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July 23, 2004

Well, Gentlemen, the ball is in your court...

And by that, I mean the senior leadership of the Army and DoD, regarding the Army IG's report on prisoner abuse.

Army Announces 94 Allegations of Abuse Jul 22, 11:17 PM (ET)

By MATT KELLEY

WASHINGTON (AP) - Thirty-nine prisoners have died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since the fall of 2001 and there have been 94 cases of proven or suspected abuse, the Army said Thursday in a broad new report giving a more precise and higher estimate of the scale of the abuse.

The Army inspector general's report also gives new details about the alleged abuses, including evidence that troops conspired to make Iraqi prisoners jump off a bridge, that one interrogator hit a prisoner in the head during questioning and that a sergeant told subordinates to "rough up" detainees.

I will be looking forward to the corollary report which details the judicial and non-judicial actions taken. I can't believe there are no officers for whom - if only under the 'dereliction of duty' clause, cannot be prosecuted for their actions or failures to act. But right now, all I'm aware of are three article 15's.

There are probably some prompt retirements due. There have been some reliefs. But... if there are not more criminal (and yes, dereliction and/or failure to act is criminal) cases forthcoming, especially in the officer ranks - then I don't see how the Army IG can make the following assertion:

Still, the Army report concludes there were no systemic problems that caused or contributed to the abuses. All of the wrongdoing was committed by soldiers who violated Army rules and regulations, at times aided by commanders who either encouraged abuses or looked the other way, said Inspector General Lt. Gen. Paul Mikolashek.

Senate Democrats, pointing to deficiencies in training and inconsistencies in doctrine outlined in the Army report, immediately challenged that finding.

I'm with the Senate Democrats here - and I'm no fan of theirs. Either there should be a significant number of senior officer careers publicly wrecked, whether by obvious relief, retirement, or prosecution --- or there *was* a systemic problem and how are we going to deal with that? And if we aren't prosecuting or firing, and there is no 'systemic problem' then we aren't fixing anything, are we? And don't toss up the fact that LTG Sanchez, isn't going to get his otherwise probably-deserved 4th Star, either. For most of us, *only* getting to command V Corps as a retirement job so he'll get the time to retire at 3-Star rank doesn't seem like too bad a deal... and yes, for those of you with twitchy comment-fingers I do know that things are happening that we don't know about. My point is - absent legal privacy consderations, there should be a lot more public things going on. And perhaps there will be. All that said with the recognition (that many in the political arena don't know or care about, and those with no knowledge of the UCMJ are unaware of) that the senior leaders do have to tread carefully here regarding legal proceedings lest they hand the Trial Defense Service lawyers a ready-built 'Command Influence" defense.

The acting Army secretary and its (sic) top general said they took responsibility for the abuses while insisting that they were not sanctioned by Army leadership.

"These actions, while regrettable, are aberrations," said Acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker said mistakes were understandable, though not excusable. Troops must be trained to contain their anger at prisoners who had been trying to kill them, he said.

"It's in the middle of a rumble that this is happening," Schoomaker said.

One thing I'm tired of (and I actually have othewise no gripes with Brownlee or Schoomaker) is the now-tired phrase "I take responsibility" that seems to come with no real actions or consequences. In short, gentlemen - if you truly care about the Army, and I know you do - Show Me the Money! Thus far, unless I missed it buried somewhere, all I've really seen are wolf-tickets.

Anybody who knows better - please share that which is legally shareable.

The whole bit, with more details (though not much not already reported) is here.