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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

Abu Ghraib: scandal grows

United States must punish more than a “few bad apples.”

A month has passed since photos depicting the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib facility shocked the public. Congress has conducted hearings, the media has unleashed an army of investigative journalists and the world has recoiled in anger at the United States’ faltering commitment to human rights.

Fallout from the scandal will no doubt continue, but one painful reality has already emerged. Far from the work of a “few bad apples,” as the Bush administration insists, the use of torture to weaken recalcitrant prisoners seems to have been official policy sanctioned at the highest levels of the Pentagon.

Former Vice President Al Gore’s call last week for the resignations of six Bush administration officials, among them Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his three top aides, reflects a growing consensus that more than just a half dozen sadists run amok are culpable for these attrocities.

Relying on past and present intelligence officials, New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh recently opined the abuse was part of organized policy designed to generate intelligence on the ongoing Iraqi insurgency.

Newspapers reported last week that Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez was present during some interrogations. In April the top U.S. intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib provided sworn testimony that the use of attack dogs was suggested by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, former head of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and personally approved by Lt. Gen. Sanchez.

Three and four-star generals don’t earn their stars by ignoring the policy wishes of their civilian superiors in the Pentagon. It strains the imagination to think Rumsfeld or one of his aides did not approve the actions of Gens. Sanchez and Miller.

Repairing our image throughout the world must include justice reaching the Pentagon and the higher military ranks.

The Bush administration seems to hope that the public’s appetite for sickening images has waned and the scandal has passed. That may be true among Americans. But outside this country, the world is waiting for a sign that the United States is willing to right a course gone badly awry. Punishment for all individuals culpable for the Abu Ghraib wrongs would be a start.

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