'Brien

Rumsfeld Gave Go-Ahead for Abu Ghraib Tactics, says General In Charge
by Julian Coman in Washington
Published on Monday, July 5, 2004 by the Telegraph/UK

The former head of the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad has for the first time accused the American Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, of directly authorizing Guantanamo Bay-style interrogation tactics.

Brig-Gen Janis Karpinski, who commanded the 800th Military Police Brigade, which is at the center of the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal, said that documents yet to be released by the Pentagon would show that Mr Rumsfeld personally approved the introduction of harsher conditions of detention in Iraq.

In an interview with The Signal newspaper of Santa Clarita, California, which was also broadcast on a local television channel yesterday, Gen Karpinski was asked if she knew of documents showing that Mr Rumsfeld approved "particular interrogation techniques" for Abu Ghraib.

Gen Karpinski was interviewed for four hours by Maj- Gen Antonio Taguba, who was ordered to investigate abuse at Abu Ghraib and produced a damning report, which heavily criticized Gen Karpinski for a lack of leadership at the prison.

During inquiries into the scandal, she has repeatedly maintained that the treatment of Iraqi detainees was taken out of her hands by higher-ranking officials, acting on orders from Washington.

"Since all this came out," she replied, "I've not only seen, but I've been asked about some of those documents, that he [Mr Rumsfeld] signed and agreed to."

Asked whether the documents have been made public, Gen Karpinski replied "No" and went on to describe the methods approved in them as involving "dogs, food deprivation and sleep deprivation".

The Pentagon has consistently denied that Mr Rumsfeld authorized the transfer of harsher techniques of interrogation and detention from Guantanamo Bay to Abu Ghraib, where all prisoners are supposed to be protected by the Geneva Conventions.

Replying to Gen Karpinski's allegations, a spokesman for the Pentagon told The Telegraph: "Mr Rumsfeld did not approve any interrogation procedures in Iraq. The Secretary of Defense was not in the approval chain for interrogation procedures, which would have remained within the purview of Central Command, headed by Gen John Abizaid."

The Bush administration has been dogged by suspicions that harsh interrogation methods employed at Guantanamo were transferred to Abu Ghraib, as Iraqi insurgents began to score significant hits against coalition forces last year. In May, before the Senate armed services committee, Stephen Cambone, the under-secretary of Defense for intelligence, publicly denied charges that Mr Rumsfeld had approved Guantanamo-style interrogations in Iraq.

Last month, the White House took the unusual step of releasing hundreds of internal documents and debates concerning interrogation procedures at Guantanamo. Extreme interrogation techniques at the camp, it was revealed, now require the explicit approval of Mr Rumsfeld. The Bush administration insists, however, that the notorious abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib was an aberration on the part of a handful of rogue soldiers. A Pentagon spokesman said that all relevant documents on interrogation techniques in Iraq would be made public but could not say when.

Gen Karpinski has been suspended from duty pending ongoing investigations into abuse of prisoners at the Baghdad prison. In a recent interview with the BBC, she complained of being turned into a scapegoat for the scandal, arguing that the running of the prison was taken out of her hands.

In a separate embarrassment for the Department of Defense last week, six recent studies, leaked to the Los Angeles Times, heavily criticized the military for failing to screen adequately potential recruits with violent and even criminal backgrounds.

The reports were written by a senior Pentagon consultant. One was delivered in September 2003, weeks before the worst abuses of Iraqi prisoners took place. The title of the report was Reducing the Threat of Destructive Behavior by Military Personnel.

In it the author, Eli Flyer, a former senior analyst at the Department of Defense, stated: "There are military personnel with pre-service and in-service records that clearly establish a pattern of sub-standard Behavior These individuals constitute a high-risk group for destructive Behavior and need to be identified."

According to a 1998 report by Mr Flyer, one third of military recruits had arrest records. A 1995 report found that a quarter of serving army personnel had committed one or more criminal offences while on active duty. In his 2003 study, Mr Flyer said that military personnel officers had been reluctant to toughen up screening procedures, fearing that the result would be a failure to meet recruitment goals.

Curtis Gilroy, who oversees military recruiting policy for the Pentagon, told the Los Angeles Times: "It's hard to pick out all the bad apples, but we are striving to improve the system and are doing so."

Lawyers Decided Bans on Torture Didn't Bind Bush
Published: June 8, 2004
New York Times

WASHINGTON, June 7 — A team of administration lawyers concluded in a March 2003 legal memorandum that President Bush was not bound by either an international treaty prohibiting torture or by a federal antitorture law because he had the authority as commander in chief to approve any technique needed to protect the nation's security.

The memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, also said that any executive branch officials, including those in the military, could be immune from domestic and international prohibitions against torture for a variety of reasons.

One reason, the lawyers said, would be if military personnel believed that they were acting on orders from superiors "except where the conduct goes so far as to be patently unlawful."

"In order to respect the president's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign," the lawyers wrote in the 56-page confidential memorandum, the prohibition against torture "must be construed as inapplicable to interrogation undertaken pursuant to his commander-in-chief authority."

Senior Pentagon officials on Monday sought to minimize the significance of the March memo, one of several obtained by The New York Times, as an interim legal analysis that had no effect on revised interrogation procedures that Mr. Rumsfeld approved in April 2003 for the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

"The April document was about interrogation techniques and procedures," said Lawrence Di Rita, the Pentagon's chief spokesman. "It was not a legal analysis."

Mr. Di Rita said the 24 interrogation procedures permitted at Guantánamo, four of which required Mr. Rumsfeld's explicit approval, did not constitute torture and were consistent with international treaties.

The March memorandum, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Monday, is the latest internal legal study to be disclosed that shows that after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks the administration's lawyers were set to work to find legal arguments to avoid restrictions imposed by international and American law.

A Jan. 22, 2002, memorandum from the Justice Department that provided arguments to keep American officials from being charged with war crimes for the way prisoners were detained and interrogated was used extensively as a basis for the March memorandum on avoiding proscriptions against torture.

The previously disclosed Justice Department memorandum concluded that administration officials were justified in asserting that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to detainees from the Afghanistan war.

Another memorandum obtained by The Times indicates that most of the administration's top lawyers, with the exception of those at the State Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, approved of the Justice Department's position that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to the war in Afghanistan. In addition, that memorandum, dated Feb. 2, 2002, noted that lawyers for the Central Intelligence Agency had asked for an explicit understanding that the administration's public pledge to abide by the spirit of the conventions did not apply to its operatives.

The March memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, was prepared as part of a review of interrogation techniques by a working group appointed by the Defense Department's general counsel, William J. Haynes. The group itself was led by the Air Force general counsel, Mary Walker, and included military and civilian lawyers from all branches of the armed services.

The review stemmed from concerns raised by Pentagon lawyers and interrogators at Guantánamo after Mr. Rumsfeld approved a set of harsher interrogation techniques in December 2002 to use on a Saudi detainee, Mohamed al-Kahtani, who was believed to be the planned 20th hijacker in the Sept. 11 terror plot.

Mr. Rumsfeld suspended the harsher techniques, including serving the detainee cold, prepackaged food instead of hot rations and shaving off his facial hair, on Jan. 12, pending the outcome of the working group's review. Gen. James T. Hill, head of the military's Southern Command, which oversees Guantánamo, told reporters last Friday that the working group "wanted to do what is humane and what is legal and consistent not only with" the Geneva Conventions, but also "what is right for our soldiers."

Mr. Di Rita said that the Pentagon officials were focused primarily on the interrogation techniques, and that the legal rationale included in the March memo was mostly prepared by the Justice Department and White House counsel's office.

The memo showed that not only lawyers from the Defense and Justice departments and the White House approved of the policy but also that David S. Addington, the counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney, also was involved in the deliberations. The State Department lawyer, William H. Taft IV, dissented, warning that such a position would weaken the protections of the Geneva Conventions for American troops.

The March 6 document about torture provides tightly constructed definitions of torture. For example, if an interrogator "knows that severe pain will result from his actions, if causing such harm is not his objective, he lacks the requisite specific intent even though the defendant did not act in good faith," the report said. "Instead, a defendant is guilty of torture only if he acts with the express purpose of inflicting severe pain or suffering on a person within his control."

The adjective "severe," the report said, "makes plain that the infliction of pain or suffering per se, whether it is physical or mental, is insufficient to amount to torture. Instead, the text provides that pain or suffering must be `severe.' " The report also advised that if an interrogator "has a good faith belief his actions will not result in prolonged mental harm, he lacks the mental state necessary for his actions to constitute torture."

The report also said that interrogators could justify breaching laws or treaties by invoking the doctrine of necessity. An interrogator using techniques that cause harm might be immune from liability if he "believed at the moment that his act is necessary and designed to avoid greater harm."

