Don't whitewash Abu Ghraib

Don't whitewash Abu Ghraib
Seattle Times: For all the horror of the Army's first shocking report on the conditions at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, its blunt assessments were evidence of the military confronting its own mess.
Now a new, second report is a shameful retreat from the truth. The remedy is an outside, independent review of the Army's performance and a full airing of orders covering the treatment and interrogation of prisoners.
Late last month, the Pentagon released its findings from the investigation of 94 brutal incidents in U.S.-run prison facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. None were due to "systemic" problems in either location, the Army's inspector general told an incredulous Senate Armed Services Committee.
In the same self-exonerating breath, the report also noted the soldiers, who acted as jailers for 50,000 persons, were inadequately trained for the task, poorly supervised and issued vague orders. But no missteps by higher-ups.
Abuse as aberrations
All the physical abuse, sexual degradation and numerous fatalities were described as aberrations at the hands of a few low-ranking soldiers. No senior officers or Army operational doctrine regarding the interrogation and treatment of prisoners were responsible for what was captured on digital cameras, we are told.
A lot of eyes are rolling and very few heads are nodding agreement. The report presented by Lt. Gen. Paul T. Mikolashakcannot be left to stand as a model for subsequent inquiries. Independent investigators sponsored by Congress and outside the Pentagon are needed. The horrors of Abu Ghraib defy cover-up and camouflage.

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