Abu Ghraib: ACLU Weighs In

The ACLU has just issued a press release on the one year anniversary of the release of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse photos. Here's a large portion of it (received by e-mail, will update with link when available):

While many Americans would like to believe that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib involved only the horrific acts of a few poorly trained soldiers, the fact is that the torture and abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo was widespread and systematic. The roots of the conduct can clearly be traced to a series of administration policies designed to insulate the treatment of military detainees from public scrutiny, judicial review and ultimately from the rule of law.

Yet a year after the release of the photos, top officials have not been held accountable, while low-level members of the military have been prosecuted and an unwarranted cloak of secrecy continues to shroud the treatment of prisoners.

Just last week, an internal Army investigation cleared four of the five senior Army officers suspected of wrongdoing in the abuse of detainees held by the Army in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. These findings demonstrate that the only way for America to regain the moral high ground is for the government to appoint a special counsel who is not beholden by rank or party and who is able to look up the military chain of command and hold officials accountable.

In addition to calling for a special counsel, the ACLU is taking other steps to ensure that top military leaders are held accountable. Last month, the ACLU and Human Rights First filed a lawsuit charging Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with direct responsibility for the torture and abuse of detainees in U.S. military custody. The ACLU has also filed three similar complaints against Colonel Thomas Pappas, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski and Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez on behalf of the torture victims who were detained in Iraq.

The source for these charges came from official government reports that have documented many horrific abuses inflicted on detainees in U.S. custody. They have shown that the abuse was ongoing and was not limited to the notorious Abu Ghraib prison. The ACLU obtained many of these documents through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit that has to date yielded more than 30,000 pages of damning evidence. Next month, the ACLU will return to court to press for the release of additional documents as well as photos and videos that the government has resisted turning over.

As we continue to receive more information, the government cannot ignore the systematic nature of the torture that implicates the military chain of command to the very top. We must hold accountable those who are putting our own soldiers at risk of torture and who have tarred America’s image in the world community.

< Abu Ghraib: One Year Later | House Ethics Committee Will Change Rules >
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    Re: Abu Ghraib: ACLU Weighs In (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 10:23:10 AM EST
    Blaghdaddy has news for y'all- the U.S. Military investigates its own allegations, and the U.S. military seems to have Lost the "Guilty" card, so the jury can only flash the other one to the kangaroo judge overseeing the tribunal. All together now- "No one in the U.S. Military is ever guilty of anything...unless they need a fall guy." Ask Italy.

    Re: Abu Ghraib: ACLU Weighs In (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:39:16 AM EST
    The orders for this abuse came from the top. Why else ask Alberto Abu Gonzales to come up with a legal rationale for torture? Plausible deniability. Protection from later prosecution. But the orders for breaking our treaty obligations and violating the Geneva and Torture Conventions are still high crimes.

    Re: Abu Ghraib: ACLU Weighs In (none / 0) (#3)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:59:04 AM EST
    Ah. The old two-headed coin... I wish the ACLU were more credible to the government accountability crowd - they have done so much to protect our rights and yet are so in-credible to many commenters here. Who can be against civil liberties (present government excluded)??