The first conviction for the Abu Ghraib atrocities
, that of Army Reserve Spec. Charles A. Graner Jr., does nothing to answer the question I asked right at the beginning of this: where were the officers? Where are the officers? Is this a professional army or is it a typical bureaucracy which proports to be a fighting arm of the U.S. govt. ?
The answer might lie somewhere between: all peace-time militaries are full of time-servers. After a period of conflict as in, say, the first year or so of World war II, the whole shebang is tightened up. This will happen with the U.S. military because it is serving in Iraq for the long-term: not two or three, but maybe 10-15 years. Don't think it will be packing up and walking away completely in 12 months time.
Many of the useless people in its ranks will eventually be sacked, or walk out of their jobs backwards: it won't happen in a few months. Many don't care, anyway, what they do when they serve in Iraq: they are being held there for want of replacements, so are resentful and prone to take it out on the people they are dealing with in a non-fighting capacity.
Pay 'em more and get some fresh recruits in. Promise 'em perfomance bonuses. Give 'em bigger pensions. If the American public really believe in this business; if they learn what it means for the Middle East and the world generally, then good quality recruits will join up with the specific purpose of helping to sort Iraq out.
The U.S. military (and their allies of course) have been in Iraq for two years. A significant number are reservists. Some of these are good because they are older and more mature, holding down responsible jobs in civie street: these are the one's we hear about pulling their fingers out to help the Iraqi people in ways they think fit: using their intiative in a ways the less good personnel can't or won't do, probably because of their recent training.
The only way the Abu Ghraib business will be properly laid to rest - in public relations and in moral terms - is when officers of at least Major rank are also tried for what they didn't do to prevent the Abu Ghraib abuse: as high up as they dare without loosing too much face. It would be good, once all the patsies have been tried and convicted, if the President and the Secretary of Defence eventually admit the buck stopped with them; that they are responsible for what happened even if they didn't know it was going on.
Enough has already been disclosed about interrogation techniques to know it is endemic, institutionally. There are a few links further back down this site to something called RSI, which stands for resistance to interrogation, not repetitive strain injury: though without trying to make light of something very serious, there will be a few strains due to repetition of something or other). If you type in RSI in Google there are a a few refrences but you will need to go down a long way....