The responsibility for Abu Ghraib places on the shoulders of Donald Rumsfeld

A report released last week places a share of the responsibility for the mistreatment of inmates at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison on the shoulders of U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Though the report didn't single him out by name or call for his resignation, it concludes that a combination of too many prisoners and too few guards — as well as a confusing chain of command — generated a climate ripe for trouble that the Pentagon's leadership should have anticipated. In the report, Rumsfeld's own specially appointed panel, headed by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, blames Rumsfeld's lean and haphazard deployment orders for overtaxing troops in Iraq. It points out that when the commander in charge of Abu Ghraib, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, said she needed more forces, she was told to "'wear her stars' and reallocate personnel among her over-stretched units." Schlesinger's report and a separate internal Army probe lay out a series of dubious decisions that fostered the abuses, starting with President Bush's 2002 order suspending the Geneva Conventions for captured al-Qaeda and Taliban members. Rumsfeld then doubled the number of harsh strategies U.S. forces could employ in Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan, allowing measures like stripping prisoners and using dogs to terrify them. Pressured by Pentagon lawyers, the Schlesinger report said, Rumsfeld ultimately banned the worst techniques. But some slipped back into use at Abu Ghraib after those who had used them in Afghanistan and Guantanamo arrived in Iraq. "They were neither limited nor safeguarded" in their application, the panel said. Faced with these embarrassing assessments, Rumsfeld kept a low profile last week, staying away from the capital. "I don't think anyone with any judgment expects the person in my position to know what's going on in the night shift 6,000 miles away," he said in a Phoenix, Ariz., radio interview, informs TIME. According to Daily American Online, The reports constitute a terrible indictment of the soldiers directly involved - the Army's report pegged that number at 33 at Abu Ghraib, plus four civilian contractors - and the dozen or so who saw what was happening and said nothing. Schlesinger's commission said the ethical issues are serious enough to warrant implementation of a professional ethics program for all those involved in military detention. It would be a mistake to conclude from this that there is something wrong with American soldiers, the vast majority of whom had their courses in ethics from their parents and in their schools and churches, and passed. On the same day this newspaper carried an account citing the "loss of moral values," it also published a story about Joe Sharpe, the young Marine andbenefactor to hundreds of Iraqi kids during his tour of duty there. No doubt there are more Joe Sharpes than Lynndie Englands in service of country. The two reports provide a strong argument for disciplining at least some of the military commanders who enabled or ignored what happened at Abu Ghraib, including those who failed to react quickly when the International Red Cross said something was terribly wrong. Beyond that, they make a convincing case for clarifying just what conduct America will permit from guards and interrogators in the course of separating delivery boys from terrorists. Rumsfeld's initial confusion on this issue did not help. But the strongest indictment is the one that reinforces what was already evident: America failed to anticipate the strength of the postwar insurgency and provide the training, manpower and resources to deal with it. The Schlesinger report says the damage spills beyond Abu Ghraib "to the image of the U.S. among populations whose support was needed in the Global War on Terror" and "must not be repeated." Two recent reports on the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal underscore what many suspected all along: The buck should not stop at the handful of low-level soldiers charged. Responsibility and culpability go higher and wider, Publishes Charlotte Observer. Both the Fay and Schlesinger reports show a disappointing and troubling leadership lapse concerning the treatment of Iraqi prisoners and detainees. That lapse created an environment where torture and abuse could occur. The Fay report was put together by three generals. Classified parts of it reportedly say outright that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former top commander in Iraq, erroneously approved using at Abu Ghraib severe interrogation tactics intended only for limited use on detainees in Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan. His changing and conflicting directives on interrogations created confusion and misunderstanding that set the tone for interrogators to act in ways that violated the Geneva Conventions. The techniques also violated standard Army interrogation procedures. Neither report places direct blame or responsibility on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld or other senior Pentagon officials. No "policy, directive or doctrine directly or indirectly caused violent or sexual abuse," the Fay report said. Both panels were appointed by Secretary Rumsfeld.

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