May 15, 2004
Hersh the Third
As Drum says, “It’s Saturday, which means we get our weekly Seymour Hersh article about Abu Ghraib today.” Now since it’s Satruday, that also means that cable news goes on vacation to talk about new video games and crocodile hunters, but once people catch on to this I think it’s gonna be pretty hard for anybody with a sense of decency to argue that Rumsfeld has any place in our nation’s chain of command:
According to interviews with several past and present American intelligence officials, the Pentagon’s operation, known inside the intelligence community by several code words, including Copper Green, encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq. A senior C.I.A. official, in confirming the details of this account last week, said that the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld’s long-standing desire to wrest control of America’s clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A.
By fall, according to the former intelligence official, the senior leadership of the C.I.A. had had enough. “They said, ‘No way. We signed up for the core program in Afghanistan—pre-approved for operations against high-value terrorist targets—and now you want to use it for cabdrivers, brothers-in-law, and people pulled off the streets’”—the sort of prisoners who populate the Iraqi jails. “The C.I.A.’s legal people objected,” and the agency ended its SAP involvement in Abu Ghraib, the former official said.
....In a separate interview, a Pentagon consultant, who spent much of his career directly involved with special-access programs, spread the blame. “The White House subcontracted this to the Pentagon, and the Pentagon subcontracted it to Cambone,” he said. “This is Cambone’s deal, but Rumsfeld and Myers approved the program.” When it came to the interrogation operation at Abu Ghraib, he said, Rumsfeld left the details to Cambone. Rumsfeld may not be personally culpable, the consultant added, “but he’s responsible for the checks and balances. The issue is that, since 9/11, we’ve changed the rules on how we deal with terrorism, and created conditions where the ends justify the means.”
Drum notes that the CIA might have a buck or two to pass itself, but this all jives pretty well with what we know so far. Rumsfeld’s plan, Rumfeld’s fault, Rumsfeld Out!
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