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England case leads to other questions about Abu Ghraib

What others say

Posted: Thursday, May 05, 2005

... The sentencing phase for Army Reserve Pfc. Lynndie England, who became something of a poster girl for purposeful humiliation at Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison, could be the occasion for a certain amount of soul-searching among American policymakers. ...

The official reports on Abu Ghraib stress that the prisoner humiliation in the photos was largely an isolated phenomenon, more the result of a lack of leadership than of official policy. Reservists who had expected to drive trucks or push paper, unaware there even was a Geneva Convention, were expected to function as prison guards under mortar fire, with no training and almost no supervision. ...

But what prompted apparently ordinary Americans to become virtually obsessed with sexually oriented humiliation of prisoners? Why would they take so many photos to document their degrading and disgusting acts? ... If it was peer pressure, as Ms. England told a military court, what does it say about American culture that peer pressure could lead to this? ...

The guilty pleas and sentencing of Ms. England and other Abu Ghraib guards should also raise questions about policy and responsibility at higher levels of government. Are these enlisted personnel scapegoats? Should more be made of the fact that government lawyers, well before Abu Ghraib, busied themselves with memos and legal opinions that crept right to the edge of justifying torture? ...

— The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

May 4

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