The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Military Admits Gitmo Abuse, Lets Commander Skate

by Brendan Coyne

July 14, 2005 – Pentagon officials released the long-awaited report on allegations of prisoner abuse at the Guantánamo, Bay detention facility yesterday. In doing so, they acknowledged the numerous incidents of abuse documented in the report but refused to follow recommendations to discipline the Army officer in charge of the prison camp during the time period when most documented abuses occurred.

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According to press references, among the abuses documented in the report by Air Force Lieutenant-General Randall Schmidt’s investigation are incidents in which personnel smeared detainees with fake menstrual blood, a prisoner’s family was threatened, prisoners were deprived of sleep and exposed to extreme temperatures, detainees were shackled detainees to the floor for as long as 24 hours, and captors bound one prisoner with duct tape to prevent him from reciting the Qur’an.

The Schmidt investigation is reported to be the last of the military’s attempts to look into widespread allegations of prisoner abuse and torture at Guantánamo. The inquiry was prompted only after public revelations that FBI agents working alongside military personnel at the camp raised concerns over detainee treatment in emails. That exposure resulted from a Freedom of Information Act request.

Although Gen. Schmidt’s report acknowledges that detainees were mistreated at the camp, it said the mistreatment did not rise to the level of torture and it failed to verify many of the claims made in the private FBI emails.

Army Major-General Geoffrey Miller was in charge of the facility until March of 2004. He also helped set up the American-run detention facility at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, now internationally notorious for torture and abuse scandals of its own.

Schmidt’s report concluded that Miller should be punished for failing to properly oversee an interrogation at Camp Delta, but a high level Pentagon officer, General Bantz J. Craddock, rejected the recommendation, insisting that Miller had not broken any US law or policy.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights both decried the military’s lack of action against Miller.

"It is irrefutable that the government violated the Geneva Conventions and the Army Field Manual," said ACLU executive director Anthony Romero in a press statement. "As before, low-ranking men and women will take the full blame while the higher ups get off scot-free. ...Once again, we have abuse without high-level accountability. That will only encourage impunity and allow the abuse to continue,"

More than 500 people are still detained at the Guantánamo prison, according to current estimates. The overwhelming majority has not been charged with any crime.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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