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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 December, 2004, 11:00 GMT
Jail abuse allegations: Your reaction
Woman prisoner with prayer beads
Documents detailing abuse in Iraqi prisons have been released as part of a legal case against the US government.

The American Civil Liberties Union have brought a case which alleges abuse in Iraqi prisons months after the Abu Ghraib scandal, and mistreatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay.

The abuses detailed include strangulation, beatings and using dogs to intimidate detainees.

How should the US government deal with the allegations? How will this affect the struggle for peace in Iraq?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

What further proof do we need to show that America has no business in Iraq, they should just pack and leave, without Iraq's oil money, which is what George W Bush came for anyway.
Chukwuma Orji, Lagos, Nigeria

Unjust wars do not bring just peace
Morris, Atlanta, US

If the US had acted collaterally with the UN, inhumane events like detainee abuse probably would not have occurred. Prisoner abuse is a symptom of the general problem: The US government does not have the humanitarian skills to accomplish its mission in Iraq. The US should pull out of Iraq if the UN will not take over mission leadership. Even without abuse allegations, the US does not have the power to bring peace to Iraq. Unjust wars do not bring just peace.
Morris, Atlanta, US

As long as the US administration continues to believe that the end justifies the means, the world will not look to us for moral leadership.
Robert, El Prado, USA

What on earth has the sad fate of Ken Bigley and Nick Berg got to do with this issue? The people who killed them were not acting in my name, nor were they claiming to be fighting for the values I hold. I expect higher standards from the elected leadership of free and democratic countries, although I am seemingly naive to do so.
Max Sommers, Athens, Greece

The mistreatment of predominantly Arab detainees is not at all surprising. For decades Arabs and Muslims have been demonised by Hollywood and American popular culture in general. The fact is that this mistreatment is a great recruiting tool for extremists. Americans and others who dismiss such incidents will themselves pay the price in terms of future violence.
Stephen Biko, Kenya

How much more will it take for the US citizens to realize that the American involvement with Iraq has been a fiasco right from the beginning.
Luis Peralta, Winnipeg, Canada

While I wholeheartedly condemn all abuse of prisoners, anywhere, I find the coverage given to allied abuses grossly out of proportion. This is particularly true in light of the fact that grisly murders are being perpetrated by those whom we are fighting and their acts of terror and outright murder are not being given equal weight in the western press. If they were, we would hear about the beheadings of Ken Bigley and Nick Berg over and over and over again.
Douglas, Louisiana, USA

There is little choice but to follow centuries old traditions
Mort, Egypt
If only those who continuously condemn aggressive interrogation methods would come up with an alternative that can save as many lives the world will be a better place. Until then there is little choice but to follow centuries old traditions. What has happened to: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.
Mort, Egypt

I condone these abuses as all sensible law-abiding citizens should. But who defended the rights of hostages such as Ken Bigley and Nick Berg? What about the abusive treatment they received?
Anon, UK

Of the international opinions that you have printed, you will notice that only one person outside the US sought to deflect attention from the horror of America's actions, but that is a fairly common response here. There is a terrible and growing tendency in the States to justify abuse by citing abuse committed by someone else. Unfortunately, our moral compass has been damaged by the persistent problems of entrenched racism and uninformed, rabid patriotism/nationalism.

These twin forces, which have so long been tolerated and exploited in this country for political advantage, and which have so grievously affected minority communities here, have also been exported around the world via trade and other policies. There is now an open example for the world to see our dirty laundry: Abu Ghraib. We cannot continue to congratulate ourselves for not being as bad as someone else. We should and must have a higher moral standard.
Anneliese, Washington US

What is frightening is just how few Americans have sufficient access to media explaining where Guantanamo Bay is, let alone what's happening there. As ever, it is the innocent (and ignorant) who suffer terrorism, and not those whose actions bring it about.
Kay, Newcastle, UK

The comparisons of abuses by US soldiers to those of other Middle Eastern and third world regimes is sickening
John, NJ, USA
While "any" abuse of prisoners is unpardonable and reprehensible, the comparisons drawn on this page (and elsewhere) of abuses by US soldiers to those of other Middle Eastern and third world regimes is sickening to say the least. There is "absolutely" no comparison and "intelligent" people know this. Because the US is a "civilized" country governed by the rule of law, those responsible for abuses will be arrested, tried, and punished.

In other repressive countries abusers are often given promotions and the people that they abuse are not only tortured brutally (well beyond what American soldiers are accused of), but they are often executed without a trial (or a mock one at best) and buried in unmarked graves. Do I need to give examples? Just ask any Iraqi who was imprisoned under Saddam Hussein, a religious or political prisoner in Iran, etc. I am against the war in Iraq myself, but these criticisms by incompetent, naive, and plainly ignorant people just make my blood boil!
John, NJ, USA

Let us remember that this, like many conflicts before, is a propaganda war for all sides involved. However, when it is pro-US people are quick to discredit the propaganda, while if anything comes out that is anti-US, it would seem most folks are willing to believe it hook, line, and sinker. Everyone has vested interests in getting themselves seen as the do-gooders in this war of words. Why are so many quick to condemn the US based on the memo of a single individual with who knows what agenda, and reports from a group with obvious desires to get media attention for their organization? All sides can twist information to suit their agendas, but if it is anti-US it is seen as sacrosanct.
Mark, Michigan, USA

