Aug 30, 2004
Two recent reports about the torture of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq officially acknowledge what's been obvious. Officials at the highest levels of the army, the CIA and the Bush administration hold the final responsibility for the torture and abuse of prisoners.
The army's internal investigation determined that Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq at the time, and his deputy, Major General Walter Wojdakowski, were partly responsible for the torture. The three generals who conducted this investigation did not, however, recommend any action be taken against the two generals. It recommended only that the colonel and lieutenant colonel in charge of the prison be given disciplinary reprimands, along with three of their immediate subordinates and 29 lower level prisoner interrogators.
A second investigation, carried out by former U.S. Secretaries of Defense and other high government officials, reported that the blame for the torture at Abu Ghraib went as high up as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. Once again, however, they recommended against taking any action against Rumsfeld or other top officials.
Of course not – because to have taken action against Rumsfeld and the others would have opened the door to the very top levels of power – to Bush himself, to the Congress, to officials in all the departments involved in carrying out this war. And it would have laid bare the fundamental underlying cause of the torture and other abuse carried out by U.S. forces in Abu Ghraib and throughout Iraq – the war itself. Trying to suppress opposition to military occupation of a country can only lead to abuse of the population – or worse.
From the beginning, it was clear the Iraqis in their majority want the U.S. out of their country. It's what we should want too.