Iraq Prisoner Scandal

We made a brief reference to an article about which Hank Greely sends this comment: "The New Yorker has published an article on the prison scandal in Iraq. The report, by Seymour Hersh, is taken largely from an internal military investigative report, completed in late February. What it reveals is appalling. It is also noteworthy, I think, that a) the prison was being run not by regular military but by reservists, only a few with prison experience, b) the CIA and military intelligence are said to have had carte blanche with prisoners, and c) contractors were also involved in the mistreatment of prisoners. Power does not make beasts of us all, but it predictably makes beasts of some of us. It is only the slightest consolation to see that the regular military forces seem not to have been substantially involved in these disgraceful - and, once revealed, incredibly damaging - abuses. I think those who planned this occupation have much to answer for - the predictable actions of untrained and less disciplined personnel, plus unconstrained intelligence agents, are not just random and despicable unauthorized and unlawful actions, but the foreseeable consequences of policy decisions made at the highest levels". Here's the link: :

RH: I have seen no discussion of how the photographs were obtained. I suspect they may have been obtained by media people "embedded" with US troops. Someone may have bribed a guard to let him take photographs. The aim was to get a scoop, but it did incalculable harm to the standing of the US in the world.

I said: " I have seen no discussion of how the photographs were obtained. I suspect they may have been obtained by media people "embedded" with US troops. Someone may have bribed a guard to let him take photographs. The aim was to get a scoop, but it did incalculable harm to the standing of the US in the world". Hank Greely counters: "I think Ronald Hilton is wrong about the source of the photographs. I believe they were taken by the abusing soldiers themselves as "souvenirs" of their work. Hersh quotes and paraphrases Major General Antonio M.Taguba, the author of the investigative report, as follows:

There was stunning evidence to support the allegations, Taguba added-"detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence." Photographs and videos taken by the soldiers as the abuses were happening were not included in his report, Taguba said, because of their "extremely sensitive nature."

I do not know how The New Yorker got access to this report, completed two months ago but apparently (allegedly? supposedly?) not known to the highest levels of the government before the story broke, but I assume the photos came from the same source as the report. The New Yorker has posted on its web site ten of the photos (you can get there from the Hersh article whose link I gave in the earlier e mail). At that site it gives the following prologue to the photos (note the underlined part near the end as to the source of the photos):

Early this year, the senior U.S. Army commander in Iraq authorized a major investigation into the American Army's prison system there. The fifty-three-page report that resulted, which was written by Taguba and was not meant for public release, was devastating. Taguba found numerous instances of "sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" of Iraqis by American soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison, located twenty miles west of Baghdad. This systematic and illegal abuse, Taguba reported, was perpetrated by members of the 320th Military Police Battalion, and also by members of the American intelligence community. There was considerable evidence to support the allegations, Taguba added, including "detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence"; the photographs, which were taken by American soldiers while the abuse was going on, were not included in the report, Taguba said, because of their "extremely sensitive nature." Here are ten of those photographs (see the related link to the right); we have digitally obscured some details.

The photographs, which were digitally blurred to avoid revealing various body parts that clearly must have been in the originals, really are disgusting. The positions and situations of the Iraqi prisoners are not nearly as disturbing as the smiling faces of the American servicemen (and one service woman), photographed watching the Iraqis. The worst, to me, was one where two broadly smiling service personnel are giving "thumbs up" signs while standing behind a pyramid of naked, intertwined Iraqis.

Blaming whoever released these photos for the damage to American standing is, I believe, a serious error. The blame falls on those who committed the acts (the reservist jailers), those who encouraged them (the intelligence agents and contractors), those who failed to prevent them (the prison supervisors), and those who created the situation in which something like this would predictably occur (Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Bush).

I'm willing to listen to contrary views - but only from people who have read the Hersh article and viewed the associated photographs".

