Last night I read with growing dismay a four page story published today above the fold in the Washington Post. The story concerns ongoing Army investigations, courts-martial and discipline concerning events surrounding an enemy prisoner who surrendered (he apparently actually believed he was coming in to parley) to US forces in western Iraq. This man died in US custody and his captors and questioners are either under investigation or have been charged with alleged offenses connected to his death.
I will not comment on that process in which the Army is doing the right thing so far.
There are other things about this that interest me:
1-This story was clearly a major project for the WP. They gave it a lot of attention and broad space right at the top of their front page, but it was not even mentioned on the editorial page. At the Post, as at most newspapers, the editorial page is a separate effort complete with its own editorial staff. It has been clear for some time now that there is a major division of opinion on serious issues at the Post between the newsroom staff and the editorial people. this incident seems to illustrate that difference.
2- As I read the story it is clear to me that the major US force in western Iraq at the time of the incident was an armored cavalry regiment, commanded by a full colonel. The story seems to indicate that the regimental commander and his staff were aware and approved of what was being done in his name and in his Area of Operations (AOR). If that is so, why are nearly all the people mentioned in the article as the targets of Army justice either enlisted people or warrant officers? It will be a travesty if senior people are allowed to skate in this matter or any similar matter while enlisted soldiers and junior officers are held accountable. It has always been an article of faith and basic principle in the Army that a commander is responsible for ALL that his unit does or fails to do. Is this still true? Pat Lang