By Melina Milazzo
Upon the early release of Charles Graner, the so-called American “ringleader” of the Abu Ghraib detainee abuse scandal, Iraqis are reportedly outraged. Graner, one of a handful of U.S. soldiers convicted for sexually humiliating Iraqis and taking photos of the sadistic acts while a guard at the U.S. prison, was released this past Sunday for good behavior after serving six-and-a-half years of his 10 year sentence.
Of the soldiers charged in the scandal, Graner served the longest sentence.
For Iraqis, Graner’s lax sentencing and early release symbolizes an American style of injustice that delivers little to no accountability for the wanton abuse and violence against Iraqis at the hands of U.S. troops, contractors, and other American personnel. And, they have a point.
While Graner’s criminal involvement with the Abu Ghraib scandal should not be minimized, the truth is that Graner and the other low-level soldiers held accountable were simply the underlings to a broader, systematic U.S. policy of abuse and official cruelty. Indeed, the Senate Armed Services Committee found:
“The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of ‘a few bad apples’ acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees.”