Judge Rejects Call for Rumsfeld Testimony

By Leon Worden
Signal City Editor

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

*MEDIA—MANDATORY CREDIT: The Signal newspaper of Santa Clarita, Calif.

U.S. military judge in Germany rejected a defense request Tuesday to call Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to the stand in the ongoing Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse cases.
    The request had come from Paul Bergrin, the civilian attorney for Sgt. Javal Davis, 26, of New Jersey. Bergrin asked for Rumsfeld's testimony on the basis of statements made to The Signal by Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the top U.S. prison official in Iraq last fall.
    In the June 29 interview, Karpinski told The Signal that she had seen documents signed by Rumsfeld in which the defense secretary allegedly authorized coercive interrogation techniques, similar to those he authorized in late 2003 for use in detention operations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
    Pentagon officials denied Karpinski's allegation.
    The military judge, Col. James Pohl, said Bergrin could renew his request for Rumsfeld's testimony if he could show a more solid connection between Pentagon instructions and Davis' actions.
    "I'm not saying there is not a link. I'm saying at the point you haven't shown me sufficient evidence," Pohl said, according to published reports.
    On Tuesday in Washington, former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger unveiled a report on detention operations commissioned by Rumsfeld.
    Schlesinger said in a news conference that there were two separate categories of abuses at Abu Ghraib: sadistic acts committed by prison guards on the "night shift" against detainees of no particular intelligence value, as seen in widely published photographs; and "incidents of abuse of intelligence targets" that were not photographed.
    Schlesinger said the problem went beyond a handful of MPs. He said the blame extended up the chain of command, from the officers at the prison to the leaders at U.S. Central Command to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and into the office of the defense secretary.
    Schlesinger and fellow panelists Dr. Harold Brown former Rep. Tillie Fowler and retired Gen. Charles Horner cited general command confusion and an extreme lack of resources as contributing factors.
    "There were failures of leadership all the way to the Pentagon," Fowler said. "(The abuses) could have been prevented."
    Horner cautioned that whatever actions stem from the panel's report, "we must keep intact our ability to do investigations."
    Asked by a reporter whether Rumsfeld should step down, Schlesinger said, "his resignation would be a boon to all of America's enemies."
    He noted that the commanders in Iraq at the time — Gen. John Abizaid and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez — "sought no guidance from the office of the secretary of defense" about detainee treatment.
    The next piece of the abuse inquiry is expected to come today, with the release of a much anticipated report on military intelligence activities at Abu Ghraib.
    The Army inquiry, headed by Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones and Maj. Gen. George R. Fay, comes on the heels of an earlier investigation by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba into the actions of MP guards at the prison.
    In addition to implicating MP personnel — seven of whom, including Davis, were charged with crimes as a result — Taguba found that four military intelligence officers and civilian contractors, including John B. Israel, a 48-year-old translator from Canyon Country, were "directly or indirectly responsible" for the prisoner abuse.
    The report by Jones and Fay is expected to implicate two dozen members of the military intelligence brigade at Abu Ghraib, including five civilian contractors. A Pentagon official refused to say late last week whether Israel is one of the five.