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4/29/2004 01:36:00 PM | Dan

Abuse of Iraqi Prisoners

You should all watch the CBS news clip of some of the photos coming out recently in relation to certain American soldiers' abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. The AP reports that, "Six members of the 800th Military Police Brigade faced court martial for allegedly abusing about 20 prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The charges included dereliction of duty, cruelty and maltreatment, assault and indecent acts with another person."

Two quotes are worth highlighting. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt tells CBS in the video:
“So what would I tell the people of Iraq? This is wrong. This is reprehensible. But this is not representative of the 150,000 soldiers that are over here. I'd say the same thing to the American people... Don't judge your army based on the actions of a few."

But more disturbing is the quote from the accompanying news story which didn't make it into the video. Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Chip Frederick is one of the soldiers facing a court martial. CBS reported his comments in a letter to his family:
"Military intelligence has encouraged and told us 'Great job.' They usually don't allow others to watch them interrogate. But since they like the way I run the prison, they have made an exception. We help getting them to talk with the way we handle them. ... We've had a very high rate with our style of getting them to break. They usually end up breaking within hours."

According to the Army’s own investigation, that’s what was happening. The Army found that interrogators asked reservists working in the prison to prepare the Iraqi detainees, physically and mentally, for questioning. But so far, none of the interrogators at Abu Ghraib are facing criminal charges. In fact, a number of them are civilians, and military law doesn’t apply to them. The military has recommended disciplinary action against seven U.S. officers who helped run the prison, including Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinski, the commander of the 800th Brigade, a senior military official said Wednesday in Baghdad.

I'm actually studying torture in my criminal procedure class right now. My own personal belief is that torture is an inappropriate excessive force tool of law enforcement -- in the same way as a police shooting. When torture is used against prisoners, it should be investigated and there should be penalties if there is an ex post facto finding that it was not necessary to save lives. Torture in a military context is a different subject, but I'm pretty sure these tactics in Iraq would violate our various treaties governing treatment of POWs. It's more likely that these are pictures of enemy combatants -- a whole other can of worms.



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