Monday, September 27, 2004

An independent commission should be created to investigate the abuse of prisoners in US custody.

Why you're right:

1. Existing investigations were impeded by conflicts-of-interest. Several investigations (Jones, Taguba, Jacoby, Church) were conducted by active military personnel. These investigations are limited because the lead investigators place in the chain of command, which limits their ability to investigate those who outrank them. The Schlesinger panel operated outside of the military hierarchy but was appointed by Rumsfeld. (Human Rights Watch)

2. Existing investigations were too limited in scope. The Schlesinger and Army Inspector General investigation were unable to investigate the role of other U.S. actors, including the Central Intelligence agency. The Fay report focuses exclusively on the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. Four other reports were limited to Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. (Human Rights Watch)

3. Existing investigations failed to interview key players. Only two investigations questioned military or civilian officials above the brigade level. Jones conducted just two interviews. Schlesinger claims to have interviewed all key officials but refuses to provide transcripts (redacted or otherwise). Schlesinger concluded that "civilian leaders at the Department of Defense share [the] burden of responsibility," but refused to identify any civilian leader by name. (Human Rights Watch)

Why they're wrong:

The media lost interest in the story after it ran out of salacious pictures to run on the front page. But that doesn't mean there aren't important questions that remain unanswered. In order to restore our standing in the international community, the United States needs to conduct a transparent investigation that uncovers all the facts, finds out who was responsible and lays out a clear course for corrective action. None of the existing investigations have achieved those goals.