During military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, more than fifty-thousand people were detained by U.S. forces. Out of that number, a report released by the U.S. Army’s inspector general finds a total of ninety-four cases of alleged prisoner abuse.
The army inquiry was in part begun as a result of reports of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. As a result of continuing investigations, criminal charges have so far been brought against seven soldiers. One has pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to a year in prison.
The Army investigation focused on sixteen detention facilities, including Abu Ghraib and entailed interviews with more than six-hundred soldiers. Lieutenant General Paul Mikolashek says that his investigation found that abuses “were not the result of any widespread systemic failure”:
“We also found, however, that training and oversight of these policies were inconsistent, but also could find no confirmed instance involving the application of an approved approach technique that led to abuse.”
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says that the allegations of abuse provide “important lessons”:
“The world has watched the United States government take responsibility and apologize to those individuals who were wronged. It’s watched senior civilian and military leadership come to Congress to testify under oath about what was known and what has been done. It’s watched a free media publish stories of all types, from the accurate to the grossly distorted.... They’ve seen that abuse by a few in the military was revealed and investigated by the military.”
As Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld says, “The world will see that Americans will not accept dishonorable behavior.”