John Allen writes: "If the publication of the pictures of prisoner abuse "did incalculable harm to the standing of the US in the world," then perhaps we deserve it. We began this whole operation in Iraq under sets of false assumptions and have proceeded under false assumptions. We made promises to ourselves and the Iraqis which we have failed to keep. We assured the world we were doing this to "bring freedom and democracy" to Iraq and the President specifically mentioned "freedom of the press." But much of the current insurgency activity coming from the al-Sadr militia is the result of our shutting down a newspaper (with a circulation of 10,000)--is this freedom of the press? And what has it gained for us? In his responses to the American press and the American public over the disgusting photographs that have been published, the President has, to be sure, indicated his displeasure at the activities depicted in the photographs. But he seems a great deal more concerned that he did not hear from Secretary Rumsfeld about the photographs before they appeared. In other words, the issue for Bush is more political than moral. And that would seem to sum up the events of the last couple of years in a nutshell. It matters not who took the photographs or how they were obtained by the New Yorker. No one is claiming that they are fakes. I agree with Hank Greely that blaming the messenger is entirely the wrong tack to take in this whole matter. It is clear upon whom the blame should fall. Mr. Bush needs the sign that Harry Truman supposedly had on his desk in the Oval Office: "The buck stops here." If the administration needs another $25 billion to pursue its folly, perhaps it should take from the Republican campaign coffers rather than asking the Congress (and the American people) to pay for it".

RH: The latest request for money comes well ahead of the date at which the administration said it would ask for more. American democracy has become the subject of ridicule. Rather than preach American democracy to the world, we should remove the beam from our own eye, a task which seems impossible.

Phyllis Gardner says: "According to several accounts today, the pictures were taken by digital cameras and video recorders, both of which are ubiquitous among the soldiers in Iraq today. Because the pictures are easily downloaded and circulated via the web, civilian access to pictures is granted in ways that could never have happened on such a wide scale before. As Hank Greely says and ia also reported in the Washington Post (5/6/04), the pictures were often interspersed with more tourist-like photos, indicating the degree to which this was regarded as routine. The pictures and videos were circulated in Iraq among soldiers, according to latest news reports. The sargeant who "blew the whistle" by alerting the higher authorities is named in the New York Times (5/6/04), along with commendation for his doing so". RH: This brings up the question of whistle blowers in the army. I thought soldiers were not allowed to blow the whistle publicly. Perhaps he did not, but his name was released.
A previous posting quoted General Robert Gard as saying that the soldier properly reported the Iraq prison scandal to his superior. Phyllis Gardner expands this: "The alerting soldier did not do it publicly, rather he slipped a note anonymously to his military superiors, before coming forward with a signed affidavit. He then mistakenly assumed that "matter was taken care of." The Army recently made his name public. Details on the six so far accused soldiers can be found in this New York Times article: Notably, one of the men in the infamous pictures, Specialist Charles A. Graner Jr., is a prison guard in his civilian life, on a very highly secured death row which was the subject of an abuse investigation two years ago. In addition, he has had several restraining orders against him for violence against his wife.

The Red Cross, which normally does not speak out publicly except in the context of when the authorities they are visiting ignore or misrepresent their findings, reported today that they have repeatedly warned the US about its treatment of prisoners in Iraq. The article ends with their expressed grave concerns over treatment of prisoners in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, Cuba".

John Negroponte, Ambassador Designate to Iraq

Here is part of a letter to Sen. Joe Biden, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, about John Negroponte, forwarded by Virginia Abernethy: "Of course the President’s nomination of John Negroponte to be U.S. Ambassador toBaghdad will sail through the confirmation process that began today. It would normally take weeks at least to get the Senate’s rubber stamp for such a high post in such a delicate situation, but the way has been greased for Negroponte,the current UN Ambassador, on the grounds that time’s a wastin’. You surely know the real reason for the short-cut is to deny the many serious opponents of his nomination a chance to speak their piece, as it might soon become clear that he is NOT the right man for the job. Negroponte has climbed the diplomatic ladder with assistance every step of the way from Perle and the neo-cons.

Perle continues to control his network -- which controls the Bush administration’s foreign policy, even though Perle had to resign his 16-year post at the Defense Policy Board. So too, Negroponte will be able to run Iraq as proconsul in the Perle/Wolfowitz/Rumsfeld empire. You were there at the hearings today, Senator, when Andres Thomas Conteris, a Latin American human-rights activist jumped up in the audience to denounce Negroponte for the role he played on behalf of the Cold Warriors when he was ambassador to Honduras during the the Nicaragua Contra war in the early 1980s. He was detained, removed from the hearing room, and released elsewhere in the Capitol, but not before an exchange occurred".

RH: I saw the demonstration by the human rights activist on TV. I have the impression that the campaign against Negroponte is exaggerated.