Scott Horton, the former head of the human rights committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, said Monday that he believed that the March memorandum on avoiding responsibility for torture was what caused a delegation of military lawyers to visit him and complain privately about the administration's confidential legal arguments. That visit, he said, resulted in the association undertaking a study and issuing of a report criticizing the administration. He added that the lawyers who drafted the torture memo in March could face professional sanctions.

Jamie Fellner, the director of United States programs for Human Rights Watch, said Monday, "We believe that this memo shows that at the highest levels of the Pentagon there was an interest in using torture as well as a desire to evade the criminal consequences of doing so."

The March memorandum also contains a curious section in which the lawyers argued that any torture committed at Guantánamo would not be a violation of the anti-torture statute because the base was under American legal jurisdiction and the statute concerns only torture committed overseas. That view is in direct conflict with the position the administration has taken in the Supreme Court, where it has argued that prisoners at Guantánamo Bay are not entitled to constitutional protections because the base is outside American jurisdiction.

Kate Zernike contributed reporting for this article.

Rape at Abu Ghraib
"We have daughters, husbands. For god's sake don't tell anyone."
by James Ridgeway
May 25th, 2004 12:00 PM

Additional reporting: Oorlagh George and Alicia Ng

Practically ignored in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal are the Iraqi female prisoners who have told their attorneys they were raped by U.S. soldiers. The Taguba report confirms that some women were indeed raped by American G.I.'s. There is one photo of an American soldier having sex with an Iraqi woman. And there is the by now infamous story of how American soldiers harnessed a 70-year-old woman and rode her around, calling her a donkey.

One hint of the rape aspect of the torture scandal came last December, when a note smuggled out of Abu Ghraib by a female prisoner claimed that American guards were raping the female detainees. There are few women in the prison; the note said some of the women were now pregnant. According to a report last week in The Guardian (U.K.), the note urged the Iraqi resistance to bomb the jail to spare the women further shame. Amal Kadham Swadi, one of seven Iraqi female attorneys who are attempting to represent detained women, visited a detainee at a U.S. military base in Baghdad last November and later told The Guardian, "She was the only woman who would talk about her case. She was crying. She told us she had been raped. Several American soldiers had raped her. She had tried to fight them off, and they had hurt her arm. She showed us the stitches. She told us, 'We have daughters and husbands. For God's sake don't tell anyone about this.' "

Although the Taguba report makes specific reference to the abuse of female Iraqi prisoners, the Bush administration has refused to release photos of Iraqi women forced at gunpoint to bare their breasts— no doubt to spare Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld further embarrassment.

The New York Times
On New Kissinger Tapes, Crises in White House and the World
By Elizabeth Becker

WASHINGTON, May 26 — News had just broken of a terrible wrongdoing committed by American soldiers, and the secretary of defense and the national security adviser debated whether there was any way to stop newspapers and television news programs from showing graphic photographs of the victims.

"They're pretty terrible," said Melvin R. Laird, the secretary of defense, of the color photographs of the men, women and children killed in the My Lai massacre in South Vietnam.

Henry A. Kissinger, the national security adviser, responded that one of President Nixon's top aides had "heard that the Army is trying to impound the pictures — that can't be done."

A transcript of this 1969 telephone conversation, with its uncanny echoes of the Iraq war and the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, at least in the fact of the photographs, if not in the severity of the wrongdoing, was released on Wednesday by the National Archives as part of 20,000 pages of records of Mr. Kissinger's telephone conversations. The documents cover the years from the beginning of his service in 1969 until August 1974, when Nixon resigned.

The conversations portray a senior adviser trying to juggle foreign policy crises under a president increasingly distracted by the Watergate scandal and, on at least one occasion, too drunk to talk to the British prime minister.

They also show Mr. Kissinger using his charm on Anatoly Dobrynin, the Soviet ambassador to the United States. One minute the two men are joking about Mr. Kissinger's date with a former Playboy playmate, the next they are discussing the Mideast or disarmament treaties, all on a secure phone line to avoid having to share their conversations with the State Department.

The transcripts were released over the objections of Mr. Kissinger after the National Security Archive, a nonprofit organization, initiated legal proceedings to make them public.

Mr. Kissinger issued a statement Wednesday saying he had not seen the released material and would have no comment.

"It's nice to have these juicy details, especially now when I feel like I'm seeing déjà vu all over again," said Stanley Karnow, the author of "Vietnam: A History" and a war correspondent who covered the Indochina conflict.

The episode involving Nixon's drinking occurred on Oct. 11, 1973, shortly after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war erupted. Aides to Prime Minister Edward Heath of Britain telephoned shortly before 8 p.m., hoping to reach the president so the two leaders could discuss the war.

Mr. Kissinger asked: "Can we tell them no? When I talked to the president, he was loaded."

Brent Scowcroft, then an assistant to Mr. Kissinger, said: "Right, O.K. I will say the president will not be available until first thing in the morning but you will be this evening."

The papers cover major events of the cold war, like the opening of China, which was soon followed by calls to Mr. Kissinger from influential figures like David Rockefeller, chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, and Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, who wanted help getting the first visas to Beijing.

But war and conflict were the most constant topic.

In their conversation on Nov. 21, 1969, about the My Lai massacre, Mr. Laird told Mr. Kissinger that while he would like "to sweep it under the rug," the photographs prevented it.

"There are so many kids just laying there; these pictures are authentic," Mr. Laird said.

The telephone transcripts show how frustrated Nixon was becoming with the Vietnam War and his failing effort to withdraw American troops from Vietnam by expanding the war into Cambodia.

He became especially angry on Dec. 9, 1970, with what he considered the lackluster bombing campaign by the United States Air Force against targets in Cambodia.

"They're not only not imaginative but they are just running these things — bombing jungles," Nixon said. "They have got to go in there and I mean really go in."

Mr. Kissinger then cautioned: "The Air Force is designed to fight an air battle against the Soviet Union. They are not designed for this war."

But the president persisted, suggesting that the bombing campaign could be disguised as an airlift of supplies.

"I want them to hit everything," he said. "I want them to use the big planes, the small planes, everything they can that will help out there, and let's start giving them a little shock."

He ended by saying, "Right now there is a chance to win this goddamn war, and that's probably what we are going to have to do because we are not going to do anything at the conference table."

Mr. Kissinger immediately relayed the order: "A massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves."

Few foreign officials had a more complicated relationship with Mr. Kissinger than Mr. Dobrynin, the Soviet ambassador.

At first they were formal with each other, testing whether this new back channel would make it easier for the rival superpowers to avoid war and possibly cooperate on arms reduction treaties or defusing tensions in the Middle East.

They were soon on a first-name basis — Henry and Anatoly — and treating each other like old buddies.

One afternoon Mr. Dobrynin teased Mr. Kissinger about his latest date.

"I guess I have her picture," said the Soviet diplomat. "I think she was on this Playboy calendar."

"Oh-h-h-h, you're a dirty old man," Mr. Kissinger said.

As peace negotiations progressed with Hanoi, it was Mr. Dobrynin who brought proposals from the Vietnamese Communists to Mr. Kissinger, who would win a Nobel Peace Prize for the treaty that brought an end to America's involvement in the war.

In the spring of 1972 Mr. Kissinger telephoned the president with news of something of a breakthrough from the Vietnamese.

"We got some pretty quick action out of our Soviet friends — Dobrynin was in slobbering over me," said Mr. Kissinger. "He had a message from the North Vietnamese for us which was a lot more conciliatory than the one that they gave us in Paris."

The New York Times
Abuse of Captives More Widespread, Says Army Survey
By Douglas Jehl, Steven Lee Myers and Eric Schmitt

WASHINGTON, May 25 — An Army summary of deaths and mistreatment involving prisoners in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan shows a widespread pattern of abuse involving more military units than previously known.

The cases from Iraq date back to April 15, 2003, a few days after Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in a Baghdad square, and they extend up to last month, when a prisoner detained by Navy commandos died in a suspected case of homicide blamed on "blunt force trauma to the torso and positional asphyxia."

Among previously unknown incidents are the abuse of detainees by Army interrogators from a National Guard unit attached to the Third Infantry Division, who are described in a document obtained by The New York Times as having "forced into asphyxiation numerous detainees in an attempt to obtain information" during a 10-week period last spring.

The document, dated May 5, is a synopsis prepared by the Criminal Investigation Command at the request of Army officials grappling with intense scrutiny prompted by the circulation the preceding week of photographs of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. It lists the status of investigations into three dozen cases, including the continuing investigation into the notorious abuses at Abu Ghraib.

In one of the oldest cases, involving the death of a prisoner in Afghanistan in December 2002, enlisted personnel from an active-duty military intelligence unit at Fort Bragg, N.C., and an Army Reserve military-police unit from Ohio are believed to have been "involved at various times in assaulting and mistreating the detainee."

