Ceci Connolly: 100 Prisoners Murdered By U.S. Military

On last night’s edition of Fox Special Report with Brit Hume, the Washington Post’s Ceci Connolly, a FSR roundtable regular, made a rather serious charge in the midst of a recitation of various abuse scandals in military prisons:

Connolly: I do think though that one of the problems for the United States is that there have been instances of prisoner abuse. And there have been instances that are our own Pentagon and our own FBI have documented in their investigations and reports. At Abu Ghraib. In Afghanistan. There have been many homicides of prisoners.

Brit Hume: How many?

Connolly: I believe close to 100.

Hume: A hundred murders?

Connolly: Homicides around the world. In Afghanistan. In Iraq. That have come through Pentagon investigations.

I listened to the exchange while surfing last night and, to be honest, heard it as “Abu Ghraib, blah, blah, blah.”

Michelle Malkin paid more attention and actually contacted Connolly this morning. The exchange was courteous but not particularly illuminating beyond the fact that Connolly has no clue what she’s talking about.

Malkin does some excellent follow-up and finds that, while nearly 100 prisoners have died in U.S. custody,

29 were attributed to natural causes or accidents; 18 were deemed “justified homicide” or “suspected justified homicide;†only 23 were being “investigated as involving criminal homicide or abuse by U.S. personnel.” Among those 23, just 3 were explicitly attributed to murder, with the rest still under investigation or involving lesser charges such as derilection of duty, maltreatment, and involuntary manslaughter.

Three murders is still, obviously, three too many. But it’s off by a factor of 33 from “nearly 100.”

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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. Dodd says:

    Wouldn’t that be “a factor of ~7” (exponents)? Or just 1/33. Either way, just more nonsense “supported” by numbers pulled out of thin air.

    Which is unfortunate since, if they weren’t always shining everyone on trying to make the military out as barbarians with bogus “data”, they might occasionally provide some useful correctives to bad practices. Instead they just embarass themselves. And perpetuate myths that only the left-wingnuts believe (which, once heard, no amount of debunking can dislodge). Useful to identify those who need not be taken seriously, but counter-productive to what purports to be their goal.

  2. Anderson says:

    3 is as ridiculously small as 100 too large. Apparently, when we torture someone to death, it’s not murder. “Doing that to someone could cause death? I had no idea!”

  3. Patrick McGuire says:

    Ms. Malkin’s additional info is helpful but am I the only who sees that her numbers don’t add up to “…nearly 100 prisoners…”. 29 + 18 + 23 only adds up to 70. Is there a typo in the numbers or are there another 30 to be accounted for here?

  4. LJD says:


    The following statement requires an extraordinary amount of self-control to prevent me from typing the numerous profanities that come to mind….

    The U.S. Military does not condone torturing people to death. Why don’t you get off it already. If you don’t like the President, say so. If you don’t think the U.S. should have any military, say so. If you feel Al Qaeda and similar terror groups should be free to kill whoever they want, say so.

    But for God’s sake, stop dragging our troops through the mud. It just makes you seem like a jerk.

  5. Anderson says:

    LJD, as I seem to recall mentioning, my dad served with distinction in Korea & Vietnam. If my factoid is correct, 1 in 12 helicopter pilots didn’t come home from Vietnam, so I’m lucky to have had a dad in the first place. I have great respect for the U.S. Army and our other armed forces.

    The U.S. Army does not condone torture. First, what does this mean? Cf. the Fafblog satire:

    Q: Help! I’m being tortured to death in an American military prison! What should I do?
    A: First of all, you should get your facts straight. You’re not being tortured to death in an American military prison; you’re being interrogated to death in an American detainment facility. America does not tolerate torture.

    Whether “condoned” or not, torture is happening, and U.S. soldiers are performing some of it.

    I happen to be partial to the belief, supported by some reports (but all is hazy given the secrecy involved) that CIA interrogators are the main culprits and that many soldiers implicated in these abuses were acting under their direction. Not a 100% exculpation, but it would make some of these horrors more understandable.

    Anyway, the ones dragging troops through the mud are the ones (1) committing these terrible acts and (2) failing to work genuinely & strenuously to prevent their occurrence.

    Instead of waxing apoplectic, why not just agree that anyone, in the Army or out, who tortures prisoners is an S.O.B. who deserves to be punished? Unless you disagree with that?

  6. LJD says:

    Yes, anyone who tortures prisoners is an SOB.
    However, the broad brush with which you paint fails to address several things:

    First, what is torture? Being made to stay awake? Answering difficult questions? Being detained? I am firm in the belief that getting information from these terrorists is vital to national security. The use of drugs, sleep deprivation, mind-games, etc.- anything short of physical abuse, is fair game to get that information.

    Second, the vast majority of prisoners are treated with dignity and respect. They are well fed, allowed access to religious materials, exercise, etc. Statistically, the acts of torture are a non-event. You can expect to see greater numbers of prisoners abused right here in the U.S. Detained U.S. citizens, abused by U.S. prison guards.

    Lastly, the reason you are hearing these news stories, is that the military polices itself, and the system is working. If we were hell bent on torturing people, you woudn’t be hearing about it. Many, many people would simply disappear. The terrorists would not be complaining about their Koran in the toilet. They would be dying a slow agonizing death.

    So lets cut all the crap about comparisons to Hitler and Saddam Hussein. Nothing of the sort is happening. Perhaps our citizens do not realize the horror- what torture is really all about. When I had the opportunity to look into a mass grave, I was convinced.

    I am grateful for your father’s service to his country. That does not in any way justify fanning the flames of this conflict. Those who are against this President and against this war, will say and do anything to discredit it. Even at the cost of our success and reputation. Be glad soldiers are being punished. Be glad you are hearing about this in the news. It may not be a popular news story, but the U.S. is supporting many great humanitarian efforts in the world.

    What “inside information” could you possibly have to doubt that more than three prisoners were murdered at GITMO? Or was that just an assumption based on the ten o’cock news?