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White House says no prior knowledge of Abu Ghraib abuse

[JURIST] A White House spokesperson Sunday disputed claims by retired US Army Major General Antonio Taguba [NPR profile] that President Bush "had to be aware" of the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib [JURIST news archive] before the photos [JURIST report] of US interrogators abusing prisoners surfaced in April 2004, insisting that Bush first learned about the abuse on television. In an interview with the New Yorker published Saturday, Taguba said that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld [official profile] misled Congress [AFP report] during testimony in May 2004 regarding the scope of his knowledge of the abuse. Taguba said that Rumsfeld and other high-ranking military officials knew about the abuse and had access to the photographs no later than January 13, 2004.

Taguba, who investigated [report, PDF] the abuse in 2004 and retired January 2007 at the request of Army Vice Chief of Staff Richard A. Cody, said that "the photographs were available to [Rumsfeld] - if he wanted to see them" and that many high-officials, whom Taguba was not permitted to investigate, "are lying to protect themselves." In November 2006, former Abu Ghraib commander Janis Karpinski [JURIST news archive] repeated her claims that Rumsfeld personally ordered abuses [JURIST report] and maintained her innocence despite being the only high-ranking military officer to be punished in connection with the abuse scandal [JURIST report]. AFP has more.

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