The Army summary is consistent with recent public statements by senior military officials, who have said the Army is actively investigating nine suspected homicides of prisoners held by Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan in late 2002.

But the details paint a broad picture of misconduct, and show that in many cases among the 37 prisoners who have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army did not conduct autopsies and says it cannot determine the causes of the deaths.

In his speech on Monday night, President Bush portrayed the abuse of prisoners by American soldiers in narrow terms. He described incidents at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which were the first and most serious to come to light, as involving actions "by a few American troops who disregarded our country and disregarded our values."

According to the Army summary, the deaths that are now being investigated most vigorously by Army officials may be those from Afghanistan in December 2002, where two prisoners died in one week at what was known as the Bagram Collection Point, where interrogations were overseen by a platoon from Company A, 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, from Fort Bragg.

The document says the investigation into the two deaths "is continuing with recent re-interviews," both of military intelligence personnel from Fort Bragg and of Army Reserve military police officers from Ohio and surrounding states, who were serving as guards at the facility. It was not clear from the document exactly which Army Reserve unit was being investigated.

On March 4, 2003, The New York Times reported on the two deaths, noting that the cause given on one of the death certificates was "homicide," a result of "blunt force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease." It was signed by an Army pathologist.

Both deaths were ruled homicides within days, but military spokesmen in Afghanistan initially portrayed at least one as being the result of natural causes. Personnel from the unit in charge of interrogations at the facility, led by Capt. Carolyn Wood, were later assigned to Iraq, and to the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at Abu Ghraib.

Lt. Col. Billy Buckner, a spokesman for the 18th Airborne Corps, said in an e-mail message on Monday that no one from the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion had yet been disciplined in connection with any deaths or other misconduct in Iraq. He declined to say if anyone from the unit was the subject of an ongoing investigation.

The document also categorizes as a sexual assault a case of abuse at Abu Ghraib last fall that involved three soldiers from that unit, who were later fined and demoted but whose names the Army has refused to provide.

As part of the incident, the document says, the three soldiers "entered the female wing of the prison and took a female detainee to a vacant cell."

"While one allegedly stood as look-out and one held the detainee's hand, the third soldier allegedly kissed the detainee," the report said. It says that the female detainee was reportedly threatened with being left with a naked male detainee, but that "investigation failed to either prove or disprove the indecent-assault allegations."

The May 5 document said the three soldiers from the 519th were demoted: two to privates first class and one to specialist. One was fined $750, the other two $500 each.

In what appeared to be a serious case of abuse over a prolonged period of time, unidentified enlisted members of the 223rd Military Intelligence Battalion, part of the California National Guard, were accused of abusing Iraqi detainees at a center in Samarra, north of Baghdad.

The unit, based in San Francisco, operated under the command of the Third Infantry Division, the armored force that led the Army assault on Baghdad last April and continued to patrol the city and the surrounding region into the summer.

According to the Army summary, members of the 223rd "struck and pulled the hair of detainees" during interrogations over a period that lasted 10 weeks. The summary said they "forced into asphyxiations numerous detainees in an attempt to obtain information."

The accusations were based on the statement of a soldier. No other details of the abuse — not the number of suspected soldiers nor the progress of the investigation — were disclosed.

A spokeswoman for the California National Guard in Sacramento, Maj. Denise Varner, said she could not discuss any investigation.

Another incident, whose general outlines had been previously known, involved the death in custody of a senior Iraqi officer, Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, who died last November at a detention center run by the Third Armored Cavalry, of Fort Carson, Colo. Soldiers acknowledged to investigators that interviews with the general on Nov. 24 and 25 involved "physical assaults."

In fact, investigators determined that General Mowhoush died after being shoved head-first into a sleeping bag, and questioned while being rolled repeatedly from his back to his stomach. That finding was first reported in The Denver Post.

According to Army officials and documents, at least 12 prisoners have died of natural or undetermined causes, including nine in Abu Ghraib. In six of those cases, the military conducted no autopsy to confirm the presumed cause of death. As a result, the investigations into their deaths were closed by Army investigators.

In another case, an autopsy found that a detainee, Muhammad Najem Abed, died of cardiac arrest complicated by diabetes, without noting, as the investigation summary does, that he died after "a self-motivated hunger strike."

In two cases, involving the deaths of prisoners at Abu Ghraib on Jan. 16 and Feb. 19, investigations continue even though the causes are believed to be natural. In the Feb. 19 case, Muhammad Saad Abdullah was found dead with "acute inflammation of the abdomen." An autopsy classified the death as natural, apparently caused by "peritonitis secondary to perforating gastric ulcer."

Army officials have been reluctant to discuss the type of detail that the document describes, even when investigations into the cases are closed. The Army has refused to make public the synopses of Army criminal investigations into the deaths or assaults of Iraqi or Afghan prisoners while in custody.

At a Pentagon briefing on Friday, a senior military official and a senior Pentagon medical official said the Army was investigating the deaths of 37 detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, an increase from at least 25 deaths that a senior Army general described on May 4.

Army officials have given rough breakdowns of those deaths, including those ruled natural deaths, homicides and ongoing investigations. But Army officials have been stingy with details. Of the two homicide cases the Army has closed, for instance, officials have given only spare details about a soldier who shot and killed an Iraqi detainee who was throwing rocks at the guards. The soldier was demoted and dishonorably discharged from the Army.

When asked Friday about details of pending investigations that military medical examiners had characterized as homicides, and that had been described in news accounts, a senior official would only confirm, "That's an ongoing investigation."

The official described the dates, locations and number of deaths involved in four cases ruled justifiable homicide, all in Iraq, including three at Abu Ghraib. But the official did not give details about the individual cases.

The New Yorker
by Seymour M. Hersh
How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib.
Issue of 2004-05-24   Posted 2004-05-15

The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld’s decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of élite combat units, and hurt America’s prospects in the war on terror.

According to interviews with several past and present American intelligence officials, the Pentagon’s operation, known inside the intelligence community by several code words, including Copper Green, encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq. A senior C.I.A. official, in confirming the details of this account last week, said that the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld’s long-standing desire to wrest control of America’s clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A.

Rumsfeld, during appearances last week before Congress to testify about Abu Ghraib, was precluded by law from explicitly mentioning highly secret matters in an unclassified session. But he conveyed the message that he was telling the public all that he knew about the story. He said, “Any suggestion that there is not a full, deep awareness of what has happened, and the damage it has done, I think, would be a misunderstanding.” The senior C.I.A. official, asked about Rumsfeld’s testimony and that of Stephen Cambone, his Under-Secretary for Intelligence, said, “Some people think you can bullshit anyone.”

The Abu Ghraib story began, in a sense, just weeks after the September 11, 2001, attacks, with the American bombing of Afghanistan. Almost from the start, the Administration’s search for Al Qaeda members in the war zone, and its worldwide search for terrorists, came up against major command-and-control problems. For example, combat forces that had Al Qaeda targets in sight had to obtain legal clearance before firing on them. On October 7th, the night the bombing began, an unmanned Predator aircraft tracked an automobile convoy that, American intelligence believed, contained Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban leader. A lawyer on duty at the United States Central Command headquarters, in Tampa, Florida, refused to authorize a strike. By the time an attack was approved, the target was out of reach. Rumsfeld was apoplectic over what he saw as a self-defeating hesitation to attack that was due to political correctness. One officer described him to me that fall as “kicking a lot of glass and breaking doors.” In November, the Washington Post reported that, as many as ten times since early October, Air Force pilots believed they’d had senior Al Qaeda and Taliban members in their sights but had been unable to act in time because of legalistic hurdles. There were similar problems throughout the world, as American Special Forces units seeking to move quickly against suspected terrorist cells were compelled to get prior approval from local American ambassadors and brief their superiors in the chain of command.

Rumsfeld reacted in his usual direct fashion: he authorized the establishment of a highly secret program that was given blanket advance approval to kill or capture and, if possible, interrogate “high value” targets in the Bush Administration’s war on terror. A special-access program, or SAP —subject to the Defense Department’s most stringent level of security—was set up, with an office in a secure area of the Pentagon. The program would recruit operatives and acquire the necessary equipment, including aircraft, and would keep its activities under wraps. America’s most successful intelligence operations during the Cold War had been SAPs, including the Navy’s submarine penetration of underwater cables used by the Soviet high command and construction of the Air Force’s stealth bomber. All the so-called “black” programs had one element in common: the Secretary of Defense, or his deputy, had to conclude that the normal military classification restraints did not provide enough security.

“Rumsfeld’s goal was to get a capability in place to take on a high-value target—a standup group to hit quickly,” a former high-level intelligence official told me. “He got all the agencies together—the C.I.A. and the N.S.A.—to get pre-approval in place. Just say the code word and go.” The operation had across-the-board approval from Rumsfeld and from Condoleezza Rice, the national-security adviser. President Bush was informed of the existence of the program, the former intelligence official said.

