Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va). Chairman
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.)
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.)
Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.)
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.)
Sen. Susuan M. Collins (R-Maine)
Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.)
Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.)
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.)
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.)
Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.)
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) Ranking Member
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.)
Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.)
Sen. Josheph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.)
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.)
Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii)
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.)
Sen. Mark DaytonN (D-Minn.)
Sen. Eavn Bayn (D-Ind.)
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.)
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.)
Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Senate Majority Leader
Donald H. Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense
Gen. Richard B. Myers, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Les Brownlee, Acting Secretary of the Army
Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, Chief of Staff, United States Army
Lt. Gen. Lance L. Smith, Deputy Commander, United States Central Command
Dr. Steve Cambone, Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence
WARNER: Committee of the Armed Services meets today in the first of a series of hearings to receive testimony regarding the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by some — I repeat some — elements and certain personnel of the armed forces of the United States, in violation of U.S. and international laws.
Testifying before us today is the secretary of defense, the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld. He is joined by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers; Acting Secretary of the Army Les Brownlee; Army Chief of Staff General Peter Schoomaker; and Central Command Deputy Commander Lieutenant General Lance Smith.
We welcome each of you today.
I have had the privilege of being associated with and, more importantly, learning from the men and women of the armed forces for close to 60 years of my life, and the I can say that the facts that I now have from a number of sources represent to me as serious an issue of military misconduct as I have ever observed.
These reports could also seriously affect this country’s relationships with other nations, the conduct of the war against terrorism, and place in jeopardy the men and women of the armed forces wherever they are serving in the world.
This mistreatment of prisoners represents an appalling and totally unacceptable breach of military regulations and conduct.
WARNER: Most significant, the replaying of these images day after day throughout the Middle East and indeed the world has the potential to undermine the substantial gains — emphasize the substantial gains — toward the goal of peace and freedom in various operation areas of the world, most particularly Iraq, and the substantial sacrifice by our forces, those of our allies, in the war on terror.
Let me be as clear as one senator can be: This is not the way for anyone who wears the uniform of the United States of America to conduct themselves.
This degree of breakdown in military leadership and discipline represents an extremely rare — and I repeat, rare — chapter in the otherwise proud history of the armed forces of the United States.
It defies common sense. It contradicts all the values we Americans learned beginning in our homes.
Members of the committee, as we conduct this hearing, I urge you that we take every care that our actions, our words, our individual and collective conduct in this hearing not reflect unfairly on the 99.9 percent of our uniformed personnel who are performing remarkable tasks and in some cases making the ultimate sacrifice of life and limb to win the war on terror.
Each of us on the committee has nothing but the strongest support for our brave men and women in uniform and their families. And what we seek through this and following hearings is to find out for the American people is only to strengthen and honor their efforts, not in any way to detract from them and their accomplishments.
WARNER: I’d point out that while some systems have failed, we are here today because of a courageous enlisted man and his lieutenant, whose values, American values, compelled them to step forward and inform their superiors. They did the right thing. And as this committee performs its constitutional duties and hearings and oversight, we are working in the same spirit as those two soldiers.
The questions before us today are who knew what and when? What did they do about it? And why were members of Congress not properly and adequately informed?.
In my 25 years on this committee, I’ve received hundreds of calls day and night from top — all levels — top and all levels, uniformed and civilian, in the Department of Defense when they in their judgment felt it was necessary. And I dare say other members on this committee have experienced the same courtesy.
I did not receive such a call in this case. And yet I think the situation was absolutely clear and required it, not only to me but my distinguished ranking member and other members of this committee.
Members of the committee, our central task here today is to get all the facts in this difficult situation no matter where they lead, no matter how embarrassing they may be, so that we can assess our response and in the end make sure that such dereliction of duty as is in this case never, never happens again in the proud history of our country.
WARNER: Senator Levin?
LEVIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The abuses that were committed against prisoners in U.S. custody at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq dishonored our military and our nation and they made the prospects for success in Iraq even more difficult than they already are.
Our troops are less secure and our nation is less secure because these depraved and despicable actions will fuel the hatred and the fury of those who oppose us.
General Taguba’s investigation, as reported, paints an alarming picture of abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners. It has enraged people here at home and throughout the civilized world.
Humiliating and sexually abusing prisoners has nothing to do with the effective internment or interrogation of prisoners. In fact, such actions are counterproductive to those goals.
As we seek to bring stability and democracy to Iraq and to fight terrorism globally, our greatest asset as a nation is the moral values that we stand for. Those values have been compromised.
To begin the process of restoring them, the people involved who carried out or who authorized or suggested that we should, quote, “loosen prisoners up” or, quote, “make sure they get the treatment,” must be held accountable.
So must anyone up the chain of command be held accountable who had command responsibility over the interrogation and security of prisoners and who knew or should have known of these abuses and looked the other way.
LEVIN: General Taguba’s finding that, quote, “Personnel assigned to the 372nd M.P. Company were directed to change facility procedures to set the conditions for military intelligence interrogations,” is bolstered by pictures that suggest that the sadistic abuse was part of an organized and conscious process of intelligence gathering.
In other words, those abusive actions do not appear to be aberrant conduct by individuals, but part of a conscious method of extracting information.
If true, the planners of this process are at least as guilty as those who carried out the abuses.
The president’s legal counsel, Alberto Gonzales, reportedly wrote in a memorandum that the decision to avoid invoking the Geneva Conventions, quote, “preserves flexibility in the war on terrorism.”
Belittling or ignoring the Geneva Conventions invites our enemies to do the same and increases the danger to our military service men and women. It also sends a disturbing message to the world that America does not feel bound by internationally accepted standards of conduct.
The findings of General Taguba’s report, as reported on a public Web site, raise a number of disturbing issues. For example, how far up the chain was there implicit or explicit direction or approval or knowledge of these prisoner abuses? Why was a joint interrogation and detention facility at Abu Ghraib established in a way which led to the subordination of the military police brigade to the military intelligence unit conducting interrogation activities?
