In the latest outbreak of lawfare, the ACLU is teaming up with
former prisoners to personally sue U.S. officials, including outgoing Secretary
of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and retired Lieutenant General Ricardo Salazar. This
suit, concerning incidents at Bagram Air Base and Abu Ghraib, is the latest
effort to push claims of torture that have been a stretch, to put it mildly.
These suits against the individuals have the objective of creating more bad
publicity around the big names (Rumsfeld and Salazar). Two other individuals
sued, Colonels Thomas Pappas and Janis Karpinski, were punished for their roles
in the Abu Ghraib scandal. Arguments as to whether the suit should continue
were heard on December 8.
both the case of Abu Ghraib and the abuse at Bagram, there was no evidence of
any official approval for the actions. In fact, for the Americans, the actions
of the MPs at Abu Ghraib and at Bagram Air Base are seen as the aberration, not
the approved way of dealing with prisoners. In both cases, those responsible
for the abuse were prosecuted and convicted. Some of those accused in the
Bagram case were acquitted. It should also be noted that in these cases, the
abuses were confined to a relatively small number of personnel in two military
police companies and one military intelligence battalion - with two commanders
in charge of Abu Ghraib relieved and punished.
a sense, this lawsuit is more about furthering corrupt media coverage of the
issue, in order to advance an agenda that believes terrorist acts are not
an act of war, but merely a police matter. There has been no proof of any
authorization of torture - and if anything, the official position of the
Department of Defense (as laid out in publicly available publications) is that
torture and abuse are not tolerated. The DOD has placed the results of its
. The reports can be downloaded, and one can get the straight facts as opposed
to the spin that has dominated media coverage.
is also ignored is the evidence that by and large, detainees are treated well.
In some cases, the Department of Defense ( DOD) has taken efforts to keep
prisoners from starving themselves to death. The DOD has taken steps to ensure
that the detainees are not disturbed during their prayers, and is also very
sensitive about treatment of the Koran. The detainees get excellent
medical treatment, and medics have reported suspected cases of abuse. Rumsfeld
gets no credit for all of this, even though he was in charge of the Department
of Defense for nearly six years. In the minds of the ACLU and other
human-rights groups, the Department of Defense - and the officials who run it
are guilty until proven innocent. - Harold C. Hutchison