The people assigned to the program worked by the book, the former intelligence official told me. They created code words, and recruited, after careful screening, highly trained commandos and operatives from America’s élite forces—Navy SEALs, the Army’s Delta Force, and the C.I.A.’s paramilitary experts. They also asked some basic questions: “Do the people working the problem have to use aliases? Yes. Do we need dead drops for the mail? Yes. No traceability and no budget. And some special-access programs are never fully briefed to Congress.”

In theory, the operation enabled the Bush Administration to respond immediately to time-sensitive intelligence: commandos crossed borders without visas and could interrogate terrorism suspects deemed too important for transfer to the military’s facilities at Guantánamo, Cuba. They carried out instant interrogations—using force if necessary—at secret C.I.A. detention centers scattered around the world. The intelligence would be relayed to the SAP command center in the Pentagon in real time, and sifted for those pieces of information critical to the “white,” or overt, world.

Fewer than two hundred operatives and officials, including Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were “completely read into the program,” the former intelligence official said. The goal was to keep the operation protected. “We’re not going to read more people than necessary into our heart of darkness,” he said. “The rules are ‘Grab whom you must. Do what you want.’”

One Pentagon official who was deeply involved in the program was Stephen Cambone, who was named Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence in March, 2003. The office was new; it was created as part of Rumsfeld’s reorganization of the Pentagon. Cambone was unpopular among military and civilian intelligence bureaucrats in the Pentagon, essentially because he had little experience in running intelligence programs, though in 1998 he had served as staff director for a committee, headed by Rumsfeld, that warned of an emerging ballistic-missile threat to the United States. He was known instead for his closeness to Rumsfeld. “Remember Henry II—‘Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?’” the senior C.I.A. official said to me, with a laugh, last week. “Whatever Rumsfeld whimsically says, Cambone will do ten times that much.”

Cambone was a strong advocate for war against Iraq. He shared Rumsfeld’s disdain for the analysis and assessments proffered by the C.I.A., viewing them as too cautious, and chafed, as did Rumsfeld, at the C.I.A.’s inability, before the Iraq war, to state conclusively that Saddam Hussein harbored weapons of mass destruction. Cambone’s military assistant, Army Lieutenant General William G. (Jerry) Boykin, was also controversial. Last fall, he generated unwanted headlines after it was reported that, in a speech at an Oregon church, he equated the Muslim world with Satan.

Early in his tenure, Cambone provoked a bureaucratic battle within the Pentagon by insisting that he be given control of all special-access programs that were relevant to the war on terror. Those programs, which had been viewed by many in the Pentagon as sacrosanct, were monitored by Kenneth deGraffenreid, who had experience in counter-intelligence programs. Cambone got control, and deGraffenreid subsequently left the Pentagon. Asked for comment on this story, a Pentagon spokesman said, “I will not discuss any covert programs; however, Dr. Cambone did not assume his position as the Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence until March 7, 2003, and had no involvement in the decision-making process regarding interrogation procedures in Iraq or anywhere else.”

In mid-2003, the special-access program was regarded in the Pentagon as one of the success stories of the war on terror. “It was an active program,” the former intelligence official told me. “It’s been the most important capability we have for dealing with an imminent threat. If we discover where Osama bin Laden is, we can get him. And we can remove an existing threat with a real capability to hit the United States—and do so without visibility.” Some of its methods were troubling and could not bear close scrutiny, however.

By then, the war in Iraq had begun. The SAP was involved in some assignments in Iraq, the former official said. C.I.A. and other American Special Forces operatives secretly teamed up to hunt for Saddam Hussein and—without success—for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. But they weren’t able to stop the evolving insurgency.

In the first months after the fall of Baghdad, Rumsfeld and his aides still had a limited view of the insurgency, seeing it as little more than the work of Baathist “dead-enders,” criminal gangs, and foreign terrorists who were Al Qaeda followers. The Administration measured its success in the war by how many of those on its list of the fifty-five most wanted members of the old regime—reproduced on playing cards—had been captured. Then, in August, 2003, terror bombings in Baghdad hit the Jordanian Embassy, killing nineteen people, and the United Nations headquarters, killing twenty-three people, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the head of the U.N. mission. On August 25th, less than a week after the U.N. bombing, Rumsfeld acknowledged, in a talk before the Veterans of Foreign Wars, that “the dead-enders are still with us.” He went on, “There are some today who are surprised that there are still pockets of resistance in Iraq, and they suggest that this represents some sort of failure on the part of the Coalition. But this is not the case.” Rumsfeld compared the insurgents with those true believers who “fought on during and after the defeat of the Nazi regime in Germany.” A few weeks later—and five months after the fall of Baghdad—the Defense Secretary declared,“It is, in my view, better to be dealing with terrorists in Iraq than in the United States.”

Inside the Pentagon, there was a growing realization that the war was going badly. The increasingly beleaguered and baffled Army leadership was telling reporters that the insurgents consisted of five thousand Baathists loyal to Saddam Hussein. “When you understand that they’re organized in a cellular structure,” General John Abizaid, the head of the Central Command, declared, “that . . . they have access to a lot of money and a lot of ammunition, you’ll understand how dangerous they are.”

The American military and intelligence communities were having little success in penetrating the insurgency. One internal report prepared for the U.S. military, made available to me, concluded that the insurgents’“strategic and operational intelligence has proven to be quite good.” According to the study:

Their ability to attack convoys, other vulnerable targets and particular individuals has been the result of painstaking surveillance and reconnaissance. Inside information has been passed on to insurgent cells about convoy/troop movements and daily habits of Iraqis working with coalition from within the Iraqi security services, primarily the Iraqi Police force which is rife with sympathy for the insurgents, Iraqi ministries and from within pro-insurgent individuals working with the CPA’s so-called Green Zone.

The study concluded, “Politically, the U.S. has failed to date. Insurgencies can be fixed or ameliorated by dealing with what caused them in the first place. The disaster that is the reconstruction of Iraq has been the key cause of the insurgency. There is no legitimate government, and it behooves the Coalition Provisional Authority to absorb the sad but unvarnished fact that most Iraqis do not see the Governing Council”—the Iraqi body appointed by the C.P.A.—“as the legitimate authority. Indeed, they know that the true power is the CPA.”

By the fall, a military analyst told me, the extent of the Pentagon’s political and military misjudgments was clear. Donald Rumsfeld’s “dead-enders” now included not only Baathists but many marginal figures as well—thugs and criminals who were among the tens of thousands of prisoners freed the previous fall by Saddam as part of a prewar general amnesty. Their desperation was not driving the insurgency; it simply made them easy recruits for those who were. The analyst said, “We’d killed and captured guys who had been given two or three hundred dollars to ‘pray and spray’”—that is, shoot randomly and hope for the best. “They weren’t really insurgents but down-and-outers who were paid by wealthy individuals sympathetic to the insurgency.” In many cases, the paymasters were Sunnis who had been members of the Baath Party. The analyst said that the insurgents “spent three or four months figuring out how we operated and developing their own countermeasures. If that meant putting up a hapless guy to go and attack a convoy and see how the American troops responded, they’d do it.” Then, the analyst said, “the clever ones began to get in on the action.”

By contrast, according to the military report, the American and Coalition forces knew little about the insurgency: “Human intelligence is poor or lacking . . . due to the dearth of competence and expertise. . . . The intelligence effort is not coördinated since either too many groups are involved in gathering intelligence or the final product does not get to the troops in the field in a timely manner.” The success of the war was at risk; something had to be done to change the dynamic.

The solution, endorsed by Rumsfeld and carried out by Stephen Cambone, was to get tough with those Iraqis in the Army prison system who were suspected of being insurgents. A key player was Major General Geoffrey Miller, the commander of the detention and interrogation center at Guantánamo, who had been summoned to Baghdad in late August to review prison interrogation procedures. The internal Army report on the abuse charges, written by Major General Antonio Taguba in February, revealed that Miller urged that the commanders in Baghdad change policy and place military intelligence in charge of the prison. The report quoted Miller as recommending that “detention operations must act as an enabler for interrogation.”

Miller’s concept, as it emerged in recent Senate hearings, was to “Gitmoize” the prison system in Iraq—to make it more focussed on interrogation. He also briefed military commanders in Iraq on the interrogation methods used in Cuba—methods that could, with special approval, include sleep deprivation, exposure to extremes of cold and heat, and placing prisoners in “stress positions” for agonizing lengths of time. (The Bush Administration had unilaterally declared Al Qaeda and other captured members of international terrorist networks to be illegal combatants, and not eligible for the protection of the Geneva Conventions.)

