Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita's Aug. 8 letter defending the response by the Pentagon and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to prison abuses was carefully parsed. Mr. Di Rita said that Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller was not sent to the Abu Ghraib prison by Mr. Rumsfeld, but he did not indicate who, in fact, sent Gen. Miller there. Obviously, the general did not go to Iraq of his own accord, and the defense secretary should be able to determine who sent him there and for what purpose.

Similarly, Mr. Di Rita noted that Mr. Rumsfeld approved interrogation rules, but the spokesman specified only one technique that the defense secretary did not approve of -- "shackling." He did not address whether the secretary approved other humiliating and degrading tactics that allegedly "migrated" to Iraq from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, such as using dogs to threaten and injure prisoners.

As a defense, Mr. Di Rita's response was weak and a further example of the stonewalling that he denied. I commend The Post for its original analysis of the prison abuse issues and the lack of accountability in this administration regarding them [editorial, July 29]. Mr. Di Rita's letter, contrary to the Pentagon's hopes, just affirmed the validity of The Post's analysis.


Takoma Park


Lawrence Di Rita does an admirable and expected job of fulfilling his role as Pentagon spokesman. But he failed to answer one vital question: How many commissioned officers have been court-martialed for their role in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal?

Let me help him: None.

Mr. Di Rita can quote the number of hearings, briefings and investigations that have been conducted during the past two years to justify the lack of charges brought against senior leaders. I doubt, however, that the privates and specialists serving terms in Fort Leavenworth for their "rogue" actions take solace in Mr. di Rita's assertion that the senior leaders "were admonished in career-ending actions."

Ten years of confinement is not equivalent to a letter of reprimand. Perhaps Mr. Di Rita is correct that the Pentagon did what it promised. If so, the country should be asking why the Pentagon promised so little.



The writer is a defense appellate attorney in the Army's JAG Corps, which is representing Abu Ghraib defendants on appeal.