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Donald Rumsfeld said that he did not know about torture and mistreatment of Iraqi Prisoners until the Press broke it.
by Last updated 2004-08-30

General Karpinski says she has evidence that there was a conspiracy at the senior level to keep her unaware of the torture of prisoners .

Those still clinging to the hopeful notion that photographic evidence of beatings, dead detainees, sexual degradation and threats of electric shock were all the work of a few twisted reservists aren't reading the newspapers. Press accounts are following the paper trail up the chain of command to a heated and lengthy debate inside the White House about how much cruelty constitutes torture.

TIMELINE: What was known, and when.

Fall 2003 Bremer repeatedly raises issue of prison conditions with Rumsfeld and the President's inner circle according to LA Times: "Bremer repeatedly raised the issue of prison conditions as early as last fall -- both in one-on-one meetings with Rumsfeld and other administration leaders, and in group meetings with the president's inner circle on national security. Officials described Bremer as 'kicking and screaming' about the need to release thousands of uncharged prisoners and improve conditions for those who remained." (Washington Post, Graham, 5/7/04)

November 5, 2003 Maj. Gen. Donald J. Ryder files report concluding that there were potential human rights, training, and manpower issues -- system wide -- that needed immediate attention. Discussed serious concerns about tension between missions of the military police assigned to guard prisoners and intelligence teams who interrogate them. (New Yorker Magazine, Hersh, 5/5/04

January 2004 Rumsfeld learns of photographs showing prisoner abuse according to the Washington Post: "...Rumsfeld has known of the photographs since January, when they came to the attention of U.S. commanders in Iraq, he had not seen them, and he was not aware that CBS was about to air them until just hours before they were broadcast last week." (Washington Post, Graham, 5/7/04)

Mid-January, 2004 Bush told about the photo of abuse according to the Washington Post: "Marine Gen. Peter Pace...said Wednesday on CBS's "Early Show" that beginning in mid-January, everyone "up the chain of command . . . was kept apprised orally of the ongoing investigation." Asked if Bush "was well aware of the situation," Pace replied: "Yes."" (Washington Post, Allen, 5/7/04)

Late February 2004 Major General Antonio M. Taguba issues 53-page report concluding that between October and December 2003 there were numerous instances of "sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses" at Abu Ghraib. Report was not meant for public release. (New York, Hersh, 5/5/04 and LA Times, McDonnell, 5/3/04)

March 2004 Six enlisted personnel charged with prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. One is court marshaled. (AP, Burns, 5/3/04)

Mid-April, 2004 Military learns CBS has pictures of prisoner abuse in Iraq. General Abizaid and General Myers ask CBS to post-pone broadcast of the photos. (NY Times, Schmitt, 5/4/04)

April 28, 2004 Graphic photos of abuse of Iraqi prisoners are shown on CBS 60 Minutes 2. (AP, Crary, 4/28/04) Rumsfeld provides classified briefing to Congressional leaders on situation in Iraq, fails to mention that photos of Iraqi abuse victims will be aired that evening on television. (Senate Armed Services Committee Testimony, Levin, 5/7/04)

May 3, 2004 Spokesman McClellan says that Bush still hasn't seen or been briefed on the Taguba report. (WH Briefing, McClellan, 5/3/04).

May 4, 2004 Rumsfeld says he disagrees with critics who have said the Pentagon moved too slowly. Defense Department officials have moved correctly and efficiently, he said. "The system works," he said. "The system works." Admitted he had not read the whole Taguba report or seen the photos. (DoD Briefing, Rumsfeld, 5/4/04)

Military discloses Army has conducted 30 criminal investigations into misconduct by American captors in Iraq and Afghanistan, including 10 cases of suspicious death, 10 cases of abuse, and two deaths of Iraqis already determined to have been criminal homicides. (NY Times, Neilan, 5/5/04)

General George Casey, Army's Vice-Chief of Staff, refers to a "complete breakdown in discipline." (NY Times, Reuters wire, 5/5/04)

Torture Orders Came From the Top
Soldier alleges abuse coverup.
See John Kerry's petition to fire Rumsfeld.
General Sanchez witnessed the torture

See GW Bush says he wants freedom and human rights for everyone.
Red Cross Report on Iraqi Prisoner Treatment
General Karpinski says there was a Conspiracy at the Senior Level
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