LEVIN: What was the role played by the military intelligence, the CIA and any other intelligence units in requesting or suggesting abusive activities?
And how is it in our nation’s interest to have civilian contractors, rather than military personnel, performing vital national security functions, such as prisoner interrogations, in a war zone? When soldiers break the law, or fail to follow orders, commanders can hold them accountable for their misconduct. Military commanders don’t have the same authority over civilian contractors.
And finally, Secretary Rumsfeld and General Myers, I join our chairman in expressing deep dismay that when you briefed senators in a classified session last week on events in Iraq, just hours before the story broke on television, you made no reference to the impending revelations. Executive branch consultation with Congress is not supposed to be an option but a long-standing and fundamental responsibility.
It is essential that our nation at the highest levels apologize directly to the victims and to the Iraqi people as a whole for these actions. But words alone are not sufficient. Prompt and decisive action, which establish responsibility and holds people accountable, is essential here. It will also, hopefully, convince the world that our free and open society does not condone and will not tolerate this depraved behavior.
WARNER: I’ll ask our witnesses to rise.
Do each of you solemnly swear that the testimony that you are about to give to the Committee on the Armed Services Committee of the United States will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
RUMSFELD: I do.
MYERS: I do.
BROWNLEE: I do.
SCHOOMAKER: I do.
SMITH: I do.
WARNER: The complete statements of all witnesses will be placed into the record. The committee will now receive the opening remarks of the secretary, followed by the chairman of the joint chiefs. And I’m not certain if others desire some recognition for opening remarks. If so, indicate to the chair, and then we’ll go into a six-minute round of questions by each member.
RUMSFELD: Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, in recent days there has been a good deal of discussion about who bears responsibility for the terrible activities that took place at Abu Ghraib. These events occurred on my watch. As secretary of defense, I am accountable for them and I take full responsibility.
It’s my obligation to evaluate what happened, to make sure that those who have committed wrong-doing are brought to justice, and to make changes as needed to see that it doesn’t happen again.
I feel terrible about what happened to these Iraqi detainees. They are human beings. They were in U.S. custody. Our country had an obligation to treat them right. We didn’t, and that was wrong.
So to those Iraqis who were mistreated by members of the U.S. armed forces, I offer my deepest apology. It was inconsistent with the values of our nation. It was inconsistent with the teachings of the military, to the men and women of the armed forces. And it was certainly fundamentally un-American.
Further, I deeply regret the damage that has been done. First to the reputation of the honorable men and women of the armed forces, who are courageously and responsibly and professionally defending our freedoms across the globe.
RUMSFELD: They are truly wonderful human beings. And their families and their loved ones can be enormously proud of them.
Second to the president, the Congress and the American, I wish I had been able to convey to them the gravity of this before we saw it in the media.
And finally to the reputation of our country.
The photographic depictions of the U.S. military personnel that the public has seen have offended and outraged everyone in the Department of Defense. If you could have seen the anguished expressions on the faces of those in our department upon seeing those photos, you would know how we feel today.
It’s important for the American people and the world to know that while these terrible acts were perpetrated by a small number of U.S. military, they were also brought to light by the honorable and responsible actions of other military personnel.
There are many who did their duty professionally and we should mention that as well. First, Specialist Joseph Darby, who alerted the appropriate authorities that abuses were occurring. Second, those in the military chain of command who acted promptly on learning of those abuses by initiating a series of investigations, criminal and administrative, to assure that abuses were stopped and the responsible chain of command was relieved and replaced.
Having said that, all the facts that may be of interest are not yet in hand. In addition to the Taguba report, there are other investigations under way and we’ll be discussing those today. And because all the facts are not in hand, there will be corrections and clarifications to the record as more information is learned.
From the witnesses, you will be told the sequence of events and investigations that have taken place since the activities first came to light. I want to inform you of the measures under way to improve our performance in the future.
RUMSFELD: Before I do that, let me say that each of us at this table is either in the chain of command or has senior responsibilities in the Department of Defense. This means that anything we say publicly could have an impact on the legal proceedings against those accused of wrongdoing in this matter.
So please understand that if some of our responses to questions are measured, it is to assure that pending cases are not jeopardized by seeming to exert command influence and that the rights of any accused are protected.
Now let me tell you the measures we’re taking to deal with this issue.
First, to ensure we have a handle on the scope of this catastrophe, I will be announcing today the appointment of several senior former officials who are being asked to examine the pace, the breadth, the thoroughness of the existing investigations and to determine whether additional investigations or studies need to be initiated. They’re being asked to report their findings within 45 days of taking up their duties.
I’m confident that these distinguished individuals will provide a full and fair assessment of what has been done thus far and recommend whether further steps may be necessary.
Second, we need to review our habits and our procedures.
One of the things we’ve tried to do in the department since September 11th is to try to get the department to adjust our procedures and processes to reflect that we’re in a time of war, and that we’re in the information age. For the past three years we’ve looked for areas where adjustments were needed, and we’ve made a great many adjustments. And regrettably we’ve now found another area where adjustments may be needed.
Let me be clear: I failed to recognize how important it was to elevate a matter of such gravity to the highest levels, including the president and the members of Congress.
Third, I’m seeking a way to provide appropriate compensation to those detainees who suffered such grievous and brutal abuse and cruelty at the hands of a few members of the United States armed forces.
RUMSFELD: It’s the right thing to do.
I wish we had known more sooner and been able to tell you more sooner, but we didn’t.
Today we’ll have a full discussion of these terrible acts, but first let’s take a step back for a moment. Within the constraints imposed on those of us in the chain of command, I have a few additional words.
PROTESTER: What about the other abuses in Iraq?
WARNER: We’ll remain seated for a brief period and suspend the hearing. I ask all persons…
PROTESTER: Fire Rumsfeld! Fire Rumsfeld! Fire Rumsfeld!
WARNER: Committee will resume the hearing.
