Abu Ghraib 37 (2005), by artist Fernando Botero
Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (now retired) served as the deputy commanding general for support for the Third Army for ten months in Kuwait during the early days of the Iraq occupation. In a statement released today, he bluntly accuses the Bush administration of war crimes and lays down a challenge for prosecution.
In 2004, Taguba released a classified report detailing abuses committed at Abu Ghraib Prison. The "Taguba Report" (executive summary) urged Pentagon officials to follow up on its findings by enforcing adherence to the Geneva Conventions in interrogations.
Taguba retired in January 2007, later alleging that Pentagon officials had ordered him to retire for being "overzealous" in his criticisms of the military.
In light of ongoing Congressional investigations into so-called harsh interrogation techniques, and on the heels of Congressman Dennis Kucinich recently issuing articles of impeachment accusing President Bush of, among other offenses, authorizing torture, we present Taguba's latest statement for your consideration.
The full Physicians for Human Rights report outlining the medical evidence of torture perpetrated by the United States can be read at their website.
By Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, USA (Retired)
Maj. Gen. Taguba led the US Army's official investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and testified before Congress on his findings in May 2004.
This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals' lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.
The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted - both on America's institutions and our nation's founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.
In order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. And the healing professions, including physicians and psychologists, became complicit in the willful infliction of harm against those the Hippocratic Oath demands they protect.
After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.
The former detainees in this report - each of whom is fighting a lonely and difficult battle to rebuild his life - require reparations for what they endured, comprehensive psycho-social and medical assistance, and even an official apology from our government.
But most of all, these men deserve justice as required under the tenets of international law and the United States Constitution.
And so do the American people.