News Release

Does the Buck Stop at Lynndie England?


A military jury has sentenced Army Pfc. Lynndie England to three years for her role in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Tizon is the assistant director of Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International and a survivor of torture under the Marcos regime in the Philippines. He said today: “Lynndie England was convicted and sentenced but that is not satisfactory for us. It’s obvious that the rank and file people are the small fry. What we would like to know is the whole story: what really happened, from the memos down. Available information clearly indicates that this isn’t a case of just a few bad apples. What we want is a credible independent investigation, and just ‘bipartisan’ is not good enough because my experience has been that bipartisan can also be biased. I think the U.S. should create an independent investigation commission and invite international participation. That would help with the credibility of the investigation, and it would be a very concrete way for the United States to reach out to the international community, to show that we are serious about investigating what really happened and continues to happen, and we would like to redeem ourselves and regain a sense of morality.”
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Sifton is a researcher with Human Rights Watch, which has just released a report titled “Leadership Failure: Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.” The report provides soldiers’ accounts of abuses against detainees committed by troops of the 82nd Airborne stationed at Forward Operating Base Mercury, near Fallujah. In a statement about the report, HRW said: “Three U.S. army personnel — two sergeants and a captain — describe routine, severe beatings of prisoners and other cruel and inhumane treatment. … According to the soldiers’ accounts, U.S. personnel abused detainees as part of the military interrogation process or merely to ‘relieve stress.’ In numerous cases, they said that abuse was specifically ordered by Military Intelligence personnel before interrogations, and that superior officers within and outside of Military Intelligence knew about the widespread abuse. … One sergeant told Human Rights Watch: ‘Everyone in camp knew if you wanted to work out your frustration you show up at the PUC [Persons Under Control, i.e. detainees] tent.’ … The officer who spoke to Human Rights Watch made persistent efforts over 17 months to raise concerns about detainee abuse with his chain of command and to obtain clearer rules on the proper treatment of detainees, but was consistently told to ignore abuses and to ‘consider your career.'”
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Harbury is the director of the Stop Torture Permanently (STOP) Campaign and author of the recent book Truth, Torture, and the American Way. Harbury’s husband Efraín Bámaca Velásquez was secretly detained and tortured to death in Guatemala in the early 1990s. Her long efforts to save his life led to the official disclosure that his killers were Guatemalan intelligence officers serving as paid CIA informants or ‘assets.’ In an op-ed published in Newsday (Sept. 24), she stated: “Given the extraordinary flow of disclosures, confirming the use of identical U.S. torture practices throughout Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, the ‘bad apple’ defense is coy at best. It is impossible for so many soldiers to dream up identical techniques by coincidence. We are dealing with official policy, not individual excess.”

Harbury added: “These practices have been developed through the decades. The iconic photograph of the Abu Ghraib detainee, hooded and wired and standing on a small box, depicts a position known to intelligence officials as ‘The Vietnam.'”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167