National Security Watch: Will the Abu Ghraib prison scandal heat up again?
The expected release of new photographs of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison could call more attention to the scandal. This development comes amid growing controversy surrounding a senior official in charge during the prison scandal. While Congressional Democrats demand a 9-11 style commission to investigate allegations of abuse of detainees at U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been quietly considering the promotion of a senior military official who was in charge in Iraq during the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Such a move would likely further whip up the political tempest on Capitol Hill over reported prison abuses because high-level promotions are subject to Senate confirmation.
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the former commander at the outset of the Iraq War and currently a commander of the Army V Corps in Germany, may be promoted to oversee U.S. military operations in Latin America, according to published reports citing military officials. Even though Sanchez was cleared by the Army Inspector General of allegations that he was derelict in his duty to oversee detention operations in Iraq, many Democratic lawmakers argue that senior officials and officers, not just lower-ranking military personnel, should be held accountable for misconduct.
High-ranking officials "shouldn't be getting better jobs, while privates and sergeants take all the blame," said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the ACLU. In response to reports of Sanchez's possible promotion, the ACLU sent a letter to senators last week calling again for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the government's interrogation policies. The liberal advocacy group pointed to a 2003 memo signed by Sanchez that lays out specific interrogation techniques for use by coalition forces in Iraq. These include sleep "management," loud music, sensory agitation, and the use of canine units to exploit the "Arab fear of dogs." Revelation of new photographs, and even videos, of abuse at Abu Ghraib may also return the prison to the media spotlight. The Pentagon has been ordered by a federal court to release a new batch of photographs, and possibly videos, of alleged Abu Ghraib prison wrongdoings to the ACLU by June 30 as part of a Freedom of Information Act request.
Detainee abuses were highlighted last week by an unusual sourcethe New England Journal of Medicine. Health information on detainees at Guantanamo Bay has been routinely available to interrogators at Guantanamo, according to a journal article by Gregg Bloche and Jonathan Marks at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, that cited previously unreported internal military memos. The article argues that this practice unethically dissolves the Pentagon's purported separation between intelligence gathering and medical care. "Not only does this undermine patient trust," it said, but it also "puts prisoners at greater risk for serious abuse."
Tough odds: U.S. military and intelligence officials searching for Osama bin Laden and Iraq's most wanted terrorist, Abu Musab Zarqawi, would be disheartened by the odds being offered by one online sports betting service. The site, called Sportsinteraction, has set the odds of bin Laden's capture at 9 to 2. A Zarqawi capture appears even more unlikely, at 13 to 100. Kevin Whitelaw