One of the things that drove John crazy about the detainee torture scandals was the way the Army pretended that it could foist off the blame on the grunts and junior officers. For example:
Graner and England are no heroes, do not get me wrong, and they probably do deserve some form of punishment. But the notion that this was just ‘the night shift acting up,’ acting, as Schlesinger stated, ‘like Animal House,’ offends not only common sense, but the pretty clearly established historical record.
The notion that torture and detainee abuse would appear spontaneously at various locations around Iraq and Afghanistan, with common methods used throughout, always defied common sense. And yet it worked. If you wanted to list the people with real responsibility for what happened, for example Donald Rumsfeld, who by definition holds ultimate responsibility for the conduct of US armed forces, you’ll find a complete vacuum of accountability. Like a mafia family, it seemed like once you’re ‘made’ nothing but death or betrayal can bring you down. On top of the list of folks whose resignations seem long overdue is Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who oversaw prison operations in Iraq during the worst of the abuse. Especially danming is the possibility that Miller was brought to Iraq specifically to promote this kind of behavior at US detention facilities:
Boykin [remember General Boykin?] was not removed or transferred. At that moment, in fact, he was at the center of the secret operation to “Gitmo-ize” Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison. He had flown to Guantánamo (known as “Gitmo”) in Cuba, where he met with the commandant of Camp X-Ray, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, ordering him to extend his methods to the Iraq prison system, orders that had come from Rumsfeld. While Boykin weathered his public storm, he remained the operational officer overseeing Miller’s new assignment.
If orders existed which directed the Abu Ghraib abuse then they would have to either originate or pass through Maj. Gen. Miller’s desk. What does Miller know about the abuse and torture that happened on his watch? Miller has denied any responsibility to the press and in statements to Congress, so it seems like a no-brainer that he’d give the same testimony when a court-martial involving military dogs calls him as a witness. Actually, he won’t.
Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, a central figure in the U.S. detainee-abuse scandal, this week invoked his right not to incriminate himself in court-martial proceedings against two soldiers accused of using dogs to intimidate captives at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, according to lawyers involved in the case.
The move by Miller — who once supervised the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and helped set up operations at Abu Ghraib — is the first time the general has given an indication that he might have information that could implicate him in wrongdoing, according to military lawyers.
Harvey Volzer, an attorney for one of the dog handlers, has been seeking to question Miller to determine whether Miller ordered the use of military working dogs to frighten detainees during interrogations at Abu Ghraib. Volzer has argued that the dog handlers were following orders when the animals were used against detainees.
According to his lawyer, Maj. Michelle E. Crawford, Miller’s “choice to no longer answer the same questions . . . was based on the advice of counsel and includes the fact that he has already, and repeatedly, answered all inquiries fully.” Lawyers can correct me if I’m wrong, but that seems like a pretty weak rationale for taking the Fifth.
I wonder if his decision had anything to do with this:
Miller’s decision came shortly after Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the commanding officer at Abu Ghraib, accepted immunity from prosecution this week and was ordered to testify at upcoming courts-martial. Pappas, a military intelligence officer, could be asked to detail high-level policies relating to the treatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib.
Some hope for real accountability at last.