Monday, August 8, 2005
The July 29 editorial "The Truth About Abu Ghraib" said that the Department of the Army "denies that any of its senior officers are culpable" for the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison.
That is untrue. The commanding general of the prison was relieved of command and reduced in rank. The commanding officer of the military intelligence brigade at Abu Ghraib was punished for dereliction of duty. Thus, the two most senior people respon-
sible for the prison were admonished in career-ending actions.
Second, despite the implications in the editorial, investigations into activities at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have failed to uncover violations of the Geneva Convention or the standard of humane treatment established by the president for managing detainees.
The editorial also omitted the relevant fact that the detainee in question, referred to as "an al Qaeda suspect," intended, by his own admission, to be aboard one of the airplanes that killed almost 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.
Third, it is wrong to say that the administration has "gotten away with . . . stonewalling." The Defense Department has conducted 12 major reviews, inspections and investigations into detainee operations. There have been more than 500 criminal investigations, 30 congressional hearings, 40 staff briefings and a commensurate number of press briefings. The U.S. government has released tens of thousands of pages of documents, including sensitive interrogation procedures used in Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Fourth, the editorial was wrong about the 2003 visit by Guantanamo's commander, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, to Abu Ghraib. Gen. Miller was not sent to Abu Ghraib by the defense secretary.
Fifth, the editorial said interrogation rules were approved by the defense secretary on Dec. 2, 2002. He did not approve the use of shackling, "explicitly" or otherwise.
Finally, the editorial wrongly said that no independent investigation of detainee matters has been conducted. Apart from congressional hearings, an independent investigation was conducted more than a year ago by two former defense secretaries who served presidents of both parties; a former member of Congress; and a retired four-star general.
The Defense Department has done what the secretary said it would do after the department disclosed the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison: It has investigated the matter, publicized additional information and findings, and held people accountable.
LAWRENCE DI RITA