A congressman with experience in military detention said Saturday that the Pentagon rejected an Army plan to send him to advise the military police commander who oversaw Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison in the early months of the war in Iraq.
Buyer, an Indiana Republican and a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, served as a legal adviser in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War, he said during a telephone interview with CNN about a story first reported by The Associated Press.
He served the 800th Military Police Brigade — the same brigade assigned to Abu Ghraib.
“Some of the lessons learned (during the gulf war) were about how important it was to have JAG officers at the facilities,” Buyer said, referring to military legal advisers.
Jim concludes, “Abu Ghraib worked precisely the way the high command wanted it to work.”
Or perhaps the Pentagon decided that they could get by without the advice of a part-timer whose last relevant experience was as, what, a captain during the Gulf War? Who would have been junior to and actually subordinate to people in his own chain of command that he’d be advising? Or that he would be crossing into a rather murky area of separation of powers, with one foot in the executive branch and another in the legislative? (I’ve long thought that Congressmen should have to resign their reserve commissions or at least go into the inactive reserve.)
Clearly, there is a complicated situation here. The intermingling of intelligence and enemy prisoner detention was not according to regulation. And the role of civilian contractors in this business is far from clear. But what seems certain at this point is that the military itself is taking care of the problem, was doing it long before it became a media scandal, and can do it without the help of a reserve lieutenant colonel.