RUMSFELD: First, beyond abuse of prisoners, there are other photos that depict incidents of physical violence toward prisoners, acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman.
RUMSFELD: Second, there are many more photographs, and indeed some videos. Congress and the American people and the rest of the world need to know this.
In addition, the photos give these incidents a vividness, indeed a horror, in the eyes of the world.
Mr. Chairman, that’s why this hearing today is important. It’s why the actions we take in the days and weeks ahead are so important.
However, terrible the setback, this is also an occasion to demonstrate to the world the difference between those who believe in democracy and in human rights, and those who believe in rule by terrorist code.
We value human life. We believe in individual freedom and in the rule of law. For those beliefs, we send men and women of the armed forces abroad to protect that right for our own people and to give others who aren’t Americans the hope of a future of freedom.
Part of that mission, part of what we believe in, is making sure that when wrongdoings or scandal do occur, that they’re not covered up, but they’re exposed, they’re investigated, and the guilty are brought to justice.
Mr. Chairman, I know you join me today in saying to the world, judge us by our actions, watch how Americans, watch how a democracy deals with the wrongdoing and with scandal and the pain of acknowledging and correcting our own mistakes and our own weaknesses.
And then, after they have seen America in action, then ask those who teach resentment and hatred of America if our behavior doesn’t give a lie to the falsehood and the slander they speak about our people and about our way of life. Ask them if the resolve of Americans in crisis and difficulty, and, yes, in the heartbreak of acknowledging the evil in our midst, doesn’t have meaning far beyond their hatred.
RUMSFELD: Above all, ask them if the willingness of Americans to acknowledge their own failures before humanity doesn’t light the world as surely as the great ideas and beliefs that made this nation a beacon of hope and liberty for all who strive to be free.
We know what the terrorists will do; we know they will try to exploit all that is bad, and try to obscure all that is good. That’s their nature. And that’s the nature of those who think they can kill innocent men, women and children to gratify their own cruel wills to power.
We say to the world, we will strive to do our best, as imperfect as it may be.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
WARNER: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
You and I have had the privilege to know each other for many, many years. We’ve enjoyed a close working relationship. I want to say I found that statement to be strong and in every sense heartfelt by you.
RUMSFELD: Thank you.
WARNER: General Myers?
MYERS: Mr. Chairman and Senator Levin, I would like to express my deep regret at being here under these circumstances.
The incidents of prisoner abuse that occurred at Abu Ghraib prison are absolutely appalling. The actions of those involved are unconscionable and absolutely unacceptable.
Since Brigadier General Kimmitt’s public announcement of the allegations back in January, the commanders’ response to the problems highlighted in these investigations has been timely and thorough.
And just as a backdrop, we must also realize that our commanders had been handling some enormous challenges in Iraq, including the fighting that had intensified in Fallujah and An Najaf, the temporary plus-up of troops, which was a decision that was pending, and the departure of the Spanish brigade. All at the same time that they’re dealing with some of these reports.
MYERS: And despite these extraordinary events, our commanders did exactly the right thing in a timely manner. I have great confidence in them, as should the American public and the citizens of Iraq.
I’ve been receiving regular updates since the situation developed in January and have been involved in corrective actions and personally recommended specific steps. Again, I’m confident that the commanders are doing the right things.
One of the military’s greatest strengths comes from the fact that we hold our service men and women accountable for their actions. Our military justice system works very well.
I took an oath to support the Constitution and with that comes the responsibility to ensure that all military members enjoy the full protections of our Constitution, to include the due process of a fair, judicial system. After all, it’s respect for the rule of law that we’re trying to teach and instill in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.
So like the secretary said, we are now in the middle of a judicial process regarding detainee abuse. And because of my position, I have to be careful I don’t say anything that can be interpreted as direction or pressure for a certain outcome in any of these cases.
Moreover, we have to understand that a fair judicial system takes time to work. I know you all understand that. So no one is stalling or covering up information, but it’s absolutely essential to protect the integrity of our judicial system.
I have complete confidence in our military justice system. The accused will receive due process. Those found guilty will face punishments based on their offenses.
When I spoke to Dan Rather, with whom I already had a professional association, concerning the “60 Minutes” story, I did so after talking to General Abizaid. And I did so out of concern for the lives of our troops.
MYERS: The story about the abuse was already public, but we were concerned But we were concerned that broadcasting the actual pictures would further inflame the tense situation that existed then in Iraq and further endanger the lives of coalition soldiers and hostages.
Again, it’s useful to remember the context here. We were in the midst of some very heavy fighting in Fallujah and other places in Iraq. Some 90 hostages had been taken. It was a very delicate situation that we were trying to resolve.
Since the story of the photographs was already public, I felt we were on good ground on asking him to hold off airing the actual photos. As we are now seeing, the photos are having a very real, very emotional worldwide impact.
And I would identify myself with the secretary’s remarks on having seen more of them than I wish to have seen about the impact that it has on me.
The situation is nothing less than tragic. The Iraqi people are trying to build a free and open society and I regret they saw such a fragrant violation of the very principles that are the cornerstone of such a society.
I’m also terribly saddened at the hundreds of thousands of service men and women who are serving or who have served so honorably in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere, what have their reputation tarnished and their accomplishments diminished by those few who don’t uphold our military’s values. I know our service men and women are all suffering unfairly with a collective sense of shame over what has happened.
Their credibility will be restored, day by day, as they interact with the Iraqi people. And I’m confident that our dedicated service men and women will continue to prove worth of the trust and respect of our nation and of the world.
We continue to be very proud of them. As always, I thank you on their behalf for your steadfast support. Thank you.
WARNER: Thank you, General. Good statement, General.
Secretary Brownlee, do you wish to…
BROWNLEE: At this point, no.
WARNER: You defer to General Smith?
RUMSFELD: Lance Smith, yes.
WARNER: Thank you.
SMITH: Senator Warner, Senator Levin, members of the committee, I wish to start by thanking you for the opportunity to testify before this committee concerning the mistreatment of Iraqi detainees.
