Friday, June 22, 2007

Tagabu Investigation

Seymour Hersh has another great (and long) article in this week’s New Yorker. It’s about Antonio Tagabu, the army general who was tasked to investigate the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. His integrity and honesty in the task cost him his career in the Army.

“They always shoot the messenger,” Taguba told me. “To be accused of being overzealous and disloyal—that cuts deep into me. I was being ostracized for doing what I was asked to do.”

Taguba went on, “There was no doubt in my mind that this stuff”—the explicit images—“was gravitating upward. It was standard operating procedure to assume that this had to go higher. The President had to be aware of this.” He said that Rumsfeld, his senior aides, and the high-ranking generals and admirals who stood with him as he misrepresented what he knew about Abu Ghraib had failed the nation.

“From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service,” Taguba said. “And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable.”

Another thing the article mentions is that Tagabu was only allowed to investigate the people who actually did the abuse, and explicitly not the chain of command to find out where their orders came from. Republicans in Congress blocked any attempt to investigate further. Once again, don't tell me there is no difference between the parties. Democrats may be weenies, but at least they are not sycophants.

Doing the right thing often has negative consequences, and Tagabu was the unfortunate recipient of that on this occasion. Despite all the darkness, fear, and intimidation this administration has spread throughout all corners of the earth, I still believe that in the end, truth leaks out. Tagabu paid for his truth-telling with his career, but he is on the right side of history, and there is no better legacy to leave to one's grandchildren.


Sam said...

With all due respect, we oppose the war and all its atrocities, not because of political leanings but because of Biblical teachings.

Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." Matthew 5:9

"And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother." 1John 4:21

And also...

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..." Matthew 28:19a

It becomes increasingly difficult to make a disciple of someone, much less love them when you've trained your AK-47 on them.

I appreciate your opposition to the war and even your strong sense of justice. However, if love for our so called enemies is not the number one reason for our opposing the war, we've missed the heart of God and have become no better than any activist group.

Thanks for blogging and please keep up the good work.

brownie said...

History is rife with examples of people who comment honestly about the emperor's new clothes.

The most dangerous people to those who hold power are those who speak the truth, i.e. MLK, Ghandi, Jesus, Galileo; and they either end up paying for their honesty with their lives or their careers. And the list continues to grow longer and longer.

dw said...


With all due respect, I don't think Dan would disagree with you. Perhaps it's possible that those of us who oppose the war oppose it for BOTH sets of reasons--because we believe God has called us to love our enemies in the most radical ways, even to the point of laying down our lives as Jesus did, and ALSO because we think it's politically foolish/selfish/stupid to alienate the world in a Quixotic and naive attempt to change complex cultures in short-term ways.

Dan--It's a great article, I agree.