Up the Command Ladder

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This update in today’s New York Times on the prosecution of soldiers involved in two deaths at Bagram base in Afghanistan raises a vital question: “What is the responsibility of more senior military personnel for the abuses that took place?” As it turns out, the soldiers involved in the Bagram deaths (two are at issue here—both stem from the application of “severe trauma to the men’s legs”) have relatively strong claims that they were trained to treat the prisoners in a way that ultimately resulted in these two deaths. That could mean that the military will have more difficulty portraying these abuses as wildcat actions by a few bad guards or interrogators.

Of course, we know that the culture that promoted the actions leading these deaths goes right to the very top. But so far this hasn’t meant any responsibility for commanders or civilian policy makers. I won’t hold much hope, but maybe the little noted Bagram deaths can net some bigger fish.

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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