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Command’s Responsibility: Detainee Deaths in U.S. Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan

Command's ResponsibilityHuman Rights First’s new report provides the first comprehensive accounting of the U.S. government’s handling of the nearly 100 cases of detainees who have died in U.S. custody since 2002 Executive Summary Full Report (PDF-1MB) Press Release Read Washington Post editorial “Homicide Unpunished” Read op-ed “Leadership Accountability is Key to Ending U.S. Torture Scandal” by Rear Admiral John Hutson, USN (Ret.) (external link) Listen to Press Conference to Release “Command’s Responsibility”
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Real Media Press Conference Statements: Fact Sheet: Deaths in Custody By the Numbers (PDF -35KB) Fact Sheet: The Role of the Commanders Table: Charges and Punishments Sample Case Profiles Appendices: Some of the Original Source Documents The Path Ahead: Recommendations Comments on the Report
“Command’s Responsibility documents a dozen brutal deaths as the result of the most horrific treatment. One such incident would be an isolated transgression; two would be a serious problem; a dozen of them is policy. The law of military justice has long recognized that military leaders are held responsible for the conduct of their troops. Yet this report also documents that no civilian official or officer above the rank of major responsible for interrogation and detention practices has been charged in connection with the torture or abuse-related death of a detainee in U.S. custody. And the highest punishment for anyone handed down in the case of a torture-related death has been five months in jail. This is not accountability as we know it in the United States.” —John D. Hutson President and Dean, Franklin Pierce Law Center Ret. Rear Admiral, JAGC, USN
“The torture and death catalogued in excruciating detail by this important Human Rights First report did not happen spontaneously. They are the consequence of a shocking breakdown of command discipline on the part of the Army’s Officer Corps. It is very clear that cruel treatment of detainees became a common Army practice because generals and colonels and majors allowed it to occur, even encouraged it. What is unquestionably broken is the fundamental principle of command accountability, and that starts at the very top. The Army exists, not just to win America’s wars, but to defend America’s values. The policy and practice of torture without accountability has jeopardized both.” —David R. Irvine Brig. Gen. (Ret.) USA