Abuse Photos: Pentagon CYA with Oak Leaf Clusters

The UK’s Daily Telegraph says that the abuse photos being withheld by the DOD at Obama’s request show rape by uniformed US military personnel

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.

Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.

The Pentagon, unsurprisingly, vigorously denies these allegations. Per Reuters,

The Pentagon on Thursday denied a British newspaper report that photographs of Iraqi prisoner abuse, whose release U.S. President Barack Obama wants to block, include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Daily Telegraph newspaper had shown "an inability to get the facts right".

"That news organization has completely mischaracterized the images," Whitman told reporters. "None of the photos in question depict the images that are described in that article."

Sounds to me like Whitman’s argument is with Taguba, not the Daily Telegraph, unless Whitman is saying that Taguba was misquoted. Given Taguba’s silence, though, I’d say he feels he was quoted correctly.

I’m struck, however, by these comments by Taguba cited in both pieces:

I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan.

The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.

I’m sure that Taguba’s reference to "our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy" at the end of the piece will go down really well at Foggy Bottom.

Folks, this whole thing, from both Whitman and Taguba, is Military CYA with Oak Leaf Clusters — a whole damn forest of oak leaves.


Given a choice between losing a court fight and standing up to the brass, Obama has chosen losing a court battle as the easier path. Never mind the optics to the rest of the world, nor the State Department that has to deal with the rest of the world, nor the American people looking in vain for the promised openness and transparency.

And of course, never mind that pesky legal "accountability" thingee.


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