Sunday, November 26, 2006

Rumsfeld okayed abuses says former U.S. general

MADRID (Reuters) - Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the prison's former U.S. commander said in an interview on Saturday.

Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski told Spain's El Pais newspaper she had seen a letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation.

Karpinski, who ran the prison until early 2004, said she saw a memorandum signed by Rumsfeld detailing the use of harsh interrogation methods.

"The handwritten signature was above his printed name and in the same handwriting in the margin was written: "Make sure this is accomplished,"" she told Saturday's El Pais.

"The methods consisted of making prisoners stand for long periods, sleep deprivation ... playing music at full volume, having to sit in uncomfortably ... Rumsfeld authorized these specific techniques."

The Geneva Convention says prisoners of war should suffer "no physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion" to secure information.

Andrew Sullivan, Daily Dish: General Karpinski has some credibility as the former commander of all military prisons in Iraq. When she says that Rumsfeld personally signed off on the Abu Ghraib abuses, she is not easily dismissed (although you can expect pro-torture Republicans to do so). The evidence that Rumsfeld was personally involved in the torture of al-Qatani in Gitmo is well documented. He even micro-managed the length of time Qatani was required to stand, chained to the floor. That Rumsfeld sent the Gitmo torture-architect, General Geoffrey Miller, to Abu Ghraib to "Gitmoize" it, is also well documented.

But that he actually signed off on key measures to inflict prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, and to violate the Geneva Conventions by ensuring certain prisoners were never registered (so they could be tortured without a paper trail) is news. All of this needs thorough Congressional investigation, and criminal charges if necessary. There was a reason the Bush administration rushed through the Military Commissions Act before the last election. It was their last chance to give Rumsfeld, Cheney, Gonzales and Bush retroactive legal impunity for their war crimes. They succeeded. But international law can still be brought to bear. And the light of day can still be shed on what these men ordered, and what torture techniques they endorsed and monitored. This is not over.

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