Monday, April 25, 2005

MANY BLOGGERS have commented on the recent Army Inspector-General's report exonerating senior officers at Abu Ghraib of all responsibility for the abuse of detainees there. So far, the most comprehensive analysis I have found is the one by Phillip Carter at Intel-Dump. Carter has done his homework. His exhaustive research into actual military rules and investigations, as well as case law, enables him to make a compelling -- and, in my opinion, airtight -- case that this report is one of the most breathtaking examples of mendacity and whitewashing in many years -- by a military that has repeatedly claimed to have the capacity to police itself.

From this vast documentation that Carter has pulled together, I will quote one passage toward the end of the piece:

Remember the Fay-Jones report? It was an exhaustive review of U.S. military intelligence activities in Iraq that was published in August 2004. Together with the Schlesinger and the Taguba reports, the Fay-Jones report provided a mind-numbing catalog of detail about the abuses which took places in Iraq. But did you know that the Fay-Jones report also produced a verdict with respect to the command responsibility of the senior officers involved? Here's what LTG Anthony Jones and MG George Fay had to say in their ExSum (PDF):


Clearly abuses occurred at the prison at Abu Ghraib. There is no single, simple explanation for why this abuse at Abu Ghraib happened. The primary causes are misconduct (ranging from inhumane to sadistic) by a small group of morally corrupt soldiers and civilians, a lack of discipline on the part of the leaders and Soldiers of the 205th MI BDE and a failure or lack of leadership by multiple echelons within CJTF-7. Contributing factors can be traced to issues affecting Command and Control, Doctrine, Training, and the experience of the Soldiers we asked to perform this vital mission.

For purposes of this report, abuse is defined as treatment of detainees that violated U.S. criminal law or international law or treatment that was inhumane or coercive without lawful justification. Whether the Soldier or contractor knew, at the time of the acts, that the conduct violated any law or standard, is not an element of the definition.

The abuses at Abu Ghraib primarily fall into two categories: a) intentional violent or sexual abuse and, b) abusive actions taken based on misinterpretations or confusion regarding law or policy.

LTG Jones found that while senior level officers did not commit the abuse at Abu Ghraib they did bear responsibility for lack of oversight of the facility, failing to respond in a timely manner to the reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross and for issuing policy memos that failed to provide clear, consistent guidance for execution at the tactical level.

MG Fay has found that from 25 July 2003 to 6 February 2004, twenty-seven 205 MI BDE Personnel allegedly requested, encouraged, condoned or solicited Military Police (MP) personnel to abuse detainees and/or participated in detainee abuse and/or violated established interrogation procedures and applicable laws and regulations during interrogation operations at Abu Ghraib.

LTG Jones minces no words later in his report — on page 30, he pins direct responsibility on specific officers within the chain of command who deserve blame:

(c) (U) I find that LTG Sanchez, and his DCG, MG Wojdakowski, failed to ensure proper staff oversight of detention and interrogation operations. As previously stated, MG Wojdakowski had direct oversight of two new Brigade Commanders. Further, staff elements of the CJTF-7 reacted inadequately to some of the Indications and Warnings discussed above. However, in light of the operational environment, and CJTF-7’s under-resourcing and unplanned missions, and the Commander’s consistent need to prioritize efforts, I find that the CJTF-7 Commander and staff performed above expectations, in the over-all scheme of OIF.

Despite these generals' findings, none of the officers responsible for facilitating these abuses will face criminal charges. Or, put another way, the Army IG has wholly disregarded the record evidence before him to arrive at an arbitrary and capricious decision that the senior Army leaders involved should face no legal consequences for their actions. What kind of message does that send to our junior military leaders? What kind of message does that send to the world?

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