Center for American Progress

Viewing Guide to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s Testimony

Viewing Guide to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s Testimony




Why didn’t you read the entire report?

The report was finished in February, yet no mention was made of any of its findings until it was reported by the New Yorker and CBS. Secretary Rumsfeld this week said he’s still only read parts. "I’ve seen the executive summary," Rumsfeld told reporters. "I’ve been through it. Whether — [I] have read every page — no. I think I did inquire about the pictures and was told we didn’t have any copies." The report is 53 pages long.

Was anyone in the White House briefed on the report?

President Bush was told of the investigation into possible prisoner abuse last winter; it appears he didn’t keep a close eye on its progress. He said this week he had no knowledge of the report or the photographs until the story broke on CBS. Almost an entire week later, President Bush still hadn’t read the report. The State Department is frustrated that it was left in the dark; the Pentagon knew about the report weeks ago, knew about the abuse allegations, knew that the story was about to become public= Neither the White House nor the Pentagon has made clear if anyone in the White House was briefed.

Has all of the information from the investigation been released? What else is the Defense Department keeping from public view?

According to Seymour Hersh of the New Yorker, there are as yet unaddressed allegations of a separate unit at Abu Ghraib prison reserved for women and children.

Will you apologize?

Secretary Rumsfeld has refused to apologize for the abuses of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers.

Do you think that calls for your resignation are appropriate?

Newspaper editorials and lawmakers this week started to call for change at the top. "If it goes all the way to Rumsfeld, then he should resign," said Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE). Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) concurred: "I believe it’s time to fire the Secretary of Defense. It’s time for Rumsfeld to go." The Financial Times said Rumsfeld "failed to plan for the post-war period, to provide sufficient troops for peacekeeping or to ensure they were properly trained. Only his departure will convince public opinion round the world that Mr. Bush is serious when he says Abu Ghraib is not the true face of America." The cover of this week’s Economist is Resign, Rumsfeld. Of course, Secretary Rumsfeld’s misdeeds do not relieve President Bush, the Commander-In-Chief, of ultimate responsibility.

Why didn’t you include any mention of the report in your briefing to Senators last week?

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Wednesday he found it "interesting" that on the day the story broke on CBS, "Secretary Rumsfeld was over here briefing the Senate and made no mention of this situation whatsoever. I think that’s an indication of the complete lack of communications between the Pentagon and the Congress. And we have been deprived of our oversight responsibilities, and they are responsibilities."

Follow-up question: If CBS had not aired the photographs, would the Defense Department have informed Congress?

Will there be criminal proceedings against the members of the military who took part in the abuse?

In one suspicious death in the Iraqi prison, a soldier "was court-martialed but not sentenced to jail time for using excessive force leading to the prisoner’s death."

Have the contractors been sanctioned?

Although the report on abuse has charged that an employee of CACI International Inc., a firm contracted to work in Iraq, was involved in abusing detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the company’s president of U.S. operations has said "that because the company had not received any instructions to change its activities at the prison, the company’s employees remain at the site and continue to perform their duties."

Why were the "repeated" pleas of the International Committee of the Red Cross to investigate rumors of abuse at Abu Ghraib ignored?

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) chief spokeswoman Antonella Notari said Thursday the group was aware of the situation in Abu Ghraib and "repeatedly asked the U.S. authorities to take corrective action."

Did Secretary of State Colin Powell repeatedly ask about the status of detainees? If so, why was he ignored?

The WP reported that, according to a State Department official, Secretary Powell repeatedly raised the issue of treatment of detainees, asking "to release as many detainees as possible — and, second, to ensure that those in custody are properly cared for and treated." Secretary Powell "urged action in several White House meetings that included Rumsfeld."

After June 30, who will be responsible for the 10,000 detainees currently under control of the U.S. military?

According to Reuters, confusion reigns over control after the arbitrary June 30 transfer of power date. "It is unclear who would control the 10,000 Iraqi prisoners in U.S. custody, particularly after the world recoiled from pictures of abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad and reports of similar brutalization elsewhere."

Do you think the guard-to-prisoner ratio in Iraq was adequate? Can you explain the drastic difference in the ratio between Guantanamo and Iraqi prisons?

In Guantanamo, 800 guards were used for 600 detainees. In Iraq, that ratio was 130 guards for every 8,000 detainees.

Why was Gen. Karpinski, the head of the Iraqi prisons, banned from sections of her own prison system?

The former head of U.S. military prisons in Iraq, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, "alleged that military intelligence officers discouraged her from entering the cell block at Abu Ghraib where they interrogated prisoners."

Why hasn’t the Pentagon taken proactive steps to calm the outrage in Iraq, such as setting up a database to track prisoners so families will know where their loved ones are or immediately opening Abu Ghraib to international inspections?

In a new report outlining a clear strategy for progress in Iraq, the Center for American Progress has called for the new Iraqi Ministry of Interior to "establish a citizen’s liaison to compile and keep a centralized database of all detainees in Iraqi prisons." No such tracking currently exists.

Abu Ghraib was notorious for torture and abuse during the Saddam regime. What message does it send to Iraqis that the Americans also use that building as a prison?

One solution: Sen. John McCain has suggested this prison, a physical reminder of Saddam’s evil, should be razed.

Given the reports of abuse of prisoners which are coming out of Iraq, what steps have you taken to ensure the fair and humane treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo and Afghanistan?

According to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, it is the government’s position that even if it was torturing and executing prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, no court could intercede. The WP editorial page charged Secretary Rumsfeld was to blame for the lack of accountability in prisons: "[Rumsfeld’s] Pentagon ruled that the United States would no longer be bound by the Geneva Conventions; that Army regulations on the interrogation of prisoners would not be observed; and that many detainees would be held incommunicado and without any independent mechanism of review."

Will you employ the same level of public transparency into the criminal investigation of the accused abusers as was allowed in the investigation of Capt. James Yee?

On September 20, 2003, the Washington Times reported that the Army had arrested Capt. James Yee ten days earlier and was investigating him on charges of sedition, aiding the enemy, spying, espionage, and failure to obey a general order. The very next day, the spokesman for US Southern Command identified Yee by name and said no formal charges had been filed. On 9/24/03, two weeks after Yee’s arrest, and four days after it was publicly announced, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers said that security procedures at Guantanamo Bay were being reviewed. Joint Chiefs Vice Chair, Marine General Peter Pace, implied that Yee could be part of a radical Islamic spy ring that sought to penetrate the Guantanamo Bay prison. Finally, on 9/27/03, just seventeen days after Yee’s arrest, the Pentagon announced the entire military chaplain program was under review. All charges against Yee were eventually dropped or thrown out; he is now back on duty. The ultimately unproven allegations against Capt. Yee prompted the Pentagon to review the entire military chaplain program seventeen days after his arrest. The reports of abuse by two Major Generals at prisons in Iraq have still not led to a Pentagon review of the military prison system months after the reports were delivered to military commanders.




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