The US should not give lessons on human rights. They are no different to the repressive regimes in the Middle East and Latin America. The US can no longer condemn these regimes because they are committing torture just like the regimes they condemn.
Willie Bunter, Canada

All this from a country that preaches freedom and liberty
Zack, London, UK
America should be ashamed and tried in the UN war crimes court. It is despicable what they are doing to humans in the name of security and freedom. Torturing inmates, burning cigarettes inmates flesh, tying them to the floor in horrible positions, beatings, sexual abuse, and all this from a country that preaches freedom and liberty. We in the Muslim world know exactly what the United States of America stands for. We are not deceived by the lies and propaganda and one day the US will answer for the crimes they have done to humanity. What right has the US to ask Iran, China and North Korea to improve human rights when the US is the biggest abuser of human rights and the biggest terrorist? The Americans should be ashamed and brought to justice sooner than later.
Zack, London, UK

So on the one hand we have the US condemning Cuba for arresting dissidents yet the US thinks it's OK for them to abuse POW's. Does anyone else think this is double standards?
Brennig Jones, Granada, Spain

No surprises here whatsoever. When will the American population wake up to the fact that the administration continue to lie shamelessly to them? When will they cease to drink up the drivel their politicians and media feed them? When will they realise that this is the reason the US has such a remarkably low standing in world opinion? When will they wake up and realise this causes the hatred that results in more terrorism, not less? Does the American population have the capacity to learn or understand anything?
Javi Gonzalez, Odense, Denmark

May God help those who are victims of the so-called war on terror
Dinesh Rayamajhi, Nepal
May God help those who are victims of the so-called war on terror. The prisoners can do nothing but tolerate the tortures. What we can say with certainty is that the history will prosecute them for their crime and cruelty against humanity.
Dinesh Rayamajhi, Kathmandu, Nepal

The way the US government has handled these prisoners is appalling. Whilst Bush is spreading the message of democracy so that people can live in a fair and equal society, he is allowing prisoners to be mistreated and has stripped them of basic human rights such as dignity and respect. For the handling of this war alone, the government should be prosecuted. However with these prison abuse claims I would ask Bush and Cheney to step down. Never in a modern society has any democratic president or official allowed these inexcusable actions to go on. With regards to the officers involved in these abuse claims, they should be withdrawn pending the outcome of this investigation.
John Ritchie, Edinburgh, UK

I think the priority for the American Liberties Union and Amnesty International should be to sue the terrorist who beheaded and killed their hostages. Now that is the real torture and abuse. It is just common sense.
Jerry Norris, Southern Leyte, Philippines

There will be no impact. It won't do anything good. Iraqi people and those detained without proper judicial authority will continue to suffer. At least they will for the next five years during second Bush term.
Voenza, London

It is clear that the misconduct of the US military personnel is not limited to a few rotten apples
Melina Kagia, Greece
I think that now it is clear that the misconduct of the US military personnel is not limited to a few "rotten apples". The US either approves these methods or turns a blind eye when they are used. Another argument for this war collapses at the expense of the people in the custody of US forces.
Melina Kagia, Greece

Does any one have any doubt left why the US does not join the ICC? The road for these abuses to take place has been paved a lot earlier and if they are allowed to continue the situation will only get worse.
Palamidas, Greece

Does anybody really think that people who are willing to die for their murderous radical beliefs should be accorded a five star hotel accommodation? Frankly, these people are very lucky to be in American custody because those news networks from the Middle Eastern countries should go and ask prisoners in their own countries how they are treated.
Julius, Philadelphia US

If it had any moral integrity the US government (and the UK government) would resign. Saddam Hussein invaded a sovereign state on jumped-up charges, under his leadership people were bombed, imprisoned without trial, tortured, killed. Isn't that exactly what we have been doing for the past 21 months?
Brian Bailey, Winterthur, Switzerland

Neither lip service nor a few showcase trials brings a solution
Mary McCannon, Hungary
In a sense the news of new cases of abuse did not take me by surprise, since by the continuous and more intense violence in the post-war Iraq hatred has mounted on both American and Iraqi sides. What is most embarrassing of all is that I do not see any sign from the US administration to address the problem. Neither lip service nor a few showcase trials brings a solution. After Abu Ghraib we have seen many confessions, heard many apologies, read lengthy commission reports, but in general nothing has changed. Key figures are still in place and carry on as if nothing had happened. I start to feel that this is what the US administration considers as "business as usual" in the name of "The War on Terror".
Mary McCannon, Budapest, Hungary

US State Department human rights reports regularly condemn other countries for using what they call "torture" techniques against prisoners, including sleep deprivation, keeping prisoners naked and isolated or in painful stress positions, prolonged exposure to loud music, extreme heat and cold, threatening with dogs and near drowning. But now those same torture techniques have all been approved by US top officials. Torture is official US policy, and so it's not enough to blame the soldiers for the abuses: the big-time war criminals heading the regime should be the ones facing trial.
Brendan Tuohy, Aotearoa, New Zealand





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