In 2007, shortly after he was forced into retirement, Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba, made a startling admission. During the course of his investigation into the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib Taguba said he saw “a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee.”
The video, as well as photographs Taguba said he saw of U.S. soldiers allegedly raping and torturing Iraqi prisoners, remains in the possession of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division (CID).
Taguba said he did not discuss the details of the more graphic photographs and videos he saw in his voluminous report on the abuses at Abu Ghraib because of the Army’s ongoing criminal probe and the photographs’ “extremely sensitive nature.”
Taguba's report on the widespread of abuse of prisoners did say, however, that he found credible a report that a soldier had sodomized “a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick.”
“Such images would have added an even more inflammatory element to the outcry over Abu Ghraib,” Hersh wrote.
But now a report published Thursday in Britain's Daily Telegraph stating that the photographs and video Taguba first described to Hersh two years ago were the ones that the Obama administration has decided against releasing to the American Civil Liberties Union in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit has done just that.
However, the photographs described by the Telegraph are not the ones that were at the center of the five-year-old lawsuit between the Bush administration and the ACLU that were expected to be released by the Obama administration this month.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs seemed to suggest in response to the Telegraph's report Thursday that the photographs Taguba characterized in his interview with the paper do not exist. That's not true. The photographs characterized in the Telegraph report are simply not part of the package the Obama administration is now withholding.
The U.S. Court of Appeals court for the 2nd Circuit ordered 21 photographs taken in Afghanistan and in Iraq that depicts detainees being abused to be released.The Bush administration challenged the ruling, and in March the court denied that petition.
About 23 other pictures taken at undisclosed locations in Iraq and Afghanistan were also subject to release. There was speculation that, beyond these photographs, as many as 2,000 other pictures of prisoner abuse in the possession of the Defense Department may also be disclosed.
The photographs Obama has decided to withhold, as I first reported May 15, are ones that were taken in 2003 and 2004 in which U.S. Army soldiers in Afghanistan took pictures of their colleagues pointing assault rifles and pistols at the heads and backs of hooded and bound detainees.
Another photograph, found on a government computer, showed two male soldiers and one female soldier pointing a broom to one detainee “as if I was sticking the end of a broom stick into [his] rectum,” according to the female soldier’s account as told to an Army criminal investigator.