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Prison Abuse: The Media (5/26)

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 Wednesday, May 26:

  • A report from the Army's Criminal Investigation Command " shows a widespread pattern of abuse involving more military units than previously known," The New York Times reports. Some of the deaths of the 37 people who died in custody were not autopsied. Soldiers were fined and demoted for an alleged sexual assault of a female Iraqi detainee. And members of a National Guard unit not previously linked to the abuse "'struck and pulled the hair of detainees' during interrogations over a period that lasted 10 weeks" and "'forced into asphyxiations numerous detainees in
  • The Denver Post reveals previously unreported charges of abuse that resulted in punishments not involving jail time. In one case, platoon leaders ordered troops to strip, beat and give electric shocks to detainees accused of trespassing on the unit's camp. In another, a captain struck an Iraqi with his sidearm, handcuffed and threw rocks at two Iraqi children.
  • The Wall Street Journal reports "government auditors are investigating the Army's unusual use of a computer-services contract to hire interrogators for Iraqi prisons from a company(CACI International) with no prior experience in that work."
  • In a story picked up by numerous newspapers and news services, The Washington Post reports Col. Thomas Pappas has testified that Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller – the Guantanamo Bay chief who reviewed Iraq prisons last year and now commands them -- suggested the use of dogs in interrogations, a policy approved by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. "(Miller) said that they used military working dogs at Gitmo [the nickname for Guantanamo Bay], and that they were effective in setting the atmosphere for which, you know, you could get information" from the prisoners, Pappas testified. Miller denies the charge.
  • Also in The Post: President Bush's vow to tear down Abu Ghraib may run into logistical problems, because Congress last year voted down a White House request for money to build two new prisons in Iraq. The administration contends there's enough money to move around, but some on the Hill disagree.
  • USA Today reports that White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, appearing on Capitol Hill, denied that his 2002 memo on the Geneva Conventions and the war on terror encouraged the Abu Ghraib abuse. "If you were to ask soldiers in the field if they ever heard of my draft memo," Gonzales said, "they would have said, 'What?' "
  • In a Los Angeles Times Commentary, Heritage Foundation head Rebecca Hagelin traces the Abu Ghraib scandal to America's "cultural rot." "While we've been busy fighting enemies around the world, we've discarded basic morality here at home. As a result, we've steadily weakened our stature in the world and placed ourselves in grave danger of falling from within."
  • A piece in the Baltimore Sun looks at the tortured use of language in the scandal, especially as it related to the use of the word "torture." For instance, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's statement that, "My impression is that what has been charged thus far is abuse, which I believe technically is different from torture ... I don't know if ... it is correct to say what you just said, that torture has taken place, or that there's been a conviction for torture. And therefore I'm not going to address the torture word."
  • The Christian Science Monitor reports that "Psychologists, theologians, and a journalist who researched war for years hold that, under certain conditions, otherwise ordinary people can be susceptible to adopting a warped mentality in which they take pleasure in another's suffering - also known as sadism."
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