Rumsfeld Speaks

by Kieran Healy on May 28, 2004

The incomparable “Fafblog”: interviews Donald Rumsfeld:

FAFBLOG: Great to have you here Donald Rumsfeld! Lets get right to it an start by askin: what is with this torture thing, and how long have you known about it?
DONALD RUMSFELD: Good gosh, that’s a tricky one there. Was it torture? Were detainees indefinitely held for days with bags over their heads? Yes. Were testicles electrocuted? You bet. Were orifices molested, flesh ripped by dogs, and nostils raped? Almost certainly. But torture? Hard to say.
FB: Wow – that IS hard to say.
DR: It sure is.

There’s “plenty more”:



Tom Doyle 05.28.04 at 9:47 am

I got this in March 2003 via the American Society of International Law listserve. It was the first I’d heard of the torture issue. The author, the late Professor Joan Fitzpatrick, (1950-2003) was very prescient in her observations. She mentioned Rumsfeld several times.

Subject: Torture as an impeachable offense
From: Joan Fitzpatrick

The “interrogation” techniques described in “U.S. Military Investigating Death of Afghan in Custody” (March 4, 2003, A14) violate basic norms of international humanitarian law. The Geneva Conventions require humane treatment of all prisoners, whether POWs or “unlawful combatants,” and regardless of the nature of the conflict. All acts of violence or intimidation, outrages upon personal dignity, and humiliating and degrading treatment are strictly forbidden. Does the Department of Defense argue that chaining naked prisoners to the ceiling, in freezing weather, and kicking them to keep them awake for days on end, are practices consistent with the Geneva Conventions? Is the DOD prepared to tolerate this treatment of American POWs in the Iraq war?

These practices also violate human rights treaties to which the United States is a party, specifically the prohibitions on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The United States may not transfer Al Qaeda suspects to other states to facilitate their torture; that too is a violation. Moreover, there is no state on earth “that does not have legal restrictions against torture” (“Questioning of Accused Expected to Be Human, Legal and Aggressive”, March 4, 2003, A13). The prohibition on torture is a peremptory norm of customary international law binding on all nations. The torturer is the enemy of all mankind.

If President Bush has commanded these practices, he has committed serious international crimes and crimes against the laws of the United States that are impeachable offenses. Congress must investigate immediately.
Secretary Rumsfeld last Friday again revealed his complete ignorance of the laws of war by suggesting that Iraqi POWs could be tried before military commissions. They may be tried only by court martial, under rules identical to those applicable to U.S. forces. As Bush and Rumsfeld are poised to launch a major war in Iraq, the world stands appalled by their utter disregard for the most fundamental norms of humanity in wartime. Heaven help our “enemies” and our own soldiers.

Joan Fitzpatrick

Below are some relatively early links on torture. I’m sorry that this happened but at least it’s coming out. This stuff was old news before the US invaded Iraq.





bob mcmanus 05.28.04 at 4:27 pm

My honest and sincere opinion of these people is the first revelation of the photos and videos induced a group giggling session in the Oval Office.


Anno-nymous 05.28.04 at 6:46 pm

The Osama interview is even better. Not to ruin the surprise or anything, but here’s an edited selection:

OBL: This time I’m hatching my most diabolical scheme ever – my plot to elect JOHN KERRY president!
FB: But why, Osama bin Laden? Why?
OBL: Because of free trade. Free trade, affirmative action, abortion rights, equal marriage rights for gays, universal health care. Especially universal health care! Allah demands that martyr-blood flow in rivers through the infidel streets of America until the West has universal health care!


Tom Doyle 05.28.04 at 6:52 pm


Documents Show Soldiers, Civilians Had Knowledge Of Jail Maltreatment

Pittsburgh Post-GazetteMay 27, 2004

By Michael A. Fuoco and Cindi Lash

The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and the existence of photographs of them being maltreated were known to many others beyond the seven members of the 372nd Military Police Company charged so far in the scandal, documents obtained by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette indicate.

Many of the documents, which come from a probe by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, also appear to support the contention of the six MPs currently facing charges that military intelligence officers directed the company to “soften up” detainees prior to interrogations. …And some documents also raise the possibility [???] that others, military and contracted civilian personnel alike, were involved with or witnessed abuse.

Blake Ellis, a spokesman for the legal team representing Pfc. Lynndie England, who is shown in some of the more scandalous photos, said the accused MPs have maintained all along that their treatment of detainees was directed by superior officers and those from military intelligence and other government agencies.

