International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

August 31, 2004

August 31, 2004





**  Global dailies hold President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld "politically responsible." 


**  The "moral defeat" at Abu Ghraib has "severely undermined" American credibility. 


**  Papers split on whether the abuses were a "terrible aberration" or a failure of the "system."




'People responsible must be accountable'--  Papers held "Bush and Rumsfeld...guilty of setting the moral climate which allowed such behavior" as the "bestial crimes" at Abu Ghraib.  They agreed "the highest levels of the Pentagon contributed" to the abuses through their "deliberate" efforts to avoid noticing the "systematic brutality."  Saudi Arabia's pro-government Arab News said that "real culpability" rests with those who decided that the "rules of war should be abandoned" in the global war on terror.  Numerous dailies termed the investigations to date a "whitewash" that according to Germany's leftist die tageszeitung "merely scratch the surface of the scandal."  Other observers such as Britain's left-of-center Guardian connected the "torture scandal" to the "enormous pressure" on U.S. forces, calling Abu Ghraib "one of the unseen circumstances of poor planning."


An 'intolerable stain'--  Euro observers also stressed the "damage that the sordidness" of Abu Ghraib has caused to the "U.S. image worldwide."  Spain's left-of-center El Pais opined that the "tortures and abuses" have "damaged the image of the U.S. more than the invasion of Iraq itself," while Germany's center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine added that the "Bush administration's moral credibility has melted away."  Other dailies speculated on how the Abu Ghraib "embarrassment" will affect the global war on terror.  Uganda's state-owned New Vision warned that "losing the moral high ground by resorting to terrorist tactics undermines coalition building."  Other dailies noted that this new "chapter in the series of shocks to U.S. credibility" may lead Washington to "adopt a less holier-than-thou attitude" in its future international diplomacy.


The U.S. military's 'discipline and supervision collapsed'--   Conservative dailies called for an "urgent overhaul" of the U.S. military so as to express "zero tolerance for the inexcusable sadism practiced" at Abu Ghraib.  Several writers defended "how meticulously" the U.S. military has investigated this "terrible aberration"; Canada's leading Globe and Mail hailed its "frank admissions of egregious error."  But other outlets termed prisoner mistreatment "more extensive than previously acknowledged" and part of a system-wide problem.  Mexico's nationalist Universal found Abu Ghraib a "product of the ways and means that the U.S. has orchestrated the war" in Iraq.  Slovenia's left-of-center Dnevnik agreed that the "belief that noble goals may be reached with immoral means is the basic mistake" made in Iraq, and that "Abu Ghraib is just one of the proofs."


Prepared by Media Reaction Branch (202) 203-7888,


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 35 reports from 21 countries over 23 - 31 August 2004.  Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  "America's Problem"


An editorial in the left-of-center Guardian read (8/27):  "The reports, one for the Pentagon chaired by the former defence secretary James Schlesinger, and the other for the US army by Generals George Fay and Anthony Jones, describe a situation in which the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners was more extensive than previously acknowledged and in which military leadership was found seriously wanting....  The reports stop short of placing direct responsibility at the feet of the highest officials involved in Iraq strategy.  But the cumulative effect of the two reports points clearly in that direction.  It was not just individuals who failed.  It was a system.  Those who are in charge of that system cannot escape responsibility for abuses that debase not just the US but its allies, including Britain.  But it is not just Donald Rumsfeld or George Bush who need to look into their souls.  The same goes for a lot of Americans, and a lot of American men in particular....  The things that happened in Abu Ghraib happened because individual Americans broke the law.  But they also happened because too many Americans are prepared to look in the other direction or even actively support such abuses.  America is a society with a problem.  That problem erupted in Abu Ghraib.  America has begun to address it.  But it must not slacken off now."


"At Abu Ghraib: Why The U.S. Must Never Allow Such Horrors To Recur"


The conservative Times declared (8/26):  "The few arrests so far are not sufficient to restore confidence.  Justice must be exemplary.  There must be an urgent overhaul of US military rules on the treatment of prisoners.  The tough realities of counter-terrorist operations, as the report says, make it all the more vital for those involved to be equipped with a 'sharp moral compass.'  What happened at Abu Ghraib was a terrible aberration; but the US will recover respect only when it is clear that there is zero tolerance for the inexcusable sadism practised there."


