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In my last diary, More than 1000 secret CIA flights, I showed that the administration's attempt to downplay the number of people who've been subjected to "extraordinary rendition" has to be cast aside. The new report from the European Parliament puts paid to the pretence that only about 100 prisoners have been "renditioned".

In this diary, the issue is the mistreatment of those prisoners that the U.S. actually admits to having in custody. Is it all the work of "a few bad apples," as Dick Cheney's partner in crime would have it?

I draw your attention to another new report, this one on torture and murder of detainees in U.S. prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantánamo. It records in painstaking detail how many cases of prisoner abuse actually are well documented, and how few times anybody has been held accountable for that abuse. It also highlights an obvious point that can never be repeated too often: Nobody of high rank or influence has been held accountable for abusing any of the 460 victims.

The "Detainee Abuse and Accountability Project" (DAA) was authored jointly by the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at NYU School of Law, Human Rights Watch, and Human Rights First.

Their findings are based primarily on U.S. government documents, such as the mass of documentation obtained by the ACLU through a FOIA request. The DAA report's significance is assessed by Drew Brown for Knight Ridder.

The main findings of the DAA are:

*Detainee abuse has been widespread. The DAA Project has documented over 330 cases in which U.S. military and civilian personnel are credibly alleged to have abused or killed detainees. These cases involve more than 600 U.S. personnel and over 460 detainees....These numbers are conservative and likely lower than the actual number of credible allegations of abuse....

*Only fifty-four military personnel--a fraction of the more than 600 U.S. personnel implicated in detainee abuse cases--are known to have been convicted by court-martial; forty of these individuals have been sentenced to prison time.

*Available evidence indicates that U.S. military and civilian agencies do not appear to have adequately investigated numerous cases of alleged torture and other mistreatment. Of the hundreds of allegations of abuse collected by the DAA Project, only about half appear to have been properly investigated. In numerous cases, military investigators appear to have closed investigations prematurely or to have delayed their resolution. In many cases, the military has simply failed to open investigations, even in cases where credible allegations have been made.

*DAA Project researchers found over 400 personnel have been implicated in cases investigated by military or civilian authorities, but only about a third of them have faced any kind of disciplinary or criminal action....

*In cases where courts-martial have convened, only a small number of convictions have resulted in significant prison time. Many sentences have been for less than a year, even in cases involving serious abuse. Of the hundreds of personnel implicated in detainee abuse, only ten people have been sentenced to a year or more in prison.

*No U.S. military officer has been held accountable for criminal acts committed by subordinates under the doctrine of command responsibility.... Only three officers have been convicted by court-martial for detainee abuse; in all three instances, they were convicted for abuses in which they directly participated, not for their responsibility as commanders.

*The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has investigated several cases of abuse involving its personnel, and reportedly referred some individuals to the Department of Justice for prosecution. But few cases have been robustly investigated.

*The Department of Justice appears to have taken little action in regard to the approximately twenty civilians, including CIA agents, referred for criminal prosecution for detainee abuse by the military and the CIA, and has shown minimal initiative in conducting its own investigations into abuse cases. The Department of Justice has not indicted a single CIA agent for abusing detainees; it has indicted only one civilian contractor....

*The majority of the approximately 330 cases took place in Iraq (at least 220 cases), followed by Afghanistan (at least sixty cases), and Guantánamo Bay (at least fifty cases).

*DAA Project researchers found that authorities opened investigations into approximately 210 out of the 330 cases (about 65 percent)....

*The 210 cases in which there is evidence of an investigation involve at least 410 personnel (in many cases, more than one perpetrator is alleged to be involved in a case).

*Almost all of the military personnel who have been investigated are enlisted soldiers (approximately 95 percent of the total), not officers....

*75 percent of the cases in which investigations were conducted do not appear to have resulted in any kind of punishment (approximately 160 of the 210 investigated cases, involving approximately 260 accused personnel)....

*Researchers identified more than 1,000 individual criminal acts of abuse.

