Time magazine yesterday revealed new allegations of systematic abuse of Iraqi detainees made by a “decorated former Captain in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.” For months, the Captain says, U.S. soldiers were directed “to conduct daily beatings of prisoners prior to questioning.” In one instance, “a soldier allegedly broke a detainee’s leg with a metal bat.” Other prisoners had “their faces and eyes exposed to burning chemicals.”
The Captain revealed this abuse to Human Rights Watch in July 2005. He also reported his charges to “three senior Republican senators,” including Majority Leader Bill Frist and Sen. John McCain. The torture, he said, was due primarily to “chronic confusion over U.S. military detention policies and whether or not the Geneva Convention applied.”
On July 27, the same month the Captain came forward, Sen. Frist single-handedly derailed a bipartisan effort — led by Sen. McCain — to clarify rules for the treatment of enemy prisoners at U.S. prison camps. In what news reports at the time described as an “unusual move,” Frist “simply pulled the bill from consideration” before it could be debated.
Bill Frist needs to come clean: Was his office told of the “systematic abuse” in the 82nd Airborne before he torpedoed the new detainee laws?