The more than 250,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who have served in the CENTCOM area of responsibility over the past year have faced numerous challenges in prosecuting the global war on terror and Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Throughout these operations, they have worked to better the lives of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, to bring progress and stability to these countries.
Their efforts, however, have been put at risk by the reprehensible actions of a few. These few have acted in a manner that is inconsistent with the proud history of the American soldier. There is no excuse for their actions, nor do I offer one.
Their unprofessional and malicious conduct has caused considerable harm to our attempts to win the trust and confidence of the Iraqi people. Unfortunately, it has also facilitated the efforts of our enemy to malign our national intent and character, and gives weight to the charge of American hypocrisy.
When the allegations of abuse and improper conduct of U.S. forces against legally detained Iraqis were brought to light by a soldier on 13 January, 2004, our leadership in Iraq prudently informed us of what they knew and immediately initiated a criminal investigation.
That investigation has resulted in profferal of charges against six service members, three of which have thus been referred to court martial, and we are still investigating further allegations of criminal misconduct.
At the request of the CJTF-7 commander, on 24 January, U.S. CENTCOM directed the conduct of a broader administrative investigation, now known as the Taguba report, with a mandate to make a comprehensive examination of our detainee operations in Iraq in order to detect any systemic problems, and if problems were identified to take necessary steps to rectify the situation and hold accountable all those responsible who failed in their duties.
SMITH: That investigation is near completion, and we have already made significant progress in implementing its recommendations, though we have more ahead of us.
Information flow up and down the chain of command was timely and will continue to be. Commanders regularly briefed their superiors as these investigations progressed.
The first public release of information on the CID investigation happened in January and was reported by the media. The interim results of the Taguba report were briefed to me in late March as the investigation made its way through command channels en route to approval by the command force land component commander on 6 April and formal adverse administrative action by the JTF commander on 1 May. The investigation is ongoing.
Some have asked why it took so long for the allegations to make it up the chain of command. One needs to look at this as a legal proceeding. Once the allegations were made, the investigation was initiated immediately. Evidence was gathered, people were questioned, and a number were removed from their posts.
As with any prosecution, materials and evidence were kept within the investigatory chain for obvious reasons: to maintain confidentiality, to protect individual rights, and to allow the investigation to proceed without danger of exposure to those being investigated.
The actions in the chain of command in Iraq in conducting the investigations connected with detainee abuse or mistreatment have been swift, circumspect and proper. They have carefully uncovered facts, analyzed evidence and gauged the context of the situation, all the while under the stress of ongoing combat operations and ever mindful of protecting the rights of the accused.
Commanders are taking action both to ensure justice is done and to ensure that this kind of deplorable conduct is never repeated.
SMITH: With regards to the question whether this abuse is systemic, the investigations under way should better inform us of that. At this point we don’t know and that’s part of what we’re trying to determine by conducting investigations. When we have answers, we will provide them.
The Taguba report, in fact, highlights three units for praise for the performance of military detention duties. That is a hopeful sign that these abuses are not widespread, and I don’t believe they are.
The vast majority of coalition and U.S. forces have shown great humanity and restraint in this, and have acted with courage and compassion.
The situation at Abu Ghraib is not representative of the conduct of U.S. and coalition forces. It is a distasteful and criminal aberration, and will absolutely not be tolerated.
We deeply regret that these egregious actions occurred, and we are taking the necessary steps to preclude similar incidents in the future.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
WARNER: Thank you, General.
Secretary Brownlee, we need to move on, but we certainly recognize that you might have a few opening remarks.
BROWNLEE: OK, sir.
WARNER: Thank you.
BROWNLEE: Chairman Warner, Senator Levin and distinguished members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity to be here today, to offer testimony on actions taken by the Army in response to the appalling abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. I join the secretary of Defense in apologizing to those detainees who were abused there.
Let me begin by outlining the range of investigation into detainee abuse.
From December 2002 to present, the Criminal Investigation Command has conducted, or is continuing to conduct, investigations into 35 cases of abuse or death of detainees held in detention facilities in the Central Command theater. Twenty-five of these are death cases, and 10 involve assault.
The CID investigates every death in our custody.
BROWNLEE: Of the 25 death investigations, the CID has determined that 12 deaths were due to natural or undetermined causes, one was justifiable homicide and two were homicides. The 10 remaining deaths are still under investigation.
Additionally, 42 other potential cases of misconduct against civilians occurred outside detention facilities and are currently under investigation by the Army’s CID or by the responsible units.
On 10 February 2004, I directed the inspector general of the Army to conduct a functional analysis of the department’s internment, enemy prisoner of war and detention policies, practices and procedures. I directed this inspection to determine if there might be systemic problems relating to the planning, doctrine or training in the detention facilities operating within the Central Command theater.
Phase one of this assessment is oriented on current operations in the Central Command area of responsibility, with assessment team visits to 16 detention facilities.
Phase two of the I.G. assessment will encompass visits to defense facilities worldwide, including previously visited facilities, to ensure compliance to established standards.
Preliminary findings indicate that leaders and soldiers are aware of the requirement and expectation to treat detainees humanely, and that it is their duty to report incidents of abuse.
To date the majority of the abuse cases indicate the underlying cause has been two-fold: an individual failure to adhere to basic standards of discipline, training and Army values, and leadership failures to provide oversight and enforce standards.
To date the Army has taken numerous actions to improve the training for military police and military intelligence soldiers. The Army is retraining select M.P. soldiers to serve as correctional specialists. We have incorporated detainee lessons learned from operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan into the M.P. school curriculum, and have deployed military police training teams to our combat training centers.
BROWNLEE: In response to a request from the CJTF-7 commander, the Army deployed integrated, multi-disciplined, mobile training teams to oversee and conduct comprehensive training in all aspects of detainee and confinement operations in-theater.
