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Prison Abuse: The Media (5/25)

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 Tuesday, May 25:

  • The Baltimore Sun reported Monday that some of the private contractors who might be implicated in the prison abuse affair could escape prosecution because they work for the Department of Interior, not Defense. The 2000 Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act under which abusive contractors might be prosecuted apparently contains a loophole: it applies only to contractors working for the Pentagon
  • The New York Times reports the CIA's "ghost detainees" — prisoners of whom no records were kept — troubled the U.S. military enough that the military reached agreement earlier this year to stop the practice, according to a memo obtained by the newspaper.
  • The Los Angeles Times reports accusations of abuse by U.S. troops lodged by Jamal Harith, one of the Britons released from Guantanamo Bay after two years of detention. The alleged mistreatment included "a beating in which a guard jumped up and down on his legs when he resisted an injection of an unknown drug," with which they successfully injected him ten times.

    "On some days, according to his account, guards chained him to the floor for up to 15 hours in an interrogation room with cold air blowing in, forcing him to urinate on himself," the Times reports.

  • The Daily Telegraph examines President Bush's political prospects now that "some of his Republican 'shareholders' are close to revolt."
  • The Boston Globe examines how the Abu Ghraib affair might shape the looming Supreme Court decision on enemy combatants and Guantanamo Bay detentions. " Every day that the Abu Ghraib prison scandal stays in the news, nine justices wake up each morning and read of dog collars and naked detainees stacked in pyramids, of forced masturbation and unexplained deaths."
  • USA Today looks at how the prison scandal has harmed U.S. credibility in Iraq. Increasingly, Iraqis "turn to Al-Jazeera for the truth," says Mohammed Haroon of the Iraqi Journalists Union.
  • Al Jazeera also looks at Iraqi reaction to Bush – specifically, to his proposal to tear down Abu Ghraib. It finds the citizenry to be dismissive of the president's gesture.
  • In a Washington Post commentary, Eliot Cohen says the naïve belief that U.S. troops were not capable of abuses like those at Abu Ghraib is a product of the end of the military draft, and the resulting disassociation between civilians and the military.

    Anyone who's been in the service, Cohen opines, knows that along with very fine people, "the armed forces also have the others — the liars, petty tyrants, place-hunters, opportunists, even, yes, the cowards and the brutes."

  • The Atlanta Journal Constitution interviews former Rep. Tillie Fowler, one of the four members of the panel named by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to look into the abuse. She says the panel "will not shy away from any issues we may uncover" in its report, due in July.
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