Commissioned by the Secretary of Defense, an independent panel examined the abuses at Abu Ghraib and other DoD detention operations. They issued this report.
Earlier, I presented a plausible scenario of how the scandal unfolded and the extent to which cabinet officials would be held accountable. I argued that while Rumsfeld’s actions would precipitate such a scandal, e.g. “Rumsfeld orders a broad based interrogation plan to deal with insurgency, but does not know of the specifics of how his orders are carried out on the ground. Rumsfeld doesn’t realize that coalition forces on the ground would interpret the interrogation orders in such a way.” I also argued that Bush would not be held accountable for obvious “delegation of responsibility” reasons. Further, I argued that the commanders on the ground would get the harshest criticisms and bare the brunt of a system of mistakes.
I was right on all arguments. Rumsfeld gets a slap on the wrist, Bush is not found responsible at all, and the commanders on the ground got the brunt of the criticism.
I also argued that torture is not out of the realm of possibility at Guantanamo Bay. I attended a talk by a guy who worked in the DoD. He said “that no one in Guantanamo has been tortured, and no plans are made to torture them to give up information.” Some argued that the U.S. military would probably not resort to torture as it is “ineffective.” According to the independent panel review (p. 13):
“Of the 66 already substantiated cases of abuse, eight occurred at Guantanamo, three in Afghanistan, and 55 in Iraq. Only about one-third were related to interrogation, and two-thirds to other causes. There were five cases of detainee deaths as a result of abuse by U.S. personnel during interrogations.”
From the report, I couldn’t tell which of the Gitmo abuses were during interrogations. Clearly, however, in either Gitmo, Iraq, or Afghanistan, prisoner abuse during interrogations occurred. Keep in mind that these abuses were not officially sanctioned by the DoD or the President. A list of interrogation techniques are listed in Appendix E.
The U.S. military does use torture. Failures of understanding the “proper” interrogation techniques, I argue, are symptoms of a larger problem. That problem is a lack of foresight by the DoD and the planners of the Iraq war to get information in a timely fashion. The report backs-up my claim (p. 11):
“In Iraq, there was not only a failure to plan for a major insurgency, but also to quickly and adequately adapt to the insurgency that followed after major combat operations. The October 2002 CENTCOM War Plan presupposed that relatively benign stability and security operations would precede a handover to Iraq’s authorities…”
Abu Ghraib, other abuses, and the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Iraq on the current scale since the May 1st, 2003 declaration of the end of “major” combat operations are a result of poor planning and poor control over field operations. The current administration screwed up in the worst way and needs to be held accountable in the next free and fair election.