Taguba: Torture Photos Show Rape

May 28, 2009 10:47 a.m.

Do the Abu Ghraib torture photos that President Obama wants to keep secret show even worse crimes that we’ve yet known about?

Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who, in a 2004 probe, documented widespread detainee abuse at the prison, has told The Daily Telegraph: “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.”According to Taguba’s description, as summarized by the paper:

At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.

Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.

Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.

If these are indeed the photos at issue in the lawsuit, and the Telegraph is accurately rendering Taguba’s description of them, then that may help explain Obama’s decision to keep them under wraps — out of fear that such explosive images could legitimately place our troops in danger.

That’s Taguba’s view. He told the paper:

I am not sure what purpose their release would serve other than a legal one and the consequence would be to imperil our troops, the only protectors of our foreign policy, when we most need them, and British troops who are trying to build security in Afghanistan.

The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.

But by the same token, the suggestion that the photos depict even more unspeakable horrors than the images we’ve already seen only adds to the case that they be released, in order to provide a complete picture of what happened, in the name of ensuring it never happens again.

The Pentagon has denied that the photos at issue show the acts described by the Telegraph.

Taguba’s original report contained somewhat similar claims, including “threatening male detainees with rape,” “sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick.” But he had not until now revealed the existence of photos showing male on female rape and sexual abuse.

The New Yorker‘s Sy Hersh, who reported on Taguba’s findings in 2004, has also claimed that rape occurred, telling an audience later that year:

Some of the worst things that happened you don’t know about, okay? Videos, um, there are women there. Some of you may have read that they were passing letters out, communications out to their men. This is at Abu Ghraib … The women were passing messages out saying ‘Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened’ and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst above all of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It’s going to come out.”

We’ve been trying to contact Taguba ourselves, but he’s apparently not doing interviews. It’s unclear why and under what circumstances he spoke to the Telegraph.

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