Friday, April 29, 2005

Watch What We Do


From the Boston Globe:
With his job on the line over the shocking revelations of torture at Abu Ghraib prison last year, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told the world to ''watch how democracy deals with wrongdoing and scandal and the pain of acknowledging and correcting our own mistakes and, indeed, our own weaknesses."

Now, exactly one year after the photographs from Abu Ghraib became public, the Defense Department has placed seven low-ranking guards under court-martial. No general -- or colonel, or CIA intelligence officer, or political appointee -- has faced any charges.

Human rights groups yesterday seized on the anniversary to reiterate their dismay over the lack of command responsibility, saying Abu Ghraib will be remembered as much for who wasn't held accountable as who was.

But while investigations into the Iraqi prison case have come to a close, the scandal has led to broader revelations about the mistreatment of prisoners in US military custody around the world.

Disclosures at other military detention centers, from Guantanamo Bay to Afghanistan, have revealed use of sleep deprivation, shackling in painful positions, exposure to temperature extremes, and beatings that have resulted in at least 28 deaths -- suggesting that the detainee abuse scandal that started with Abu Ghraib will haunt the war on terrorism for years to come.

''The abuses aren't as sexy, so to speak, as some of the genuinely perverted images that came from Abu Ghraib," said Ken Hurwitz of Human Rights First. ''But the real interrogations have been, by all accounts, quite brutal. As more and more detainees are released from places like Guantanamo, the idea that Guantanamo was doing it right and Abu Ghraib was doing it wrong is just not holding up."

The entire article is worth reading.


When this type of situation arises, those high up in the chain look down to see where a link in the chain can be severed. Then allow enough time, perhaps to get a volunteer to fall on his or her sword, or to be able to identify the link in the chain who is most vulnerable and doesn't have the goods (of any sort) on those above. So the conclusions here are not surprising as they conform to the standard operating procedure. That's why I would advise someone way down the chain to take early pre-emptive action to avoid being designated as the link to be severed by exposing the goods on higher links.

Let me see if I've got this straight:

Six individual soldiers have been sentenced to prison terms, ranging from six months to 10 years via either plea agreement or court martial.

Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba conducted an investigation and concluded that the policy failures that lead to the abuses stemmed not from National or even Army policy "a failure in leadership ... from the brigade commander on down."

Army Maj. Gen. George Fay's report found 44 instances of abuse at the prison - including abuse which amounted to torture which and concluded that the three-star General Rick Sanchez was "responsible for the things that happened"

Col. Thomas Pappas and Lt. Col. Stephen Jordan (a MP commander and and Intell. commander) still face possible criminal charges by the Army.

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, the commander of the unit that all of the convicted soldiers belonged to will receive an administrative reprimand for dereliction of duty that will end her military career.

And this has been a whitewash?

There has been not one single piece of evidence produced that people outside of the prison's chain of command condoned what went on at Abu Ghraib or knew about it. In fact, even Fmr. Sec. Def. James Schlesinger's investigation concluded that there was "no policy of abuse...Quite the contrary...Senior officials repeatedly said that in Iraq, Geneva regulations would apply."

(And before any one waxes poetic about the DOD "Torture Memos" - produce one scintilla of evidence that anyone in the unit or chain of command ever saw, read, or even heard of the memo before the incidents occurred)

So after four or five investigations (I think I missed one), congressional hearings or proposed hearings on every single one of these investigations, intense media srutiny and six prosecutions, there has yet to be a shred of evidence that anyone outside of the immediate chain of command authorized or knew about what went on at Abu Ghraib.

Who do you want to see prosecuted for Abu Ghraib and upon what basis?

Should the test of responsibility be limited to those only in the immediate chain of command who authorized or knew of the acts or should it include whether those in the entire chain of command (not just the limited immediate chain) SHOULD HAVE KNOWN? Did the 4 or 5 investigations address this aspect?

Over 100 Killed under US Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan

Washington, Mar 17 (Prensa Latina) Some 108 people have died, most of them violently as a result of abuse, under US military custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a government report provided to the Associated Press.

Iraq: Images of Tortures and War Crimes
Latest News on Iraq

Roughly a quarter of those deaths have been investigated as possible abuse by U.S. personnel, the CBS reports quoting the AP.

The Executive Director of the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU), Anthony Romero asserted that "no one at the highest levels of our government has yet been held accountable for the torture and abuse, and that is unacceptable."

"Despite the military´s own reports of deaths and abuses of detainees in U.S. custody, it is astonishing that our government can still pretend that what is happening is the work of a few rogue soldiers," the ACLU Executive insisted.

The figure of 108 dead in US military prisons, far higher than any previously disclosed, includes cases investigated by the Army, Navy, CIA and Justice Department, the sources indicate.

Some 65,000 prisoners have been taken during the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, although most have been freed.

The CBS and the AP underline that the Pentagon has never provided comprehensive information on how many prisoners taken during the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have died, and the 108 figure is based on information supplied by Army, Navy and other government officials.

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