*The most common alleged types of abuse were assault (found in at least 220 cases), use of physical or non-physical humiliation (at least ninety cases), sexual assault or abuse (at least sixty cases), and use of "stress" techniques (at least forty cases).

Analysis: The numbers documented by the DAA Project reveal a general failure of accountability in detainee abuse cases, particularly with respect to commanders.  Reasons include an apparent disinclination by commanding officers and civilian authorities to pursue meaningful punishment of serious offenses, and a series of general investigative failures...

That's the thing about "a few bad apples". They spoil the whole bunch.

Crossposted at Inconvenient News.

Originally posted to smintheus on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 09:38 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I did not include the group's recommendations (19+ / 0-)

    because, frankly, I don't think there's much chance in the current climate for them to be enacted or even considered in Congress. But for what they are worth (and these hard working people deserve their day), here they are in full:

    *Congress should appoint an independent commission to review U.S. detention and interrogation operations worldwide in the “war on terror.” Such a commission should identify and analyze the systemic failures that have lead to widespread torture and abuse, and make detailed and specific recommendations to ensure that reforms are instituted.

    *The Secretary of Defense and Attorney General should order their departments to move forward promptly with investigations of allegations of torture and other abuse of detainees in U.S. custody abroad, to initiate prosecutions where evidence is uncovered, and to instruct relevant authorities to ensure that appropriate criminal action be undertaken against all persons implicated in killings, torture, and other abuse, whatever their rank or position.

    *The Secretary of Defense should appoint a single, high-level, centralized convening and prosecuting authority (i.e., a single authority who can convene and prosecute courts-martial) across the branches of the military to investigate all U.S. military personnel—no matter their rank—who participated in, ordered, or bear command responsibility for war crimes or torture, or other prohibited mistreatment of detainees in U.S. custody. The creation of this authority should be designed to bring uniformity, certainty, and a greater degree of independent oversight to the process of discipline and punishment in the military; it should allow for investigations and punishments of abuses at all levels of the military. The Secretary of Defense should also issue instructions down the military chain of command specifying that commanders should not use administrative investigations or non-judicial hearings for detainee cases in which claims of serious abuses including homicide, torture, aggravated assault, or sexual abuse have been substantiated.

    *Congress should implement a check on officer promotions, by requiring that each branch of the military certify, for any officer whose promotion requires Senate confirmation, that the officer is not implicated in any case of detainee torture, abuse, or other mistreatment, including through the doctrine of command responsibility.

    Inconvenient News Doing my part to afflict the comfortable.

    by smintheus on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 09:40:45 PM PDT

    •  Now, as for what I think of these (15+ / 0-)

      as recommendations, here are my thoughts:

      I think the last is a sound recommendation. The first three, however, strike me as too weak. They evade the central problem, that this administration is committed to torture as a policy. That is why it goes on. If the administration, or Rumsfeld, or Goss, did not want torture to continue, or wanted it to be punished, it would end.

      Congress does not need to investigate the systematic failures that allow it to proceed and to go unpunished. Congress needs to put a stop to it. Congress, if any branch of government, needs to appoint somebody to crack some heads together, to expose the bodies, and to cry shame.

      And unless the Democrats retake Congress, there is no possibility of that happening. Because the Republicans have shown that they have no shame.

      Inconvenient News Doing my part to afflict the comfortable.

      by smintheus on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 09:47:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A sincere question. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Is the last recommendation any more effective, if it is really just a rubber-stamp of an after-the-fact certification?

        I think #3 might be more promising, if it had teeth after the initial investigation.

        The law is slacked and judgment doth never go forth: the wicked compass about the righteous and wrong judgment proceedeth - Habakkuk 1:4

        by vox humana on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 10:19:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I see your point, but... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          vox humana

          as for point 4, it seems pretty tame, ex post facto stuff. But officers gear their lives toward ensuring that they make their next promotion. If they know that they're not going to get it because there's a hold on them, then they're going to start arranging to get out of the service. While they do so, that would serve as a visible reminder to fellow officers that there are ramifications for torturing people (or looking the other way). At the moment, all the benefit seems to lie with those who go along to get along.

