Wednesday, June 20, 2007

'Tis a muddle, and that’s aw.’

Seymour M. Hersh's series of articles in the New Yorker outline the Iraq war we hear little about. His most recent story, "The General's Report," is about Major General Antonio M. Taguba and what happened to him after he investigated, wrote, and submitted his March 2004 report describing the terrible happenings at Abu Ghraib. One story related by Hersh is especially revealing.

The day before Secretary Rumsfeld was to testify before the Senate in May, 2004, General Taguba was called to a meeting with the Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Gambone, General Myers, and General Schoomaker and others. When Taguba entered the room, Secretary Rumsfeld mocked him, saying "Here . . . comes . . . that famous General Taguba--of the Taguba report!"

This story of Rumsfeld's mockery of an honest person who has completed a difficult job embodies the entire muddle of this awful war. Taguba told the truth, certainly one of the most difficult of tasks in Rumsfeld's Defense Department. Taguba was stunned at the reception he received, and he told Hersh that he had believed that everyone at Defense had wanted to know the truth of Abu Ghraib. Hersh's June 25th story is pretty plain, confirming the chain of information flow from Taguba's investigations beginning in January and then his March report. The information Taguba learned became known in the Pentagon and the White House possibly as early as January and almost certainly by March. Rumsfeld's testimony, denying any prior knowledge about Abu Ghraib, was given in May.