Christopher Jones writes; "I thought I remembered Negroponte's name from the roster of the US embassy in Lon Nol's Phnom Penh. He was the villain of a book by Sunday Times journalist William Shawcross about the secret bombing. This is not the type of guy to inspire Iraqis with the glories of US democracy". Christopher forwards a harsh attack on Negroponte, here abridged:

Former death squad man to run Iraq
Kevin Ovenden, 21.04.2004 21:11

George Bush has chosen a replacement for Paul Bremer as governor-in-chief in Iraq. It is John Negroponte, the mastermind behind the death squads of Central America. Negroponte could give lessons to the most brutal dictatorships in the world on how to organise death squads, assassinate opponents and terrorise popular movements into submission.

He did all that during the US's dirty war in Central America in the 1980s when he was "ambassador" to Honduras. Now he is to become "ambassador" to Iraq in June. Don't let the innocent-sounding title fool you. He'll not be sorting out lost passports and traveller's cheques. Negroponte will lead the spies, "counter-insurgency squads", and the real political power in Iraq from the US "embassy". "

RH: This is one of several such attacks on Negroponte. I met him when he was a secretary in the American Embassy in Ecuador. He told me about his trip to China with Nixon. He was very pleasant, but that does not mean much. I wonder if the attacks on him are part of the present political campaign. Here is a State Department release about him; he left the department to go into business and was recalled by the department.

John D. Negroponte was sworn in as United States Representative to the United Nations on September 18, 2001. Since 1997 Mr. Negroponte had been Executive Vice President for Global Markets of The McGraw-Hill Companies.
From 1960 to 1997, Ambassador Negroponte was a member of the Career Foreign Service. He served at eight different Foreign Service posts in Asia, Europe and Latin America; and he also held important positions at the State Department and the White House. Among his more recent assignments, Mr. Negroponte was Ambassador to Honduras (1981-85); Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (1985-87); Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (1987-89); Ambassador to Mexico (1989-93); and Ambassador to the Philippines (1993-96). Mr. Negroponte is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy. He is former chairman of the French-American Foundation. Ambassador Negroponte is a graduate of Yale University. He and his wife, Diana, have five children.

RH: I have observed his service in the UN, and he seemed reasonable and competent. Perhaps someone has information on his role as Ambassador to Mexico. Violent attacks on individuals do not easily convince me

Christopher Jones wrote; "I remembered Negroponte's name from the roster of the US embassy in Lon Nol's Phnom Penh. He was the villain of a book by Sunday Times journalist William Shawcross about the secret bombing. This is not the type of guy to inspire Iraqis with the glories of US democracy". John Heelan comments: "Isn't it strange, and not a little worrying, how the old Iran-Contra gang have managed to get back into power? Negroponte (Ambassador to Iraq), Poindexter (Director of Pentagon's Information Awareness Office- until sacked), Elliott Abrams (Director in National Security Council for- don't laugh!- Democracy, Human Rights and International Operations), Otto Reich (Asst Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs). The only loser- so far- is Col. Oliver North, the true-blue Marine fall-guy. North is still banned from holding federal office, but that's nothing that another presidential pardon cannot solve in a few weeks time at the end of G.W. Bush's term. So can we expect to see a reuniting of the old Iran-Contra team in the Baghdad Embassy within a few months? Perhaps G.W.Bush will repeat his father's words in pardoning a whole raft of wrongdoers, viz. "The common denominator of their motivation.... whether their actions were right or wrong.... was patriotism". Anything goes in politics!"

John Heelan said: "Oliver North is still banned from holding federal office, but that's nothing that another presidential pardon cannot solve in a few weeks time at the end of G.W. Bush's term". Mike Sullivan counters: "John Heelan is in error about not being able to hold a Federal office, as LtCol Oliver North, USMC (Ret) ran for US Senator in Virginia and lost to a Democrat in a fairly close race a few years ago".

IRAQ: torture and hypocrisy

From France, Christopher Jones writes: "If there is anything to really to say, it is that finally the US and its British poodle have been caught red handed. Not only do the UK and US governments back the state murder scheme of the Israeli PM, the wholesale displacement without compensation of millions of Palestinians (since 1947) all justified by the ghost of the 1945 Holocaust which has placed all Jews on a special moral status (they can murder, thou shalt not), now its cultural depravity has been unleashed upon the Arabs, an ancient people who if anything worship modesty. If there was a shread of sympathy left among the Arabs for the Americans it is now gone. Those governments that collaborate with the US are now without exception seen as lackeys of the Imperial power. It is a very disturbing event. And as I write this, Iraqi digust with the so-called ruling council has lead the Americans to find a former general in Saddam's army to pacify Fallujah, again confirming my prediction of the emergence of a "Saddam II" to rule the country.,3858,4914624-103550,00.html

