Now, the recent release of Justice Department memos authorizing the use of harsh interrogation techniques has given Graner and other soldiers new reason to argue that they were made scapegoats for policies approved at high levels. They also contend that the government's refusal to acknowledge those polices when Graner and others were tried undermined their legal defenses.
Sexual assault of women serving in the U.S. military, while brought to light in recent reports, has a long tradition in that institution.
Women in America were first allowed into the military during the Revolutionary War in 1775, and their travails are as old.
I am reminded of the chilling story of Alyssa Peterson, who I have written about numerous times in the past three years but now with especially sad relevance. Appalled when ordered to take part in interrogations that, no doubt, involved what we would call torture, she refused, then killed herself a few days later, in September 2003.
The Army has approved new guidance to military commanders in an effort to stem the rising toll of soldier suicides, officials said late Thursday. The plan includes hiring more mental health workers and tightening the way officials handle drug testing, health screening and a host of other long-standing procedures that in some cases became lax, according to officials, as the Army focused on fighting two wars.
Army leadership has become more alarmed as suicides from January through March rose to a reported 56 _ 22 confirmed and 34 still being investigated and pending confirmation. Usually, the vast majority of suspected suicides are eventually confirmed. The 2009 number compares to 140 for all of last year, a record blamed partly on strains caused by repeated deployments for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Nearly four months after the atrocities at Yusufiyah, Iraq, — where a 14-year-old girl was raped and she and her family murdered — the revelation that U.S. soldiers were the alleged perpetrators triggered international outrage.
The atrocities, an Army prosecutor later said, "gave the world a picture of Americans that many want to believe — that we are murderous, callous, inhuman, bigoted, warmongers."
Several branches of the military are reporting significant spikes in the number of suicides committed by both active-duty troops and veterans returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Experts are calling the number of military-related suicides sweeping the country an "epidemic."
A Pentagon office responsible for coordinating Defense Department information campaigns overseas has been abolished in an effort by the Obama administration to distance itself from past practices that some military officers called propaganda, senior officials said Wednesday.
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