The Abuse and Torture of Prisoners by U.S. Military Personnel at Abu Ghraib in 2003: An Analysis

Pages: 2 (662 words) Published: April 30, 2014


TO: Dr. Andreea Maierean
FROM: Gvantsa Gordeziani
RE: Case Study 15, Torture and Public Policy
DATE: April 25, 2014

Summary of Facts:
This article examines the abuse and torture of prisoners by U.S. military personnel at Abu Ghraib, Iraq, in 2003. The evidence demonstrates that the abuses were not merely the actions of a few sadistic and ill-trained guards, but that official memo- randa, policy changes, operational decisions, and command changes led to harsh interrogation techniques and set the conditions for torture. 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.

Key Issues:
One of the key issues is who is to...
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