Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba wrote the U.S. Army’s report on the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. He was then forced into retirement.
During that time, he made a startling admission to New Yorker investigative reporter Seymour Hersh. (See Hersh’s article in the June 25, 2007, issue of The New Yorker.) During Taguba’s investigation of Abu Ghraib he saw “a video of a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee.” Another photo is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.
Last week, further photographs depicting sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire, and a phosphorescent tube, were confirmed by Maj. Taguba to reporters at The Telegraph.
(Currently there is a smokescreen campaign going on about Taguba identifying photos and videos for The Telegraph. He says he did not verify specific photos and videos that are currently listed as among those the Obama administration wants to suppress. However, he does confirm that he saw photos with these actions depicted. Just that they weren’t the specific photos Obama has been referring to.)
Christians have been on the forefront of resisting the horrors of torture by the U.S. military and its military contractors. Sojourners has covered this faith-based resistance and tried to stay ahead of the story.
In March 2006, Sojourners covered the story of 25 Christian peacemakers, members of Witness Against Torture, who went to Cuba and walked 50 miles to the gates of the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo to protest the treatment of detainees there. However, “after repeated appeals to the White House and the Guantánamo base commander, we were denied an opportunity to perform a simple work of mercy—to visit the prisoners,” vigil member Art Laffin told Sojourners.
In July 2008, Sojourners published an article by Catholic Franciscan Louis Vitale written from the Imperial County jail where he served a prison sentence for challenging the “terrible frontier” our country has crossed with the use of torture. He served five months for challenging the training of interrogators at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and School at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
The night before Vitale was sentenced to prison, he received a phone call. It was from Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who said: “History will honor your actions.”
President Obama has continued to say that it would be detrimental to U.S. security for photos and videos of torture committed by Americans, and in the name of the United States, to be released.
In my opinion, the truth is always detrimental to somebody, but that doesn’t mean you don’t pursue it. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
Sojourners will continue to cover vital stories like these – stories of the people of God acting on faith for justice.–Rose Marie Berger
[This piece first appeared on the Sojourners blog God’s Politics.]