Mar 21, 2005
Army and Navy officials recently admitted that 26 detainees have "probably" been murdered by U.S. personnel since 2002 in Afghanistan and Iraq. This clearly contradicts what the Pentagon had been saying all along, including less than a week before. For example, the Pentagon had been claiming that abuse of prisoners was infrequent and had been perpetrated by only a few bad apples, mostly at the Abu Ghraib prison. It claimed that only six prisoners had died as the result of criminal homicide by their U.S. captors. It absolved high-level U.S. military and civilian officials of any responsibility for the abuse.
Of course, no one should believe now that only 26 prisoners have been murdered, any more than we should have believed the earlier lies. But the latest information shows the military brass has covered up the murder of prisoners. It shows the abuse was not confined to just Abu Ghraib prison. In Afghanistan, at least one detainee was killed by a CIA agent, while two others were killed at Bagram Control Point. In Iraq, some of the killings took place in the field immediately after a prisoner had been captured, such as a wounded Iraqi teenager who was killed in Sadr City in Baghdad. Others were killed in prisons other than Abu Ghraib.
And widespread murder of detainees was not the only problem. Other information recently released shows the brass made an agreement with the CIA to hide "ghost detainees" for them. It shows there have been hundreds of cases of beatings, rape and torture that did not result in death. At Abu Ghraib, children as young as 11 years old have been imprisoned and abused.
All these murders and abuse show that the problem is systemic. And this means that officials from the bottom to the top of the military and civilian hierarchy are responsible.