Closing Abu Ghraib Won’t End Abuse, ACLU Chief Says

March 9, 2006 12:00 am

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NEW YORK — Saying that abuse of detainees by U.S. forces stems from policy decisions made by senior military and civilian officials, the American Civil Liberties Union today said the closure of Abu Ghraib prison will not end widespread and systemic abuse.

According to news reports, the U.S. military will close Abu Ghraib prison and transfer 4,500 prisoners to other jails in Iraq, but the ACLU said the same types of abuses that occurred at Abu Ghraib have also occurred in Guantánamo Bay and other detention centers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The following statement may be attributed to ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero.

“To this day, the Bush administration has refused to hold high-level officials accountable for creating policies that resulted in the abuse of detainees. Instead, only low-ranking soldiers have been prosecuted. Now, the government hopes that closing Abu Ghraib will erase the horrific images of abuse that rocked the world. The policies are still in place, and we haven’t held high-level officials accountable for the abuse that happened on their watch.

“The ACLU will press on with our lawsuit to hold Donald Rumsfeld accountable. If the American government wants to restore faith in our commitment to human rights, we must hold high-ranking officials accountable for their actions. Only then will the horrors of Abu Ghraib truly come to an end.”

The ACLU has charged that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld bears direct responsibility for the torture and abuse of detainees, and filed a lawsuit in federal court in March 2005 on behalf of nine men subjected to torture and abuse under Secretary Rumsfeld’s command. The case is still pending.

For more on the Rumsfeld lawsuit, go to

For government documents obtained by the ACLU that show evidence of abuse, go to

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