Abu Ghraib: One Year Later

Human Rights First has issued a report on the aftermath of Abu Ghraib. As we noted here, it is the one year anniversary of the disclosure of the prisoner abuse photos that shocked the world. The report concludes:

  • Torture and abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody extend far beyond the walls of Abu Ghraib;
  • The civilian and military leaders in charge of detention and interrogation operations a year ago have been promoted rather than punished;
  • The key policies that led to such widespread illegality are still in place.

In addition:

  • 108 People Have Died in U.S. Custody, U.S. Government Acknowledges
  • Abu Ghraib is but One Prison in a Wider Network
  • There are Secret Prisons and Ghost Detainees
  • Detentions are on the Rise. More than 11,000 people are currently in U.S. detention in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. More than 9,000 are held in Iraq, 600 in Afghanistan and 530 at Guantanamo.

The Bush Administration's accountability rate for the abuses is dismal. No top officials were disciplined.

Of the officers whose role in the Abu Ghraib scandal was examined by the Army at the request of the Senate Armed Services Committee, only Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinski received any punishment. Brig. Gen. Karpinski commanded detention operations at Abu Ghraib prison during the time the now-famous photos of abuse were taken. Brig. Gen. Karpinski was relieved of her command and received a written reprimand.

The highest ranking service member successfully prosecuted has been Marine Major Clarke Paulus, who was dismissed from the service without jail time after being convicted for his role in the strangulation death of a (non-Abu Ghraib) detainee.

Here's who skated:

  • Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - who once asserted full responsibility for the torture that occurred - was asked by the President to stay on as Secretary of Defense.
  • Former White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales - among the first to embrace the no-rules-apply approach to the "war on terror" - is now U.S. Attorney General.
  • The month after the Abu Ghraib photos became public, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller - formerly in charge of interrogations at Guantanamo and credited with instituting the use of dogs at Abu Ghraib - was assigned to be senior commander in charge of detention operations in Iraq.
  • Jay S. Bybee, former Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel and the principal author of the memo defining torture so narrowly as to require an act to "be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death," was appointed a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in March, 2003.
  • William J. Haynes, Defense Department General Counsel - who recommended over the protests of military lawyers many of the most abusive tactics used at Guantanamo (tactics that quickly "migrated" to Iraq) - has been nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
  • Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast - the highest-ranking intelligence officer so far tied to the Abu Ghraib scandal - was assigned to the Army's main interrogation training facility at Fort Huachuca, Arizona last month.
  • Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez - who oversaw detention facilities in Iraq and was excoriated in Pentagon reports for his role in letting torture continue under his command - was named the head of the Army's 5th Corps in Europe.

Human Rights First is calling for an independent investigation.

The gravity and scope of the problem - combined with the inadequate response by the Bush administration - underscore the need for an independent, nonpartisan review of detention and interrogation polices and practices. Only Congress can take this step.

< Guantanamo Goes Green | Abu Ghraib: ACLU Weighs In >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Re: Abu Ghraib: One Year Later (none / 0) (#1)
    by The Heretik on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 10:23:44 AM EST
    Nicely done. This is a story with obvious long term implications. Quite a bit more on this in latest Blessed Is the Prisoner: A Flicker of Outrage

    Re: Abu Ghraib: One Year Later (none / 0) (#2)
    by john horse on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 06:11:31 PM EST
    Heretik, Enjoyed your blog. I think you hit the nail on the head, "WHEN WE LOSE OUR SENSE OF OUTRAGE, SOMETHING ELSE IS LOST AS WELL". I'll tell you one group of people that haven't lost their sense of outrage, the Iraqis and other Islamic people in the Middle East. Defeating the insurgents was dependent on winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis. That opportunity was lost after Abu Ghraib. We could do much to defuse this outrage and maybe save some American lives if we were to have a full independent and open investigation but what are a few American servicemen lives to the Bush administration compared to the political embarassment that such an investigation might cause.

    Re: Abu Ghraib: One Year Later (none / 0) (#3)
    by The Heretik on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:11:20 PM EST
    RE: Defeating the insurgents was dependent on winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis, John. I don't believe terrorist or enemies of America come about because they hate our freedom. Every time we do not live up to our ideals, real consequences will come back to haunt us. Thank you for your comments.