Accountability up and down the line

Justice should start with the MPs in those photos. But it shouldn’t stop there.

A reader on active duty writes to say that the claim by the enlisted and non-com Abu Ghraib defendants not to have seen the Geneva Convention must be false:

Every soldier, (particularly non-commissioned officers like the Staff Sergeant you mentioned) is given a copy of the Geneva Convention to review as part of the annual training a Reservist or National Guard soldier gets (usually during the December drill). This issue is again revisited during mobilization training before being activated under Title 10 of the U.S. Code. It is part of the validation process before Reserve and Guard soldiers go to Iraq.

My reader also points out that the distinction between lawful and unlawful orders is part of basic training. So the accused deserve no slack for doing what they must have known was wrong.

Count me in. I don’t want to see criminal liability stop with the people in those horrible photos, because they couldn’t have done what they did without the active and passive help of others. But it should certainly start with them.

Unless Spec. Sivits is being given a break for providing testimony against others, it seems to me that a special court-martial, where the maximum sentence is a year in jail and a Bad Conduct Discharge (as opposed to a Dishonorable Discharge) is hardly adequate.

And I suspect some Iraqis may feel the same way.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com