Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld today broke his six-day silence on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. “The images that we’ve seen that include U.S. forces are deeply disturbing,” Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news conference,
both because of the fundamental unacceptability of what they depicted and because the actions by U.S. military personnel in those photos do not in any way represent the values of our country or of the armed forces. As President Bush has stated, their treatment does not reflect the nature of the American people. Have no doubt that we will take these charges and allegations most seriously.
So much for Rummy’s previous claim that he couldn’t comment on the matter because he was hemmed in by the military-justice doctrine of “unlawful command influence.” Rumsfeld’s second line of defense was that he hadn’t yet read a report on the matter by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, even though it was completed months ago and (minus the annexes) is only about 50 pages long. (The Taguba report is discussed at some length by Seymour Hersh in the May 10 New Yorker.) At today’s press conference, Rumsfeld was asked whether he had finally read the Taguba report. Not entirely, he admitted:
Q: Have you yet read the Taguba report? A: It’s—which …Q: [Off-mike] pages? A: I think you’re talking about the executive summary. I’ve seen the executive summary. Q: Have you read through it, sir? A: I have been through it. Whether I have read every page, no. There is a lot of references and documentation to laws and conventions and procedures and requirements, but I have certainly read the conclusions and other aspects of it.
Would you like to know more about the Abu Ghraib scandal than the Defense secretary? Slate’s corporate cousin, MSNBC, today made that possible by posting the entire Taguba report online. Read it and—in the most literal sense—weep.