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Prison Abuse: The Media (5/18)

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 18:

  • The New York Times reports that Col. Thomas Pappas, the head of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, told investigator Gen. Anthony Taguba that military interrogators sometimes told prison guards to strip and shackle detainees, but only when there was a "good reason." Pappas also said that Abu Ghraib implemented some of the recommendations of Gen. Geoffrey Miller, under which guards "set the conditions" for interrogations.
  • As much damage as the scandal has done to America's image abroad, the upcoming military trials have the potential to remove some of the tarnish, reports the Christian Science Monitor. But the complexity of the trials could take away from their symbolic power.
  • Quoting testimony from tone soldier's hearing, The Los Angeles Times reports on the death of the prisoner seen packed in ice in the abuse photos. The man was taken to the prison hooded, and only after his collapse was the hood removed to reveal severe head wounds. The Times also interviews several former detainees who relate harrowing stories of their capture and captivity, saying "interviews with detainees and human rights reports demonstrate that abuse in various forms was systemwide" – not torture per se, but "humiliating and unjust."
  • The State Department's roundup of world opinion maps reaction to Berg killing, much of which now perceives a "war of images," with some conservative dailies saying the beheading illustrates "why the West is fighting," and that the Abu Ghraib affair has become a "pretext for cruelty." However, "Canada's centrist Le Soleil noted it was important not to be 'duped' — the killers 'would have found another pretext to execute their plan even if' the prison scandal hadn't occurred."
  • The Economist traces the political ramifications of the abuse scandal for the Blair government: "British soldiers come off better than American ones from accusations of abuse of Iraqis, but it isn't doing the government much good."
  • Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty handicaps the prospects for U.S. policy in the Middle East after the prison scandal, and depicts recent moves by Sec. of State Powell and the White House as part of a "charm offensive," the substance of which is doubtful.
  • USA Today profiles Spc. Jeremy Sivits, the first soldier who will face a court martial, as a man anxious to like and be liked who avoided confrontation. The newspaper also outlines the accused soldiers' defenses, saying they plan to argue that they were working in a disastrously run prison and following orders.
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