return to ICG Spaces home    ICG Risk Blog    discussions    newsletters    login    

ICG Risk Blog - [ Did Stanford merely meet Abu Ghraib or is there more? ]

Did Stanford merely meet Abu Ghraib or is there more?

  #

As I try to digest the Schlesinger Report, I am struck by three themes:

  1. The effortless path by which unsupervised, regardless of how well trained or intelligent, guards become prison monsters noted in Linear connection from Abu Ghraib to the Stanford Prison Experiment was indeed at work at Abu Ghraib, but is not sufficient in totality to describe the excesses.
  2. The lack of systemic planning and attention to the overall resources and management needed to both win a war and administer an occupation, the omissions of interrogation at Abu Ghraib being mimicked in the "inefficient-to-shoddy intelligence practices" noted in Operation OUTREACH from the Army's Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL).
  3. The rising level of aggressive interrogation in global counterinsurgency and counterterrorism, many techniques of which actually rose from training US forces received to resist expected interrogation if captured as cited in A survey of US POW interrogation and Abu Ghraib in particular, Part I and Part II.

It would appear that the Abu Ghraib excesses which have demolished what might have remained of US respect in the Arab and Muslim world were visited on common criminals rather than valid intelligence subjects and were carried out for the amusement of unsupervised, untrained, effectively isolated, and I would say partially disorientated soldiers, many of those reservists. Left to their own, especially on a predominately "night shift" that is all too often devoid of "management oversight," military or commercial, the descent into the Stanford and Yale documented conditions was assured.

Next is the matter of who 'left them to their own' and how far responsibility and culpability should rest. The reader's answer will say as much as to their politics as to military efficiency, given the polarization over the current US administration. While US myopia in unfamiliar land has in the past shown no single political stripe, the inability of the administration to assign any culpability to its members is without recent precedent.

By comparison, the US military has in the post-Vietnam era made good efforts to perform a lessons learned exercise after each major action and does a better job than civilians in fixing cause, defining change, and assigning culpability. What bothers me is that the military has begun to shield some of those key lessons learned due to their embarrassing conclusions of ineptitude or unpreparedness. Is it the military or the administration, or both, that is doing the shielding?

I lean to disciplinary action against the immediate commanders as they did not execute unit oversight and showed political tone deafness to Arab and Muslim reaction to these excesses. They failed the "above the fold in the Times" test miserably. My concern is that assigning higher culpability mixes military mismanagement and responding to civilian/administration demands for 'better results.'

My personal feeling is that the military is being left to take the blame when it was not they who set the manning levels to accomplish a greatly underrated task.

Relevant notes:

Rationalizing military accountability with systemic design faults
5/12/2004

Systemization of aggressive interrogation
5/11/2004

A survey of US POW interrogation and Abu Ghraib in particular, Part II
5/10/2004

A survey of US POW interrogation and Abu Ghraib in particular, Part I
5/10/2004

Linear connection from Abu Ghraib to the Stanford Prison Experiment
5/7/2004

Abu Ghraib 800th MILITARY POLICE BRIGADE report now on-line
5/5/2004

Abu Ghraib debacle
5/4/2004

Excerpts From the Schlesinger Report
Wednesday, August 25, 2004; Page A13
Washington Post

Senior Officers May Be Charged
By Daniel Williams
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, August 25, 2004; Page A13

Pentagon panel: Top brass was lax in Abu Ghraib oversight
NBC, MSNBC and news services
Updated: 9:10 p.m. ET Aug. 24, 2004

Final Report of the Independent Panel to Review DoD Detention Operations
Chairman, The Honorable James R. Schlesinger
August 2004

Gordon Housworth



InfoT Public  Strategic Risk Public  Terrorism Public  

discussion

  discuss this article


<<  |  December 2019  |  >>
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
2930311234
567891011
view our rss feed