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Prison Abuse: The Media (5/21)

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 Friday, May 21:

  • The Washington Post publishes new photos and detailed testimony from 13 detainees interviewed by U.S. investigators. The inmates describe being forced to denounce Islam, eat out of the toilet, consume pork and liquor, witness sexual assaults involving various objects and other nasty stuff.
  • The New York Times reports the military interrogators at Abu Ghraib served in Afghanistan first, and brought harsh rules for questioning suspects with them. Some have been "quietly punished." The Times also looks at Justice Department memos from late 2001 and 2002 that "provided arguments to keep United States officials from being charged with war crimes for the way prisoners were detained and interrogated." The memos were approved by the White House, the Pentagon and Cheney's office "but drew dissents from the State Department."
  • USA Today delves into a memo from senior military lawyers "warning top Pentagon lawyers that prisoner interrogation policies at the U.S. detention center in Cuba could lead to violations of the Geneva Conventions." Of particular concern were techniques used on a detainee suspected of knowing about an impending attack. The Associated Press says the Pentagon admits the harsh methods were used until the lawyers objected.
  • A second Australian once held at Guantanamo Bay has made claims that he witnessed U.S. guards abusing an Australian still detained there, Australian Broadcasting Company reports. The man says he saw a detainee collapse after being sleep deprived, and that soldiers harassed inmates with prostitutes.
  • The South China Morning Post quoted European Union commission Chris Patten saying "absolutely awful" pictures play into terrorists' hands. But its not the abuse photos he's talking about – it's the ones from the wedding party that was allegedly hit.
  • Der Spiegel leads with an interview in which an Iraqi "eyewitnesses" details the death through torture of his cellmate.
  • London police might be called in to conduct investigations of alleged abuse in Iraq by British soldiers, the Daily Telegraph reported. "The unusual step would follow pressure from international groups which have said that military police should not be the sole investigative authority into allegations against their own. The Telegraph also reports on concerns by the International Committee of the Red Cross about al Qaeda detainees held in undisclosed locations.
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