Gitmoizing Abu Ghraib

What does “Gitmo-ize” mean?

John McCain notices something I missed:

1. In the view of the United States, the al Qaeda prisoners at Guantanamo are unlawful combatants not subject to the Geneva Conventions.

2. Gen. Miller, who’s in charge at Guantanamo, recommended that Abu Ghraib be “Gitmoized.”

3. But in our view the prisoners at Abu Ghraib were entitled to the protection of the Geneva Conventions.

Let’s remember who was just sent to Iraq to clean up the prisoner situation.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): General Taguba, I want to thank you for your excellent report, and I think it’s been very helpful to this committee, as well as to the American people. General Miller — first of all, we know that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay are not subject to the Geneva Conventions because they’re al Qaeda — at least those that are al Qaeda, and therefore, being terrorists, they are not subject to the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of prisoners of war. And I don’t disagree with that assessment, and I don’t think you do either, do you?

GEN. TAGUBA: Yes, sir. No.

SEN. MCCAIN: And yet, General Miller was quoted in your report, when he arrived in Iraq — I believe Secretary Cambone was one of those who urged his transfer there — that he wanted to “Gitmo-ize” the treatment of prisoners throughout Iraq, including Abu Ghraib prison. What do you make of that statement?

GEN. TAGUBA: Sir, I’d defer that to General Miller, sir. But for the record, I’ve never been to Guantanamo. I’m only knowledgeable of my experience and my observations at Abu Ghraib, which is a detention operation, along with the other detention operations under the command and control of the 800 MP Brigade as under combat conditions, separate and distinct of what I consider to be a sterile environment at —

SEN. MCCAIN: But you found clearly in your report violations of the rules for the — Geneva Conventions for treatment of prisoners of war, right?

GEN. TAGUBA: Yes, sir.

SEN. MCCAIN: Including moving prisoners around to avoid International Red Cross inspections?

GEN. TAGUBA: Yes, sir. That was conveyed to us by those that we interviewed and comments that we assessed in the written statements.

SEN. MCCAIN: In your report, General Karpinski says that General Sanchez said that in the case of problems in the prison — there was uprising and riot and escape; an American, I believe, was killed — that they should use lethal means immediately and not non-lethal means to start with. Isn’t that according to your report?

GEN. TAGUBA: Yes, sir. They changed their rules of engagement I believe four times, to use lethal and then to — non-lethal to lethal force based on the level of the events. I believe the last time they changed that rules of engagement, sir, was in November of last year. That’s contained in one of the annexes that we have.

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.

SEN. MCCAIN: According to your report, these abuses were very widespread, correct?

GEN. TAGUBA: Sir, the manner by which we conducted our investigation in collecting evidence was that they were between mid- to late October, and as late as December, perhaps early January.

SEN. MCCAIN: Mr. Cambone, the media report that complaints were made by Ambassador Bremer and Secretary Powell concerning the treatment of prisoners in Iraq. Do you know anything about that?

MR. CAMBONE: No, sir. I am not aware of those complaints.

SEN. MCCAIN: In your opinion — maybe I’d better ask General Taguba. How far up the chain of command did awareness of these ongoing — let me ask this. When someone says that they’re going to Gitmo-ize a prison, wouldn’t a subordinate think we’re going to change the rules?

GEN. TAGUBA: Sir, I’d rather not speculate on that, and I don’t exactly know what General Miller meant by Gitmo-izing Abu Ghraib because of a different situation there.

SEN. MCCAIN: I think it’s pretty obvious, but I thank you for your testimony and your report.

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:

One thought on “Gitmoizing Abu Ghraib”


    What did they mean that Abu Gharib be "gitmo-ized"? Sen. McCain wants to know. Mark Kleiman's got the transcript. [I don't mean to post incessantly on this topic, but some stuff just screams out to be pointed to. Hopefully it's…

Comments are closed.