January 26, 2005
New Information on Alleged Abuse of Prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo
The ACSBlog reports: "New reports on prisoners in Iraq and Guantanamo shed new light on the conditions of detainees in the war on terror. Military documents obtained by the ACLU show that while the Army launched over 50 investigations into detainee abuse in Iraq, almost all were closed with soldiers facing no consequences. In some cases, 'investigations were abandoned because abusive conduct was characterized as acceptable practice or as 'standard operating procedure.' The Baltimore Sun notes that the findings 'further refute government claims last year that photographs from Abu Ghraib showed isolated pranks of a few low-ranking soldiers.' Furthermore, Human Rights Watch released a report today documenting systematic torture and abuse by Iraqi security forces in the interim government. The report also finds that 'with rare exception, the Iraqi authorities have failed to investigate and punish officials responsible for violations. International police advisers, primarily U.S. citizens funded through the United States government, have turned a blind eye to these rampant abuses.' The Washington Post quotes Hania Mufti, the Baghdad director of Human Rights Watch and chief author of the report, on why such conditions continue: 'Many of the same people who worked in Saddam's time are still doing those jobs today. So there is a continuity of personnel and of mind-set. I think the Iraqi people themselves thought there was going to be a different system. Every day, they are finding it is not so different.' In Guantanamo, meanwhile, more than 20 detainees attempted to hang or strangle themselves over an eight-day period in 2003 in an event an army spokesman described as 'a coordinated effort to disrupt camp operations.' Apparently, several prisoners began the attempt, which widened as word spread among the cellblocks. Human rights advocates are criticizing both the conditions leading up to such incidents and the military's delay in reporting." Talkleft has more here.
Click here to hear NPR's Alex Chadwick talk with Heather MacDonald, a fellow at the Manhattan Institute think tank, who defends the Bush administration's position on the interrogation and treatment of enemy combatants in detention. [Mark Godsey]
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