IRAQ: Pictures of US soldiers abusing prisoners

We have wondered how the photographs of US prisoners abusing prisoners in an Iraq jail. Edgar Steele writes: "As evidence of the depraved nature of these photographs and videos, many porn sites now are carrying them. Some even go so far as to blame American Jewish pornographers for the very occurrence of the depravities photographed (, though even I find that to be a bit of a stretch". RH: The source of this unfounded story is Aztlan, a chicano source. We have just posted a piece about Stanford Students' withdrawing funding from the chicano group MECHA at the instigation of the Stanford Review,whose editor is Jewish. There may be a feud between Jews and chicanos.

Wayne Madsen, Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, notes the "mounting evidence that a shadowy group of former Israeli Defense Force and General Security Service (Shin Bet) Arabic-speaking interrogators were hired by the Pentagon under a classified "carve out" sub-contract to brutally interrogate Iraqi prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison." (The Israeli Torture Template, Wayne Madsen, CounterPunch, May 10, 2004). Madsen quotes an unnamed "political appointee within the Bush administration" as stating that, "Many of the torture methods were developed by the Israelis over many years of interrogating Arab prisoners on the occupied West Bank and in Israel itself."

For the full text of this article, see . RH: Posting this item does not mean that we believe its veracity.

I asked how CNN got the pictures showing US soldiers abusing prisoners in Oraq. Randy Black says: " Actually, it was the New Yorker, I believe, that originally published the story and photos and which released them to the wire services which means that anyone who subscribes to the wire service gets the photos. Finally, it is my understanding that the photo disks include about 1,000 photos, but only a few dozen show abuse; the rest being rather like a photo scrap book, innocent photos of all sorts of events, locations and folks. The military did the right thing: They investigated and began prosecution before anyone outside the military heard about these matters"
RH: Randy may be right, but CNN never admitted it. How the the New Yorker get the pictures? Was it Seymour Hersh who got them, and now?

IRAQ: Letter from a medic

General Sullivan forwards this letter from Ray Reynolds, a medic in the Iowa Army National Guard, serving in Iraq, with the comment:" Here is another report saying things that we never hear about in the media"

As I head off to Baghdad for the final weeks of my stay in Iraq, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who did not believe the media. They have done a very poor job of covering everything that has happened. I am sorry that I have not been able to visit all of you during my two week leave back home. And just so you can rest at night knowing something is happening in Iraq that is noteworthy, I thought I would pass this on to you. This is the list of things that has happened in Iraq recently: (Please share it with your friends and compare it to the version that your paper is producing.)

* Over 400,000 kids have up-to-date immunizations.
* School attendance is up 80% from levels before the war.
* Over 1,500 schools have been renovated and rid of the weapons stored there so education can occur.
* The port of Uhm Qasar was renovated so grain can be off-loaded from ships faster.
* The country had its first 2 billion barrel export of oil in August.
* Over 4.5 million people have clean drinking water for the first time ever in Iraq.
* The country now receives 2 times the electrical power it did before the war.
* 100% of the hospitals are open and fully staffed, compared to 35% before the war.
* Elections are taking place in every major city, and city councils are in place.
* Sewer and water lines are installed in every major city.
* Over 60,000 police are patrolling the streets.
* Over 100,000 Iraqi civil defense police are securing the country.
* Over 80,000 Iraqi soldiers are patrolling the streets side by side with US soldiers.
* Over 400,000 people have telephones for the first time ever
* Students are taught field sanitation and hand washing techniques to prevent the spread of germs.
* An interim constitution has been signed.
* Girls are allowed to attend school.
* Textbooks that don't mention Saddam are in the schools for the first time in 30 years.

Don't believe for one second that these people do not want us there. I have met many, many people from Iraq that want us there, and in a bad way. They say they will never see the freedoms we talk about but they hope their children will. We are doing a good job in Iraq and I challenge anyone, anywhere to dispute me on these facts. So If you happen to run into John Kerry, be sure to give him my email address and send him to Denison, Iowa. This soldier will set him straight. If you are like me and very disgusted with how this period of rebuilding has been portrayed, email this to a friend and let them know there are good things happening.