Additionally, the chief of the Army Reserve has directed his inspector general to conduct a special assessment of training for reserve personnel on the law of war, detainee treatment, ethics and leadership. All reserve component M.I. soldiers are now required to mobilize at the intelligence school at Fort Huachuca so they can receive the latest instruction on tactical questioning before deploying.
Finally, the Army is improving the training of military police and military intelligence personnel at our combat training centers by incorporating detainee holding situations into the tactical scenarios. These improvements were initiated for the later-deploying OIF or Iraqi Freedom II units and will be fully implemented for all OIF III deploying units.
The reported acts of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib are tragic and disappointing and they stand in sharp contrast to the values of our Army and the nation it serves. Were these incidents to reflect negatively on the courage, sacrifice and selfless service of the hundreds of thousands of dedicated men and women who have volunteered to serve our nation in uniform would be a tragedy as well.
Our soldiers, over 300,000 of whom are deployed in over 120 countries around the world, most in Iraq and Afghanistan, have provided the opportunity for freedom and democracy for over 46 million people who have never experienced it before, while at the same time providing protection to the American people.
Mr. Chairman, we will find out how and why this happened and ensure that those individuals determined to be responsible for these shameful and illegal acts of abuse are held accountable for their actions.
BROWNLEE: I appreciate this opportunity to appear before you today. I thank you and the members of this distinguished committee for your continuing support of the men and women in our Army, and I look forward to answering your questions.
WARNER: Secretary Brownlee, your statement is very helpful and a significant contribution to this hearing.
SCHOOMAKER: Chairman Warner, Senator Levin, distinguished members of the committee, I’ll be brief. As the chief of staff of the Army, I am responsible for the training and equipping of our soldiers and growing our Army leaders.
I am also responsible for providing ready and relevant land power capabilities to the combatant commanders and the joint team.
Though not in the operational chain of command, I am responsible for our soldiers’ training and readiness. Therefore I take it personally when any of them falls short of our standards.
To put it in perspective, what we are dealing with are actions of a few, as has been pointed out. These are conscious actions that are contrary to all that we stand for. This is not a training issue, but one of character and values.
Our Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage are taught to our soldiers from the moment that they enter the training base.
There’s no question that the potential consequences are serious. But we must not forget that these are a few among a great many others who are serving with great honor and sacrifice, as has been pointed out.
We must be careful how we proceed, as it will affect the morale and safety of the great majority of our soldiers who are meeting the standards and are daily placing themselves in harm’s way. I promise you they, too, take this personally.
SCHOOMAKER: I am reminded that in the report by Major General Taguba, he spoke of several soldiers in units who were challenged by the same set of demanding circumstances at the same place, and they did what was right. The inexcusable behavior of a few is not representative of the courageous and compassionate performance of the overwhelming majority of our soldiers who served with pride and honor.
We are currently undergoing an extensive investigation of every allegation. The system works, and will result in fairness and justice. We will also learn and adapt.
Our Army has already taken corrective actions. Our soldiers are performing with distinction and I am proud of them all. We owe them our confidence.
Our Army is taking this very seriously and will meet the standards that our nation expects as we have for 229 years.
WARNER: Thank you, General.
That statement on leadership reflects your own strong record of leadership. And we’re fortunate to have you at the helm of the United States Army today.
We’ll proceed with questions now. And colleagues, recognizing that the full committee almost, less one, is present, today we’ll have to cut the time to five minutes.
Mr. Secretary, I was particularly impressed by your phrase, “We’re going to watch American democracy in action, as the president and all others address this problem swiftly in accordance with the rule of law and American values.”
In the meantime, however, it’s obvious to all of us that the impact of the facts of this case, as they’re unfolding, are affecting our relationship with other nations, our foreign policy. So I ask you, what is that impact, as best you can assess it today?
WARNER: And secondly, will this impact of this situation affect in any way the transition that I and others support to take place on June 30th?
And will it have any impact on other nations in the coalition to consider their continued participation at this time and the chances of adding additional nations?
And lastly, does it have any impact on the force levels that you anticipate, together with your on-scene commanders of CENTCOM, in the near future?
RUMSFELD: Mr. Chairman, those are tough questions. I’m afraid no one has the ability to know precisely what will unfold.
We have seen no shift in coalition countries, in answer to your first question.
About future coalition countries, I think the key determinative there is whether or not we are successful in getting an additional U.N. resolution, in which case I think we will get additional countries to participate.
It certainly will not have any effect on the determination to have sovereign responsibility assumed by Iraqis by June 30.
And I would just say one other thing. We have been enormously disadvantaged by false allegations and lies for the better part of a year — and indeed before that with respect to Afghanistan — by terrorists and terrorist organizations alleging things that weren’t true. So we have taken a beating in the world for things we were not doing that were alleged to be done, and now we’re taking a beating, understandably, for things that did in fact happen.
WARNER: Thank you, sir.
MYERS: Mr. Chairman, if I could just add, I just returned from a NATO military committee meeting, and had the chance to talk to several of the countries that have major military units inside Iraq. They were very strong in every case about seeing this through and seemed undeterred by any of the recent events. They were looking forward, and we were talking about the future, and about their steadfastness in seeing this mission through.
WARNER: General, I direct my next question to you.
The Department of the Army has been in the forefront to come back and make the early response, as understandable, to this situation. But nevertheless, CENTCOM, as we all know, composed by officers — men, women, of all branches of the services.
I would anticipate that you have consulted with your colleagues, not only on the Joint Chiefs but particularly in CENTCOM. And you are making, or have made and will continue to make, an assessment as to the possible increase to the men and women — the personal increase to the men and women of the armed forces, most particularly in Iraq and perhaps elsewhere in the world, as this story continues to affect very deeply the thinking and actions of others.
MYERS: Mr. Chairman, absolutely, we will.
And we should not underestimate that impact. It was that impact of the pictures, given that the report was already reported — given there was a report of pictures, but the actual pictures, possibly coming out on a news program that prompted my call to try to delay that, because I thought those pictures at that particular time would have a particularly bad affect on our troops, perhaps resulting in death to our forces.
