Gen. Taguba’s testimony

Gen. Taguba thinks the abuses at Abu Ghraib were systemic, but not carried out under direct orders or as part of a formal policy. That’s not the same as saying there were no criminals above the E-6 pay grade.

Gen. Taguba’s testimony:

1. “We did not find any evidence of a policy or a direct order given to these soldiers to conduct what they did. I believe that they did it on their own volition and I believe that they collaborated with several MI [military intelligence] interrogators at the lower level.”

“I would say they were probably influenced by others, but not necessarily directed specifically by others.”


SEN. LEVIN: General Taguba, the ICRC said that the military intelligence officers at the prison confirmed to them that this was all part of the military intelligence process, these activities. Would you agree with the ICRC that coercive practices such as holding prisoners naked for extended periods of time were used, in their words, in a “systematic way” as part of a military intelligence process at the prison?

GEN. TAGUBA: Sir, I did not read the ICRC report.

SEN. LEVIN: Would you agree with that conclusion?

GEN. TAGUBA: Yes, sir, based on the evidence that was presented to us and what we gathered and what we reviewed. Yes, sir.


SEN. MCCAIN: In your judgment, were these abuses a result of an overall military or intelligence policy to, quote, “soften up” detainees for interrogation?

GEN. TAGUBA: Sir, we did not gain any evidence where it was an overall military intelligence policy of this sort. I think it was a matter of soldiers with their interaction with military intelligence personnel who they perceived or thought to be competent authority that were giving them or influencing their action to set the conditions for successful interrogations operations.

4. Taguba and the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence disagreed about who was in charge at Abu Ghraib.

5. “While Taguba said his investigation found no evidence that knowledge of the abuse went above the brigade level, he pointed out that his query looked into the military police angle only and that a separate investigation into the military intelligence side was under way.

He told the senators that none of several other detention facilities under the same brigade command had problems of the type found at Abu Ghraib and that only Abu Ghraib had been placed under the control of military intelligence.”

Jason van Steenwych of Iraq Now thinks this is somehow exculpatory of the higher ranks, and Glenn Reynolds agrees. I can’t see why.

Of course, since the Military Intelligence officers and contractors weren’t in the MPs’ chain of command, nothing the MI officers or contractors told the MPs would have constituted an “order.” And no one has suggested that the higher-ups in the MP operation, who could have issued such orders, were anything more than negligent in failing to discipline their troops and know what they were doing. Obviously there wouldn’t have been a written policy calling for guards to have attack dogs bite prisoners. Taguba told McCain that he thought the MPs were acting on what they thought was authority from the MI folks.

But if the prisoners were being shuffled around to play keep-away from the Red Cross, someone above an E-6 must have been involved.

Full transcript here.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

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