"The Responsibility For Abu Ghraib Goes To The Top"


An editorial in the center-left Independent read (8/25):  "The same reports of systematic brutality, gunpoint interrogation, sleep deprivation and sexual humiliation which came from Abu Ghraib were also voiced by those released from Guantanamo Bay and Bagram airbase in Afghanistan.  Some of the measures were even enshrined in the official advice of Pentagon lawyers, who drew up a 72-point matrix of approved 'stress and duress' techniques for use in interrogation....  Now an official US commission has given its verdict, too.  Whatever the show trials in Mannheim find, few will doubt that George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld are guilty of setting the moral climate which allowed such behavior to take place."


“Abu Ghraib Excuses: Lack Of Oversight Is A Poor Excuse In Military Hierarchy”


The independent Financial Times declared (8/25):  "The Pentagon’s defence seems to rest largely on ignorance of what was going on in its cell blocks.  No evidence has yet been uncovered of Mr. Rumsfeld or his aides ordering any misconduct.  But they would appear guilty of condoning and encouraging disregard for established guidelines and laws--U.S. as well as international--on prisoner treatment....  The Abu Ghraib scandals are the sorry result.  The U.S. cannot stoop in this way, if it is ever to conquer."


"Pentagon Blamed Over Jail 'Sadism'"


Julian Borger wrote in the left-of-center Guardian (8/25):  "For the first time since the scandal broke, the Schlesinger report officially made a connection between the actions...of the Bush administration and the brutal treatment of prisoners....  It depicts the torture scandal as one of the unseen circumstances of poor planning by the Pentagon leadership." 


FRANCE:  "Scandal"


Pascal Riche wrote in left-of-center Liberation (8/27):  “After the scandal of prisoner abuse, President Bush suggested that it was the doings of ‘a handful of individuals'....  The point at the time was to protect Donald Rumsfeld....  Today that official version of the facts has been shattered to smithereens....  For the first time the word ‘torture’ is being used in an official report.”


GERMANY:  "Another Report"


Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger opined in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (8/27):  "A prison in Baghdad has become the synonym for a misguided, inhuman policy. This is right in one respect: 'Abu Ghraib' will remain a stigma for the U.S. armed forces for a long time; but were the cases of abuse and torture really…ordered or at least tolerated by high officials in the Defense Department?  Would that be plausible?  In a second report...a 'small group of morally spoilt soldiers and civilians' were made responsible for the abuse.  This would mean that 20 to 30 people were mainly driven by sadism.  But this would not be a few.  And this why each and every one of the most recent investigative reports come to the same less flattering result: There is a lack of leadership and supervision of the military leadership in Iraq.  But irrespective of this fact, it is remarkable how meticulously the military is investigating this matter, which can hardly be more disastrous for its reputation and America's moral credibility."


"Torture And Responsibility"


Stefan Kornelius judged in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (8/26):  "The part of the report must be very painful for Rumsfeld that says the abuse in the prisons is based on the cardinal mistake during the invasion of Iraq: bad planning and too few forces.  This analysis hits the core of President Bush's election campaign:  the Iraq war was no success, because peace was badly planned. This means that Bush cannot be a good war president because he is unable to create peace. Abu Ghraib has destroyed America's image like no other event in recent history.  A responsible official must be found for this disaster.  But as it looks right now, the voters will make the final decision on November 2."


"Investigation With Smokescreens"


Dietmar Ostermann concluded in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (8/26):  "The only consequence from the report is to do it better next time.  Wear sackcloth and ashes.  Go off.  Whatever the investigative commission will bring to the surface, it is unlikely that the Defense Department will properly come to terms with the torture scandal.  This debate cannot occur on this level either, since the downhill slide on an inclined plane that resulted in Abu Ghraib did not begin in the Pentagon but the White House.  Since President Bush high-handedly invalidated the protective mechanism of the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan and Guantánamo, he created a gray zone that resulted in all inhibitions being lifted in Iraq.  The president and his defense secretary are politically responsible for Abu Ghraib.  There is no doubt about it, no vagueness, and no chance to blame others."


