Here's one of the most telling segments from Dan Rather's interview with Gen. Kimmitt :
Dan Rather - "Any indications, general, that any thing approaching these kinds of things have happened in other prisons?"
Gen. Kimmitt - "Well, Dan, I'd like to sit here and say that these are the only prisoner abuse cases that we're aware of, but we know there have been some other ones since we've been here in Iraq."
True. Amnesty International reported on such claims in June of 2003, including claims of torture inside Abu Ghraib prison itself, and says that the abuse of Iraqi prisoners is still widespread. Similar claims were also reported on by British journalist Robert Fisk... but such allegations were never seriously reported on by the mainstream media.
It's an oversimplification to blame just the soldiers for this one, I think... especially if it's happening elsewhere. The situation reminds me uncomfortably of the Stanford Prison experiments, or of the Milgram obedience experiments. Sure, the soldiers responsible should pay, but not enough attention is being focused on how to avoid such problems in the future.
It should be remembered that this case only became public because a soldier felt morally obligated to report it to superiors. The hard thing to accept is that this soldier's peers obviously thought that what they were doing was somehow acceptable under the circumstances, to the point where they could even take photographic evidence and still not get caught.
I have to wonder what is being done about the main issues here that led to this problem:
1> Prison overcrowding.
2> Inadequate staffing of prisons.
3> Lack of public accountability -- access to lawyers, health/human rights organizations, families, etc.
4> Lack of clear guidelines, or orders which conflict on some level with existing guidelines.
5> An unhealthy, unprofessional atmosphere that leads to the acceptance of such acts.
We'll see... hopefully. If we're allowed.