Slowly Creeping Up The Abu Ghraib Ladder
April 19, 2006 - 11:09am ET
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The man who instituted the aggressive misuse of dogs, stripping detainees naked, leashing them and other humiliating tactics designed to terrorize “high value” detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and was brought over to “Gitmo-ize” detention procedures in Iraq shortly before abuses were documented at Abu Ghraib, will finally speak in court.
Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller has been ordered to take the stand at the trial of Sgt. Santos A. Cardona, the second dog handler to be charged with misusing his military working dog during interrogations at Abu Ghraib. Cardona (who is now only the eleventh soldier to be prosecuted for wrong-doing at Abu Ghraib, after the conviction of Sgt. Michael Smith last week) presumably will plead in his defense that he was following orders. Col. Thomas Pappas, the top military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib, testified under promises of immunity at Smith’s trial that he had authorized the use of dogs after it was suggested by Miller, who has previously refused to testify, invoking his right against self-incrimination.
Of course, the chain of responsibility doesn’t end at Miller. Continuing their tradition of breaking Abu Ghraib-related news, Michael Scherer and Mark Benjamin at Salon.com revealed last week that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who sent Miller on his mission to Iraq, was personally involved in the interrogation of at least one Gitmo detainee, communicating with Miller at least once a week. During that interrogation, he suffered what Army investigators called “degrading and abusive” treatment from soldiers following a plan personally approved by the secretary, including being forced to stand naked in front of a female interrogator and perform “dog tricks” on a leash.
“Just for lack of a camera, it would sure look like Abu Ghraib,” the Army investigator who interviewed Rumsfeld is quoted.
Meanwhile, some of those caught on camera at Abu Ghraib are still walking around without a worry. Not one of the 19 civilian contractors who Army investigators have fingered as likely to be involved in abuses has had any action taken against them. Benjamin and Scherer have gone so far as to track photographic evidence and testimony about CACI interrogator Daniel Johnson, and have also written extensively of the case against Steven Stefanowicz. In their words, the Justice Departments investigations since the army turned over its evidence against the civilians, has been in “suspended animation.” A far cry from some who, under no suspicion themselves, aided the investigation, and now find themselves blacklisted.
It’s too early to tell what, if anything, Miller’s appearance will signify—but at least his role is being further officially cemented. We can only hope that the slow-grinding investigations continue.
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