"Failure In Abu Ghraib"


Torsten Krauel said in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/26):  "The most important message of the Schlesinger report is not the fact that military police officers were able to live out their sadism...but the U.S. professional army bases its war against a globally operating undercover army of terrorists on dangerous weak spots.  It is too small to counter quickly unforeseeable complications and too sluggish to confront terrorists at all fronts....  The Schlesinger Commission will have had an effect if the U.S. army comes to appreciate the activities of elite interrogators and psychologically well-trained guards as well as fully trained combat units.  The war against terrorists is a war that is fought with many weapons.  The well trained treatment of fanatics is a central element."


"Looking Away Methodically"


Bernd Pickert argued in leftist die tageszeitung of Berlin (8/25):  "Now it is almost official, the proceedings against the U.S. soldiers and military police officers who were involved in the torture scandal in Abu Ghraib merely scratch the surface of the scandal.  The superiors of the chain of orders reaching up to the heart of the pentagon are at least co-responsible.  The reports commissioned by the Defense Department do not go as far as to accuse the officers of having ordered torture, they speak of bad leadership and a lack of controls instead.  But we could also say:  it was a deliberate looking away.  The new reports just do enough to support the U.S. administration's outrage at the crimes of its inferiors.  But this is not honest.  Coming to terms with the scandal would mean to discuss the human rights aspect of the U.S. war policy.  But this is obviously something others have to do."


"Without Supervision"


Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger said in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (8/25):  "Only one thing is clear right now:  Military discipline and supervision collapsed in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison--and presumably not only there.  A further commission is now making not a simple private or some NCOs responsible for this but the civilian and military leadership of the Pentagon....  Even though the report does not draw a direct line from the Pentagon leadership to the torturers, the verdict is serious, since the U.S. armed forces like no other army emphasizes implicit discipline and obedience and thus its duty to supervise.  If the echo of outrage that set in after the publication of the first torture pictures is a yardstick, then those military officers and civilians who neglected their supervisory duty caused--or are at least politically responsible for--serious political damage.  The Bush administration's moral credibility has melted away because of this and it cut the ground from under the feet of Bush's moral justification of his Iraq policy.  Until election day, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld...and his closest aides will be able to enjoy a protective bonus, but it is likely that they will not be members of a second Bush administration."


"Looking Away"


Business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf noted (8/25):  "A clear picture is only slowly developing from the puzzle over the background of the crimes.  Thus far, clear evidence has not been presented that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld ordered the abuse in Abu Ghraib to squeeze out more information from the prisoners.  But his contradictory remarks concerning the validity of the Geneva Convention and the enormous pressure to finally end the permanent attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq obviously resulted in the fact that the Pentagon did not see what it did not want to see.  It is unlikely that Rumsfeld assumes political responsibility and steps down shortly before the elections. Thus it is up to the American voters to take the necessary steps."


"Abu Ghraib"


Dietrich Alexander opined in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (8/24):  "For a long time, Abu Ghraib will remain a synonym for one of the worst crisis of the U.S. army.  What happened there must be fully investigated and must have consequences....  But the army report did not find any shortcomings based on the system itself; this means that some psychologically disturbed inferiors were responsible for the torture and humiliations....  The U.S. military court that has now begun hearings in Mannheim...will hardly come to a different conclusion.  This would be tantamount to an absolution of the entire U.S. military leadership above Sergeant Federick...but officers and generals violated their responsibility in Abu Ghraib, too.  They should also sit in the dock....  Abu Ghraib is the consequence of mistakes that are based on the system and should result in reforms, since the system is ailing because of the lack of quality of its personnel, which does not consider discipline, its duty to take care of the detainees, and the Geneva Convention a cornerstone of a democratic army but a negligible luxury during times of war.  The credibility of the U.S. and its jurisdiction are at stake in Mannheim.  Like in Guantánamo where the first four suspects must answer for their activities--two and half years after their imprisonment."


ITALY:  “Abu Ghraib, A Boomerang For Rumsfeld”


Bruno Marolo held in pro-democratic left party (DS) L’Unità (8/25):  “Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was hit by a boomerang. The commission he personally commissioned to investigate the Abu Ghraib prison abuses yesterday presented a very critical report. While it doesn’t explicitly blame Secretary Rumsfeld, it does underscore that the highest levels of the Pentagon contributed to creating an environment that led to the abuses in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo....  The report emphasized that the Pentagon failed to carry out its duties. Although it did not order the abuses, it did not do enough to prevent it. Although Donald Rumsfeld’s name is never mentioned, it is clear that he is to blame....  It will not be easy for George W. Bush’s government to shelve this scandal....  It’s becoming increasingly difficult for the government to put the blame on a small group of soldiers.”


