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Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib

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Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh joins us in our firehouse studio to talk about his new book, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib. The book takes a look behind the public story of President Bush’s "war on terror" and into the lies and obsessions that led America into Iraq. Hersh provides a new account of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal that he exposed last spring and of where, he believes, responsibility for the scandal ultimately lies. [includes rush transcript]

A U.S. court martial in Baghdad last weekend sentenced a soldier to eight months in jail for maltreating and conspiring to maltreat Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison.

Specialist Armin J. Cruz confessed to forcing three naked inmates at Abu Ghraib jail to crawl along a floor before making them simulate sex acts. Cruz was spotted in a photo taken during abuses committed in October. He is the eighth American soldier to be charged over the abuses but the first from military intelligence.

Cruz pleaded guilty to conspiracy and maltreatment of prisoners and has agreed to testify against others charged in more serious cases of mistreatment at the U.S.-run prison west of Baghdad.

But while Cruz pleaded guilty, his lawyers contended throughout that he was just following orders from superiors. But how high does the scandal go? Today we look at the "Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib." That’s the title of a new book by Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Seymour Hersh.

In his book, Hersh writes that at the height of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in May 2004, a Republican operative received the reassuring word that Vice President Dick Cheney had taken control of the situation. The operative "learned that Cheney had telephoned Rumsfeld with a simple message: No resignations. We’re going to hunker down and tough it out." Hersh writes "Cheney’s concern was not national security. This was a political call–a reminder that the White House would seize control of every crisis that could affect the re-election of George Bush."

  • Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the New Yorker. He is the author of several books, his latest is Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib.


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