Monday, January 17, 2005

Up the Chain of Command

Although the superior orders defense failed to convince the jury in the court martial of Specialist Charles Graner to exonerate the defendant, the proceedings increased the prospect that some officers involved in the Abu Ghraib scandal may face charges according to today's New York Times. No one, however, is yet suggesting that prosecutions--or even investigations--will involve those who were not actually present at Abu Ghraib. As was the case with the Graner trial, there is always the possibility that military trials will reveal the existence of unlawful orders thus prompting investigators to move up the chain of command.

"The higher up they go, the more problems they have with people leading to the Pentagon," said Harvey Volzer, who represented Megan Ambuhl, who was discharged from the military as part of a plea bargain in the Abu Ghraib abuses. "[Col. Thomas M.] Pappas gives them [Gen. Ricardo] Sanchez, and they don't want that. Sanchez can give them Rumsfeld, and they don't want that.

"Rumsfeld can lead to Bush and Gonzales, and they definitely don't want that," Mr. Volzer said, referring to President Bush and to Alberto R. Gonzales, the White House counsel and attorney general nominee, who argued in a memorandum that parts of the Geneva Conventions were "quaint" and "obsolete."

The Center for Constitutional Rights, meanwhile, is calling for a special prosecutor to investigate Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's role in establishing the policies that led to prisoner abuse in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.