Accountability and "a few bad apples"

Pentagon records show that the Abu Ghraib abuse matter led to 7 prison guards pleading guilty or being convicted. None of them were ranked above staff sergeant - the sixth lowest rank in the Army. Charges against 2 others are still outstanding. In the unrelated detainee death cases, 21 soldiers have been charged and 16 others are being investigated.

Newly released documents, whose disclosure was forced by a lawsuit brought by the ACLU, show that the lack of accountability described by both private and public critics of the handling ot the investigation(s) is shared by soldiers as well. The documents include:
A letter by 3 reservist prison supervisors to Lt. Gen Thomas F. Metz, who was the commander of operations in Iraq at the time of the Abu Ghraib abuse, wherein they stated that the scandal had ruined their Army careers but left commanders such as Metz and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez untouched. The soldiers said they were not trained for the duty given, that Red Cross reports detailing abuse were kept from them, and that Sanchez and others in charge never informed them of any problems despite repeated visits to the prison.

One junior officer whose name was redacted in the documents stated, "I accept full responsibility for the actions of the soldiers of the 372nd (the unit involved)...I fully agree that I should have done a better job at supervising them." He added, "Unlike the general officer appointed above me (referencing Mentz) I take responsibility for what my soldiers did...It's amazing that the entire chain of command could be so incompetent."

Another junior officer (again, name redacted) said that, "The unit had less than 2 weeks to prepare for the prison operation." He also pointed out that an evaluation done by Army Provost Marshal Donald Ryder was never shared with the military units at Abu Ghraib.
The Army refused to comment on the newly disclosed documents but Lt. Col Jeremy Martin, an Army spokesman said, "We'll continue to hold people appropriately accountable, and we'll go to wherever the truth leads for as long as it takes."

Considering that Abu Ghraib led to 7 convictions of some of the lowest ranked members of the Army and that no Pentagon report has of yet even come close to implicating top military commanders or civilian Pentagon officials in the Abu Ghraib abuse or other misconduct incidents, it's probably fair to say that the search for "accountability" and "truth" will be confined to the ranks of junior officer and those below.

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