Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

  More than 460 killed or tortured

The last post 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 shows that more than 1,000 secret CIA flights passed through Europe on the way to secret prisons.

In this post, the issue is the mistreatment of those prisoners that the U.S. admits to having in custody. Is it all the work of "a few bad apples," as the President 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. 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.


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