“The superiors knew about this … because they ordered it to be done,” Ellis said. …The investigative documents include a number of surveys presumably distributed by the Criminal Investigation Division investigating the abuse. The forms, to be filled out by military and civilian personnel working at Abu Ghraib, included such questions as whether the individual had seen detainees abused or photographs of detainee abuse and whether he knew of MPs being used to “soften up” or “prepare” detainees for interrogations.

On one of the forms, a civilian linguist said he …saw a military intelligence interrogator make a naked detainee walk between cellblocks while saying “Look at me” in an effort to humiliate him prior to interrogation. On another occasion, he said, he saw an interrogator place his hand on a male detainee’s chest and ask “if he liked being touched by a guy.”

A captain from the 323rd Military Intelligence Battalion reported to CID that three soldiers from the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion had a female detainee strip.

A military intelligence sergeant told CID that a civilian interrogator at the prison’s Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center roughly moved a detainee to and fro in an interrogation booth. Another military intelligence sergeant said a specialist from a unit other than the 372nd had a detainee take off his clothes before being walked to an interrogation booth. This was “part of the approach for interrogation,” the sergeant wrote.
A civilian screener at Abu Ghraib said he was told of physical abuse by coalition forces who weren’t American soldiers. Another civilian linguist also said “many of the Iraqi detainees are claiming they are being hit, touched, beaten up” by Iraqi police in the presence of coalition forces.

Another contract civilian interrogator wrote on the survey that he was told that another interrogator had thrown a hooded and cuffed detainee from a car and then dragged him by the cuffs of his pants to an interrogation booth. The detainee, whom he described as being in his 60s and in poor health, told him of the incident. The detainee also said an interrogator had thrown him headfirst into a wall.
Spc. Helga-Margot Aldape-Moreno told investigators that she was summoned at 2 a.m. to Abu Ghraib to treat a prisoner having a panic attack. When she arrived, she saw a “pile of naked guys” in a pyramid, but did not know the names of the guards who were overseeing the night shift.
Spc. Joseph M. Darby, the Somerset County native who turned in the others and is not facing charges, told of Graner showing photographs of chained prisoners and naked women.…Darby also quoted Graner as saying, “The Christian in me says it’s wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, ‘I love to make a grown man piss himself.’ ”
Sgt. Javal S. Davis admitted stepping on detainees and watching Staff Sgt. Ivan “Chip” Frederick punch a detainee in the chest.
The apparent widespread knowledge of abuse, photographs and military intelligence authorization contrasts with the Bush administration’s portrayal of the Abu Ghraib scandal as the actions of seven low-ranking, rogue soldiers who brutalized detainees in secret while on the night shift until one of their unit reported it to superiors.

On Monday, President Bush said Abu Ghraib “became a symbol of disgraceful conduct by a few American troops who dishonored our country and disregarded our values.”

Harvey J. Volzer…, attorney for Spc. Megan Ambuhl, said many people knew what was happening at Abu Ghraib. He said it was absurd for anyone to claim that only the seven charged were involved. “No one in their right mind, even the commander in chief, could say that,” Volzer said. “Military intelligence knew about it. They were the people who ordered it. There’s no doubt this had approval all the way to the commander in chief. “I think everyone understood the pressure to get results [in intelligence], from the president on down. MI knew how to get results … They were in control of the prison.”
Lawson said his nephew and the others weren’t secretive about what was happening, adding that they certainly wouldn’t have acted so openly if they’d thought they were doing something illegal.…Moreover, he said, as more people were aware of what was happening inside Abu Ghraib and nothing was done, whatever concerns the MPs might have had about what they were doing were dissipated. “The more time went on and the more people were wandering around the prison the more it reinforced in their minds what they were told — that they were saving American lives and coalition lives by doing this and it was approved by military intelligence.”

Ellis, from England’s legal team, agreed that knowledge was widespread and “they saw nothing to contradict any qualms they may have had because they saw no Judge Advocate General officers or other high-ranking officers stepping in to stop what was happening.” Ellis said the apparent widespread acceptance of such treatment indicates that it was an outgrowth of a controversial U.S. policy to deny Geneva Conventions protection to people detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in the war on terror.…”It’s been known for some time what was going on, and it’s starting to show that it was brought over [to Iraq] from Guantanamo,” Ellis said. “They weren’t concerned about it because it wasn’t public knowledge [outside Iraq].


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette May 23, 2004

By Cindi Lash,

The attorney for Spc. Charles A. Graner Jr., the military police officer accused of being a ringleader of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, plans to defend his client by arguing that his acts were the results of tacitly set White House policy.

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