Prison Abuse: The Media (5/25)

Detainees wave from a bus as they leave the prison of Abu Ghraib, outside Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, May 21, 2004. Earlier this week, U.S. Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt said the military had planned to release 472 prisoners on Friday.
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 24:

  • The Washington Post on Sunday reported findings of a psychological review of the prison abuse attached to Maj. Gen. Anthony Taguba's investigation of the Abu Ghraib affair. It blames "a mixture of soldiers' anger and frustration over poor working conditions, their racism and the absence of any meaningful supervision," for the abuse. It also says at least one incident "was witnessed by officers and NCOs (senior enlisted officers) alike."
  • The Los Angeles Times reports the military is expanding its abuse investigation, asking two military intelligence soldiers to remain in Baghdad for questioning.
  • Both USA Today and The New York Times pick up claims by Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez either knew too much or did too little about the Abu Ghraib abuse. USA Today reports Karpinski is suggesting that Sanchez's "repeated visits" to Abu Ghraib " raise questions about whether Sanchez … knew more about the abuse of Iraqi prisoners than he has acknowledged." And The Times reported Karpinski's claim that she asked Sanchez in late January to let her make a broadcast address to the Iraqi people about the abuse, and he refused.
  • USA Today also reports Pentagon reaction to a Time magazine story reporting that 2,000 pages were missing from a 6,000-page report to the Senate on the abuse scandal. Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita issued a statement saying "if there is some shortfall in what was provided, it was an oversight."
  • The Daily Telegraph relates "harrowing details of the death of an Iraqi detainee who was repeatedly beaten and left lying naked in the baking sun for several hours."
  • The New York Times reports that the military intelligence unit that ran interrogations at Abu Ghraib had earlier run the Afghanistan detention center where two prisoners were killed. The Associated Press reports Brig. Gen. Charles Jacoby has begun a review of Afghanistan detention facilities.
  • The Financial Times, quoting a civilian lawyer, reports that "several high-ranking military legal officers" think the U.S. used private contractors as interrogators "in a deliberate attempt to obscure aggressive practices from congressional or military oversight." The civilian lawyer, who says he has spoken with the military lawyers, said they "believed that there was a conscious effort to create an atmosphere of ambiguity, of having people involved who couldn't be held to account."
  • Britain's Observer reported Sunday that "despite widespread ill-feeling about the abuse of prisoners by American forces and allegations of mistreatment by British troops," coalition forces will be granted immunity from Iraqi lawsuits after the June 30 handover.
  • The Philadelphia Inquirer looks at the scandal's effect on Asian politics, noting that the revelations have "given China a chance to disparage Washington's human-rights record" but also added to South Korean unease over the presence of U.S. troops and stoked anti-American resentment among Muslims in the Far East and South Asia.