Friday, May 29, 2009

They Are Who I Thought They Were

A couple of days ago the Daily Telegraph put out a report supposedly suggesting that the pictures President Obama kept from being released in connection with abuse at Abu Grhaib included instances of rape and other forms of sexual assault. The main selling point for the authenticity of the story was that they quoted a retired General Antonio Taguba as saying he had seen the pictures himself in the course of investigating abuses at the prison. Now because of the Telegraph's shady credibility in my opinion, I decided to hold back on weighing in. I figured I would wait to make sure what they were saying was actually credible before I flew into some kind of misguided rant. Yesterday Mike Scherer of Time Magazine pushed back on the story a little, but lets face it, nobody really respects the guy. Besides that he hadn't talked to Taguba to see whether he confirmed or denied the story. Well finally today Salon writer Mark Benjamin reached Gen. Taguba for comment and he debunked the story.

May 30, 2009 Retired Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba denied reports that he has seen the prisoner-abuse photos that President Obama is fighting to keep secret, in an exclusive interview with Salon Friday night.

On Thursday an article in the Daily Telegraph reported that Taguba, the lead investigator into Abu Ghraib abuse, had seen images Obama wanted suppressed, and supported the president's decision to fight their release. The paper quoted Taguba as saying, "These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency."

But Taguba says he wasn't talking about the 44 photographs that are the subject of an ongoing ACLU lawsuit that Obama is fighting.

"The photographs in that lawsuit, I have not seen," Taguba told Salon Friday night. The actual quote in the Telegraph was accurate, Taguba said -- but he was referring to the hundreds of images he reviewed as an investigator of the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq -- not the photos of abuse that Obama is seeking to suppress.

Now that still doesn't mean President Obama was right to oppose releasing the pictures but there just isn't any there there.

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