In a small courtroom at this vast Army training base, military prosecutors have been moving briskly to dispense with the cases they have filed in the brutal deaths in 2002 of two Afghan prisoners at the American military detention center in Bagram, Afghanistan.
On Thursday, a 24-year-old military intelligence sergeant pleaded guilty to assault and dereliction of duty for abusing one of the prisoners during an interrogation. Another interrogator, accused of tormenting the same detainee, agreed to plead guilty two days before. Military lawyers said that a plea deal was being negotiated with a third interrogator and that two reservist military policemen who received lesser punishments were cooperating with the inquiry.
Military officials said they hoped the prosecutions would send a message that such abuses will not be tolerated, even in the country's fight against terrorism.
[. . .]
Along with other information that has emerged, trial testimony has underscored a question long at the core of this case: what is the responsibility of more senior military personnel for the abuses that took place?
Many former Bagram officers have denied knowing about any serious mistreatment of detainees before the two deaths. But others said some of the methods that prosecutors have cited as a basis for criminal charges, including chaining prisoners to the ceilings of isolation cells for long periods, were either standard practice at the prison or well-known to those who oversaw it.
None of the nine soldiers prosecuted thus far are officers. The 18 others against whom Army investigators have recommended criminal charges include two captains, the military intelligence officer in charge of the interrogation group and the reservist commander of the military police guards.
The above is from Tim Golden's "Abuse Cases Open Command Issues at Army Prison" article in this morning's New York Times. If there's one article you read (or at least aware of) in this morning's Times, this should be it.
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