It’s just a matter of time before Bush’s torture fetish catches up with him.
A human rights group accused the Bush administration on Wednesday of failing to take responsibility for the nearly 100 detainees who have died in US custody, including eight who were tortured to death, since August 2002.
In Command’s Responsibility, a report on the “war on terror” released on Wednesday, Human Rights First said 100 detainees had died in US custody, including 34 deaths that the Pentagon had classified as suspected, or confirmed, murders.
The group said the facts surrounding another 11 of the nearly 100 deaths “suggest death as a result of physical abuse or harsh conditions of detention”. The report criticises the administration, saying “only 12 detainee deaths have result-ed in punishment of any kind for any US official”.
The report says that only half of the eight cases where detainees were allegedly tortured to death had resulted in punishment, with the steepest sentence being five months.
It also accuses the administration over the role of the Central Intelligence Agency, saying none of its agents had faced criminal charges despite being implicated in detainee deaths.
“The failure to deal adequately with these cases has opened a serious accountability gap for the US military and intelligence community, and has produced a credibility gap for the US – between policies the leadership says it respects on paper, and behaviour it actually allows in practice,” the report said.
“One such incident would be an isolated transgression; two would be a serious problem; a dozen of them is policy,” John Hutson, former Navy judge advocate general and now dean of the Franklin Pierce Law Center, wrote in the report.
“The law of military justice has long recognised that military leaders are held responsible for the conduct of their troops. Yet this report also documents that no civilian official or officer above the rank of major responsible for interrogation and detention practices has been charged in connection with the torture or abuse-related death of a detainee in US custody.”