Rumsfeld and Cambone went a step further, however: they expanded the scope of the SAP, bringing its unconventional methods to Abu Ghraib. The commandos were to operate in Iraq as they had in Afghanistan. The male prisoners could be treated roughly, and exposed to sexual humiliation.

“They weren’t getting anything substantive from the detainees in Iraq,” the former intelligence official told me. “No names. Nothing that they could hang their hat on. Cambone says, I’ve got to crack this thing and I’m tired of working through the normal chain of command. I’ve got this apparatus set up—the black special-access program—and I’m going in hot. So he pulls the switch, and the electricity begins flowing last summer. And it’s working. We’re getting a picture of the insurgency in Iraq and the intelligence is flowing into the white world. We’re getting good stuff. But we’ve got more targets”—prisoners in Iraqi jails—“than people who can handle them.”

Cambone then made another crucial decision, the former intelligence official told me: not only would he bring the SAP’s rules into the prisons; he would bring some of the Army military-intelligence officers working inside the Iraqi prisons under the SAP’sauspices. “So here are fundamentally good soldiers—military-intelligence guys—being told that no rules apply,” the former official, who has extensive knowledge of the special-access programs, added. “And, as far as they’re concerned, this is a covert operation, and it’s to be kept within Defense Department channels.”

The military-police prison guards, the former official said, included “recycled hillbillies from Cumberland, Maryland.” He was referring to members of the 372nd Military Police Company. Seven members of the company are now facing charges for their role in the abuse at Abu Ghraib. “How are these guys from Cumberland going to know anything? The Army Reserve doesn’t know what it’s doing.”

Who was in charge of Abu Ghraib—whether military police or military intelligence—was no longer the only question that mattered. Hard-core special operatives, some of them with aliases, were working in the prison. The military police assigned to guard the prisoners wore uniforms, but many others—military intelligence officers, contract interpreters, C.I.A. officers, and the men from the special-access program—wore civilian clothes. It was not clear who was who, even to Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, then the commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, and the officer ostensibly in charge. “I thought most of the civilians there were interpreters, but there were some civilians that I didn’t know,” Karpinski told me. “I called them the disappearing ghosts. I’d seen them once in a while at Abu Ghraib and then I’d see them months later. They were nice—they’d always call out to me and say, ‘Hey, remember me? How are you doing?’” The mysterious civilians, she said, were “always bringing in somebody for interrogation or waiting to collect somebody going out.” Karpinski added that she had no idea who was operating in her prison system. (General Taguba found that Karpinski’s leadership failures contributed to the abuses.)

By fall, according to the former intelligence official, the senior leadership of the C.I.A. had had enough. “They said, ‘No way. We signed up for the core program in Afghanistan—pre-approved for operations against high-value terrorist targets—and now you want to use it for cabdrivers, brothers-in-law, and people pulled off the streets’”—the sort of prisoners who populate the Iraqi jails. “The C.I.A.’s legal people objected,” and the agency ended its SAP involvement in Abu Ghraib, the former official said.

The C.I.A.’s complaints were echoed throughout the intelligence community. There was fear that the situation at Abu Ghraib would lead to the exposure of the secret SAP, and thereby bring an end to what had been, before Iraq, a valuable cover operation. “This was stupidity,” a government consultant told me. “You’re taking a program that was operating in the chaos of Afghanistan against Al Qaeda, a stateless terror group, and bringing it into a structured, traditional war zone. Sooner or later, the commandos would bump into the legal and moral procedures of a conventional war with an Army of a hundred and thirty-five thousand soldiers.”

The former senior intelligence official blamed hubris for the Abu Ghraib disaster. “There’s nothing more exhilarating for a pissant Pentagon civilian than dealing with an important national security issue without dealing with military planners, who are always worried about risk,” he told me. “What could be more boring than needing the coöperation of logistical planners?” The only difficulty, the former official added, is that, “as soon as you enlarge the secret program beyond the oversight capability of experienced people, you lose control. We’ve never had a case where a special-access program went sour—and this goes back to the Cold War.”

In a separate interview, a Pentagon consultant, who spent much of his career directly involved with special-access programs, spread the blame. “The White House subcontracted this to the Pentagon, and the Pentagon subcontracted it to Cambone,” he said. “This is Cambone’s deal, but Rumsfeld and Myers approved the program.” When it came to the interrogation operation at Abu Ghraib, he said, Rumsfeld left the details to Cambone. Rumsfeld may not be personally culpable, the consultant added, “but he’s responsible for the checks and balances. The issue is that, since 9/11, we’ve changed the rules on how we deal with terrorism, and created conditions where the ends justify the means.”

Last week, statements made by one of the seven accused M.P.s, Specialist Jeremy Sivits, who is expected to plead guilty, were released. In them, he claimed that senior commanders in his unit would have stopped the abuse had they witnessed it. One of the questions that will be explored at any trial, however, is why a group of Army Reserve military policemen, most of them from small towns, tormented their prisoners as they did, in a manner that was especially humiliating for Iraqi men.

The notion that Arabs are particularly vulnerable to sexual humiliation became a talking point among pro-war Washington conservatives in the months before the March, 2003, invasion of Iraq. One book that was frequently cited was “The Arab Mind,” a study of Arab culture and psychology, first published in 1973, by Raphael Patai, a cultural anthropologist who taught at, among other universities, Columbia and Princeton, and who died in 1996. The book includes a twenty-five-page chapter on Arabs and sex, depicting sex as a taboo vested with shame and repression. “The segregation of the sexes, the veiling of the women . . . and all the other minute rules that govern and restrict contact between men and women, have the effect of making sex a prime mental preoccupation in the Arab world,” Patai wrote. Homosexual activity, “or any indication of homosexual leanings, as with all other expressions of sexuality, is never given any publicity. These are private affairs and remain in private.” The Patai book, an academic told me, was “the bible of the neocons on Arab behavior.” In their discussions, he said, two themes emerged—“one, that Arabs only understand force and, two, that the biggest weakness of Arabs is shame and humiliation.”

The government consultant said that there may have been a serious goal, in the beginning, behind the sexual humiliation and the posed photographs. It was thought that some prisoners would do anything—including spying on their associates—to avoid dissemination of the shameful photos to family and friends. The government consultant said, “I was told that the purpose of the photographs was to create an army of informants, people you could insert back in the population.” The idea was that they would be motivated by fear of exposure, and gather information about pending insurgency action, the consultant said. If so, it wasn’t effective; the insurgency continued to grow.

“This shit has been brewing for months,” the Pentagon consultant who has dealt with SAPs told me. “You don’t keep prisoners naked in their cell and then let them get bitten by dogs. This is sick.” The consultant explained that he and his colleagues, all of whom had served for years on active duty in the military, had been appalled by the misuse of Army guard dogs inside Abu Ghraib. “We don’t raise kids to do things like that. When you go after Mullah Omar, that’s one thing. But when you give the authority to kids who don’t know the rules, that’s another.”

In 2003, Rumsfeld’s apparent disregard for the requirements of the Geneva Conventions while carrying out the war on terror had led a group of senior military legal officers from the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps to pay two surprise visits within five months to Scott Horton, who was then chairman of the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on International Human Rights. “They wanted us to challenge the Bush Administration about its standards for detentions and interrogation,” Horton told me. “They were urging us to get involved and speak in a very loud voice. It came pretty much out of the blue. The message was that conditions are ripe for abuse, and it’s going to occur.” The military officials were most alarmed about the growing use of civilian contractors in the interrogation process, Horton recalled. “They said there was an atmosphere of legal ambiguity being created as a result of a policy decision at the highest levels in the Pentagon. The JAG officers were being cut out of the policy formulation process.” They told him that, with the war on terror, a fifty-year history of exemplary application of the Geneva Conventions had come to an end.

The abuses at Abu Ghraib were exposed on January 13th, when Joseph Darby, a young military policeman assigned to Abu Ghraib, reported the wrongdoing to the Army’s Criminal Investigations Division. He also turned over a CD full of photographs. Within three days, a report made its way to Donald Rumsfeld, who informed President Bush.

The inquiry presented a dilemma for the Pentagon. The C.I.D. had to be allowed to continue, the former intelligence official said. “You can’t cover it up. You have to prosecute these guys for being off the reservation. But how do you prosecute them when they were covered by the special-access program? So you hope that maybe it’ll go away.” The Pentagon’s attitude last January, he said, was “Somebody got caught with some photos. What’s the big deal? Take care of it.” Rumsfeld’s explanation to the White House, the official added, was reassuring: “‘We’ve got a glitch in the program. We’ll prosecute it.’ The cover story was that some kids got out of control.”

