|FAS Public Interest Report
The Journal of the Federation of American Scientists
Volume 57, Number 3
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Secrecy Project and the Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal
The FAS Secrecy Project continued to push for greater openness where disclosure is legitimate. In early May when shocking images of U.S. personnel at Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison abusing Iraqi prisoners burst into public view, the Secrecy Project was among those pressing for full disclosure of the internal Army report on the matter. The March 2004 report is known as the “Taguba report” after its author, Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba.
The report soon leaked into the public domain (and can also be found on the FAS web site) even though it nominally remains classified. On May 6 the Secrecy Project filed a complaint with the government’s Information Security Oversight Office challenging the classification of the report.
The FAS complaint noted that it is official policy that “in no case shall information be classified in order to conceal violations of law.” Yet the Taguba report contained passages describing instances of “sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuses” which were marked as “classified,” in apparent violation of classification policy.
The ISOO agreed to undertake an investigation in response to the FAS complaint.
The next week Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld testified most of the day under the glare of TV lights and the questioning by Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Secretary Rumsfeld said the DOD had at least three compact disks containing yet more images of the abuse of prisoners in Iraq. FAS and Aftergood urged the Pentagon to release, or at least declassify, all additional images in its possession.
Disclosure of all relevant images is “a prerequisite to achieving full accountability for the abuses documented,” said the FAS request. Classifying them could violate the same official policy, noted above, which bars classification to “conceal violations of the law.” The FAS request also said: “We would not object if the images were modified prior to release so as to protect the privacy of individual victims.”
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