THE PENTAGON HAS JUST UNLOADED A CLIP AT SEYMOUR HERSH for what it thinks may be in his book.
I have never seen a government bureaucracy issue a pre-reaction for something it was expecting but which had not occurred. Hersh must be cutting close to the bone in his soon-to-be-released book Chain of Command: The Road From 9/11 to Abu Ghraib.
Here is the full text of the Department of Defense news release:
IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 10, 2004
Department of Defense Statement on Seymour Hersh Book
Based on media inquiries, it appears that Mr. Seymor Hersh’s upcoming book apparently contains many of the numerous unsubstantiated allegations and inaccuracies which he has made in the past based upon unnamed sources.
Detainee operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere have been examined extensively — both within the Department of Defense and by an independent panel led by former Secretary of Defense Jim Schlesinger. The U.S. military itself — not Mr. Hersh or any other reporter — first publicized the facts of the abuses at Abu Ghraib in January 2004, four months before Mr. Hersh “broke” the story.
To date the Department has conducted 11 investigations, of which eight reports have been completed and released, additionally:
— Over 13,000 pages of reports have been compiled thus far.
— Investigators have completed 950 interviews.
— 43 Congressional briefings and hearings have been conducted (not to mention 39 additional briefings for Congressional staff).
Those responsible for criminal activities at Abu Ghraib or other detention facilities are being held accountable.
— 45 individuals have been referred for courts-martial
— 12 for General Officer Letters of Reprimand
— 23 Soldiers have been administratively separated
There are ongoing investigations, and there will be more information disclosed. Thus far these investigations have determined that no responsible official of the Department of Defense approved any program that could conceivably have authorized or condoned the abuses seen at Abu Ghraib.
If any of Mr. Hersh’s anonymous sources wish to come forward and offer evidence to the contrary, the department welcomes them to do so. There are several open investigations, and we would certainly investigate their allegations without prejudice or hesitation.
This morning, the Washington Post reports that U.S. Army Specialist Armin J. Cruz Jr. pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight months in prison for his role at Abu Ghraib.
But what about accountability at the top? Why does Rumsfeld still have his job, Mr. President?
A Washington Post editorial today, “A Failed Investigation,” lambasts the Pentagon for ongoing questions about senior level accountability. In addition, the DoD press release above fails to answer the important questions about prisoners kept off of the official prison rolls. Part of this editorial reads:
Gen. Paul J. Kern, told the Senate Armed Services Committee of two major areas that remain unexplored. One is the Army’s accommodation of dozens of “ghost prisoners” held by the CIA and deliberately hidden from the International Red Cross in violation of the Geneva Conventions and Army regulations.
Mr. Rumsfeld has acknowledged that at least one of those prisoners was held by his personal order — an order that two former secretaries of defense, James R. Schlesinger and Harold Brown, testified was “not consistent” with international law.
How can America expect to do a export its values and brand of democracy when we Americans have created a culture that coddles and fails to hold accountable those in charge?
I can’t wait to read Chain of Command, and here is a message to John Kerry’s campaign — make something of this. Get Senator Kerry to show up at Hersh’s first book signing.
— Steve Clemons