IRELAND:  "'Animal House On Night Shift' In Abu Ghraib"


Conor O'Cleary wrote in the center-left Irish Times (8/25):  "While not explicitly faulting top Pentagon chiefs, Mr Schlesinger said: ‘Corrective action could and should have been taken right up the chain of command as far as Washington is concerned.’ This aspect of the report is an embarrassment for Defence Secretary Mr Donald Rumsfeld and Gen Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who is also faulted for not exercising sufficient oversight of confusing policies and interrogation techniques....  Criticism of Mr Rumsfeld and other senior officials was limited, however, to not exercising sufficient oversight. None will be singled out as legally culpable or for reprimand, Pentagon officials said....  The report by Mr Schlesinger and the army findings are likely to be greeted with scepticism by critics, who believe that the abuse of prisoners was sanctioned higher up.”


NORWAY:  "Responsibility For The Abuse"


Newspaper-of-record Aftenposten observed (8/27):  "There is enough evidence that Donald Rumsfeld both accepted and initiated the prisoner abuse at variance with the Geneva Conventions. The type of attitude this reveals explains why Rumsfeld did not tidy up before a public announcement forced him to. It is almost incredible that the President protects an ideologically blinded Secretary of Defense who is misleading his own Chief of Staff to lead his country into a war that was contrary to international law, where the results have proven catastrophic to both the Iraqis and to the U.S.  Unfortunately this says a lot about the current administration of the White House.”


POLAND:  "Bad Times For Human Rights"


Dawid Warszawski wrote in liberal Gazeta Wyborcza (8/28-29):  "The September 11 attacks and the ‘war on terror’ that started as a consequence, changed the human rights situation worldwide as profoundly as the collapse of communism. The change is for the worse. The current behavior of the U.S...constitutes a threat to all the achievements accomplished so far in the area of human rights.”


SLOVENIA:  "When Big Fish Slip Away"


Dean Zagorac held in left-of-center independent Dnevnik (8/26):  "It is clear that the Bush Administration did nothing to stop abuse. One does not even dare think that top military leaders did not know what their soldiers were doing in the field....  From this point of view, it is quickly obvious why the Bush Administration is so afraid of the ICC and any other similar institution. Fear that such a tribunal would...investigate responsibility of [top officials] rather than fear that American soldiers would be exposed to politically motivated processes is the reason....  Most cases with which ICTY has been dealing, are based on the so called commander's responsibility....  Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is in prison because of commander’s responsibility.  If the U.S. recognized an international institution similar to ICTY, which would be responsible for acts performed by American citizens, Milosevic would certainly be joined by someone from the top of the Bush Administration because of the Abu Ghraib abuse."


"Abu Ghraib As A Turning Point"


Igor Mekina stated in left-of-center independent Dnevnik (8/26):  "Rare are the moments in which the injustice of a war reveals itself so clearly in its immorality. The disclosure of the Pentagon's responsibility for abuse in Abu Ghraib is one of the turning points in the war in Iraq....  Each war can be considered just or unjust on the basis of the reasons that led to it.  One can also determine whether the war is in accordance with the rules of war judging by the means used by soldiers....  Assessments of a war's nature and how it is conducted are absolutely separate. It is possible to lead a 'just war’ with 'improper means', or vice versa, to lead a very 'unjust war' following all international conventions and rules of combat. Only from this point of view, the entire depth of the American military's moral defeat can be understood....  Before Abu Ghraib, most of the world considered the war in Iraq unjust...but the U.S. and the coalition of the willing carried it out in accordance with international regulations....  The war for democracy...eventually transferred itself into an occupation after the Abu Ghraib abuses and the constant bombing of Iraqi cities.  The belief that noble goals may be reached with immoral means is the basic mistake of this occupation....  Abu Ghraib is just one among the proofs for the U.S. of this.  The very unusual and revolutionary logic of the conservatives in power is leading them to a hell of new immoral wars along a path paved with best intentions."


