Prison Abuse: The Media (5/17)

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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 Monday, May 17:

So far in the prison abuse scandal, most of the discussion of which interrogation techniques were and were not allowed in Iraq has focused on the orders of the head of the U.S. military there — Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

But The New York Times reports an estimated 100 high-ranking Iraqi prisoners are detained under authority separate from Sanchez's. The detainees are held near the Baghdad International Airport and are kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day in cells without sunlight, in conditions the International Red Cross has said violate the Geneva Conventions, The Times reports.

In other highlights:

  • Britain's Observer newspaper reports that "dozens of videotapes of American guards allegedly engaged in brutal attacks on Guantanamo Bay detainees have been stored and catalogued at the camp."
  • Earlier this year, The Associated Press reports, "the family of one accused soldier wrote to 14 members of Congress that 'something went wrong' involving 'mistreatment of POWs' at Abu Ghraib prison."
  • In an internal probe, the CIA has found "no evidence that any of (its) interrogators witnessed or ordered abusive treatment." But a separate investigation by the agency's inspector general is under way, USA Today reports.
  • The tally of dead American soldiers is well known, but the U.S. military has made public no estimate of how many civilians have been killed. In London, The Independent newspaper says the coalition's lack of a civilian body count is spurring worries of possible breaches of the Geneva Convention far beyond what the photos of Abu Ghraib might depict.
  • The Deutsche Press Agency reports that a German lawyer who represented Holocaust families in claims over Nazi slave-labor says some Iraq abuse victims are planning to seek compensation.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports that mounting pressure on the Bush administration to expand the abuse probe to look at higher-echelon commanders. The Los Angeles Times reports the Senate Armed Services committee plans to do just that — potential bad news for Republicans.
  • Jessica Lynch, hero; Lynndie England, villain? The Dallas Morning News looks at what these two public faces of the war represent, especially to public perceptions of the role of female soldiers.
  • The Guardian looks at the difficulties inherent in regulating private contractors. Of a move to apply military regulations to such workers, Chris Bertelli, a Washington lobbyist for Blackwater, asks: "How do you enforce it? At the end of your 60-day contract, you can just go home."
  • North Korea's propaganda arm, the Korea Central News Agency, weighed in on the scandal with characteristic bombast: "Their inhuman atrocities are a thrice-cursed crime quite contrary to justice, morality and international law and an open challenge to the conscience of humankind."
  • The Telegraph reports British Prime Minister Tony Blair is "furiously resisting" a push to hold a new parliamentary vote on the war. mounting pressure to hold a new Commons vote on Britain's military commitment in Iraq as it was revealed that defense chiefs are privately discussing "strategic failure" in the war." Meanwhile, Blair's likely successor and his deputy were seen meeting, spurring speculation that the knives are being sharpened.
  • In one of the few prominent reports of U.S. public demonstration over the abuse claims, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer says a public statue was hooded with black cloth over the weekend in a reference to the prison scandal.
  • The Washington Post looks at opinion in the hometown of Joseph Darby, the soldier who blew the whistle on the abuse scandal. While hailed as a hero elsewhere, the Post report Darby is not receiving universal admiration back home. "If I were [Darby], I'd be sneaking in through the back door at midnight," says one resident.
  • The Economist pointed out that the despite the political damage the abuse scandal has cause, President Bush can take solace in the fact that Sen. John Kerry has failed to gain from the abuse scandal.