Friday, April 01, 2005

A Military Perspective on Prisoner Abuse

The abuse, including torture and murder, of prisoners in U.S. custody is still not getting the attention it requires. In a column aptly titled "We Can't Remain Silent," Bob Herbert writes about the responses of two retired officers, Rear Admiral John Hutson and Brigadier General James Cullen, to the scandal. To put it briefly, both are supporting the lawsuit filed against Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld by Human Rights First and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Herbert correctly notes that, in the absence of a serious high-level investigation of prisoner abuse, the problem is likely to get worse rather than better.

A report released this week by Human Rights First said that the number of detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan has grown to more than 11,000, and that the level of secrecy surrounding American detention operations has intensified.

Burgeoning detainee populations and increased secrecy are primary ingredients for more, not less, prisoner abuse.

What needs to happen next? How about the appointment of a special counsel to investigate torture by Americans in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, and elsewhere?