In their testimony before Congress last week, Rumsfeld and Cambone struggled to convince the legislators that Miller’s visit to Baghdad in late August had nothing to do with the subsequent abuse. Cambone sought to assure the Senate Armed Services Committee that the interplay between Miller and Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, had only a casual connection to his office. Miller’s recommendations, Cambone said, were made to Sanchez. His own role, he said, was mainly to insure that the “flow of intelligence back to the commands” was “efficient and effective.” He added that Miller’s goal was “to provide a safe, secure and humane environment that supports the expeditious collection of intelligence.”

It was a hard sell. Senator Hillary Clinton, Democrat of New York, posed the essential question facing the senators:

If, indeed, General Miller was sent from Guantánamo 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 [on abuses at Abu Ghraib] are in some way connected to General Miller’s arrival and his specific orders, however they were interpreted, by those MPs and the military intelligence that were involved.. . .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 . . . 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.

Sometime before the Abu Ghraib abuses became public, the former intelligence official told me, Miller was “read in”—that is, briefed—on the special-access operation. In April, Miller returned to Baghdad to assume control of the Iraqi prisons; once the scandal hit, with its glaring headlines, General Sanchez presented him to the American and international media as the general who would clean up the Iraqi prison system and instill respect for the Geneva Conventions. “His job is to save what he can,” the former official said. “He’s there to protect the program while limiting any loss of core capability.” As for Antonio Taguba, the former intelligence official added, “He goes into it not knowing shit. And then: ‘Holy cow! What’s going on?’”

If General Miller had been summoned by Congress to testify, he, like Rumsfeld and Cambone, would not have been able to mention the special-access program. “If you give away the fact that a special-access program exists,”the former intelligence official told me, “you blow the whole quick-reaction program.”

One puzzling aspect of Rumsfeld’s account of his initial reaction to news of the Abu Ghraib investigation was his lack of alarm and lack of curiosity. One factor may have been recent history: there had been many previous complaints of prisoner abuse from organization like Human Rights Watch and the International Red Cross, and the Pentagon had weathered them with ease. Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he had not been provided with details of alleged abuses until late March, when he read the specific charges. “You read it, as I say, it’s one thing. You see these photographs and it’s just unbelievable. . . . It wasn’t three-dimensional. It wasn’t video. It wasn’t color. It was quite a different thing.” The former intelligence official said that, in his view, Rumsfeld and other senior Pentagon officials had not studied the photographs because “they thought what was in there was permitted under the rules of engagement,” as applied to the SAP. “The photos,” he added, “turned out to be the result of the program run amok.”

The former intelligence official made it clear that he was not alleging that Rumsfeld or General Myers knew that atrocities were committed. But, he said, “it was their permission granted to do the SAP, generically, and there was enough ambiguity, which permitted the abuses.”

This official went on, “The black guys”—those in the Pentagon’s secret program—“say we’ve got to accept the prosecution. They’re vaccinated from the reality.” The SAP is still active, and “the United States is picking up guys for interrogation. The question is, how do they protect the quick-reaction force without blowing its cover?” The program was protected by the fact that no one on the outside was allowed to know of its existence. “If you even give a hint that you’re aware of a black program that you’re not read into, you lose your clearances,” the former official said. “Nobody will talk. So the only people left to prosecute are those who are undefended—the poor kids at the end of the food chain.”

The most vulnerable senior official is Cambone. “The Pentagon is trying now to protect Cambone, and doesn’t know how to do it,” the former intelligence official said.

Last week, the government consultant, who has close ties to many conservatives, defended the Administration’s continued secrecy about the special-access program in Abu Ghraib. “Why keep it black?” the consultant asked. “Because the process is unpleasant. It’s like making sausage—you like the result but you don’t want to know how it was made. Also, you don’t want the Iraqi public, and the Arab world, to know. Remember, we went to Iraq to democratize the Middle East. The last thing you want to do is let the Arab world know how you treat Arab males in prison.”

The former intelligence official told me he feared that one of the disastrous effects of the prison-abuse scandal would be the undermining of legitimate operations in the war on terror, which had already suffered from the draining of resources into Iraq. He portrayed Abu Ghraib as “a tumor” on the war on terror. He said, “As long as it’s benign and contained, the Pentagon can deal with the photo crisis without jeopardizing the secret program. As soon as it begins to grow, with nobody to diagnose it—it becomes a malignant tumor.”

The Pentagon consultant made a similar point. Cambone and his superiors, the consultant said, “created the conditions that allowed transgressions to take place. And now we’re going to end up with another Church Commission”—the 1975 Senate committee on intelligence, headed by Senator Frank Church, of Idaho, which investigated C.I.A. abuses during the previous two decades. Abu Ghraib had sent the message that the Pentagon leadership was unable to handle its discretionary power. “When the shit hits the fan, as it did on 9/11, how do you push the pedal?” the consultant asked. “You do it selectively and with intelligence.”

“Congress is going to get to the bottom of this,” the Pentagon consultant said. “You have to demonstrate that there are checks and balances in the system.” He added, “When you live in a world of gray zones, you have to have very clear red lines.”

Senator John McCain, of Arizona, said, “If this is true, it certainly increases the dimension of this issue and deserves significant scrutiny. I will do all possible to get to the bottom of this, and all other allegations.”

“In an odd way,” Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, said, “the sexual abuses at Abu Ghraib have become a diversion for the prisoner abuse and the violation of the Geneva Conventions that is authorized.” Since September 11th, Roth added, the military has systematically used third-degree techniques around the world on detainees. “Some JAG's hate this and are horrified that the tolerance of mistreatment will come back and haunt us in the next war,” Roth told me. “We’re giving the world a ready-made excuse to ignore the Geneva Conventions. Rumsfeld has lowered the bar.

New York Times

Prison Guard Calls Abuse Routine and Sometimes Amusing

By Kate Zernike
May 16, 2004

In a sworn statement to investigators, Pfc. Lynndie England explained the mystery of why soldiers at Abu Ghraib took pictures of detainees masturbating and piled naked with plastic sandbags over their heads by saying, "We thought it looked funny so pictures were taken."

Private England's statement, made May 5, narrates the graphic photographs now at the center of the prison abuse scandal in specific detail and a matter-of-fact tone, describing the abuse as routine and sometimes amusing, but almost never, to her mind, out of bounds.

She explains how she put a strap around a detainee's neck and forced him and others to run and crawl down a hallway for "approximately four to six hours;" how one soldier would regularly throw a Nerf football at detainees with bags over their heads "to scare them;" how one soldier would kick detainees and cause open wounds, then "would personally stitch detainees if the wound weren't too bad," according to a copy of her statement given to The New York Times.

Asked if she ever physically abused a detainee, Private England said, "Yes, I stepped on some of them, push them or pull them, but nothing extreme."

She described how Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick II punched detainees, "and the normal stuff as far as lean on them or push them."

"He also played some mind games with some of them with chemical lights," she added. "He would tell them to lift their legs and place the chemical light under their feet and tell them it was a knife. The chemical light would then be broken and spilled on the ground, the detainee would then be forced to crawl through it and then placed in a dark cell, this would freak out the detainee because they would glow."

"Picture 000015 was basically us fooling around," she said, pointing to a photograph of detainees stacked naked in different positions in 1A, the area of the prison where the soldiers now charged with abuse worked.

"She wanted a picture because she wrote `I'm a rapist' on one of the detainees," Private England explained, pointing to two pictures she said were taken by Specialist Sabrina Harman.

Pointing to picture 000019, which shows her pointing at a detainee masturbating, she explained, "Staff Sgt. Frederick had removed the bags from the detainee's head and motioned for them to masturbate themselves. The detainee I'm pointing at didn't stop so we took a picture of it."

Private England, who has been the most public face of the scandal, jauntily giving a thumbs up over a pile of naked prisoners, said that the prisoners were put on leashes to intimidate them, trying to get them to confess to raping a 15-year-old Iraqi boy.

The detainees were stripped, handcuffed together, and told to lie on the floor, she said, then forced to run and crawl up and down the hallway. "Was there anything done to these detainees that you felt was `going too far?' " she was asked. "No," she replied.

Asked later if she thought anything was inappropriate, Private England replied that only the masturbation was. But throughout the statement, she repeats that she and other soldiers were ordered to do the things they did, which has been the defense made by lawyers for the soldiers and the soldiers themselves.

When pressed, however, she said there were no specific orders on how to "break" the detainees for interrogation. But, she said, military intelligence soldiers and others "would tell us to keep it up, that we were doing a good job" aiding the interrogations. Asked who told them to instruct the detainees to masturbate, she said, "I was just told we were doing a good job," according to the statement.

Now pregnant and at Fort Bragg, N.C., Private England had refused to talk to investigators without a lawyer on April 30, but changed course and agreed to speak on May 5.

New York Times

May 16, 2004

Accused G.I.'s Try to Shift Blame in Prison Abuse
by Adam Liptak, Michael Moss and Kate Zernike.

