With thousands of photos and reports of abuse dating back a year or longer from Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, it is hard to believe that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners was isolated.

With Sgt. Samuel Provance's claims that military intelligence pushed for such treatment, denials from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Army Gen. John P. Abizaid can't be taken at face value. Sgt. Provance has nothing to gain and a lot to lose by telling this story.

We must have an independent investigation of military abuses of prisoners, one in which investigators have the freedom to ask questions up and down the chain of command and one with which the military must comply.

It's not just our standing in the world that is at stake -- it's our national character, our belief in human rights and our faith in the rule of law.

MIKE CLEARY

Manassas

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We are all aware that hundreds more photos of prisoner abuse exist. Does the press, in exercising its freedom, intend to publish them all over time, in dribs and drabs, to keep the fire over the incidents burning in the Middle East?

What is to be gained by fanning that particular flame and placing all of our troops in Iraq in greater danger because of the behavior of a few?

SCOTT MURPHY

Vienna

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As a retired Marine Corps reservist and former member of the Fourth Civil Affairs Group in Washington, I find the continued photo gallery of abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison appalling. I served with the same group in Desert Storm, and one of our missions was to handle all enemy prisoners of war for the 2nd Marine Division.

No Marine abused or humiliated Iraqi prisoners. The prisoners were treated with the respect due a prisoner of war.

Americans' code of conduct on the battlefield is what separates us from our enemy. The military personnel involved in the abuse scandal have no place in the armed services.

In the face of this abhorrent situation, I thank God one soldier had the moral courage to step forward.

STEVEN McKINLEY

Richmond