Report on command responsibility for detainee abuse [HRW] News
Report on command responsibility for detainee abuse [HRW]

Getting Away with Torture? Command Responsibility for the U.S. Abuse of Detainees, Human Rights Watch, April 24, 2005 [calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the roles of US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former CIA director George Tenet in connection with US mistreatment and torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison]. Excerpt from the executive summary:

It has now been one year since the appearance of the first pictures of U.S. soldiers humiliating and torturing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Shortly after the photos came out, President George W. Bush vowed that the "wrongdoers will be brought to justice."

In the intervening months, it has become clear that torture and abuse have taken place not solely at Abu Ghraib but rather in dozens of U.S. detention facilities worldwide, that in many cases the abuse resulted in death or severe trauma, and that a good number of the victims were civilians with no connection to al-Qaeda or terrorism. There is also evidence of abuse at U.S.-controlled "secret locations" abroad and of U.S. authorities sending suspects to third-country dungeons around the world where torture was likely to occur.

To date, however, the only wrongdoers being brought to justice are those at the bottom of the chain-of-command. The evidence demands more. Yet a wall of impunity surrounds the architects of the policies responsible for the larger pattern of abuses.

As this report shows, evidence is mounting that high-ranking U.S. civilian and military leaders — including Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, former CIA Director George Tenet, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, formerly the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and Major General Geoffrey Miller, the former commander of the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — made decisions and issued policies that facilitated serious and widespread violations of the law. The circumstances strongly suggest that they either knew or should have known that such violations took place as a result of their actions. There is also mounting data that, when presented with evidence that abuse was in fact taking place, they failed to act to stem the abuse.

. Read the full text of the report. Reported in JURIST's Paper Chase here.