Six of the defendants in the Abu Ghraib abuse case once all bunked together in a tent in Baghdad. But as the most important military prosecutions since Vietnam unfold, each soldier is struggling alone to explain away seemingly irrefutable evidence captured in frame after frame of disturbing images, and they are pointing fingers at one another, minimizing their roles and blaming the government.

One defendant, Specialist Megan M. Ambuhl, says she was merely a bystander who treated the Iraqi detainees kindly, giving them copies of the Koran and making sure their meals contained no pork.

Specialist Jeremy C. Sivits, in a statement to investigators, described brutal conduct by Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick II and Specialist Charles A. Graner Jr., who, in turn, call him a liar.

Then there is Sgt. Javal S. Davis. His lawyer, Paul Bergrin, accuses the government of abusing him by interrogating him for 20 sleepless hours right after he worked a 60-hour shift at Abu Ghraib.

The defendants' challenge is to convince military courts that the pictures of abusive treatment of Iraqi detainees, which have generated a storm of criticism, do not begin to tell the whole story. Each has a personal version of events but one theme unites them: they contend they were following orders.

As that defense is presented at their courts-martial, the central question of Abu Ghraib — whether what happened there was aberration or policy — will become crucial.

"We intend to put the military on trial for their breakdown in leadership, structure, guidance, policy," Mr. Bergrin said. The proceedings will begin this week, when Specialist Sivits is expected to plead guilty in exchange for leniency, and then testify against other defendants.

But the most immediate task for the other accused soldiers is proving that they were doing what their superiors wanted. "Our defense says he was following orders and that he believed the orders were lawful," said Guy L. Womack, a lawyer for Specialist Graner.

Last week, some of the defendants said that even the most shocking conduct shown in images were the result of direct orders. "I was instructed by persons in higher ranks to stand there and hold this leash," one defendant, Pfc. Lynndie R. England, said in an interview with a Denver television station. Private England is shown in one photo leading a naked prisoner on a tether.

The lawyers say they will rely on findings of the military's own investigation, by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba of the Army, which found that military commanders, eager to extract more information from detainees, used guards to set conditions for "successful interrogations."

In practice, the lawyers said, that policy translated into instructions that the guards "soften up" detainees before questioning.

But Mr. Womack conceded that the orders Specialist Graner would cite in his defense were often general. "Most are not specific," he said. "Some are pretty clear. The exact wording, it's hard to say."

In a statement to investigators 10 days ago, Private England was also hazy about who told her what tactics to use. "Did anyone ever give specific orders on how to `break' the detainees?" she was asked, according to a copy of her sworn statement obtained by The New York Times. "No," she replied, but added that military intelligence "would tell us to keep it up, that we were doing a good job." She pointed out four military intelligence soldiers in photographs of detainees held on leashes in a prison corridor.

Rose Mary Zapor, who represents Private England, said the very fact that two women, Private England and Specialist Ambuhl, were present suggested that the abuse was ordered as part of an interrogation strategy. "We have been informed that these pictures were being used by military intelligence and were to be used because these are Muslim men, and the ultimate humiliation was to be naked in the presence of women," she said.

But even proof that they were operating under direct orders might not be enough to clear them.

On the one hand, the military's manual for courts-martial says orders requiring the performance of "a military duty or act" are lawful and are "disobeyed at the peril of the subordinate." On the other, it says this "does not apply to a patently illegal order, such as one that directs the commission of a crime." A lawful order must "be a specific mandate to do or not do a specific act." Rather than a regulation or policy, such an order "must be directed specifically to the subordinate."

Neal A. Puckett, a lawyer for Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who was the brigade commander of the military police at Abu Ghraib, said the defendants would not easily prove they were ordered to engage in some of the abuse. "I think they are going to have a hard time demonstrating that they were instructed that they were specifically to strip these guys naked and pile them up on the floor," Mr. Puckett said.

But Harvey J. Volzer, a lawyer for Specialist Ambuhl, said the "following orders" defense should work in this case. "It's not like we're using the Holocaust excuse: we followed orders," he said. "This isn't that bad."

Prosecutors have already presented evidence contending the defendants acted on their own.

According to court records, several witnesses have testified in pretrial hearings that military intelligence officers might have authorized or ordered some harsh behavior, like depriving detainees of sleep or food, intimidating them with dogs or pouring water over them.

But, the witnesses continued, the officers would never have called for the things the soldiers are charged with: hitting detainees, piling their naked bodies in human pyramids, photographing them, having them pose as if performing oral sex and forcing them to masturbate.

"If I were ordered to do these acts, I would not carry them out," Warrant Officer Edward J. Rivas, who worked in the interrogation unit at Abu Ghraib, testified at the preliminary hearing for Specialist Ambuhl. She is charged with conspiracy and dereliction of duty but has not been implicated in the most serious abuse.

Special Agent Tyler Pieron, a Army investigator who also testified at the hearing, concluded: "There was absolutely no evidence that the military intelligence or military police chain of command authorized any of this kind of maltreatment. These individuals wanted to do this for fun."

While prosecutors are likely to argue that the guards were out of control, the defendants will say that the entire prison was chaos. "Keep in mind," said Mr. Womack, "these were the baddest of the bad in this area of the prison. They were criminals. Some were suspected terrorists. There was violence against the guards."

Defense lawyers said they would try to show that their clients were honorable people struggling to do their jobs under dire conditions and ill-defined boundaries. Sergeant Davis, for instance, had received no schooling whatsoever in prison work, his lawyer, Mr. Bergrin, said. He volunteered for duty in Iraq. His first task at the prison was to help kill the rabid dogs that attacked the soldiers and chewed on body parts the dogs dug up. Mr. Bergrin said Sergeant Davis worked 13 months without a day off and often could not sleep because of the rocket-propelled grenade attacks on the prison. He went four months without being able to contact his family.

The cases against the soldiers — there are now seven charged — are each quite different, and that has caused some of the defendants to turn on one another. The women say they were little more than bystanders. Specialist Sivits, who is expected to plead guilty, is charged with taking a picture of the scene. Sergeant Davis is accused of jumping onto a pile of naked detainees, of stomping "on the hands and feet of several detainees with his shod foot," but not of conduct involving sexual humiliation, according to court papers.

The two remaining defendants, Specialist Graner and Sergeant Frederick, are charged with the worst conduct, including placing naked detainees in a human pyramid and photographing them, ordering them to masturbate, placing them in sexual positions and ordering them to strike each other. They are also accused of hitting detainees so hard they required medical attention.

In sworn statements provided to investigators, Specialist Sivits attributes the most serious abuse to others.

"He says he was an onlooker and didn't participate in anything that raised moral issues," said Mr. Bergrin, Sergeant Davis's lawyer, "and we know for a fact that he was participating in numerous such incidents."

Two weeks ago, Specialist Sivits abruptly left the tent in Baghdad he had shared with five other defendants, scrawling a farewell note that said he was moving "to benefit everyone." But he was moving mainly for his own benefit, going from bunkmate to witness against his compatriots in exchange for leniency, according to lawyers in the case. It is unclear how many of the defendants are still sharing the tent.

Specialist Sivits's lawyer, Stanley L. Martin, did not respond to several requests for comment.

Juries in courts-martial are made up of military personnel selected by the commanding officer, and defense lawyers disagree about whether juries in Baghdad or the United States are likely to be more sympathetic to their clients.

"We want the trial in Iraq," Mr. Womack said. "We want Army officers who are combat veterans who work with the intel community every day and know the tactics and pressures involved."

Mr. Bergrin disagreed. "We will shoot for change of venue," he said. "We don't believe we can get a fair trial in Iraq. We want to bring this to the American people."

Wherever the trials are held, defense lawyers say they will argue that their clients' conduct was not extreme. For this they will rely on the military's standard approval of interrogation techniques for detainees, which are codified in Army manuals.

With approval from top commanders, for example, interrogators were allowed to deprive detainees of sleep and food. (Most of these coercive measures were banned Friday by the military command in Iraq.)

"We will have an expert witness testify about interrogation techniques," Mr. Womack said, "and these are not techniques that exceed the norm, having people stand around naked."

In a sworn statement, Specialist Sivits described seeing Specialist Graner strike a naked detainee who had an empty sandbag over his head. "Graner punched the detainee with a closed fist so hard in the temple that it knocked the detainee unconscious," Specialist Sivits said.

Mr. Womack, Specialist Graner's lawyer, said he doubted the incident took place and questioned Specialist Sivits's veracity. If it happened, he said, his client had been ordered to strike the detainee. And, in any event, a certain amount of violence was to be expected, Mr. Womack said.

"Striking doesn't mean a lot," he added. "Breaking a rib or a bone, that would be excessive."

Mr. Volzer, the lawyer for Specialist Ambuhl, said what took place at Abu Ghraib was intimidation, not torture. "I wouldn't term it abuse," he said.

