Exporting Prison Abuse to the World?

An article on "abuse of prisoners in the U.S.":http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/08/national/08PRIS.html?hp in the _NY Times_ shows that Lane McCotter, the man who oversaw the reopening of the Abu Ghraib prison in iraq, was forced to resign a U.S. prison post "after an inmate died while shackled to a restraining chair for 16 hours. The inmate, who suffered from schizophrenia, was kept naked the whole time." It was Attorney General John Ashcroft who hand-picked the officials who went to iraq.
As an American I'm ashamed but not terribly surprised to see what happened in the U.S.-run prisons in iraq. Militaries are institutions designed to command with force and only civilian oversight will ultimately keep any military insitution free from this sort of abuse. The "Red Cross had warned of prisoner mistreatment":http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=514&e=3&u=/ap/20040508/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_prisoner_abuse but was largely ignored. Abu Ghraib is in the news in part because of a leaked Pentagon report, yet it's only after CBS News aired the pictures and the New Yorker quoted parts of the reports and turned it into a scandal that President Bush or Defense Secretary Rumsfeld admitted to the problems and gave their half-hearted apologies.
_This is not to say all soldiers are abusive or all prison guards are abusive_. Most soldiers and most guards are good, decent people, serving out of call to duty and (often) because of economic necessities. But when the system is privatized and kept secret, we allow for corruption that put even the good people in positions where they are pressured to do wrong.
It is precisely because the Pentagon instinctively keeps reports like the one on the abuse conditions inside the Abu Ghraib prison secret that conditions are allowed to get this bad. That prison, along with the one at Guantanamo Bay remain largely off-limits to international law. It was probably only a few Americans that gave the orders for the abuse but it was many more who followed and many many more--all of us in one way or another--who have gave the go-ahead with our inattention to issues of justice in prisons.

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