MYERS: I think we have a lot of troops in Iraq right now, after talking to General Smith and others, that are probably walking with — I mean, they’re involved in combat, but they’re walking with their head just a little bit lower right now, because they have to bear the brunt of what their colleagues up in Abu Ghraib did. And it’s going to take, as General Schoomaker said, good leadership and everything else we can do to get them back up on the step, because they are engaged in some very, very important work.
I continue to think that the way we will — as I said in my statement — the way we’ll win their trust will be soldier by soldier, patrol by patrol, like we’re winning the war over there. And we’re just going to have to stay at it.
WARNER: My time has expired.
LEVIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Rumsfeld, I was struck upon seeing one of the photographs from the prison, depicting three naked prisoners in a lump on the floor being overseen by a number of soldiers, while other soldiers in the cell block were assisting, or were going about their business without any apparent interest in or concern about the obvious abusive treatment, that the conduct that we were witnessing and watching was not aberrant conduct of a few individuals, but was part of an organized and conscious process to extract information.
This picture reinforces the Taguba report, which quotes Sergeant Davis as saying that he witnessed prisoners in the military intelligence hold section, Wing 1-A, being made to do various things that I would question morally.
LEVIN: And he quoted the military intelligence folks as saying that “Loosen a guy up for us,” “Make sure he has a bad night,” “Make sure he gets the treatment,” and that the wing belonged to the military intelligence and it appeared that military intelligence personnel approved of the abuses.
Now, in the Taguba report itself, General Taguba says the following, and this is his finding: “that military intelligence interrogators and other U.S. government agency interrogators” — which I assume includes CIA — “actively requested that M.P. guards set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses,” and that personnel assigned to the M.P. company and brigade were, quote, “directed to change facility procedures to set the conditions for military intelligence interrogations.”
My question to you is: What were those changes that were made, and whether or not they were — it was proper to make changes of the kind that General Taguba refers to?
RUMSFELD: The conclusions you seem to have drawn in your question, Senator Levin, are issues that I believe are probably all being addressed in an investigation that was initiated last month — and I believe it’s called the Fay.
Possibly you, General Smith, have been involved in this and would want to comment.
SMITH: Sir, there has been an investigation that was initiated in mid-April by Major General Fay. And it is to look into exactly those allegations as a result.
LEVIN: Secretary Rumsfeld, would you agree that people who authorized or suggested or prompted the conduct depicted in the pictures that we’ve seen as well, as those who carried out those abuses, must be held accountable? That anybody who authorized, knew about, prompted, suggested in the intelligence community or otherwise, that conduct must be held accountable? That’s my very direct question to you.
RUMSFELD: The pictures I’ve seen depict conduct, behavior that is so brutal and so cruel and so inhumane that anyone engaged in it or involved in it would have to be brought to justice.
LEVIN: Would that include anybody who suggested it, prompted it, hinted at it, directly or indirectly? I just want to know how far up this chain you’re going to go. Are you going to limit this to people who perpetrated it? Or are we going to get to the people who may have suggested it or…
RUMSFELD: That is exactly why the investigation was initiated, that is why it’s being brought forward, and we’ll find what their conclusions are. And I’m sure they will make recommendations with respect to prosecutions.
LEVIN: But in terms of the standard, does anybody who recommended or suggested, directly or indirectly, that conduct in order to extract information, are they also in your judgment, if that occurred, violative of our laws and standards?
RUMSFELD: Certainly anyone who recommended the kind of behavior that I have seen depicted in those photos needs to be brought to justice.
WARNER: Thank you, Senator.
LEVIN: My time is up. Thank you.
WARNER: Senator McCain?
MCCAIN: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
I come to this hearing with a deep sense of sorrow and grave concern. Sorrow for — after the shock and anger of seeing these pictures for the first time, that so many brave young Americans who are fighting and dying are under this cloud.
I attended the memorial service of Pat Tillman, a brave American who sacrificed his life recently, and he and others, unfortunately, at least in some way are diminished by this scandal.
I’m gravely concerned that many Americans will have the same impulse as I did when I saw this picture, and that’s to turn away from them. And we risk losing public support for this conflict. As Americans turned away from the Vietnam War, they may turn away from this one unless this issue is quickly resolved with full disclosure immediately.
With all due respect to investigations ongoing and panels being appointed, the American people deserve immediate and full disclosure of all relevant information so that we can be assured and comforted that something that we never believed could happen will never happen again.
Now, Mr. Secretary, I’d like to know — I’d like you to give the committee the chain of command from the guards to you, all the way up the chain of command. I’d like to know…
RUMSFELD: I think General Myers brought an indication of it, and we’ll show it.
MCCAIN: Thank you.
I’d like to know who was in charge of the — what agencies or private contractors were in charge of interrogations? Did they have authority over the guards? And what were their instructions to the guards?
RUMSFELD: First, with respect to the…
SMITH: We did not bring it.
RUMSFELD: Oh, my.
SMITH: Yes, oh, my is right.
RUMSFELD: It was all prepared.
SMITH: Yes, it was, indeed.
RUMSFELD: Do you want to walk through it?
MCCAIN: Anyway, who was in charge? What agency or private contractor was in charge of the interrogations? Did they have authority over the guards? And what were the instructions that they gave to the guards?
SMITH: I’ll walk through the chain of command and…
MCCAIN: No. Let’s just — you can submit the chain of command, please.
WARNER: General Smith, do you want to respond?
MCCAIN: No. Secretary Rumsfeld, in all due respect, you’ve got to answer this question. And it could be satisfied with a phone call. This is a pretty simple, straightforward question: Who was in charge of the interrogations? What agencies or private contractors were in charge of the interrogations? Did they have authority over the guards? And what were the instructions to the guards?
This goes to the heart of this matter.
RUMSFELD: It does indeed.
As I understand it, there were two contractor organizations. They supplied interrogators and linguists. And I was advised by General Smith that there were maybe a total of 40.
