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Abu Ghraib: Command Responsibility


Ray McGovern
TomPaine.com

Ray McGovern served as a captain in the U.S. Army from 1962-64 before serving 25 years as an analyst in the CIA. He now works for Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. He is also a member of the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.

The news that yet another Army private, Lynndie England, 22, of Fort Ashby, W. Va., has been convicted and sentenced for posing for the infamous photos of torture at Abu Ghraib, while her superiors duck responsibility, is a sad commentary on the degenerating ethos of the U.S. Army.

The reminder of the photos of those inexcusable activities was sickening enough and England deserves to be punished. But I am of the old-Army school where officers took responsibility for the actions of those under their command. It is no less than scandalous how the Army brass and its civilian leadership, who are demonstrably responsible for the torture, continue to dance away from taking responsibility.

They chose, instead, to stone the woman, like the hypocrites of Bible fame, contending that the photos inflamed the insurgency in Iraq. It is the torture, not the photos, that has inflamed the insurgency. And responsibility for the torture reaches directly up the chain of command to the commander in chief himself. Perhaps when even more repulsive photos and videos of torture at Abu Ghraib are released, as federal judge Alvin Hellerstein ordered yesterday, the American people finally will be jarred awake.

So far, the silent acquiescence with which Americans have greeted President George W. Bush’s open assertion of a right to torture some prisoners evokes memories of the unconscionable behavior of “obedient Germans

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