Tuesday, September 27, 2005

So ... Where's the Chain of Command?

Okay, the United States Army has prosecuted and jailed all of the troops caught on film abusing prisoners at Abu-Ghraib - including Lynndie England.

What nobody seems to be asking is this: What happened to the chain of command? Why did unit discipline break down so badly? Who set the tone in the unit that allowed this to happen? Why have no officers been held to account for this?

I think the answer is fairly clear - the orders involved came from the highest ranks - with enough "plausible deniability" that nobody in the command structure can be held to account. With the US self-justifying indefinite detention of people both in its own jails and in Guantanamo Bay (Guano Bay), Cuba under the ambiguous weasel word term "Enemy Combatant", the political leaders have set the tone for the army - "the rules don't apply". In other words - if you can get away with it, do so.

While England, Graner and their compatriots certainly should have known better, and richly deserve the sentences they are now serving, the fact is that if discipline was being properly enforced in the unit at Abu Ghraib, the consequences of mistreating the prisoners would have started for them in the unit stockade in Iraq. Someone, somewhere, gave orders that opened the door to the events at Abu Ghraib. They should be held as culpable - or more so - as Graner, England et. al.

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