Ray Reynolds, SFC
Iowa Army National Guard
234th Signal Battalion

IRAQ: John Negroponte: Nominee for Baghdad Embassy

The Council on Hemisphere Affairs sends this: "Senate Foreign Relations Committee is right now holding confirmation hearings on John Negroponte to be U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Negroponte: Nominee for Baghdad Embassy, a Rogue for all Seasons. Negroponte pressed Powell to pressure Chile’s and Mexico’s weak-willed leaders to discharge their U.N. ambassadors over Iraq votes. Negroponte has a sordid human rights record in Honduras. A Cruel Joke: Negroponte, the arch authoritarian, teaching democracy to the Iraqis. Life under Saddam somewhat prepares you for the Negroponte era. Senate Foreign Relations Committee unlikely to closely scrutinize Negroponte nomination.
Like the earlier nominations of Otto Reich, John Bolton and Roger Noriega, Secretary of State Colin Powell will have no trouble in describing this villain as an “honorable” man.

President Bush confirmed recent rumors by announcing on Monday that John D. Negroponte was being nominated to become this country’s ambassador to Iraq, a post that he would assume on June 30, when sovereignty ostensibly will be transferred to Iraqi authorities. But the Negroponte nomination must be seen as a profoundly troubling one since the same nagging questions which were present during the summer of 2001, when Negroponte was nominated to be U.S. ambassador to the UN, continue to persist. Enough time apparently has passed since a number of accusations first surfaced concerning Negroponte’s profound moral derelictions (which at least date back to the time that he served as U.S. ambassador to Honduras (1981-85)), for these again to be thoroughly aired. But if the past is any precedent, Negroponte will sail through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the full Senate as if he was a Happy Warrior rather than the immoral reprobate that his record undeniably portrays him as being. Since then, Washington’s ability to slip into political amnesia regarding his reprehensible actions in Honduras will now once again be at play".

RH: In Congress there have been speeches denouncing Negroponte. It is hard to know how far they are politically inspired.

IRAQ: Education

Hoover Institution Research Fellow Bill Evers spent five months in Iraq helping the country rebuild its shattered school system. He describes his experience in "An Iraqi Education" (Hoover Digest, Spring 2004)- We hope that he will write a longer account, but he provides general information on the textbook problem which is directly relevant to our learning history project. He stresses the general eagerness to learn. Iraqi school teachers decided that Saddam's civics textbooks were so full of propaganda that they were not salvageable. So civics courses were removed from the curriculum for 2003-4. He rightly points out that TV selects scenes of conflict and violence in its coverage of Iraq and therefore gives a false picture, since the country generally is peaceful. If he publishes something more detailed about the textbook problem we hope he will inform us. He left Iraq before the present jail scandal. We wonder if American advisers are now as welcome in Iraqi schools as they were when he was there..

Iraq/UN oil for food scams

Randy Black sends this article by Andrew Mack, director of the Human Security Center at the University of British Columbia. He was director of the strategic planning unit in the executive office of the UN secretary general from 1998 to 2001.

