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Sunday, March 19, 2006

Who is accountable for the "Black Room"?

March 19th. 2006
Sent to but not published in the New York Times

Your report in today's paper (In secret unit's 'Black Room,' a grim portrait of U.S. abuse, Sunday, March 19th 2006, page A1) tells us that the incidence of prisoner abuse in Iraq is much worse than we had thought. Abuse was not confined to Abu Ghraib but has also occurred at other camps in Iraq.
You also tell us that, as before, punishment has been reserved for the lowest echelons. Like Abu Ghraib, only Privates and Sergeants have suffered any penalty. Until the Iraq war, the military usually followed a doctrine of "command responsibility." If subordinates are found guilty of malfeasance, then their failure to control their troops is also a black mark upon the commander, and on the commander's commander and on up the line of command. For it is those at the top who approved the torture memos (for a while) and who did not speak out forcibly against these crimes.
It is these senior figures  who set the tone, climate, and culture of the army: a culture in which abuse of prisoners was allowed to happen.
In the Iraq war, there has been no accountability for the senior Commanders. When are we going to see the likes of Army Commanders, the Army Chief of Staff, and the the Secretary of Defense held accountable for the human rights abuses that have occurred under their command?
When will the U.S. public demand that the President be held accountable for all that has gone wrong during his two terms of office?

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