A prison guard implicated in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal was sentenced to eight years in prison Thursday. A witness claimed he had been ordered to do the actions he was accused of by intelligence officials with ties to the CIA. It appears the military is not taking any such allegations seriously. There are more and more accusations that similar mistreatments are occurring in Guantanamo Bay and possibly other secret locations. Such likely human rights violations are simply unacceptable.
On top of the prison sentence, Staff Sgt. Ivan L. Frederick II was demoted to private, will not receive pay and is discharged dishonorably from military services, a sentence his lawyer called “excessive.” No high-ranking official has been thoroughly investigated and the military is stating the gross mistreatment had been the action of “a few bad apples” rather than policy.
According to Reuters Capt. Donald Reese, who had served as a military police commander at Abu Ghraib, testified the CIA had been involved in organizing the abuses. He testified so-called “OGA,” a term used to describe “Other Government Agency” members, and reserved for the CIA, actively interrogated prisoners themselves.
Meanwhile the message sent by the higher- ups is clear: They blame a few low-ranking officials and nobody else and do not accept responsibility for anything that went on.
Even worse, the Pentagon is said to be planning a promotion for Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who was head of military operations in Iraq when the mistreatment occurred. The LA Times wrote that the Bush administration is planning to do so after the election, rather than now, in order to not start a controversy.
But why did inmates of Guantanamo Bay report similar methods if the Abu Ghraib “bad apples” were acting entirely on their own? And what about the reports of a secret CIA-operated prison in Jordan?
Individuals who had been kept in Guantanamo Bay, with equally insignificant informational value, also reported similar reports of mistreatment as occurred at Abu Ghraib of prisoners who had low or no intelligence value. One can only imagine what is happening to those who may actually possess information.
The continuing methods of the Bush administration of not accepting blame for any mistakes that occurred, let alone holding individuals (other than low ranking ones, of course) and taking necessary actions against them, is disturbing to say the least.
Several hundred prisoners are still being held in Guantanamo Bay without any official indictment or proper access to lawyers, not to mention fair trials. The total number of prisoners, conveniently labeled “enemy combatants,” a term that the Bush administration claims makes them exempt from the Geneva Convention, are sketchy.
To simply ignore or even encourage such mistreatment and inhumane actions cannot be a national policy.