MCCAIN: Now, were they in charge of the interrogations?
SMITH: Thirty-seven interrogators, and…
WARNER: The witnesses voice are not being recorded. You’ll have to speak into your microphone.
Would you repeat the conversation in response to the senator’s question?
SMITH: Yes, sir. There were 37 interrogators that were…
MCCAIN: I’m asking who was in charge of the interrogations.
SMITH: They were not in charge. They were interrogators.
MCCAIN: My question is who was in charge of the interrogations?
SMITH: The brigade commander for the military intelligence brigade.
MCCAIN: And were they — did he also have authority over the guards?
SMITH: Sir, he was — he had tactical control over the guards, so he was…
MCCAIN: Mr. Secretary, you can’t answer these questions?
RUMSFELD: I can. I’d be — I thought the purpose of the question was to make sure we got an accurate presentation, and we have the expert here who was in the chain of command.
MCCAIN: I think these are fundamental questions to this issue.
MCCAIN: Were the instructions to the guards…
RUMSFELD: There’s two sets of responsibilities, as your question suggests. One set is the people who have the responsibility for managing the detention process; they are not interrogators. The military intelligence people, as General Smith has indicated, were the people who were in charge of the interrogation part of the process.
And the responsibility, as I have reviewed the matter, shifted over a period of time and the general is capable of telling you when that responsibility shifted.
MCCAIN: What were the instructions to the guards?
RUMSFELD: That is what the investigation that I have indicated has been undertaken…
MCCAIN: Mr. Secretary…
RUMSFELD: … is determining…
MCCAIN: … that’s a very simple, straight-forward question.
RUMSFELD: Well, the — as the chief of staff of the Army can tell you, the guards are trained to guard people. They’re not trained to interrogate, they’re not — and their instructions are to, in the case of Iraq, adhere to the Geneva Convention.
The Geneva Conventions apply to all of the individuals there in one way or another. They apply to the prisoners of war, and they are written out and they’re instructed and the people in the Army train them to that and the people in the Central Command have the responsibility of seeing that, in fact, their conduct is consistent with the Geneva Conventions.
The criminals in the same detention facility are handled under a different provision of the Geneva Convention — I believe it’s the fourth and the prior one’s the third.
MCCAIN: So the guards were instructed to treat the prisoners, under some kind of changing authority as I understand it, according to the Geneva Conventions?
MCCAIN: I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
WARNER: Thank you, Senator.
KENNEDY: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
To the people in the Middle East, and too often today, the symbol of America is not the Statue of Liberty, it’s the prisoner standing on a box wearing a dark cape and a dark hood on his head, wires attached to his body, afraid that he’s going to be electrocuted.
These incidents of torture and abuse resulted in a catastrophic crisis of credibility for our nation.
Now, since the beginning of the war, the International Committee of the Red Cross provided the Pentagon officials with reports of abuses at this prison, saying that some of them were tantamount to torture. They issued serious complaints during an inspection of the prison in October of 2003 and at several other times.
The State Department and the Coalition Provisional Authority appealed to you to stop the mistreatment of the military detainees. Secretary Powell raised this issue at Cabinet meeting and elsewhere, pleading with officials from your department, Mr. Secretary, to see that detainees were properly cared for and treated, and your department failed to act.
The military leadership put the troops in charge of the prison who weren’t trained to do the job, and they assigned far too prisoners (sic) to the prison than were required to do the job right, and they relied on the civilian contractors to perform military duties, as I understand, including the interrogation of Iraqi prisoners.
And as Senator Levin pointed out, the top-level Defense officials directed guards at the prison to set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of the detainees, a decision that directly resulted in the abuses.
And the military leadership failed to respond in a systematic way even after it initiated the 35 criminal investigations into alleged mistreatment of detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan, 25 of these investigations involving a death.
KENNEDY: I know that Secretary Brownlee referred to this.
In particular, in December of 2002, military doctors at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan ruled that two Afghan men in U.S. custody died from blunt force injuries. No one in the military has been held accountable for those homicides.
You and your senior leadership have shown, I believe, a disregard for the protection of the Geneva Conventions in detainee operations. In January, 2002, you were asked why you believe the Geneva Conventions do not apply to detainees in Guantanamo. You replied that you did not have the slightest concern about their treatment, in light of what has occurred in 9/11.
According to the New York Times, you have known about the graphic photographs, evidence of abuse in the Abu Ghraib prison since mid- January. You told President Bush about these reports of abuse shortly thereafter. And yet, rather than work with Congress to deal with the problem together, you and other top Defense Department officials have apparently spent the last three weeks in preparing the public relations plan.
Can you tell us what exactly did you tell the president about these reports of abuse in late January, and what did he say, and what did you do about it, and why month after month after month had to pass before anything has happened and then we find out that the pictures came out and that the president is indeed angry?
RUMSFELD: First, Senator Kennedy, your statement that other agencies of government were concerned about detainees and the Department of Defense failed to act is simply not correct.
KENNEDY: This wasn’t brought to your attention by the secretary of the State Department?
RUMSFELD: I’ll respond. I did not say that. I said your statement that the Department of Defense…
KENNEDY: Well, it was brought to you then by the State Department. We don’t want to parse words.
KENNEDY: Was this brought to you by the State Department? I mentioned Secretary Powell. Question is whether this was brought to you and when did you know. When did you know it?
You gave us a laundry list in your presentation about the timeline on it. I’m trying to find out, because it has been published, that you were notified about this a series of times and advised to do something about it and nothing was done.
RUMSFELD: It’s not correct to say “Nothing was done.” You’re making a set of conclusions that are just simply not accurate.
We’ve had numerous discussions, interagency, on detainees. All in all, there have been some 43,000 people who were captured or detained in Iraq, of whom 31,850 have already been released. That is a big task for the Army to undertake. The…
KENNEDY: Can I…
RUMSFELD: … the actions of the ICRC — you said they came in and indicated concerns about the Abu Ghraib prison. That’s correct. And the prison officials began the process of making corrections and the general’s report — Taguba — found that a number of those things were already under way, in terms of corrections. And when he made his study, a number of additional things and corrections were made.
