Saturday, May 01, 2004

The prisoner affair: The New Yorker (Hersh) provides extensive coverage

The New Yorker: Fact
One of the few publications to provide coverage. The question -- where does the buck stop? At Rumsfeld? At Bush? And what about Guantanamo? There is at least one hero though:
The abuses became public because of the outrage of Specialist Joseph M. Darby, an M.P whose role emerged during the Article 3 hearing against Chip Frederick. A government witness, Special Agent Scott Bobeck, who is a member of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, or C.I.D., told the court, according to an abridged transcript made available to me, “The investigation started after SPC Darby . . got a CD from CPL Graner. . . . He came across pictures of naked detainees.” Bobec said that Darby had “initially put a anonymous letter under our door, then he later came forward and gave a sworn statement. He felt very bad about it and thought it was very wrong.
Of course, knowing this administration, SPC Darby will pay a high price for his courage. The other hero, who Bush will be searching for, is whoever leaked the secret report. The accused, on the other hand, have promising careers ahead on talk shows and in the off-Hollywood movie business.

It appears that many of the abuses began with the the now standard procedures for CIA interrogations of "high value" captives. These have been discussed in articles in the Atlantic and NY Times Magazine; in the dark world of semi-civilized torture these are considered mainstream techniques. In the hands of amateurs, including a few who may have had some serious flaws to begin with, these methods were applied more widely and with increasing creativity at Abu Gharaib. Such is the peril of the "slippery slope".

Rumsfeld has known about, and approved, the interrogation methods used in the "war against terror". He should resign -- but he won't.

The defense attorneys will use techniques that have been effective in past war crimes. They will threated to broaden the inquiry up the chain of command. This technique normally causes the military to back down, but in this case they're not alone. The cashiered General is not going quietly into the night. From the New York Times:
But the officer, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski of the 800th Military Police Brigade, said the special high-security cellblock at the Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad, where the abuses took place had been under the tight control of a separate group of military intelligence officers who had so far avoided any public blame.

In her first public comments about the brutality — which drew wide attention and condemnation after photographs documenting it were broadcast Wednesday night by CBS News — General Karpinski said that while the reservists involved were "bad people" and deserved punishment, she suspected they were acting with the encouragement, if not at the direction, of military intelligence units that ran the special cellblock used for interrogation.

Speaking in a telephone interview from her home in South Carolina, the general said military commanders in Iraq were trying to shift the blame exclusively to her and the reservists.

"We're disposable," she said of the military's attitude toward reservists. "Why would they want the active-duty people to take the blame? They want to put this on the M.P.'s and hope that this thing goes away. Well, it's not going to go away."

She said the special cellblock, known as 1A, was one of about two dozen in the large prison and was essentially off limits to soldiers who were not part of the interrogations.

She said repeatedly in the interview that she was not defending the actions of the reservists who took part in the brutality, who were part of her command. She said that when she was first presented with the photographs of the abuse in January, they "sickened me."

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