A reporter from the Washington Times grabbed a moment with Donald Rumsfeld yesterday to ask what the former defense secretary thought of the ‘Kill Team’ photos published this week by Rolling Stone. Rumsfeld, who infamously presided over the detainee torture scandal, said the images, in which grinning American soldiers pose with the corpses of Afghan civilians they’d murdered (essentially for kicks), were “much worse” than the Abu Ghraib pictures, because in this case people were actually killed. (Take that for what it’s worth; it’s clearly in his interest to minimize Abu Ghraib.)
Get the full ‘Kill Team’ report, including war crime images the Pentagon tried to suppress, here.
The Washington Times: What are your thoughts on the latest kill team photos out of Afghanistan?
Donald Rumsfeld: If they’re the ones that I’m thinking of it’s where some… there are some allegations that some soldiers killed some people. You know, I feel such a responsibility as an American that when people are in our custody, we treat them properly. It is always heartbreaking when we see that there are allegations and photographs or suggestions that people have mismanaged that process. And of course the courts will decide in this case. But it is interesting, in the case of Abhu Ghraib, that it was such an important press event and nobody was killed. And in this case, it looks like there are allegations that some people were actually killed.
TWT: How does this stack up against the Abu Ghraib photos, for example?
DR: The situation, of course, is much worse if someone dies, but it’s a sad thing. It’s unfortunate. The overwhelming majority of men and women in uniform are professional. They handle themselves well. They treat people properly in our custody. And no question but that they are punished in the event that the courts and the military commissions under the uniform code of military justice decide that they’ve done something wrong. They get punished.