Can Abu Ghraib Six Get Fair Trial

Donald Sensing makes an interesting statement about the impending criminal trials in the Iraq prisoner abuse scandals:

[T]he bandwagon mentality among both the media and the military’s uniformed and civilian leaders took over. Justice is not being done and maybe now can’t be done.

His contention is that, because courts martials are under the auspices of military commanders, every effort must be made to avoid undue command influence. Statements by President Bush, SECDEF Rumsfeld, CJCS Myers, and other high level officials may well have prejudiced the case. It’s an interesting argument.

Don cites the lower profile response of the British leadership as the more proper approach. Given that the U.S. is the face of this war, I’m not sure we had that luxury. But it would be ironic indeed if our haste to make it clear that the wrongdoers would be punished ensures precisely the opposite.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Zayphar says:

    Fair Trial?

    Excuse me if I don’t care.

    These idiots are traitors to the United States and deserve to be lined up against the wall and shot.

    That is just what they are, TRAITORS!

    They have smeared excrement on the honor of millions of other Americans who serve the cause of Justice and Liberty.

    The only crime is that they are going to crucify the enlisted people and let the officers off with a slap on the wrist.

    Damn them all to hell.

    Peace and Freedom for an Independant Iraq!

  2. Boyd says:

    Yes, we already know exactly who did what, so who needs to waste everyone’s time with a stupid court martial. Let’s just line them up and shoot them.

    Let’s start with that Zayphar character over there. And ignore anyone who says they weren’t there, they didn’t participate, or anything like that. Kill the traitors! We know justice when we see it! Eeeaarrrghhhh!

  3. Ed says:

    Fair trial does not mean that the outcome will be seen by everyone now and in the future as justice.
    Fair trial means the forms are observed regarding the accusations, witnesses, exculpatory information, etc.
    A defendant (or his counsel) generally means fair equalls acquittal.
    Civilian defense attys. have been pushing the line that a “fair” jury means so stupid or uninformed that they haven’t heard of the case, and that we can sway them any way we wish with retoric.
    A mil court certainly doesn’t have stupid jurors, nor probably unbiased jurors. The forms and proceedures will be followed.
    That may or may not satisfy most people. It certainly will not satisfy all. No court ever satisfies all the people.

  4. Zayphar says:


    Let me clue you in (since I know you are not the type to watch TV):

    The guilty parties took pictures of themselves in the act.

    Mutiny. Treason. Bang.

    Peace and Freedom for an Independent Iraq!