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Rumsfeld tried hard to get video of Iraq torture
May 08, 2004 20:16 IST
Defence Secretry Donald Rumsfeld has confessed that he had been trying unsuccessfully to get a video of the "catastrophe" at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, which apparently showed US forces torturing Iraqi prisoners.
In remarks to the Senate Armed Servics Committee Friday, Rumsfeld said he had been trying for "days and days and days" simply to get a CD copy of the Abu Ghraib photographs and video, but has not been able to find one, long after CBS broadcast the pictures that shocked the world.
He did see a disc along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Richard B Myers on Thursday night but it had only photos on it, not videos.
All the pictures, both stills and video, he explained, have been in the hands of military investigators since January. But Rumfeld had trouble getting hold of them.
He said twice that the victims of the ill-treatment at the hands of the US military would be compensated.
The hearing learnt that the tortures may have been swept under the rug, at least for a longer period, but for Army Specialist Joseph M Darby, who was assigned to Abu Ghraib, informed his superiors about the abuses. He received much praise Friday.
His family had been afraid that he would be punished.
Upon his information, Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez, the commanding officer of US troops in Iraq, launched a criminal investigation the next day. Rumsfeld was notified and the Pentagon disclosed the inquiry on January 16.
Rumsfeld admitted that reading the reports is one thing and seeing the pictures is another.
Members of the Armed Services Committees of the two Houses of Congress were told that they would get confidential copies of the Red Cross reports on the abuse. Under its mandate, the Red Cross is not allowed to release its reports to the public.
Rumsfeld told the Committee that on January 31, the Defence Department assigned Major General Antonio M Taguba to investigate. Two days later, he visited Abu Ghraib and confirmed in a blunt report that there had been abuse of prisoners.
In late January or early February, Rumsfeld testified, President Bush was informed of the investigation as an "information item."
The Red Cross, which was very critical of the treatment of prisoners, delivered its own report. State Department officials who had heard some details and had pressed the Red Cross to release the report more widely, arranged to receive a copy through a back channel and circulated it widely in US.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher acknowledged that the Red Cross had delivered its recommendations to US officials in Baghdad before releasing the report more widely in February. By then, he said, a US investigation of the Abu Ghraib abuses was well underway.
On March 3, General Taguba's preliminary findings were presented to Lt Gen David McKiernan, commander of the US ground forces in Iraq. Later that month, the Army's Criminal Investigation Division charged six soldiers with crimes, including indecent acts and conspiracy.