SPAIN:  "Environment Of Torture"


Left-of-center El País editorialized (8/25):  "The tortures and abuses of prisoners in the sinister prison of Abu Ghraib have damaged the image of the U.S. more than the invasion of Iraq itself, especially in the Arab world.  The doubts over who is responsible will not be cleared up with the independent political report....  It's not believable that the use of presented as simple defects of organization, command, training, lack of means and insufficient supervision, a result of the chaos that reigned in Abu Ghraib....  There were errors and crimes in the chain of command, be they of act or omission.  The people responsible must be accountable.  The U.S. can not allow itself this impunity, under penalty of completely losing the moral authority that it needs as much as its enormous military superiority.  This is not the way to put into effect the plan of 'exporting democracy' that the Bush Administration has talked about."


"The Pandora's Box Of Abu Ghraib"


Independent El Mundo stated (8/25):  "Abu Ghraib is a catalogue of humiliations that should shame those responsible in the U.S. forces....  In spite of the hardness of the report, there is no sign of resignations at the apex (of the Pentagon)....  But something must have failed in the U.S. for that prison to turn into a kind of torture chamber under allied command.  It's easy to imagine the damage that the sordidness of these histories causes the U.S. image worldwide.  The difference with regimes like Saddam's is that, in democracies, the truth is always known, thanks to the good job of the media. And, above all, that the citizens can throw out of power those political leaders responsible for the existence of Abu Ghraib's Pandora's box."




EGYPT:   "Bestial Crimes"


Aggressive, pro-government Al-Akhbar surmised (8/26):  "At long last, [the reports] have officially confirmed that the bestial crimes the Americans perpetrated were not individual cases...[but rather] were committed with the blessing of the highest echelons....  If [such] a report was issued on any [other] country, the U.S. would fill the world with an uproar about human rights."  


SAUDI ARABIA:  "Abu Ghraib Abuse"


The pro-government English-language Arab News editorialized (8/26):  "Until now, the only mitigating circumstance for the Americans in the Abu Ghraib prison outrage has been the apparent readiness of the authorities to investigate and charge those responsible. However, there were always those who predicted a cover-up....  This week it looks like those predictions are coming true....  No credence was given to claims that the policy of abusing detainees was approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The commission found only that there had been muddle and confusion over the supervision of prisoner treatment....  There are clear international rules set out for the treatment of enemy prisoners. All the lack of clarity and confusion in the world should not stop any military force, especially the army of a country that prides itself so much on the rule of law, from conforming to those rules. If the American Army really is the disciplined fighting machine that the Pentagon presents it as, then its soldiers are unlikely to break clear international rules which must have been part of their training, unless they were acting under orders....  The guards who have been charged all claim they were acting under orders. That lessens but does not remove their guilt because they had the power, indeed the duty, to refuse an illegal order. The real culpability would, however, lie with the persons who decided that the rules of war should be abandoned. If it was the colonels, they cannot be let off. If it goes still higher, then the investigation must follow the chain of command to where the original order was given....  Unless everyone who was actively or passively involved in the depravities is brought to account, the protests by the Bush administration that it was sickened by the revelations of mistreatment will never have any meaning."


SYRIA:  "Who Is Violating Human Rights?"


Hisham Bashir opined in government-owned Tishreen (8/28):  "What was leaked from the Abu-Ghurayb scandal might only be a small part of what actually happened in that prison. The UN and international human right organizations, therefore, need to intervene to establish a fair, objective, and independent investigation commission to reveal these flagrant and serious human right violations. The matter should not be left to the concerned party to set up a commission under the supervision of the Pentagon to come up with a report absolving the real culprit.  What was leaked from Abu Ghurayb might be a replica of what happened and is still happening in Guantanamo prison, which is out of sight of watchdogs, human right establishments, and international organizations.  We find the same thing in Israeli jails, where thousands of Palestinian prisoners and detainees are subjected to the most horrible forms of physical and psychological torture. Some of them are martyred under torture. And here is Israel turning its back on the open-ended hunger strike in prisons and on all angry international reactions."


UAE:  "Whitewash At The White House?"


