Torture and Public Policy
Stephen F. Austin State University
Prepared for: PBA-500 Survey of Public Administration
The subsequent case study, prepared by James P. Pfiffner, Torture and Public Policy, (2010) analyzes the torture and abuse of war prisoners by United States military personnel in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, following photographs of the abuse spread around the world in the fall of 2003. Pfiffner points out that the United States Military, Secretary of State Donald Rumsfield, and President George W. Bush assumed a role in the events leading up to the exploitation, even though it has never been corroborated that President Bush or Secretary of State Rumsfield directly condoned the abuse. However, the persons that actually performed the abuse should be held responsible for their own actions. In the study of abuse concerning the Iraqi prisoners Pfiffner cites elements that may have factored into the abuse of the prisoners as lack of proper training, the pressures of war in general, the lack of close supervision, and the lack of a clear-cut policy. Carl Friedrich's and Herman Finer's debate in the 1940s lead to Finer contending that there is a need for external control to assist in minimizing corruption and ensuring responsibility. Friedrich debates that internal mechanisms such as professionalism and ethical training could ensure responsibility and accountability. Pfiffner’s analysis demonstrates how both Friedrich and Finer’s arguments can be founded in this case.
Torture and Public Policy
During the fall of 2003 damaging photos of American troops taunting, torturing, and abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Iraq spread rapidly throughout the world. The United States considered itself as a civilized country and expected the rest of the world to view it in the same way. The photographs depicted American soldiers as heartless, barbaric, and tyrannical. President George W. Bush knew that the abuse toward war prisoners would contradict the “leading by example” image that he proclaimed the United States to be and summoned all governments to help in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture…in all its forms. (Bush 2003) Summary
One of the prisons that Saddam Hussein used for much of his torturing and killing was located in Abu Ghraib, Iraq. When U.S. troops invaded Iraq the prison was stripped bare and left as a mere shell. In June 2003 United States troops reconstructed the prison and General Janice Karpinski assumed control of the facility. In September 2004 General Geoffrey Miller, commander of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, visited Abu Ghraib and proposed that the 372nd Military Police Company assist the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade in their mission of extracting information from inmates. This joint operation is when the alleged abuse of the Iraqi war prisoners held at Abu Ghraib, began. Major General Antonio M. Taguba investigated the purported activities at Abu Ghraib when photographs of abuse appeared in January 2004 (Taguba 2004). Major General Taguba’s investigation maintained that military police from the 372nd Company were demeaning and abusing the detainees, as well as videotaping or photographing their activities during the process. Major General Taguba stated in his report that the military police were abusing the detainees at the request of military intelligence and “Other US Government Agencies’ interrogators” in order to “set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses”. Major General George Fay also investigated the incident and focused on the behavior of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade (Fay 2004). Major General Fay’s discoveries were identical to Major General Taguba’s along with observations that the abuses resulted from “systemic problems” and “intense pressure felt by the personnel on the ground to produce actionable...
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