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Rumsfeld Misled Congress Over Abu Ghraib

Seymour Hersh was spoke on Democracy Now! regarding his recent scoop revealing Rumsfeld’s knowledge of Abu Ghraib abuses.

You can view the interview, listen to it, or read the transcript here.

Below is an excerpt of the interview by Amy Goodman:

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. First of all, how did you end up speaking to General Taguba? Hasn’t spoken, since he left, publicly.

SEYMOUR HERSH: Oh, just the way that reporters do things. I had been making a lot of speeches across the country in which I was very praiseful of his report. Amy, you should understand there’s been, what, about officially a dozen reports made about Abu Ghraib. And his report, the first one, which perhaps was never meant to be public, as the others were, was spectacular. I’ve read a lot of reports in my life, and all of a sudden I’m reading a report by a general who’s actually criticizing his peers, his fellow two-star generals — he was a major general, Taguba — and in which he’s talking about systematic abuse, in which he’s clearly indicating that this was way beyond just a few MPs. He’s not saying it, per se, but the language of his — the tone of his report — and, of course, part of my thought was that he had been born in the Philippines, and getting from being a second lieutenant out of ROTC in Idaho, where he came from — he and his family moved to Idaho, became a citizen, I think, when he was about twelve or thirteen — making it from there to two-star is — this is a remarkable guy.

And at some speech, I ran into somebody who went to school with him, who apparently forwarded some of my comments. And I think Taguba was always interested in how I got his report. If you remember, in the New Yorker we published his report before it was made available and before it was declassified — and Rumsfeld, by the way, has said to Congress, even before he got to see it, or he chose to see it. And so, at some point, we just started talking, more than a year ago.

And he’s not interested in publicity. He’s getting inundated with calls, and, as far as I know, he hasn’t agreed to talk to anybody, and he’s not going to write a book, and he’s not looking to be famous. He’s just a tough guy. And I thought the most revelatory line about him was — he was five-foot-six when he joined the Army and weighed 120 pounds. And he said to me one morning — I would see him sometimes just for coffee, sometimes for lunch, sometimes just to talk — well, months ago, years ago, a year ago, he said to me one day, without any bitterness, he said, “Let me tell you about discrimination. I was told as a young officer I had to repeat everything twice, because I couldn’t speak English well enough. I got three master’s degrees, and I paid for them myself, because the Army thought I was too dumb to finance me.” And he said, “It was rough, but I worked hard and I made it. And that’s what I always thought you had to do.”

And so, when he got the assignment by sheer circumstance — it was just he happened to be in a headquarters in the war zone in Kuwait when they needed a two-star general — there were only two — and as the Army goes, somebody saw him first and said, “You’ve got it.” There was nothing more than that. It was absolutely by chance. He just thought, “I’m going to do the job the way I’ve done everything.” And it turned out that cost him his career.

Read the complete text >>

>> Related post: How Antonio Tabuga, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, became one its casualties (with link to S. Hersh’s New Yorker article)

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