The Guardian May 26, 2004


Rumsfeld "a political corpse"

Michel Porcheron

Less than two weeks after the CBS television network's 
transmission in the United States of the first photos and videos 
showing acts of torture practiced by US soldiers in Iraq, the 
"Lynndie England" case has turned into the "Rumsfeld case". 
Lynndie England is the name of the 21-year-old female soldier who 
appears in many of the photos.

A veteran investigative reporter, Seymour Hersh, 67  the man 
who revealed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam in 1969  unleashed 
the scandal by directly accusing the Secretary of Defense. 
According to his May 17 New Yorker article, "The roots of the Abu 
Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a 
few Army reservists but in a decision approved last year by 
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret 
operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for al-Qaida, to 
the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq".

Hersh, who specialises in researching the intelligence services, 
specifies that the Pentagon has created special interrogation 
techniques that "... encouraged physical coercion and sexual 
humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more 
intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq".

Rumsfeld gave the green light to a "highly secret" program that 
basically had "... given blanket advance approval to kill or 
capture and, if possible, interrogate 'high-value' targets in the 
Bush Administration's war on terror." Hersh maintains that every 
soldier who knew the code name of one of these special programs 
(SAP, Special-Access Program) could act freely in the field.

According to a former high-ranking intelligence service official 
quoted by Hersh, some 200 people in total were in on the secret, 
including George W Bush himself. For its part, the May 16 edition 
of Newsweek published a memorandum dated January 25, 2002, signed 
by Alberto Gonzalez, legal advisor to the White House, explaining 
that the war on terrorism is a new form of war, and that this new 
paradigm renders obsolete the Geneva Convention's strict 
limitations on interrogating enemy prisoners.

The confusion reached its peak the weekend of May 15-16, when it 
became known that abuses being perpetrated on the prisoners at 
the Guantanamo Naval Base were being videotaped, according to 
statements by a former British prisoner there. Nobody was 
surprised when spokespersons for the US authorities scrambled to 
deny everything.

General Miller reappears

According to what has come to light, in August 2003 General 
Geoffrey D Miller, 55, who then commanded the Guantanamo 
detention centre, made a 10-day visit to the Abu Ghraib prison. 
His mission was "enigmatic": to inform the chief of the prison's 
military intelligence on a series of recommendations "from the 
base" on how to undertake interrogations, punish prisoners and 
organise arrests.

His disciples learned their lesson, beyond expectations. Abu 
Ghraib was thus "Guantanamised". Today, General Miller is once 
again in Iraq, this time as ... the man in charge of US prisons, 
replacing General Janis Karpinski, seven of whose troops have 
been castigated in the torture scandal. Six of them must remain 
under surveillance in Camp Victory near Baghdad, possibly 
awaiting court martial.

As for Lynndie England, the notorious female soldier who is 
currently pregnant, she has been temporarily stationed in Fort 
Bragg, North Carolina, until her fate is decided. General 
Karpinski was discreetly "dismissed" in January after the first 
revelations  at that time internal  of the torture and 
brutality being practiced there.

And, will Rumsfeld be the spark that sends Bush's electoral hopes 
up in flames, a possibility to which analysts are increasingly 
referring? In the May 11 edition of El Pams, Allan Lichtman is 
categorical: "Rumsfeld's days are numbered. He is now a political 
corpse."

* * *
Granma abridged

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