          As for point 3, it looks attractive but everything would depend upon the aggressiveness of one person, and his/her ability to command respect from unwilling services. And if you leave it up to Rumsfeld to choose that person, I suspect that you'll get somebody who isn't up to the job (or who can be counted on to play softball).

          Now, leave the appointment up to, say, Charles Rangel or Henry Waxman, and I'd get behind the idea.

          Inconvenient News Doing my part to afflict the comfortable.

          by smintheus on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 10:29:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The next time they use the 'ticking atom bomb'... (9+ / 0-)

    ...defense, say "of the more than 460 people admitted to be tortured or killed in detention, how many had ticking atom bombs?"

  •  The KR piece has this interesting information (8+ / 0-)

    which will have to be taken with a considerable grain of salt:

    Also Wednesday, Army officials confirmed that criminal charges were being considered against Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan for his role in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Col. Joe Curtin, an Army spokesman, said no decision had been made.

    Jordan is the former head of the interrogation center at Abu Ghraib. If he's charged, he would be the highest-ranking officer charged in a case of detainee abuse.

    Now there's quite a coincidence. For two years the armed forces have somehow refrained from charging anybody other than a few low level soldiers for the manifest crimes committed in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. None of the officers who conceived and implemented this diabolical new regime--just for instance, Gen. Miller--have even been investigated.

    And, lo! The very day that sees the release of the first thorough accounting of what has and hasn't been done, also happens to witness the first hint that a mid-level officer might be held accountable. (A Lt. Colonel is pretty darn mid-level.)

    Inconvenient News Doing my part to afflict the comfortable.

    by smintheus on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 10:20:45 PM PDT

    •  That's a hell of a lot of bad apples (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      frisco, smintheus, soyinkafan

      The worms-in-chief, Rummy and Miller and Jordan and the rest, would have to be the main targets of any Torture Commission.  Any investigation which focused on the Lynndie Englands should be pelted with rotten eggs.

      What about the CIA torturers?  DOD has no jurisdiction over them.  Any recommendations on how to deal with the intelligence community's guilty parties?

      -4.50, -5.85 In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. --Orwell

      by Dallasdoc on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 10:37:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  First, fire Porter Goss (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        frisco, Dallasdoc

        Second, appoint George Mitchell.

        But slightly more realistically, I wonder whether a special prosecutor could be given jurisdiction? Obviously the CIA cannot be trusted to police itself. I don't think it was a coincidence that the first firing of a CIA officer during the leak investigation occured in the Inspector General's Office. That is the one part of the CIA that remains more or less independent of Goss, and could actually serve to oversee the agency's misdeeds. I think it was partly a warning shot.

        Inconvenient News Doing my part to afflict the comfortable.

        by smintheus on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 10:47:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Do the Republicans want to be remembered... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    smintheus, joanneleon the Party of Torture?

    If not, IMPEACH.; an oasis of truth. -1.75 -7.23

    by Shockwave on Wed Apr 26, 2006 at 10:34:54 PM PDT

    •  Repub Congress (5+ / 0-)

      Lately I've been wondering if we began to pressure Republican members of Congress more, as we have done with Democratic members, if it would have any appreciable effect.  I realize that many people do contact their Republican reps and Senators, but often I've seen comments that imply that the commentor feels it's a futile effort.  My impressions could be wrong but it does seem like the dems have gotten a lot more attention from us - understandably.

      If we did some action alerts, focusing on members of the Republican Congress - would they feel the heat?  The timing for it has never been better.  I would think that pressuring them in relation to investigations might be a good place to start, in addition to specific legislation that we wanted to try to influence.

      I'm not sure, but something tells me it might be worth a try to do some focused communications.

  •  We have seen the enemy (0+ / 0-)
  •  The 'few bad apples' are at the top. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

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