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Prison Abuse: The Media (5/13)

The controversy over the alleged abuse of Iraqi detainees began at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, but its impact has been global. Investigations have been launched in Iraq, Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay. Officials in Washington and in foreign capitals have reacted to the charges. And the role of press — including CBS News — in breaking and covering the affair has become part of the story.

The following are some highlights of worldwide coverage of the scandal on Thursday, May 13:

  • The New York Times reports that the CIA has used harsh methods while interrogating high-level detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Sept. 11 plotter Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, for one, has been forced underwater and "made to believe he might drown."

    Meanwhile, there is continued scrutiny of recommendations by Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who said U.S. prison guards in Iraq should help "set the conditions" for interrogation.

  • The Los Angeles Times, quoting evidence presented at a hearing on charges against one of the Abu Ghraib soldiers, says a military intelligence soldier testified that interrogators at the jail "sometimes went too far."

    An Army investigator told the hearing that there was "absolutely no evidence" that the Abu Ghraib abuses were authorized up the chain of command.

  • The Washington Post reports that some of the lawmakers who on Wednesday saw unreleased photographs of abuse say the photos suggest the involvement of more soldiers than are currently facing charges.
  • The Wall Street Journal delves into the order by Gen. Sanchez that authorized "interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, prolonged isolation and the presence of military dogs — if written permission was given."

    The permission was never granted, officials say. "But the now-infamous photos of U.S. forces abusing prisoners at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison demonstrate that sometimes extreme versions of techniques were used after the orders were issued in October 2003."

    A Red Cross official tells the Journal that at least some of the tactics Sanchez put on the table would have violated the Geneva Convention.

  • The Chicago Tribune reports on a 1971 Stanford University experiment in which students were assigned roles as inmates or prisoners. "Within days," the Tribune reports, "the 'guards' had become swaggering and sadistic, to the point of placing bags over the prisoners' heads, forcing them to strip naked and encouraging them to perform sexual acts."
  • The Village Voice looks at confusion over the legal definition of torture, particularly because the United States has adopted a standard that is different from the relevant United Nations treaty.
  • Reuters reports the International Committee of the Red Cross this week delivered to the State Department a report "criticizing the detention of hundreds of suspects" at Guantanamo Bay.
  • Radio Free Europe says the Red Cross — which maintains strict rules of confidentiality and impartiality in its work — is worried that the leak of its Abu Ghraib report will hamper its ability to get access to prisons in other countries.
  • Secrecy News says the government's Information Security Oversight Office will investigate why the report on the investigation by Army Maj. Gen. Anthony Taguba was marked "classified."
  • The Times of London reports interim Iraqi leader Adnan Pachachi is leading a call demanding that all prisons be handed over to Iraqi control when the interim government assumes limited sovereignty on June 30.
  • Britain's Independent newspaper reports British diplomats are worried that the abuse allegations against the United States are harming Britain's image because of the close relationship between Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush.
  • Furor over the abuse scandal is fueling a new push for Blair to leave office, The Guardian reports.
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