Pentagon Defies Order to Release Photos; 2,000 Veterans Call for Independent Investigation
WASHINGTON -- Veterans for Common Sense (VCS), a nonpartisan veterans’ organization with 12,000 members, called for a commission to investigate torture allegations today, in response to the Pentagon refusal to release photos and videos from Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.
In an open letter, signed by more than 2,000 veterans and supporters (including 5 flag-rank officers and more than 200 commissioned officers), the veterans urged Congress and the President to “commit -- immediately and publicly -- to support the creation of an independent commission to investigate and report on the detention and interrogation practices of U.S. military and intelligence agencies deployed in the war on terror.”
Charles Sheehan-Miles, a 1991 Gulf War veteran and the group’s executive director, said, “Once again the administration is fighting to prevent any possible public accountability for its policies, instead choosing to blame it all on the troops. To court-martial privates while high ranking officials get promoted is damaging to the very principle of command responsibility and undermines the U.S. military.”
Veterans for Common Sense is co-plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by a coalition of human rights and civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights. The lawsuit has generated thousands of pages of documents in the last year documenting torture, abuse and in some cases murder in U.S. detention centers.
Individuals who have seen the photos and videos, including some members of Congress and journalist Seymour Hersh, have reported they include scenes far worse than anything released from Abu Ghraib thus far, including rape and the videotaped beating of a prisoner. The courts had ordered the Pentagon to release the photos by Friday, July 22, but the Pentagon filed a last minute brief attempting to block their release.
Sheehan-Miles said, “The Pentagon is doing everything it can to prevent the release of these graphic images, because they know that if the U.S. public were to see the true scope of the abuses, the demands for an independent investigation would be too strong to be ignored.”
The full text of the letter and list of signers is available at http://www.veteransforcommonsense.org
ABOUT VETERANS FOR COMMON SENSE -- Veterans for Common Sense (VCS) is a non-partisan veterans’ organization focused on U.S. national security. Its 12,000 members have served in every U.S. conflict since 1941. Web site: http://www.veteransforcommonsense.org
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