The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf News declared (8/26):  "It should surprise no one that a report called for by the U.S. Defence Secretary to review military detention procedures exonerates the very person who appointed the investigation committee: Donald Rumsfeld. The report concedes there were administrative mistakes, but they were made in the military command, not the policy-making side. So Rumsfeld gets off, with even a passing (verbal) reference to his competence....  When asked if Rumsfeld should resign, he said the only people who would want that would be the enemies of America.  Not true....  It should be remembered that Rumsfeld is the darling of the American press; eminently quotable, frequently contentious. However, last May he claimed that as the events happened on 'his watch' then he had a responsibility for what had happened at Abu Ghraib (and elsewhere). If that is so, then it includes the failure in command structure, which is one of the main criticisms that comes from the report....  The 'man on watch' was Rumsfeld: he has to go."




CHINA:  "U.S. Army Abuses War-Prisoners And High-Level Officials Gloss Over Mistakes"


The English-language official People's Daily commented (8/23):  "For a period of time, the scandals about the US army's organized abuses of war prisoners in Iraq have been growing daily....  Meanwhile, the investigation with regard to the problem of prisoner abuse likewise reveals to be a shocking ignominy....  Joseph M. Darby...handed over photos showing the troops' abuses of the war prisoners there. Some of the soldiers were ruled guilty because of it....  Now, the Darby family in Maryland is suffering from death threats....  From the sufferings of Darby's family we can come to know that the investigation into the US army's war-prisoner abuse scandal has not only met with the hindrance from U.S. military high officials but also the pressures from the public. Once the narrow-minded patriotism and nationalism come to a vicious swelling the significance of what is true and wrong becomes perverted, and justice and truth are no longer anything holy.  Actually, the US army's abuses of war prisoners are by no means limited to Iraq alone. The same things can be found in Afghanistan, in the prison of Guantanamo naval base and other places. In almost all processes of arrest, conveyance and lock-up and sentence they are suffering from maltreatment and persecution in different ways and degrees and those being maltreated are by no means limited to the Muslims but also include prisoners from western countries. As many critiques and analyses hold, what happened in the Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq was only a tip of an iceberg with only a few unfortunate scapegoats caught so as to gloss over the decision-makers and other executors behind the scene....  The predicament of Darby's family can serve as a mirror, reflecting a horrible social existence of an extreme feeling whereas at the same time it also admonishes the American people to take a reasonable view of what their own country has done, been doing and is going to do."


VIETNAM:  "The Truth Is Acknowledged"


Trung Hieu wrote in official Hanoi city government-run Ha Noi Moi (8/31):  "A committee for investigation of activities at U.S. military prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and a part of Cuba's territory on August 24 said flaws in the leadership of Pentagon officials are the main reason for mistreatments of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq....  The continuation of illegal detentions at prisons run by the U.S. military is eroding the image of the U.S....  But what the committee has been doing is necessary, at least in the first place for the prisoners who were and are being abused by the U.S. military."


INDIA:  "The Real Damage"


The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer held (8/27):  "The report of the commission headed by a former U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Schlesinger, which has held failure of the leadership at the Pentagon responsible for the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, will hurt President Bush's campaign for re-election.  It has blamed America's top generals for failing to make sufficient manpower and resources available at Abu Ghraib and the rest of the gargantuan network of military prisons that has been established around the world....  The damage to Bush will be all the greater because the report comes at a time when there is a growing realization in the U.S. and the rest of world that the coalition forces' invasion of Iraq was at best based on wrong information about Saddam Hussein's possession of WMD, and that the fighting is likely to stretch indefinitely, taking a steady toll of American lives....  If the exposure of the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib has damaged Bush's re-election prospects, it has also severely undermined America's claim of being the world's leading defender of human rights. One hopes that Washington realizes this and adopts a less holier-than-thou attitude when talking to India about the highly exaggerated reports of human rights abuse in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere....  As the Vietnam and Iraq wars and other low-intensity conflicts have shown, it is next to impossible to entirely avoid human rights violations during counter-insurgency operations.  India tries its best to avoid these and has punished those guilty.  One now waits to see how the U.S. deals with those behind the atrocities at Abu Ghraib."




UGANDA:  "America Must Square Up"


The state-owned New Vision editorialized (8/29):  "When the story of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib Prison broke, the U.S. army said it was an ‘aberration’ not official policy. Two official reports for the Pentagon and the US army published this week, however, indicate that the ‘aberrations’ were indeed a failure of systems and the military leadership....  The Abu Ghraib abuse was similar to the abuse in Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan. Nudity was a tactic of choice.  Former defense secretary James Schlesinger who wrote the report for the Pentagon detailed acts of 'brutality and purposeless sadism.'  He agreed with the generals that abuses were triggered by a lack of discipline at several levels and 'a failure or lack of leadership by multiple echelons.'  The war on international terrorism is not about to end. America, the self appointed leader of this fight needs allies. Losing the moral high ground by resorting to terrorist tactics undermines coalition building and casts the allies in a negative light."




