Thursday, April 28

Happy Abu Ghraib Day!

Today is the one year anniversay of the moment when America lost it's innocence in the war on terror. It was one year ago that the graphic pictures revealing widespread abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq were revealed, and so far the results of improvement appear to be somewhat...mixed.

According to USAToday, the tragedy was simply a matter of under staffing and has been handled.
In the wake of 11 investigations and reports into what went wrong at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities, the Army recognized it had too few soldiers assigned to one of the more mundane jobs - prisoner control. So it is rushing to add more than 3,000 MP soldiers trained to handle detainees.
Amnesty International has a different view.

"People around the world will be recalling the horrific images they saw a year ago and wondering what happened to those prisoners," said Amnesty secretary general Irene Khan, noting that only a handful of low-ranking US soldiers had been prosecuted or disciplined over the outrage.

"But what was the role of those higher up, including, for example, the US secretary of defence?" she demanded, referring to Donald Rumsfeld.

Meanwhile the Associated Press reports that Human Rights Watch says that Abu Grhaib was only one part of a larger pattern.
Muslims in U.S. custody have been tortured and mistreated at dozens of detention facilities around the world, according to a Human Rights Watch report issued a year after notorious Abu Ghraib prison abuse photos were made public

In the report, released Wednesday, the human rights watchdog summarized allegations of abuse at U.S. facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cuba — and reiterated a call for a probe into which U.S. officials may have had roles in the mistreatment.Iraq

The New York-based organization urged the U.S. attorney general's office to appoint a special counsel to investigate, and called on Congress to create a commission to probe the issue.

"Abu Ghraib was only the tip of the iceberg," Reed Brody, special counsel for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

Government data show 108 people have died in U.S. custody in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including deaths attributed to natural causes. Twenty-seven deaths have been investigated as criminal homicides involving possible abuse.

The report cited those figures and detailed other allegations of abuse including beatings, sleep deprivation and exposure to extreme cold in Afghanistan, and subjecting detainees in Iraq to sleep deprivation as well as placing them in stressful positions.

Many, including American Politicians, have claimed that "the Geneva Conventions should not be extended to terrorists, as that would give them the same status as soldiers who represent a legitimate foreign nation". The fact is however that the humane treatment of prisoners is not simply an issue under control of the Geneva Conventions, the 8th Amendment of the U.S Constitution states that:
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
This is also supported by Title 18, Chapter 113C of the U.S. Codes which specifically prohibits torture, while Section 893, Article 94 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits Cruelty and Maltreatment. So the arguement that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to these persons is moot, torture and inhumane treatment is illegal in all cases, this is additional to the issue that coerced information gathered using such techniques can be highly inaccurate and completely inadmissable in any court of law, therefore any persons subjected to this treatment can not be prosecuted and due to the "fruits of the poison tree" standard, neither can any other terrorist who happened to be discovered as a result of tainted information. It may seem that such "get tough" policies are harder on the terrorist, but the truth is that it actually allows them the possibility of getting away without any genuine punishment at all - other than being unlawfully detained in make-shift "camps" indefinately, with no access to due process, and no method to determine who is a genuine terrorist and who is not.

Clearly this abuse has occured not just at Abu Ghriab, it has occured and is continuing to occur in multiple theaters of conflict. Certainly this is more than simply the actions of a few rogue MPs on the night shift, but the likelyhood that a genuine independant investigation of the root causes of the Abu Ghraib and other abuse scandals remains remote - all that remains is the current lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld and other high ranking members of the military initiated as a result of FBI Documents obtained via Freedom of information requests filed by the ACLU...

Perhaps, by the next anniversay of Abu Ghraib Day we'll know if this suit will generate results which may restore the honor of the American Soldier and United States, and then again... perhaps it will not.


1 comment:

one smarmy mama said...

thank you for posting this.