UNSCAM," "Oil-for-Fraud" and "Scams 'R' Us" are just some of the epithets being used by critics to describe the scandal over the United Nations' Oil-for-Food program. The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, has set up a high-level independent panel under the former Federal Reserve chairman, Paul Volcker, to determine just what happened to the missing funds. There is now no doubt that the program was subject to massive fraud, perhaps amounting to a loss of more than $4 billion. What is much less clear is who - apart from Saddam Hussein - should be held responsible.
Oil-for-Food was the world's largest humanitarian aid program, and it was by and large successful. From 1996 to 2003 it delivered $31 billion worth of goods, mostly food and medicine, to 27 million Iraqis to alleviate their suffering under the UN Security Council's sanctions regime. This was the positive part. To understand the downside of the program, it is necessary to make a small detour into history. After Iraq was driven out of Kuwait in the 1991 gulf war, the UN Security Council proposed the creation of an Oil-for-Food program to make sure that Iraq's oil money was used for basic needs, and not to rearm the Saddam regime. Iraq would be permitted to export oil, but the revenues would go into an escrow account and would be used to pay for food and medicines. The UN had total control over the account. Saddam rejected the plan out of hand, arguing that giving the UN control over Iraq's oil revenues was an unacceptable infringement of Iraqi sovereignty. Neither side budged for five years while Iraq's infrastructure and welfare services crumbled and its people's suffering intensified.
By the mid-1990s, public criticism of the humanitarian costs of sanctions had become increasingly intense. Saddam finally signed on to the Oil-for-Food program in 1996, on condition that Iraq should determine who bought the oil and which firms supplied food and medicines. The United Nations, whose overriding priority was to get medicine and food flowing to the increasingly desperate Iraqi masses, agreed. It was this arrangement that opened the door for under-the-table deals.
The scams had many variants, but the principle was simple. In selling their oil, the Iraqis would first negotiate a secret price with a compliant buyer. A lower "official" price would be paid into the Paris-based Oil-for-Food escrow account, with the buyer passing most of the difference on to Saddam. The same scam applied in reverse to imports. The U.S. General Accounting Office estimates that Saddam may have received more than $4 billion dollars through these scams. He probably got an additional $5 billion smuggling oil out through neighbouring countries. Who was to blame? The Iraqi regime and its trading partners were clearly the main culprits. But obviously there should have been more oversight and greater accountability. The question is whether the UN Secretariat was responsible, as critics charge, or the Security Council, which had ultimate responsibility for overseeing the program.
In fact, the Office of the Iraq Program in the UN Secretariat, in addition to submitting regular audits, did report problems on pricing to the Security Council. As a result, the system was changed to make price-padding more difficult. The Secretariat also alerted the Security Council to pricing problems in the purchase of humanitarian goods, and there were a number of press reports about this. Yet not one of the 36,000 Oil-for-Food contracts was blocked by the Council because of suspect pricing.
The reality is that although the British and the Americans, the key players on the Council, knew that there were crooked deals, they had other priorities. They were focused on weapons of mass destruction, and they did not want to further upset two other major players, France and Russia. Paris and Moscow, for their part, were bitterly opposed to the sanctions and had no interest in pushing investigations that could reveal deep involvement by their companies in the crooked deals. Thus it was Security Council realpolitik that ensured that the Oil-for-Food scams were never seriously investigated, and it is here that primary responsibility for UN inaction must lie.

Iraq Prison Scandal

John Wonder says: "I fail to see the cogency of all the talk about the poor Iraqi prisoners. Is humiliation the same as torture, as the America-hating press would have it? This is ridiculous compared to the real beastliness of the Iraqis in dealing with Americans. Has everyone lost his mind and sense of proportion? Nobody seems to remember that this sort of thing happens in war--whatever the genesis. I would say our hands are cleaner than those of most other peoples, but of course the Iraqis and their European sycophants will never concede this".

Phyllis Gardner writes: "In response to John Wonder, I am utterly shocked that anyone could see the reports of Iraqi prisoner abuse without being appalled. It is an absolute violation of the Geneva Convention. We are the invaders and occupiers of Iraq, rightly as some think, or wrongly as others think. We must set the standards of human decency. I note that the administration received innumerable warnings of prisoner abuse from multiple organizations (besides the Red Cross, at least two other international organizations were repeatedly issuing warnings) and their own Paul Bremer for many months.

RED CROSS SOUNDED THE ALARM: The explosive U.S. Army report ( wasn't the only alarm bell the administration received about abuse. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delivered a confidential report (,,SB108384106459803859,00.html?mod=home_whats_news_us) , obtained by the WSJ, to the White House earlier this year which "concluded that abuse of prisoners in Iraq in custody of U.S. military intelligence was widespread and in some cases 'tantamount to torture.'" It also charged coalition forces with "serious violations" of the Geneva Conventions governing treatment of prisoners of war. Yesterday, the group publicly said it had been aware of the situation in Abu Ghraib and " repeatedly asked the U.S. authorities to take corrective action ( ." It is unclear who had read the report; Pentagon officials "declined to comment, saying that they had a confidentiality agreement with the ICRC that prevented them from discussing the report." But "a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. troops in the Middle East, said the command had not received the report." Excerpts of the 24-page confidential report are online (,,SB108388925325204831,00.html?mod=article-outset-box) .

COLIN POWELL SOUNDED THE ALARM: One official who did try to get to the bottom of the abuse charges: Secretary of State Colin Powell. According to the WP, Secretary Powell repeatedly raised the issue of treatment of detainees ( , asking "to release as many detainees as possible -- and, second, to ensure that those in custody are properly cared for and treated." Secretary Powell "urged action in several White House meetings that included Rumsfeld."

PAUL BREMER SOUNDED THE ALARM: The WP reports that top officials say the chief administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer was " kicking and screaming ( " as early as last fall that "the United States was detaining too many Iraqis for too long and in poor conditions." According to interviews, Bremer raised his serious concerns "both in one-on-one meetings with Rumsfeld and other administration leaders, and in group meetings with the president's inner circle on national security."

