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June 24, 2005
US Acknowledges Torture, And Prosecution Of Those Committing It

The United States has submitted a report to the United Nations that acknowledges its personnel has committed isolated acts of torture on detainees, the French wire service AFP reports. Its unnamed source says that the American report was very forthright and involved a handful of cases which the US military intends on prosecuting as crimes:

Washington has for the first time acknowledged to the United Nations that prisoners have been tortured at US detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, a UN source said.

The acknowledgement was made in a report submitted to the UN Committee against Torture, said a member of the ten-person panel, speaking on on condition of anonymity.

"They are no longer trying to duck this, and have respected their obligation to inform the UN," the Committee member told AFP. ...

"They haven't avoided anything in their answers, whether concerning prisoners in Iraq, in Afghanistan or Guantanamo, and other accusations of mistreatment and of torture," the Committee member said.

"They said it was a question of isolated cases, that there was nothing systematic and that the guilty were in the process of being punished."

The US report said that those involved were low-ranking members of the military and that their acts were not approved by their superiors, the member added.

While I suspect that the hysterical Gitmo=gulag crowd will jump all over this, it does serve to remind people that regardless of how intent we are on acting under the highest principles, it takes good management and a lot of discipline to keep interrogators and jailers from crossing the line. That was the lesson at Abu Ghraib, one that most people missed in their rush to smear the entire chain of command with the absurd notion that naked pyramids and leashes had been approved at the top levels of the Pentagon. Those involved in the Abu Ghraib abuses -- which probably have been included in this report -- belonged to a unit with poor discipline and excessive fraternization, both of which directly led to the abuses in that prison.

The report also shows the difference between America and (I can't believe I even have to write this) Nazi Germany, the Soviet gulag, and the Khmer Rouge. Our policies and aims do not accept torture, and when it occurs, it is treated as a crime and punished appropriately. We also do not imprison people arbitrarily and have the appropriate process to determine their need for detention. The latter three examples ran prisons and camps for the express purpose of torturing and killing people strictly for their ethnicity, religion, or political speech, and succeeded in killing millions upon millions in doing so.

If Americans have tortured prisoners -- and that means really tortured prisoners, not just left them in cold or hot rooms or humiliated them by having women rub themselves on them -- then they should be tried and imprisoned for their crimes. The American military appears capable of investigating these problems and holding the guilty accountable. Perhaps that will quell the hysterics from declaring the US a fascist state ... but somehow I doubt it.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 24, 2005 12:10 PM

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