So it seems to me that the ICRC report was helpful, and that the military command, as I understand it, undertook a series of corrections.
Now, with respect to when were we knowledgeable of this, the situation was this: Specialist Darby told the CID that he had information about abuses in the prison. I believe it was on the 13th or 14th of January.
RUMSFELD: By the 15th or 16th, an investigation had been initiated. And the Central Command public affairs people went out and told the world — they told everyone in the world that there were allegations of abuse and they were being investigated.
Again, by mid-March, when some criminal — I don’t know the legal term but — some criminal actions were initiated, the Central Command’s public affairs people went out again and announced that not only were there allegations of abuses but they listed the types of abuses. And then this is to the world. Everyone knew it. CNN was there asking questions.
And that is the time frame when General Myers and I were meeting with the president and discussed the reports that we had obviously heard because they weren’t hiding anything. They disclosed it to the world.
WARNER: Thank you, Senator.
ROBERTS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I mean in no way to diminish the seriousness of what has occurred here, but it seems very clear to me that the task before Congress is to determine whether or not these abuses are a result of flaws in the system or if this was a matter, as has been indicated, of individuals that simply broke the rules.
With that in mind, I’d like to know, Mr. Secretary, were any of the abuses that occurred in Iraq encouraged, condoned or committed by Department of Defense regulations or policy? Were any local or unit level policies in effect that would have encouraged or condoned or permitted these abuses?
RUMSFELD: Certainly not to my knowledge. And when one looks at the abuses and the cruelty, the idea that you would have regulations that would permit or condone or encourage that type of thing is just not comprehensible.
And General Smith is the deputy Central Command under General Abizaid, and he is responsible for the management of the guidance and instructions and can respond if you’d like.
ROBERTS: No, I think you’ve answered the question at least to the degree that I want it answered right now. I want to move on.
I do have the privilege of being the chairman of the Intelligence Committee. Three days ago we had a hearing. We had the military intelligence representatives there. We had the CIA there. They indicated that at that particular time they did not know — had no evidence of any direction on the part of intelligence personnel at this prison suggesting that they commit these abuses at the behest of the military interrogators who asked the military police to, quote, “soften up” the detainees to prepare them for the interrogation.
This, sort of, gets back to the opening statement by Senator Levin and the question by Senator McCain.
Let me remind everybody that as we speak, we have men and women in uniform engaged in combat in Najaf and basically when we interrogate people it is to find out from the prisoners, in terms of force protection and in terms of the mission in Iraq, precisely what’s going on. It’s a very, very important mission.
I said at the time, at that hearing — it was a closed hearing — but I said at the time I would be stunned — and I’ve said it to the press — that anybody in military intelligence that would condone these kind of activities. This criteria is ingrained in terms of their training. It’s black and white.
And so my question to you, and I think it’s going to result on the Fay report here: Is there any truth to the allegations made in the press and some of the accused military police that they did commit these abuses at the behest of the military interrogators?
RUMSFELD: I’ve read the same allegations, comments that you have. That is what the criminal investigations are looking at, among other things. And we will at an early date know what the answers are to those questions.
ROBERTS: Can you give me, sort of, a time frame when the Fay report will be completed?
SMITH: Sir, it should be completed in the next couple of weeks if he does not ask for an extension. Part of the problem is that unit has redeployed back to Germany and so there’s traveling back and forth engaged.
ROBERTS: And that would help answer the question that was asked by Senator McCain as to actually who was in charge of that prison?
And I put the “in charge” in quotes. You had the intelligence and then you also had the M.P.s in terms of the maintenance of the unit. And then it seems to me that there’s another command that you mentioned, oh, in terms of the contractors.
I think Senator McCain’s question is right on: Who was really in charge? And I think you have a tri-part system here. Is that being fixed? Will that be recommended by the Fay report?
SMITH: Sir, that’s already been fixed with the appointment of Major General Jeff Miller as the central…
ROBERTS: And he’s the person that straightened out GITMO down in Cuba.
SMITH: Sir, and he is there doing that right now. He’s been there since the middle of April.
ROBERTS: I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
WARNER: Thank you very much.
BYRD: Thank you for calling this timely, very important hearing.
I apologize for my voice. I’ve been struggling with a bout of laryngitis.
I share your outrage over the atrocities that have emerged from the Abu Ghraib prison. I believe Congress has a responsibility to demand a public accounting and a public explanation from the leadership of the Defense Department.
I fear this is only the beginning of a long and painful process. And I am glad that you have taken the first steps to begin the necessary public examination of the massive policy failure that led to this catastrophe.
Among the many aspects of this situation that are so troubling to me is why the president and his advisers are only now publicly condemning the prisoner abuses in Iraq when apparently the Defense Department had known about them for months.
BYRD: I do not recall hearing a peep out of either of you, Secretary Rumsfeld or General Myers, about this before CBS broke the silence. Why did it take the televised broadcast of graphic photos of prisoner abuse, a broadcast General Myers has acknowledged he tried to suppress, to galvanize the leadership of the Defense Department to express its outrage over the situation?
Why was a report that described sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses by American soldiers left to languish on a shelf in the Pentagon unread by the top leadership until the media revealed it to the world?
Why wasn’t Congress apprised of the findings of this report from the Defense Department instead of from CBS News?
Mr. Secretary, it was President Truman who was said to have displayed the famous sign on his desk: The buck stops here. I served with President Truman. He was an honorable man. He did not shirk his responsibility.
I see a very different pattern in this administration. I see arrogance and a disdain for Congress. I see misplaced bravado and an unwillingness to admit mistakes. I see finger-pointing and excuses.
Given the catastrophic impact that this scandal has had on the world community, how can the United States ever repair its credibility?
BYRD: How are we supposed to convince not only the
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