Speaking of the Iraq prison scandal, John Wonder said: "This is ridiculous compared to the real beastliness of the Iraqis in dealing with Americans". Randy Black concurs: "I recall the Iraqis raping and otherwise torturing the US female pilot that they captured".

Phyllis Gardner wrote: "In response to John Wonder, I am utterly shocked that anyone could see the reports of Iraqi prisoner abuse without being appalled. It is an absolute violation of the Geneva Convention". Randy Black says: "Ms. Gardner is correct, others warned of the appalling prison treatment, and the military initiated an investigation, jailed many of the violators and initiated the prosecution processes…. Months ago and months before you and I saw the leaked photos". RH: The affair is still not clarified, When Donald Rumsfeld testified before the armed services committee, he was asked why when he met is closed session with it the day before the scandal broke he had not mentioned it. He could not answer, but I felt sorry for him. He is a victim of what is called the managerial revolution. In a huge organization, the manager cannot know what is going on in every part of it. Moreover, it has now become clear that the Iraq adventure was the brainchild of his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, working with a group of Pentagon Zionist neocons. While Rumsfeld was supervising the worldwide picture, Wolfowitz was concentrating on Iraq. He is the one who should go, but he is seldom mentioned. The Economist (5/8-14/04) has RESIGN, RUMSFELD splashed on its cover. Poor old Rummy.

Christopher Jones writes; "To say that Saddam was an ally of international terrorism is stretching things very, very thin. If anything, he was sympathiser. Frankly Bush, Sharon, Cheney and Rumsfeld have done more to advance the Al Qaeda's cause than Saddam could have ever hoped to do.

I will be specific: the war in Iraq is going the same route as the British occupation of the country after 1917. However, the real danger is the loss of focus in the West's legitimate confrontation with Islamic fundamentalist terror. The images of sexual abuse and torture in the Abu Ghraib prison have shifted focus away from the fight against Fundamentalist terror and done wonders for Osamah bin Laden's cause. In living color around the world, TV stations have broadcast actual proof of Al Qaeda's claims against the West. In that cave somewhere, Osamah must think that Allah the Merciful and the compasionate has smiled upon his cause. But really why has it come to this and there was an interesting discussion the other day.

Rumsfeld should resign. But not for the reasons that everybody loves to recite, rather because he broke with US military tradition and tried to conquer Iraq, in the midst of a legitimate and very difficult war and Islamic Terror with too few troops. US military history has always followed the same pattern since 1861. A concentration of massive force to overwhelm the enemy. To throw Iraq out of Kuweit in Gulf War I, Colin Powell used over 400,000 regular troops to do the job. Rumsfeld thought he could do the job with 100,000 and then subcontract. This decision was fatal and the direct cause behind the Abu Ghraib disaster. But the problems are now grave: not only is it conceivable that the US will simply have to pull out of Iraq, but it has been its own worst enemy in the fight against Al Qaeda.

Of course behind all this lurks another question: what was the influence of Israel in all this? What are the relations between the subcontractors and the Israelis? Was the policy of abuse ordered and by whom? The Us and the West must get their act together soon or the entire Arab world may unite behind Bin Laden: just the other day a very ominous news item came and went, snuffed out by bleary-eyed editors. But it was horrific. It told of an attack on an oil installation in Saudi. But what was incredible was that it was carried out by workers of ARAMCO. That means that Al Qaeda has infiltrated the oil industry. It is time really to start thinking".

RH Again, Paul Wolfowitz was the father of the Iraq adventure. He should go, but he is never mentioned.

Daryl DeBell says: "I find it unusual, but again I must agree with Christopher Jones. However neither he nor anyone else to my knowledge has mentioned the incredible obtuseness, not to say stupidity of Rumsfeld. How could he have failed to recognize how atrocious the treatment of the prisoners would be considered by Americans, let alone Muslims? It boggles the mind that he could sit on that information and fail to alert the President or the Congress, at least the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. One could think that it was monumental stupidity at work, but Rumsfeld is in fact highly intelligent, so it is rather a tragic failure of knowledge about people, which I believe is fatal for a person in his position". RH: WAISers must not allow their minds to be boggled. I wonder if Wolfowitz, who started then Iraq war, advised him to say nothing.

Ronald Hilton -