In defending against the charge that Sergeant Davis stomped on a detainee's feet, his lawyer, Mr. Bergrin, said he would make the case that the prisoner was not hurt.

"He may have stepped on the hands," Mr. Bergrin said, "but there was no stomping, no broken bones."

Beating Specialist Baker

Published: June 5, 2004
New York Times

The prison abuse scandal refuses to die because soothing White House explanations keep colliding with revelations about dead prisoners and further connivance by senior military officers — and newly discovered victims, like Sean Baker.

If Sean Baker doesn't sound like an Iraqi name, it isn't. Specialist Baker, 37, is an American, and he was a proud U.S. soldier. An Air Force veteran and member of the Kentucky National Guard, he served in the first gulf war and more recently was a military policeman in Guantánamo Bay.

Then in January 2003, an officer in Guantánamo asked him to pretend to be a prisoner in a training drill. As instructed, Mr. Baker put on an orange prison jumpsuit over his uniform, and then crawled under a bunk in a cell so an "internal reaction force" could practice extracting an uncooperative inmate. The five U.S. soldiers in the reaction force were told that he was a genuine detainee who had already assaulted a sergeant.

Despite more than a week of coaxing, I haven't been able to get Mr. Baker to give an interview. But he earlier told a Kentucky television station what happened next:

"They grabbed my arms, my legs, twisted me up and unfortunately one of the individuals got up on my back from behind and put pressure down on me while I was face down. Then he — the same individual — reached around and began to choke me and press my head down against the steel floor. After several seconds, 20 to 30 seconds, it seemed like an eternity because I couldn't breathe. When I couldn't breathe, I began to panic and I gave the code word I was supposed to give to stop the exercise, which was `red.' . . . That individual slammed my head against the floor and continued to choke me. Somehow I got enough air. I muttered out: `I'm a U.S. soldier. I'm a U.S. soldier.' "

Then the soldiers noticed that he was wearing a U.S. battle dress uniform under the jumpsuit. Mr. Baker was taken to a military hospital for treatment of his head injuries, then flown to a Navy hospital in Portsmouth, Va. After a six-day hospitalization there, he was given a two-week discharge to rest.

But Mr. Baker began suffering seizures, so the military sent him to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center for treatment of a traumatic brain injury. He stayed at the hospital for 48 days, was transferred to light duty in an honor burial detail at Fort Dix, N.J., and was finally given a medical discharge two months ago.

Meanwhile, a military investigation concluded that there had been no misconduct involved in Mr. Baker's injury. Hmm. The military also says it can't find a videotape that is believed to have been made of the incident.

Most appalling, when Mr. Baker told his story to a Kentucky reporter, the military lied in a disgraceful effort to undermine his credibility. Maj. Laurie Arellano, a spokeswoman for the Southern Command, questioned the extent of Mr. Baker's injuries and told reporters that his medical discharge was unrelated to the injuries he had suffered in the training drill.

In fact, however, the Physical Evaluation Board of the Army stated in a document dated Sept. 29, 2003: "The TBI [traumatic brain injury] was due to soldier playing role of detainee who was non-cooperative and was being extracted from detention cell in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, during a training exercise."

Major Arellano acknowledges that she misstated the facts and says she had been misinformed herself by medical personnel. She now says the medical discharge was related in part — but only in part, she says — to the "accident."

Mr. Baker, who is married and has a 14-year-old son, is now unemployed, taking nine prescription medications and still suffering frequent seizures. His lawyer, Bruce , has been told that Mr. Baker may not begin to get disability payments for up to 18 months. If he is judged 100 percent disabled, he will then get a maximum of $2,100 a month.

If the U.S. military treats one of its own soldiers this way — allowing him to be battered, and lying to cover it up — then imagine what happens to Afghans and Iraqis.

President Bush attributed the problems uncovered at Abu Ghraib to "a few American troops who dishonored our country." Mr. Bush, the problems go deeper than a few bad apples. 


Wedding Party, Aftermath Of Attack Seen in Videos
Associated Press
Monday, May 24, 2004

RAMADI, Iraq, May 23 -- The bride arrives in a white pickup truck and is quickly ushered into a house by a group of women. Outside, men recline on brightly colored silk pillows, relaxing on the carpeted floor of a large goat-hair tent as boys dance to tribal songs.

The videotape obtained Sunday by Associated Press Television News captures a wedding party that survivors say was later attacked by U.S. planes early Wednesday, killing up to 45 people. The dead included the cameraman, Yasser Shawkat Abdullah, hired to record the festivities, which ended Tuesday night before the planes struck.

The U.S. military says it is investigating the attack, which took place in the village of Mogr al-Deeb about five miles from the Syrian border, but that all evidence so far indicates the target was a safe house used by foreign fighters.

"There was no evidence of a wedding: no decorations, no musical instruments found, no large quantities of food or leftover servings one would expect from a wedding celebration," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, said Saturday.

But video that APTN shot a day after the attack shows fragments of musical instruments, pots and pans and brightly colored beddings used for celebrations scattered around the bombed-out tent. A water-tank truck can be seen in both the APTN video and the wedding tape, obtained from a cousin of the groom.

Prominently displayed on the wedding video, which runs for several hours, was a man with close-cropped hair playing an electric organ. Another tape, filmed a day later in Ramadi and obtained by APTN, showed the musician's body in a burial shroud -- his face clearly visible and wearing the same tan shirt he wore when he performed.

Kimmitt has denied finding evidence that children died in the raid.

However, a reporter obtained names of at least 10 children who relatives said had died. Bodies of five of them were filmed by APTN when the survivors took them to Ramadi for burial. Iraqi officials said at least 13 children were killed.

Rumsfeld hopes US forces will hunt terrorists in Southeast Asia soon


US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he hoped US forces would be hunting terrorists in Southeast Asia "pretty soon," warning that Islamic extremists are targeting moderate Muslim states the world over.

Rumsfeld made the remarks as he visited marines and sailors aboard the helicopter carrier USS Essex against a backdrop of oil tankers and freighters that ply the Strait of Malacca, gateway for a third of the world's trade.

"When are we going to start hunting some terrorists in this theater?" a marine asked Rumsfeld.

"Well, I would hope pretty soon," the secretary replied.

"We simply cannot wait for another attack and expect to defend against it. We have to go out and find those terrorist networks and the people financing them, and countries providing a safe haven for them.

"It is a tough thing to do."

Rumsfeld offered no details but the comment comes amid US and Singaporean efforts to improve maritime security in the strait, mainly through better intelligence sharing.

About half the world's oil supplies move through the narrow channel on the way to markets in Japan, China and South Korea (news - web sites), making it a tempting target for Islamic militants seeking to destabilize the industrialized world.

Singapore has consistently led warnings that the Malacca and Singapore straits are extremely vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Increasing piracy in Southeast Asian waters, the disappearances of tugboats and last year's kidnapping of a commercial ship's captain have fuelled fears terrorists may be planning to hijack vessels for a maritime version of September 11.

But the initiative to increase security aroused controversy after the commander of US forces in the Pacific, Admiral Thomas Fargo, suggested in April that one option under consideration was putting marines and special operations forces aboard high speed vessels in the strait.

Malaysia, which with Indonesia and Singapore straddle the Malcca Strait, has sharply opposed the use of outside forces.

Rumsfeld has sought to steer clear of the controversy, telling reporters on the flight here from Washington that Fargo's testimony to Congress had been "misreported."

"We're in the process of trying to unravel all of that. It is in its early stages. They are in a consultation mode. They will be discussing it with various countries in the region," he said of regional maritime security plans.

Aboard the Essex, Rumsfeld emphasized intelligence sharing as crucial to defeating the maritime threat.

"I think the fact that there's not a lot of publicity about what's happening out here may be kind of misleading," he said.

"Because there is pressure being put on terrorists in this part of the world every day by the close cooperation we have, for example with our wonderful friends here in Singapore."

Rumsfeld said Islamic radicals were bent on undermining moderate Islamic states.

"A small minority are attempting to hijack that religion away from the overwhelming majority of moderate Muslims and in the process drive the West and progress out of those countries and out of their lives," he said.

"They are not going to succeed."

At another point Rumsfeld said: "They hope and they are making efforts to destabilize the moderate Muslim counries everywhere across the globe."

Rumsfeld, who arrived here Thursday for only his second visit to east Asia as defense secretary, is scheduled to address an international security conference here on Saturday.

He is also due to meet with counterparts from countries around the region, including South Korea, Japan and Australia, on the sidelines of the Asia Security Conference, which begins on Friday evening.

Among the issues likely to be raised besides terrorism are US plans for a global repositioning of US forces.

"We will not -- this country will not -- weaken the deterrent or the defense capabilities that we have, even though numbers and locations may shift and evolve as technologies advance and as circumstances change," he told reporters traveling with him.