CANADA:  "Rumsfeld Should Resign"


The leading Globe and Mail editorialized (8/26):  "The most striking aspect of the Schlesinger commission's scathing report into the U.S. military's abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison is that it came to light at all. For a document such as this--bursting with frank admissions of egregious error at every level of the military chain of command--to emerge from the governing establishment of a nation at war is remarkable. For it to emerge in an election year from an inquiry led by a former Republican defence secretary, James Schlesinger, is even more so. The Schlesinger report, together with an equally withering postmortem released yesterday by the U.S. Army, give the lie to claims that the U.S. government is out of control. On the contrary, these and earlier reports critical of U.S. intelligence show that the Bush administration--whatever its failings--continues to operate within a vigorous set of checks and balances that make those in many democracies (including Canada) look tepid by comparison.  Having said that, it's also clear now that Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld contributed to the chaotic climate in which the Abu Ghraib abuses took place....  Rumsfeld...earlier vowed to quit the moment he could no longer be effective in his job. That moment is now past....  Given election-year politics, it is unlikely that Mr. Rumsfeld will step down. But he should."


"Abu Ghraib's Abuse"


The liberal Toronto Star opined (8/26):  "Most U.S. troops acted honourably. Of  50,000 prisoners in Cuba, Afghanistan and Iraq, fewer than 300 have been abused. But some were. And five were killed. In his zeal to squeeze terrorists, Rumsfeld approved 'augmented' interrogation techniques:  shouting at prisoners, terrifying them with dogs, stripping them naked, forcing them to stand for long periods, depriving them of light and sleep.  Later he would rescind that guidance, sowing confusion. But some U.S. interrogators felt they got the gist of Rumsfeld's mixed signals. They unleashed the dogs."


ARGENTINA:  "Abu Ghraib Abuses: Report Points To Pentagon Chief"


Ana Baron noted in leading Clarin (8/25):  "Every time the Pentagon has tried to establish if Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is responsible for the abuse suffered by Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib, the result has always been the same: 'Yes, but no.' The conclusions of a panel chaired by one of his predecessors, James Schlesinger, which were disclosed yesterday, weren't an exception: they were completely the opposite.  According to Schlesinger, Rumsfeld and the military top brass created the conditions, but weren't the ones to issue the orders that enabled the abuses....  Schlesinger declared that the panel determined that more than 300 episodes of abuse were not isolated issues, as President Bush declared, but involved many people. Schlesinger said there was a great deal of sadism....  In any event, everything indicates that Rumsfeld will come out of the process undamaged. One of the judges in charge of the military trials rejected a petition of one of the accused soldiers, who requested that Rumsfeld be forced to testify in his trial."


BRAZIL:  "The Report Is Another Shock To  U.S. Credibility"


Independent Jornal do Brasil maintained (8/26):  "The report on the Abu Ghraib another chapter in the series of shocks to U.S. credibility after its erratic action in Iraq. The report blames Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the American military commanders whose failures have allowed ‘'moments of chaos, with acts of sadism'....  The report stresses that the abuses were not the action of a single group, as the Bush administration states. Over 300 cases are being investigated.  Such evidence becomes an intolerable stain on a country which has been [a solid] supporter of human and individual rights. Such values today are smeared not only by Abu Ghraib, but also by the successive testimonies of mistreatment at the Guantanamo base.”


MEXICO:  "An American Animal Farm "


Ricardo Raphael asserted in nationalist Universal (8/27):  "Nevertheless, those photos...demonstrated that Westerners--despite the Geneva Convention and their speeches full of human rights--are also capable of turning into animals if there's an authority that allows it.  To excuse the army's highest officials, the report tries to explain that this hell was produced because the circumstances overwhelmed the capacity of the chain of command. In Schlesinger's words, what happened in Abu Gharib was 'a mental state, a sort of animal farm arising from a military failure.'  In effect, the mental state that dominated in Abu Gharib is a product of the ways and means that the U.S. has orchestrated the war in the Middle East."



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