Military Abuse Investigations Widen

by TChris

TalkLeft recently observed that the Army is investigating allegations of abuse against civilians as well as prisoners. Now we're learning more about the scope of the investigations.

Over the past year and a half, the Army has opened investigations into at least 91 cases of possible misconduct by U.S. soldiers against detainees and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, a total not previously reported and one that points to a broader range of wrongful behavior than defense officials have acknowledged.

Taken together, the 91 cases indicate misconduct by U.S. troops wider in type and greater in number than suggested by the focus simply on the mistreatment of Iraqis held at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad. The majority of the cases under investigation occurred in Iraq, although the Army has not provided an exact accounting of all the locations.

More than half of the 91 cases involved misconduct outside of detention facilities. Thirty of the investigations involving detainees related to the deaths of 34 individuals. Among those are ten homicides, only one of which has so far resulted in discipline. Eight homicide investigations "remain open amid evidence the dead detainees were assaulted before or during interrogation sessions."

Although the majority of soldiers are decent individuals, these disclosures suggest that cases of abuse aren't as isolated as the administration suggests, but reflect an institutional failure to assure that soldiers understand that Iraqi civilians are not their enemy, as well as a failure to adequately supervise interrogations of detainees and encounters between the troops and Iraq's civilian population.

Also troubling is the administration's failure to fully disclose the results of the investigations. An anonymous Army official says that assault accusations have "led to at least 14 courts-martial and seven nonjudicial punishments," but the details of those prosecutions haven't been disclosed.

The Army has been slow to make these details public despite requests from Congress and news organizations for more specifics about all the investigations, whether completed or ongoing. The lack of detail about many of the cases has made it difficult to assess the full significance of the reported misconduct. But the few specifics that have emerged about some of the death cases point to the involvement of an assortment of Army units and to abusive behavior that stretches over a long period of time, from late 2002 to spring 2004.

< U.S. v. European Reporting: Which is Better? | Judge: Kobe Accuser Can't Be Called Victim >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort: