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Sunday, May 16, 2004
 

New Hersh Story Raises Question Of Abu Ghraib Cover-Up In Sivits Plea


Richard Nixon famously said, "It's not the crime, it's the cover-up." A stunning new report on Abu Ghraib may prove that adage again.

On May 14, the New York Times reported that Pvt. Jeremy Sivits would plead guilty to abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

According to the Times, Sivits will testify that the abuse of prisoners was not authorized by the chain of command at Abu Ghraib.

But a devastating new report from the New Yorker, released late Saturday, says the prison abuse was indeed authorized up and down the chain of command.

Both versions of the story can't be true.

The Pentagon has emphatically denied the New Yorker report, so it's too early to tell how the story will play out. But if new charges prove true, the next big scandal is clearly delineated: Sivits cut a plea deal, which is expected to get him a lenient sentence, in exchange for testifying against his peers and exonerating the chain of command.

If the abuse was ordered by the chain of command, the Sivits deal starts to look like a cover-up — possibly orchestrated by the same chain of command and compromising the ability of the military justice system to deal with the abuse case at all.

Related Stories:

  • New York Times Story

  • New Yorker Story

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