The temperature in Washington heated up today as more news about torture in
Perhaps seeking a respite, President Bush escaped Washington, heading for South
Bend, Indiana, and a campaign event.
Elsewhere, in response the growing world-wide dismay over the abuses at the
Abu Ghraib military prison, U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez,
issuing memoranda, or letters of reprimand to seven soldiers.
The seven were connected with the abuses at Abu Ghraib military prison. Neither
the names or ranks of the seven were disclosed, nor have any charges been brought.
It is not known whether the seven were actively involved in torture or other
illegal acts, since the letters of reprimand have not been released to the public.
General Sanchez did not speak to the press directly – A US military official
in Baghdad made the announcement for Sanchez.
So far only six US military personnel have actually been charged with criminal
acts involving the allegations of widespread and systematic torture at Abu Ghraib.
Although the scope of the crimes committed at Abu Ghraib have been known to
investigators since February, no one has yet been punished.
Senior US leaders have not called for the punishment of those ultimately found
to have perpetrated the abuse, and it is unclear whether punishment is in the
cards at all.
During a press briefing aboard Air Force One today, the President's spokesman
McClellan refused to answer unambiguously whether the President wanted to
see the guilty punished.
Asked several times by reporters whether the president wants those found guilty
of abuse at Abu Ghraib to stay in the armed forces, he repeatedly dodged the
question. When he was then asked directly whether the President has instructed
Secretary of Defense
Donald H. Rumsfeld to insure that "those responsible are punished",
McClellen again dodged the question, saying only that they should be held "accountable".
Although the Army top brass denies that there was a systematic "command
failure" at the highest levels in Iraq, the widespread reports of sexually
apparently documenting gang rapes by soldiers of Iraqi women, would seem to
indicate otherwise. The identities of some of the rapists are clearly visible
and atrocity photos are alleged
been passed around by Coalition soldiers like trading cards.
A secret Army report completed in February was obtained by the New Yorker
magazine. The report says unnamed American agents participated in, "sadistic,
blatant, and wanton criminal abuses" at Abu Ghraib. The secret report makes
clear that the abuse was "systematic".
Why this information was withheld from February until April has not been explained.
Nobody seemed to know what was going on in Iraqi prisons, although the presence
of high-level officials
of the US government in the Iraqi detention facilities is attested to by the
At the Abu Ghraib prison parking lot on Sunday, tearful Iraqi mothers told
British reporters about homosexual rapes
of Iraqi prisoners. A day earlier in Washington, the top US military man, US
General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was doing an interview
on ABC TV.
Myers told "ABC This Week", that, "There is no – no – evidence of systematic
abuse in this system at all." In the same interview he denied
that he has seen the Army’s own secret internal report,
even though the report has been in the hands of US General Ricardo S. Sanchez