While piously declaring its determination to unearth the truth about Abu Ghraib, the Bush administration has spent nearly two months obstructing investigations by the Army and members of Congress. It has dragged out the Army’s inquiry, withheld crucial government documents from a Senate committee and stonewalled senators over dozens of Red Cross reports that document the horrible mistreatment of Iraqis at American military prisons. Even last week’s document dump from the White House, which included those cynical legal road maps around treaties and laws against torturing prisoners, seemed part of this stonewalling campaign. Nothing in those hundreds of pages explained what orders had been issued to the military and C.I.A. jailers in Iraq, and by whom.

It took the Pentagon more than two weeks to appoint a replacement for Maj. Gen. George Fay, who had to be relieved of the task of investigating the military intelligence units at Abu Ghraib because he was not senior enough to question Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the commander in Iraq. The process underscored the inability of the military to investigate itself at this level. The Pentagon named someone of high enough rank – just barely. That officer is a three-star general, as is General Sanchez. He will have to get up to speed before questioning General Sanchez, and the Pentagon will undoubtedly stall again when the new investigating general, inevitably, needs to go yet higher.

The Pentagon has also not turned over to the Senate the full report by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who conducted the Army’s biggest investigation so far into abuses at Abu Ghraib. The Pentagon has still not accounted for the 2,000 pages missing from his 6,000-page file when it was given to the Senate Armed Services Committee more than a month ago; the missing pages include draft documents on interrogation techniques for Iraq. The committee’s chairman, Senator John Warner, said last week that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had assured him that he was working on the problem. Mr. Warner’s faith seems deeply misplaced…


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