An opinion from an expert

The former commander of the 372nd MP company thinks people senior to SSGT. Frederick must have known of or been complicit in what was done at Abu Ghraib.

The former commander of the MP unit whose soldiers have been charged in the Abu Ghraib horrors comments:

These actions were the result of huge command failures. The senior person charged thus far is Ivan L. Frederick, a staff sergeant. In an MP company, a person of his rank is normally placed in charge of a squad of 11 soldiers. I refuse to believe that no leader above Frederick was aware of or complicit in the abuses that were apparently widespread throughout the prison.

Right.

And it turns out you can only fool most of the people some of the time:

By 46 percent to 37 percent, more Americans believe the soldiers involved in the abuse were following orders than that they were acting on their own volition.

That’s a reversal from a week ago.

Of course, the question as phrased posed a false alternative. As Gen. Taguba’s testimony makes clear, they almost certainly weren’t “following orders” given by anyone with the lawful authority to give them, and no one had the lawful authority to order what was actually done at Abu Ghraib. But the soldiers were doing what they thought others above them in rank wanted them to do; they weren’t “acting on their own.”

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